Realignment may have dealt a different hand to 6-6A, but this district remains a land of giants when it comes to football.

Continuing to sport the four largest high schools in Texas (Allen and Plano ISD), 6-6A also touts three programs that should be among the better ones in the area in Allen, Denton Guyer and Plano East.

The Eagles will remain in the thick of the Class 6A state title discussion, despite a new head coach in Terry Gambill, while Guyer will look to offset the transfer of star quarterback Shawn Robinson to DeSoto during the offseason. The Panthers were a major bounce-back team last fall and expectations are as high on the east side of Plano as they’ve been in years.

The race for fourth place in the district should be a fascinating battle, with McKinney Boyd, Plano West, Plano Senior and 6-6A newcomer Wylie all capable of snagging that final playoff seed. And that’s not to discount one of these teams rising into the aforementioned tier within the district, much like East did last season.

McKinney is another new entrant in 6-6A after spending two years in 5A, and although they’ll be expected to incur a few lumps this season, the Lions have more returning starters (13) than any team in the district sans East.

The Top Five: Which Games to Watch This Year

Hoover (Ala.) at Allen (Aug. 26)

This is the first of two out-of-state opponents on the Eagles’ schedule, as Allen welcomes Alabama’s 11-time state champion Hoover. In addition to being a collision between respective state powerhouses, this also marks the dawning of a new era in Eagles football, as Terry Gambill helms the Allen sideline for the first time as head coach. Expect every last one of the 18,000 seats at Eagle Stadium to be filled for this season opener.

Plano East at Guyer (Sept. 30)

While prognosticators favor Allen to repeat as 6-6A champions, the debate over the second-best team in the district is hardly an open-and-shut case. The Panthers have as much talent as they’ve had in years, while Guyer is still teeming with Division I prospects all over. In terms of 1-on-1 matchups, the opportunity to see East star linebacker Anthony Hines III track down Guyer’s two-headed running attack of Noah Cain and Myron Mason is worth the price of admission alone.

Plano vs. West (Oct. 28)

If preliminary district projections are any indicator, there are a handful of 6-6A games that will weigh heavily on the playoff picture – such as this one. The 2015 edition of the West-Plano rivalry wasn’t decided until the end, as West eked out a 14-7 victory thanks to a goal-line stand. Although the win wasn’t enough to lift the Wolves to the playoffs, the makeup of the district has changed enough to where that may be a different story this season.

Guyer at Allen (Oct. 14)

Although the Eagles and Wildcats are sharing a district for the first time, these two perennial state powerhouses are far from strangers. Allen and Guyer squared off in their respective season openers in 2014 and 2015, with the Eagles winning both outings. There won’t be any Week 1 kinks to iron out this time around, though. Expect the stakes for this mid-October clash to run deep, particularly with regards to the district championship race.

Boyd vs. McKinney (Nov. 4)

After a two-year hiatus, the Broncos and Lions renew their rivalry on the final night of the regular season. Historically, this series has strongly favored Boyd – winners of seven straight against their city rivals to the east – but expect a bit more to be riding on this one.

With Week 11 comes playoff stakes, and should either team be in the postseason hunt, the chance to spoil a rival’s playoff dreams is just as meaningful as bragging rights.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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