Five of District 4-3Aâ€™s six football teams have finished the non-district portion of their schedules and are idle this week, with Monahans â€” which takes on Canyon â€” the lone exception.
The second, and by far most important, half of the season gets started when the teams begin district ac-tion next week.
So now â€” while the teams (except for Monahans) get a breather â€”seems as good a time as any to take a look at the teams (including Sweetwater), how they have fared so far and what their chances are in one of the stateâ€™s best 3A districts.
Head coach: Hugh San-difer
Last yearâ€™s record: 12-1 Class 3A Div. I regional finalist/5-0 district
2013 results: lost to Argyle 38-0; beat Bridge-port 38-6; lost to Graham 35-14; beat Brownwood 38-16; beat Lubbock Esta-cado 28-12
Assessment: Yes, the Bulldogs already have more losses than they did in 2012 and arenâ€™t getting any votes in statewide polls. Having said that, they are still defi-nitely the team to beat in District 4-3A until someone proves different.
Wylieâ€™s two losses came against Argyle and Graham, ranked No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in Class 3A this week. It won its other three games comfortably, although Estacado trailed the Bulldogs just 7-0 at halftime last week.
Wylieâ€™s biggest test in district will likely be Oct. 18 at Monahans. The Loboes were the only team in 4-3A to lose by fewer than 18 points to Wylie last year, dropping a 20-17 decision on Wylieâ€™s home field.
Head coach: Mickey Owens
Last yearâ€™s record: 8-5 Class 3A Div. II regional semifinalist/4-1 district
2013 results: lost to Midland Christian 47-7; beat Canyon Randall 21-7; beat Fort Stockton 27-0; had game vs. Kermit can-celled due to weather
Assessment: Monahans has played just three games due to an open date and last weekâ€™s cancellation. The Loboes face an unbeaten Canyon squad Friday, and the result should give a true indication about this yearâ€™s team, which was picked by one publication as the 13th best team in Class 3A.
Expect Monahans to con-tend for the District 4-3A title again, though the Loboes did lose some key players from last yearâ€™s team including the districtâ€™s co-defensive MVP in Jack-son Scharf and first team all-district quarterback Zack Navarro.
The Loboes have three of their district games at home â€” Greenwood on Oct. 11, Wylie on Oct. 18 and Sweet-water on Nov. 1.
Head coach: Shane Mobley
Last yearâ€™s record: 4-6/2-3 district
2013 results: lost to Eastland 46-30; beat And-rews 39-31; beat Brecken-ridge 51-33; lost to Wall 42-28; lost to Brownwood 35-30
Assessment: The first five games have proven two things about this yearâ€™s Sweetwater team: the Mus-tangs are capable of scoring on any team at any time, but they have yet to prove they can consistently slow down an opponent.
Granted, Sweetwater has had a pretty tough sched-ule. All five of its opponents are likely playoff-bound and Wall is one of the best teams in Class 2A. But Sweetwa-ter is making too many mistakes to take down a really good team.
If Sweetwater starts getting a few more defensive stops and cleans up the mistakes, it will be a force in 4-3A. But even with four teams now eligible for the playoffs, the Mustangsâ€™ fate will hinge largely on how they do in their first three games against Snyder, Greenwood and Big Spring.
BIG SPRING (4-1)
Head coach: Phillip Ritchey
Last yearâ€™s record: 5-5/0-5 district
2013 results: beat Fort Stockton 49-0; lost to Mid-land Christian 38-3; beat San Angelo Lake View 48-0; beat Andrews 61-48; beat Seminole 45-14
Assessment: The Steers, who were 5-0 prior to district a year ago before going winless the rest of the way â€” are once again on a roll heading into district.
With the exception of its one loss against private school powerhouse Mid-land Christian, Big Spring has been almost unstoppa-ble offensively. The Steers have averaged just over 50 points in their four wins, while the defense has al-ready pitched a pair of shutouts. In fairness, however, Big Springâ€™s schedule so far has been softer than any team in the district except Greenwood.
The Steers will find out how good they are right away when they go to Wylie for their district opener, followed by games with Snyder and Sweetwater.
Head coach: Aubrey Sims
Last yearâ€™s record: 3-7/1-4 district
2013 results: lost to Amarillo Caprock 28-27; lost to Lubbock Cooper 32-31; lost to Brownwood 46-43; lost to Lubbock Estacado 35-31; beat San Angelo Lake View 42-35
Assessment: The Tigers may be just 1-4 this season, but their record is very de-ceptive thanks to an incred-ible string of nail-biting, last-second losses against four straight playoff-caliber teams who have an overall record of 13-6. Snyder lost all four games in the final minute of the game, blow-ing late leads in three of them. Still, the Tigers look like a dangerous team who can score a lot of points on you in a hurry.
Sweetwater barely held off Snyder 34-27 at the Bowl a year ago. This time, the Mustangs must travel to Snyder to start District 4-3A play, where they will face a squad that will be eager to prove its record is a fluke.
Snyderâ€™s chances of challenging Wylie or Monahans for the 4-3A title are ques-tionable, however.
Head coach: Shad Hanna
Last yearâ€™s record: 9-4 Class 3A Div. II regional semifinalist/3-2 district
2013 results: beat Ker-mit 26-0; lost to Brownfield 28-21; lost to Shallowater 63-27; lost to San Angelo Lake View 52-27; beat Lamesa 48-27.
Assessment: The Ran-gers, who suffered heavy graduation losses including quarterback Kam Williams, the districtâ€™s offensive MVP in 2012 â€” may be the weakest team in 4-3A after advancing to the third round of the playoffs a year ago. Greenwood has faced only one truly good team (Shallowater) so far, and hit bottom two weeks ago when it was routed by a Class 4A San Angelo Lake View team that prior to this year had just four wins in the last four seasons.
But the Rangersâ€™ win over Lamesa last week got the team back on the right track, and given the schoolâ€™s tradition of success it would be a mistake to take them lightly. Greenwood hosts Sweetwater on Oct. 18, one week after the Mustangs travel to Snyder, in what probably will be a must-win game for both teams.