# – denotes current San Antonio South Side Sports area ranking
#8 Burbank (3-3, 2-2) vs. #15 Highlands (0-6, 0-4) at Alamo Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Burbank can hold third place with a win, while Highlands needs to stop its slide.
Burbank also is coming off a loss, albeit a hard-fought 40-33 decision against second-place Brackenridge. The Bulldogs battled back impressively in the second half and limited the Eagles’ powerful offense to a manageable 330 yards, so there were positives to take out of the loss.
If Highlands is to have a chance to notch its first win, it will have to keep Burbank quarterback Daniel Tello relatively contained. However, that strategy is becoming less and less of a way to control the Bulldogs.
Tello ran for 177 yards against Brackenridge, but that eye-popping total was supplemented by 112 yards from Devin Gusme (a new wrinkle) and 81 from Rubyn Salazar.
Burbank only threw seven passes against Brack, but Tello is effective when he needs the short pass to move the chains.
Highlands started quarterback Thomas Salame for the first time in a 48-0 loss to Sam Houston last Thursday, but De-Morriay Richardson finished the game taking snaps. John Cervantes may still be in the picture. So, the Owls will have the element of surprise in their starting quarterback.
Richardson looked confident in the role and gave the Owls a more effective running game, in combination with Quindon Boston.
Receiver Bruce Moody also stepped forward for the Owls.
The biggest obstacle for Highlands, offensively, has been limiting turnovers and penalties. Defensively, Highlands has had a problem with big plays.
Until last year, the Bulldogs hadn’t defeated the Owls since 1978.
Series leader (record): Highlands (21-2). 2013 score: Burbank 43, Highlands 21. 2014 favorite: Burbank.
#5 Central Catholic (4-2, 1-0) at Antonian (5-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Central Catholic has had an admirably balanced offense this year, with 1,092 rushing yards and 1,047 passing yards. That versatility could serve the Buttons well against the toughest defense they’ve seen so far.
Antonian has allowed 21 points in its last three games, including an impressive 42-7 win over Austin St. Michael’s in its TAPPS 2-I opener.
Central Catholic began its district season with a 55-14 slaughter of St. Anthony.
The Buttons had a chance to play their subs a lot, so the stats from that game aren’t particularly revealing. But everything will need to start against Antonian with an effective running game led by Jimin Suh and quarterback Joseph Nava.
That will be essential so Nava can be effective in play action. He may also need to take a few deep shots to keep the Apaches honest.
Antonian has a three-game winning streak and hasn’t lost with standout junior back Dan Rosenfeld in the lineup. However, an experienced defense has been the Apaches’ strongest asset this season.
Despite missing time because of an injury, Rosenfeld has rushed for 1,095 yards and is the Apaches’ leading receiver with 125 yards.
Peyton Bryan is a veteran leader, who can throw when necessary. For the most part, though, Antonian will try to grind it out and rely on its defense to limit the length of opponents’ possessions.
As usual, this should be a key game in determining the district champion.
Series leader (record): unknown. 2013 score: Antonian 40, Central Catholic 14. 2014 favorite: Antonian.
Corpus Christi King (5-1, 1-0) at #9 South San (2-4, 0-1), 7:30 p.m.
Things couldn’t have gone much better for Corpus Christi King in its District 28-6A opener, while South San struggled to its fourth-consecutive loss following a 2-0 start.
In a six-team district, there isn’t time to overcome mounting losses, so this looms as an important home game for a Bobcats team with legitimate playoff aspirations.
Undefeated Corpus Christi Ray downed South San 36-14. The Texans put up 331 total yards with a balanced offense, aided by a blocked field goal they returned for a touchdown.
On the bright side, Bobcats senior Isaiah Gutierrez returned from an injury and turned in a solid game. Gutierrez led the Bobcats with 105 rushing yards on 11 carries and threw for 53 yards. Gutierrez scrambled for a 58-yard touchdown that gave Souh San a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Combined with Willie Sanchez and Justin Acosta, the Bobcats should be able to run the ball against the Mustangs. Being able to pass well enough to offset big gains from King could be a key.
The Mustangs showed they could score in a hurry in a 33-21 win at Southwest last Friday. King led 33-7 five minutes into the second half after scoring twice in less than two minutes midway through the second quarter.
Spencer Manuel passed 11 times, but threw for 95 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 47.
The Mustangs rely on back Tristian Price, who gained 131 yards on 20 carries.
With its best team in several seasons, King owns a five-game winning streak this year and also has won the last five games in the series.
Series leader (record): Corpus Christi King (5-1). 2013 score: Corpus Christi King 33, South San 14. 2014 favorite: Corpus Christi King.
#10 Lanier (2-5, 2-3) vs. #12 Harlandale (3-3, 2-2) at Harlandale Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Lanier has steadily been improving since senior back Joe Orta returned from an injury. Harlandale had been riding a roller coaster before its bye week.
It will be interesting to see what Harlandale coach Isaac Martinez comes up with in a game that could go either way and could greatly impact both teams’ playoff hopes.
