Here are our top high school football games to watch in West Texas in Week 1 of the 2022 season:
1. Coleman in Mason
Let’s kick off the 2022 high school football season by watching some of the state’s best teams at the Puncherdome in Mason. Coleman is ranked No. 9 in Class 2A Division I, while Mason is No. 13. This is believed to be their first game since they met in the second round of the 2004 playoffs with Mason winning 33 -6. Coleman returns 15 starters from a team that went 11-1 and won two playoff games. Among those returning are junior dual-threat quarterback Jadin Jackson, who accounted for over 1,834 total yards last year, and senior Ryland Gentry, a standout at running back (870 rushing yards, 13 TDs) and linebacker (113 hits). Mason returns 10 starters from a 9-2 team last year that lost its playoff opener. It was just the second time since 2007 that Mason failed to reach the second round of the playoffs. The Punchers are led by junior running back Ryne Todd, who rushed for 928 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. Mason’s defense allowed 11.6 points per game last season, but Coleman’s defense was even sharper at six points per contest. This is a great test for both teams where points could be high despite all the attacking talent on the pitch.
Choice: Coleman 21, Mason 14
2. Eldorado in Christoval
This has been an outstanding district rivalry in recent seasons. It was supposed to end this year when Christoval realigned to Class 2A Division I, but they didn’t wait long to play again. Christoval is ranked No. 17 in the state, while Eldorado is No. 18 in 2A D-II. Both teams return six starters, but Christoval appears to have the experience advantage as the Cougars return their quarterback, Kyle Loehman, and have continuity with seventh-year head coach Casey Otho. Eldorado is replacing its quarterback and learning under first-year coach Chad Tutle. The Eagles are riding the momentum of their most successful season in 71 years after reaching the third round of the playoffs, while Christoval entered the offseason on the heels of a one-point first-round playoff loss. -it. Christoval cruised to a surprising 46-22 victory in this game last year when Eldorado was ranked No. 8. The Eagles should keep it closer this time, but Christoval will be tough to catch.
Choice: Christoval 26, Eldorado 20
3. Wall in Eastland
These teams are often among the best in their classification, and that respect will continue into this fall despite each program coming off subpar offseasons by their standards. Wall was 5-5 last year, while Eastland was 6-6, but each is ranked in the Top 25 in Class 3A Division II — Wall at No. 18, Eastland at No. 23. They have played eight times since Eastland’s playoff victory -it 15-14 in 2011, and Wall has managed to win each time, including last year’s 28-21 victory. The Mavericks return six starters on each side of the ball, though they will need to find a new quarterback. Wall returns eight starters on offense and 10 on defense, but the Hawks will also have to replace their QB, along with All-West Texas linebacker Dominic Garcia. This should be a close game, but Eastland will have to prove they can get the best of Wall before they are set to win again in this rivalry.
Choice: Wall 28, East 17
4. Garden City vs. Turkey Valley (at Jayton)
This easily looks like the best six-man matchup of the week with No. 5 Garden City and No. 9 Turkey Valley in Jayton. Each of those teams has aspirations of a deep run in the Class 1A Division I playoffs. Valley went 9-4 last year and reached the state quarterfinals, and the Patriots return five starters on offense and four on defense. Garden City returns all but one starter from a 7-4 team that lost in the first round (but also showed what it’s capable of with a win over eventual state champion Westbrook). These two teams have what it takes to put on a playoff-caliber game in Week 1.
Choice: Garden City 50, Turkey Valley 46
5. Ballinger in Sonora
This game was a memorable thriller last year with Ballinger coming up just short of the goal line in a 28-21 loss that allowed the Broncos to leave town with a share of the district title. Both teams went on to win a playoff game. The rematch this time won’t have title or playoff implications, but it is the continuation of a long rivalry between these schools that dates back to the 1920s. Sonora realigned to Class 2A Division I during the offseason, but the Broncos may have edge over 3A D-II Ballinger as Sonora returns 15 starters, including its 1-2 punch of quarterback Jaime Buitron and running back Hunter O’Banon. Ballinger has just nine lettermen returning after major success from graduation as the Bearcats begin a new era under head coach Ty Lang. Ballinger has also picked up wins over programs like Jim Ned and Llano the past two seasons, so the Bearcats’ ability to pull off an upset shouldn’t be overlooked.
Choice: Sonora 31, Ballinger 21