Houston’s top Week 1 games to watch

Week 1 of the Texas high school football season has finally arrived, and the Houston-area schedule is full of great matchups. Non-district action has allowed some of the city’s top teams to meet on the gridiron and give themselves tough early tests. Here’s a look at some of the top games.

To watch Thursday’s games

Woodlands on the north bank
at Galena Park ISD Stadium at 7 p.m

This is the premier matchup of the week in the Houston area. North Shore enters the season as the No. 2 team in the state after winning the Class 6A Division I title last December. Coach John Kay and the Mustangs will get a good test out of the gates against The Woodlands, ranked No. 18. North Shore leads the all-time series 5-2, including the 2003 state championship game. The programs last met in 2007 when the Mustangs won 35-17. Perhaps the biggest matchup to watch this time around is how The Woodlands quarterback Mabrey Metaur and his offense fare against a loaded North Shore secondary. With talent across the field, it should make for an exciting opener.

Dickinson and Atascocita
at Turner Stadium at 7 p.m

This matchup also features a pair of state-ranked teams. Atascocita comes in at No. 11, and Dickinson isn’t far behind at No. 19. Adding to the drama is the fact that Atascocita ended the Gators’ 2021 season on a last-second field goal in the Division 6A regional round. I played in the playoffs last November. Dickinson led 14-0 at halftime in that game and the Eagles rallied to win. Atascocita also eliminated the Gators from the postseason in 2017 and 2019. The Eagles enter the season with a talented roster led by quarterback Zion Brown, but they are also young at many spots. Dickinson, which returns half the starters from a 9-3 team, should provide a good early test.

Tompkins at Cypress Ranch
6:30 p.m. at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium

This will be the first matchup between Tompkins and Cypress Ranch, two programs that have experienced a lot of success in recent years. The Falcons have gone 42-8 over the past four seasons under coach Todd McVeigh. The Mustangs, meanwhile, have produced eight consecutive winning campaigns, including the program’s run to the state championship game in 2014. Needless to say, expectations are high for both sides entering the 2022 season. Tompkins averaged over 41 points per game last season, so it will be interesting to see how the Falcons fare offensively against the Cypress Ranch defense with six returning starters and playmakers at every level.

To watch Thursday’s other games: Cinco Ranch at College Park, Angleton at Lake Creek, Klein Forest at Elif Taylor, Summer Creek at Klein Kane, Klein at Fort Bend Marshall, Travis at Spring.

Paetow finished the 2021 season with a Class 5A Division I state championship game but will move up to Class 6A this season.

Elizabeth Conley, Houston Chronicle/Staff Photographer

Watching Friday’s games

Conroe in Paetow
6pm at Legacy Stadium

Paetow reached the top of the mountain last season, winning the 5A Division I state championship in his fourth varsity season. But the Panthers, ranked 24th in the state in 6A, will get a new look this year with coach BJ Gotte now in Pearland. New coach Lonnie Teagle, who previously served as Denton Ryan’s offensive coordinator, makes his first debut against a Conroe program aiming for a second straight playoff berth. It will be the first matchup between a pair of teams that have just two weeks of non-district action to prepare for their league slates. Peto returns just four starters on its defense, but it also added one of the top players in the country in David Hicks Jr., a transfer from Allen.

Katy in Clear Springs
Challenger at Columbia Stadium 7 p.m

Katy enters the season with state championship aspirations once again, and the Tigers’ No. 5 state ranking suggests they have the talent to make another deep run. The Tigers have played Clear Springs five times since 2009 and won all of those matchups by less than 15 points. That includes last year’s 40-7 win at home. This time, the Chargers have the home field advantage and are looking to make a statement about their goals for the new campaign. Clear Springs is expected to be the primary contender for the District 24-6A title, and playing against Katy in Week 1 will certainly be a good test. To pull off the upset, Clear Springs will need to slow down 2,000-yard rusher Seth Davis.

Manvel at Shadow Creek
7pm at Independence Square

It doesn’t get much better than this for a season opener – two successful programs in the same school district facing off for the first time with a live TV broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest. Manvel comes in at No. 8 in the 5A Division I preseason rankings, while Shadow Creek is No. 24 in 6A. That being said, this matchup has the potential to be an exciting one. The Mavericks and Sharks combined for a 19-6 overall record and three playoff wins last season. With only three returning starters, this contest will be crucial for Manwell, which has two non-district games before diving into a challenging league slate. For Shadow Creek, it’s a chance to build on last year’s momentum for 13 returning starters.

