1. Shallowater: The Mustangs coming north to join District 2-3A Division I just made things around here a lot more interesting. Shallowater is always highly respected on the South Plains and across the state when it comes to a premiere program. Expectations don’t change in 2022 for coach Rodney Vincent’s team.
2. Bushland: The Falcons are a much more veteran team than a year ago under third-year head coach Josh Reynolds. Bushland will boast one of the better defenses in the Amarillo-area and have a new gunslinger in Dawson Jaco who has plenty of weapons at his disposal.
3. Muleshoe: Coach Jason Richards has brought the Mules back into the conversation when it comes to playing for a district championship and playoff runs. With speedy receiver Irvin Torres returning, and 13 starters returning look for Muleshoe to be a force.
4. Dalhart: Finding playmakers is the key for the Golden Wolves heading into the early portion of the schedule. Head coach Joey Read’s teams are always physical but who will help form an identity on a young roster.
5. River Road: Don’t count out the Wildcats despite being put at the bottom of the district projection. River Road is extremely well coached under veteran Bryan Welps and his staff. The loss of 2000-yard running back Elliot Brown is painful, so it will have to be a next man up mentality out of the backfield that helps River Road to a playoff spot.
Shallowater at Bushland, 7 p.m. Oct 21
All eyes will be in Bushland when the Mustangs make the trip up I-27 for a huge showdown with the Falcons. By that point a lot will have changed since the beginning of the season, but no way the hype will. Expect a barnburner of a matchup.
1. Canadian: The small school blue blood dealt with youth and injuries but still made it three rounds into the playoffs a year ago. Locked and loaded with a massive line and veteran playmakers, the Wildcats are ready to reclaim their throne atop the district.
2. Childress: First-year head coach and Childress graduate, Bo Helm, begins a new era for the Bobcat football. Helm has plenty of talent surrounding he and his staff including standout receiver Lamont Nickleberry. QB and offensive line play is the biggest questions heading into the season.
3. Spearman: Despite the losses of Brennen Thompson to the University of Texas and Brayden Klafka to West Texas A&M, the Lynx can still be extremely dangerous at the skill positions. It’s how Spearman can handle the trenches that can decide if they will make a push at a district title.
4. Friona: Head coach Jimmy Arias loses a lot of speed from his backfield but does bring back dynamic back Mario Bautista. Bautista will need help especially on the defensive side of the ball for the Chieftains to be contenders in 2022.
5. Tulia: Oscar Murga gets his first chance at being a head coach as it is now his responsibility to get the Hornets buzzing. The Hornets showed flashes of greatness last season, but consistency was an issue. To make the playoffs, discipline will play a key role in what Murga is wanting to accomplish.
6. Dimmitt: Second-year head coach Johnny Nino had the Bobcats heading in the right direction in 2021. Now it’s up to Nino and his staff to capitalize on those steps taken and keep progressing if Dimmitt wants to challenge for a postseason berth.
Canadian at Childress 7 p.m. Oct 7
This is the District 3-3A Division II opener rather than closing the regular season like it has the past few years. The Bobcats finally got the better of the Wildcats last year that helped cap off their first undefeated regular season in 30 years. As we all know, this is a new year, and this game is never one for the faint of heart. There’s no love lost between these two programs, and it’s always extremely physical.