The Ridge Point Panthers’ football team has been the top dog in District 20-6A recently, taking the district crown in five of the last six seasons. On the other side, the Clements Rangers have spent much of their time near the bottom of the standings since moving into the district in 2016.
However, the confident Rangers (4-0) have a chance to serve notice to the area this week if they can beat or even hang with Ridge Point (3-1) on Saturday night at Hall Stadium in a battle of the area’s top two Class 6A squads through the season’s first month.
Clements is riding high thanks to its high-powered rushing attack (189.3 yards per game) that has driven its first 4-0 start in more than a decade. Junior Onipede is the focal point with a team-leading 214 rushing yards, but nine Rangers have found paydirt at least once so far this season and five have scored at least twice.
Not to be outdone, the Rangers’ defense has allowed opponents 8.3 points per game. They are led by a pair of linebackers in junior Ferris Refai (23 tackles, 6 TFL) and senior Matthew McGinnis (27 tackles, 2 TFL).
Ridge Point will likely lean on senior quarterback Bert Emanuel (258 yards per game) in looking to break through the Rangers’ stingy defense. The dual threat signal caller has amassed 12 total touchdowns (7 passing, 5 rushing), with six different Panthers hauling in at least one touchdown pass so far.
If they want to stop the Rangers, a Panthers defense allowing 19.3 points per game will need strong showings from linebackers Mason Hall (25 tackles, 1 sack) and James Walley Jr. (5 tackles for loss) as well as well as junior defensive back Taylor Davis, who is second on the team with 24 total tackles.
Here are a few more players and matchups to watch:
Marshall (4-0) vs. Houston Waltrip (0-3) – Marshall DT Laurence Tillman: The Buffalos’ offense has earned every bit of its reputation over the last several years. But oftentimes, the stellar defense gets overshadowed with their offense lighting up the scoreboard, and Tillman is one their defensive leaders. The senior has been a disruptive force so far this year, with a team-leading 21 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Tillman has also forced a fumble and recovered two more.
His primary task on Friday night will be to stop Waltrip running back Kahlen Sam (222 yards), who is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games against Houston Austin and Willowridge
Willowridge (2-1) vs. Houston Sharpstown (1-2) – Willowridge DB/RB Travis Willis: The sophomore, who plays primarily on defense, is coming off his best game of the young season. Willis had a kick return touchdown and a 67-yard scoring run in last week’s 22-10 win over Houston Waltrip. Look for more electric returns and runs from Willis on Saturday.
If they want to win their third straight game, the Eagles will have to slow down Apollos senior Jaqwalin Williams, who is a dynamic player in his own right. Williams has 209 all-purpose yards on offense as well as two passes defended and a fumble recovery on defense.
Elkins (0-3) vs. George Ranch (2-1) – Elkins DL Andre Pittman: The Knights have fallen on hard times early in the season, but one point of consistency has been the senior defensive lineman. Pittman leads the Knights with 13 tackles and four tackles for loss, and has also accounted for three of the team’s five sacks.
Elkins will need him at his best if they want to kick off district play on the right foot Friday night, as they square off against a George Ranch offense that is putting up 33 points per game so far this season. Running back Hyman Drinkard (311 yards, 6 TDs) is the player to watch here for the Longhorns.
This week’s schedule
Austin vs. Travis, 6 p.m., Hall Stadium
Hightower at Manvel, 7 p.m., Freedom Field
Bush vs. Dulles, 7 p.m., Hall Stadium
Stafford vs. Wharton, 7 p.m.
Elkins at George Ranch, 7 p.m., Traylor Stadium
Marshall at Houston Waltrip, 7 p.m., Delmar Stadium
Clements vs. Ridge Point, 6 p.m., Hall Stadium
Willowridge at Houston Sharpstown, 6 p.m., Delmar Stadium
Kempner at Houston Milby, 6 p.m., Barnett Stadium