CE King in Crosby
at Cougar Stadium at 7 p.m

After two consecutive state semifinal playoff runs, Crosby loaded its non-district schedule before making the jump to 5A Division I. The two-game gauntlet begins with a big home test against a CE King program from the previous season in the 6A Division II regional semifinals. And brings back a lot of talent. Crosby, ranked No. 6 in the state, faces perennial power Fort Bend Marshall next week. First things first, though. The Cougars will need to protect quarterback Cyrin Miles from a CE King pass rush that includes Texas commit Dylan Spencer and Colorado commit Kam Bijor. For the Panthers, the game will serve as a teaser for an even bigger road matchup next week against No. 13 state-ranked Allen.

Cypress Park in Westfield
7 p.m. at Planet Ford Stadium

The matchup will feature two reigning district champions. Westfield is one of the most established and successful programs in the Houston area under coach Matt Meekins. Meanwhile, Cypress Park has shown growth each year under coach Greg Rogers since its inaugural varsity season in 2018. Westfield may be the toughest opponent the Tigers have faced, playoffs included. The Mustangs are ranked No. 9 in the state and return 10 starters from a team that went 12-1 and lost to defending state champion North Shore last season. It will be the first of three non-district games for Westfield, which will also play at Hightower and North Shore, respectively.

Ridge Point at Austin Westlake
at Chaparral Stadium at 7:30 p.m

Make no mistake about it – Ridge Point is packed this week. The Panthers will travel three hours to face Austin Westlake, the 6A Division II state champion and the No. 7-ranked team in the country. Ridge Point has won eight or more games in nine straight seasons, including last year when the Panthers went 11-2 and reached the regional semifinals. This game will serve as a barometer of where the program stacks up against the best in the state. Westlake was historically good last season, outscoring its opponents 892-142. Led by new coach Tony Salazar and with several top-ranked recruits on the roster, the Chaparrals are poised to make another championship run.

To watch other Friday games: Hightower in Dawson, Barbers Hill in Magnolia West, George Ranch in Foster, Friendswood in Texas City, Pearland in Clear Falls, Stratford in Tomball, New Keene in Montgomery, Cuero in El Campo, St. Thomas in St. John’s, St. Thomas in St. John’s, Second Baptist. St. Pius X.

Yates and Dallas Carter, two storied programs, rekindle their rivalry on Saturday with a non-district clash.

Yates and Dallas Carter, two storied programs, rekindle their rivalry on Saturday with a non-district clash.

Wilf Thorn / Contributor

Saturday games to watch

Dallas Carter on Yeats
at Delmar Stadium at 6 p.m

The storied rivalry between Houston and Dallas was reignited in 2018 after a 24-year drought. Carter won that matchup and again in 2019, but the two teams have not played each other. Yates’ 1985 team and Carter’s 1988 team are widely regarded as the best in Texas high school football history, so the re-emergence of this matchup is certainly a welcome sight for both fan bases. Yates has a new head coach in Raphael Thomas, formerly an assistant at Marshall. The Lions will be aiming for their third consecutive playoff appearance after being eliminated in the first round last season. Carter, meanwhile, is going for a sixth consecutive postseason appearance.

Sci-Fair in Bridgeland
at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium at 6 p.m

These programs met for the first time in 2020 for a non-district game in the final week of the regular season. Bridgeland went on a 10-0 run with a decisive 41-29 win. That was the second year of the Conner Weigman era, but the Bears’ five-star quarterback is gone now. Both teams have district title ambitions this season, so this contest will provide a good early test. Perhaps the most interesting story to watch is how the Bridgeland offense performs against the Cy-Fair defense. Despite the loss of Weigman, the Bears have eight returning starters from a unit that averaged more than 35 points per game. The Bobcats’ defense, meanwhile, returns nine starters from last year’s 7-4 team.

To watch other Saturday games: Eisenhower at Morton Ranch, Streak Jesuit at Fulshear, Magnolia at Klein Collins, Tomball Memorial at Langham Creek.

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