First, the Indians will need to be able to move the chains with their running game, led by John Aguirre. Harlandale quarterback Jacob Delgado has had to deal with the issues every first-year starter faces, but is improving. Delgado likely will need a big game if Harlandale is to win, as he had against Edison Oct. 3 with 270 passing yards.
At the beginning of the season, Harlandale’s defense rated ahead of its offense, but the unit had an off day against Edison. The Golden Bears won 31-21, amassing 392 total yards and scoring all of their points in the second half.
Although Lanier’s offense isn’t as diverse as Edison’s, Harlandale will need to limit the Voks’ time of possession.
The Voks’ improving defense is coming off its best game of the season, against Edison last Friday. Lanier limited the Golden Bears to 187 total yards and outscored them 26-7 after halftime.
Orta ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Lanier’s other key back, Julian Castillo, did not play against Edison.
Lanier quarterback Jeremiah Esquivel only completed three passes, but they went for 60 yards.
Harlandale has won the last 11 games in the series. Lanier’s last win was in 1976.
Series leader (record): Harlandale (17-3). 2013 score: Harlandale 28, Lanier 19. 2014 favorite: Lanier.
#4 Sam Houston (5-2, 5-0) vs. #11 Edison (2-4, 2-2) at SAISD Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Edison had been steadily showing signs of improvement until it stumbled to a 40-14 loss to Lanier last Friday. Because of that game, the Golden Bears are in need of some urgency against Sam Houston, which has avoided any pitfalls offensively and defensively in building an undefeated District 28-5A record.
Running the ball consistently against the Hurricanes has been a challenge, but its one Edison must master if it’s going to win. Matthew Garcia, Livan Hernandez and quarterback Jonathan Hernandez will have to share the load.
If Edison can’t pick up first downs on the ground, Sam Houston will put relentless pressure on Jonathan Hernandez.
Sam Houston will need to maintain its intensity as the season winds down. Although the Hurricanes will be favored in each of their three remaining games, each is a trap game.
So far, that hasn’t been a problem, which seems to improve in a different area each week.
At times, Sam Houston has spent a quarter or so developing its passing game behind Raymonte Prime with an eye toward the playoffs. If the Hurricanes need to rely on back Devin Harris to slow things down and preserve a victory, he’s come through.
What they’ve shown is that theirs is a balanced offense that’s capable of scratching where it itches. That’s going to be a challenge for Edison’s defense.
Series leader (record): unknown. 2013 score: did not play. 2014 favorite: Sam Houston.
#1 Southside (6-0, 3-0) vs. Laredo Martin (0-6, 0-3) at Shirley Field, Laredo, 7:30 p.m.
Managing the extra-long road trips will be one key to accomplishing the quest Southside has set for itself – winning the District 29-5A title.
That said, this trip to Laredo doesn’t loom as daunting for the Cardinals, who share first with Uvalde, in light of their 17-14 win at Somerset last Friday.
Senior quarterback Brandon Herrera was effective running and passing in his debut. Meanwhile, Cardinals back Matthew Collier remained a mainstay of the offense, rushing for 150 yards.
Southside’s dominating defense, led by Diego Avila and featuring big-play freshman Johnny Herrera, faces a Tigers team that has been a bit of a mystery.
Martin scored points in its first two 29-5A games, losing 48-24 Uvalde and 44-25 to Somerset. However, the Tigers were shut out 24-0 by Laredo Cigarroa last Friday.
The Tigers’ strength is their passing game with quarterback Ricardo Cisneros and big play receivers Javier Hernandez and Juan Valdivia. Martin’s leading rusher is Jonathan Brooks.
Series leader (record): unknown. 2013 score: did not play. 2014 favorite: Southside.
#6 Southwest (2-4, 0-1) at #3 East Central (3-3, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
East Central is coming off its best game of the season, while Southwest remains a bit of an enigma.
The Hornets handed Corpus Christi Carroll its first loss, 50-49, in its District 28-6A opener. With a win over the preseason district favorite, East Central goes into this rivalry game with a lot of momentum.
Southwest opened 28-6A play with a 33-21 home loss to Corpus Christi King. The Dragons trailed 26-7 at halftime, despite outgaining the Mustangs 342-272 in total yards.
Southwest quarterback Bowen Crisp threw for a career-best 159 yards, which was a very encouraging sign. Jonathan Garcia and Jay Thueson each had more than 50 receiving yards.
Jonathan Cruz again rushed for more than 100 yards and the Dragons welcomed back sophomore running back Tyrone Middleton, so Southwest should be more potent on the ground.
Defense is going to be a key factor for Southwest. The Dragons gave up three touchdowns of 20 yards or more against King and East Central has similar big-play capability, so Southwest’s secondary will need to keep the Hornets in front of them.
East Central also had an outstanding game from its quarterback, Justin Upshaw-Mendoza. The junior completed 20 of 27 throws for 303 yards. Explosive Wanya Ward had 150 reception yards (in addition to a touchdown off a punt fake) and Dallas Polasek caught five passes for 88 yards.
East Central back Jauwan Hall complemented them nicely with 147 rushing yards.
Expect the rivalry to bring out the best in both teams.
Series leader (record): East Central (13-8). 2013 score: Southwest 41, East Central 21. 2014 favorite: East Central.