Class 3A Amarillo-area district projections

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Bushland’s Kash Bradley is one of the top players to watch in the Texas Panhandle this year. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]

Division I

District 2-3A

1. Bushland: They’ll be a lot of new faces flying around the football for second-year coach Josh Reynolds, however, wide receiver Kash Bradley and his teammates expectation of a district championship doesn’t change.

2. River Road: This may be a gamble putting the Wildcats in the second spot of the preseason predictions. Coach Bryan Welps graduated his son, Lance, who was a do-it-all standout now playing at West Texas A&M. With a new challenge presents new opportunity for River Road as running back Elliott Brown picks up the slack as a team leader.

3. Dalhart: Since head coach Joey Read came to Dalhart his teams have always played with a physical, hard-nosed mentality. Expect this season to be exactly the same with a roster of up and coming players.

4. Littlefield: Administration wasn’t for coach Jimmy Thomas who retired after five years at Bushland following the conclusion of the 2019 season. Now he’s back, and guiding Littlefield into a new air-raid era. It will be a transition, but Thomas knows how to win.

5. Muleshoe: Second-year head coach Jason Richardson and his team showed improvement last season. Richards can only be optimistic that in 2021, the path to a great tradition of Mules football is underway.

Best game

Littlefield at Bushland, 7 p.m., Nov. 5

Will this contest be for the outright district title? Only time will tell, but a lot of eyes will be on Falcons Stadium when former Bushland coach Jimmy Thomas brings his Wildcat team into face his protégé Josh Reynolds and the high-flying Falcons. Thomas led Bushland to a 47-26 record over six seasons making six straight playoff appearances.

Division II

District 3-3A

1. Canadian: The small school blue blood will look much different with the loss of 15 seniors that led the Wildcats to their fifth state championship a year ago. Even as a young team, don’t expect much of a drop off in Wildcat land. As the saying goes, “to be the man, you have to beat the man.”

2. Childress: This may be the best Bobcat teams in last few years. QB Collin Bishop surrounded by a wealth of talent are back eager to dethrone Canadian from the top spot.

3. Spearman: The Lynx are loaded at the skill that includes Division I prospect Brenen Thompson and receiver Brayden Klafka. Matchups will be scary for any opponent they face.

4. Friona: The Chieftains will be a dangerous team for anyone in their path with 15 starters coming back including three-year starting running back Jacob Bautista and QB Bryan Chavira.

5. Tulia: Head coach Steven Coursey made strides with the Hornets program in 2020. There’s no question heading into year two Tulia has playoffs on the mind.

6. Highland Park: There’s talent on both sides of the ball, particularly with running back Adryan Rodriguez, to solidify some optimism and hope for improvement.

7. Dimmitt: Bobcats have brought in hometown favorite Johnny Nino as their new head coach. Nino is a veteran coach with a defensive mind from his days in Clarendon. Nino hopes he can resurge Dimmitt from the past few struggling years.

Best game

Childress at Canadian, 7 p.m., Nov. 5

The showcase game of the Texas Panhandle in 2021 comes on the final week of the regular season. There’s a distinct feeling this isn’t just for the district crown, but will be the first of two meetings in the matter of a month.

The two rivals have had some classic battles over the past few years, however, the Wildcats handled the Bobcats two times a season ago including a 45-14 win in the state quarterfinals.

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