Class 1A Amarillo-area district projections

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Happy’s T.S. Bow and the Cowboys advanced to the Class 1A Division I state quarterfinals a year ago. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]

Division I

District 1-1A

1. Happy: The Cowboys surprised the region last year with a quarterfinal appearance. They won’t surprise teams this year and must replace three two-way starters. However, plenty of talent returns and if the Cowboys can find balance on offense they should make another deep playoff run.

2. White Deer: A disappointing loss in the playoffs has given the Bucks a drive to be a Region I contender. Coach Justin Rucker likes the attitude of this team which could make them very dangerous. Standout Karson Ketchum can be a difference maker.

3. Valley: The Patriots could finish anywhere from first to third in this district. Jaxon Edwards is a breakaway threat for a team that just missed the playoffs last year and is eager to supplant the Cowboys and Bucks in the playoff chase.

4. Claude: In year three of Six-man action the Mustangs want to take a major step forward on the gridiron. However, a talented district will make it hard to supplant the front runners.

5. McLean: A young Tiger team will find the going rough this season in a talented district. Veteran coach Brad Rainier will have his hands full in rebuilding a team that was in the state finals just two years ago.

Best Game

Happy at White Deer, 7 p.m. Oct. 15

In one of the best Six-man games last year, Happy knocked off the preseason favorite Bucks 59-44. The Bucks will be looking for revenge at home and both teams will want a win to gain the driver’s seat for the top seed.

District 2-1A

1. Springlake-Earth: A top 10 ranked team with all six starters back, the Wolverines will be expected to dominate this district and make a deep playoff push. A likely area round rematch with Borden County will be looming in November.

2. Petersburg: Hard charging running back Kaden Parraz will look to carry his team to the playoffs again. A hard-nosed, tough group of Buffaloes will be a challenge for the opponent every Friday night.

3. Nazareth: First-year coach Tyler Goodwin must find replacements for a large senior class that departed. Trent Gerber and Luke Schulte will lead a remade Swifts team who will challenge for the second spot in this district.

4. Kress: The Kangaroos were a competitive group last year who could be a dark-horse for a playoff spot. Talented running back Ja’Quaveien Ellis will lead a Roos team looking to make a name for themselves.

5. Lorenzo: After going winless last year the Hornets hope to get back to winning ways but a deep district may prove too much for them to overcome.

Best Game

Petersburg at Nazareth, 7 p.m. Oct. 8.

The Buffaloes have won the last two meetings between these two squads and will be looking to make it three straight andCoach Goodwin will be looking to get a statement win at home for the Swifts. The winner of this one will have the inside track for the second spot in this district.

Division II

District 1-1A

1. Follett: The Panthers made a complete 180 in 2020 improving from two wins in 2019 to going undefeated until facing Groom in the state quarterfinals. Head coach Andy Copley returns one of the best players in running back Shayne Franks, and will be ready to make a big run toward December.

2. Miami: The Warriors will try to make it back-to back-playoff appearances with senior running back Collin Gonzalez leading the charge.

3. Hedley: Coming off their most successful season since 2015, the Owls feel good about what they have built, and the talent they bring back.

4. Lefors: This will be a senior laden team trying to make up for lost time in 2020. Look for the Pirates to make some noise this season under veteran coach Joe Riley.

5. Darrouzett: The Longhorns are still fresh on the scene with 2020 being their first season back in years. This team and program needs more experience and this season should fit the bill.

Best game

Miami at Follett, 7 p.m. Oct. 28

A rematch of last year’s district championship is all but certain to repeat itself. Follett is the favorite to many, but do not sleep on this Warrior team and the experience they bring back to the fold.

District 2-1A

1. Groom: Reigning Press Pass Sports Six-man Coach of the Year, Tony Dodson, has some work to do replacing three starters from last year’s state semifinal team. The Kuehler boys, Damon and Stephen, will be the catalyst of this team moving forward. The Tigers shouldn’t skip a beat this season.

2. Wildorado: Nervous jitters for a new program are a thing of the past. The Mustangs proved right away in their first UIL season they were here to play. New Coach, Kyle Timmons, has talent returning, but with it, the expectation to make another playoff push.

3. Silverton: The Owls lost a large senior class, but have some experience in their younger ranks. Expect them to be a nagging offense with the speedy Sawyer Francis in the backfield.

4. Hart: The Longhorns will look to improve on a two win season from 2020. They’ll do it off the back of their grit and grind offense.

Best game

Wildorado at Groom, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5

The Tigers did away quickly with the Mustangs in 2020 defeating Wildorado 54-8 on the road. Groom is the perennial favorite in this region, but the Mustangs are still young and could surprise everyone.

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