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District 6-6A was teeming with parity in plenty of sports during the 2020-21 school year and football was no different — heading into the final week of the regular season, six of the league’s eight games had either clinched or were in contention for a playoff spot.

Marcus finished atop that group by running the table for the second straight year before a late-season injury to quarterback and district MVP Garrett Nussmeier derailed the program’s hopes of a long playoff run.

Lewisville, Coppell and Plano West rounded out a playoff picture that was partly shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic due to midseason shutdowns that saw two games canceled for both Plano and Hebron (6-6A used each team’s total number of district wins to determine the final standings).

The Wildcats hope a full offseason under second-year head coach Todd Ford is enough to right the ship this fall, while Hebron turned heads as a bounce-back candidate following a 7-on-7 state championship win over the summer.

Although Nussmeier’s graduation leaves a notable void at Marcus, the Marauders have capable talent on the rise as the program vies for a third consecutive district title. Ditto for Lewisville, which lost its leading passer (Taylen Green) and receiver (Isiah Stevens) but still has bruising rusher Damien Martinez for one more year.

Coppell enters the season seeking a ninth playoff appearance in 10 years, while Flower Mound hopes to reignite its postseason hopes behind blue-chip passer Nick Evers.

Plano West will look to keep its arrow pointing up after a turnaround campaign last year that snapped a six-year playoff drought, while Plano East is optimistic that a clean bill of health and a productive offseason will help erase the sting of a winless 2020 season.

The Top Five: Which Games to Watch this Year

Flower Mound at Marcus

Sept. 24: Although last year produced the most lopsided installment of this rivalry, the annual Mound Showdown has traditionally been one of the marquee meetings in Lewisville ISD. This year should be no different as the Marauders begin their latest district title defense against what figures to be an improved Jaguar squad. This rivalry traditionally favors offense — in their past six meetings, Marcus and Flower Mound have combined to average 63.7 points in this game.

Plano at Hebron

Oct. 8: One of the more closely contested rivalries within the district, Plano and Hebron seldom fail to put on a show. Although last year’s game contributed to a two-week, pandemic-related shutdown for both teams, the action on the field went down to the wire once again — for the third time in four meetings, the outcome between the Wildcats and Hawks was decided by four points or less. In total, Plano holds a 7-6 record over Hebron since 2008.

Lewisville at Marcus

Oct. 29: The stakes of the annual “Battle of the Axe” have amplified in recent years, injecting playoff and district title ramifications into the matchup. After alternating wins and losses over a four-year stretch, the Marauders broke that trend by winning consecutive games against the Farmers for the first time since 2015. It’ll mark one of the year’s stiffer challenges for a talented Marcus front seven, battling opposite a veteran Lewisville offensive line and lead rusher Damien Martinez.

West at Plano

Nov. 5: If 2020 was any indication, the final week of the regular season could be rife with matchups weighing on the playoff picture. Not only was that the case when the Wildcats and Wolves renewed their rivalry but this finale wound up producing one of the more entertaining games of the entire 6-6A schedule — West rallied late to top Plano 31-24 and clinch a playoff berth. The Wolves should be in the thick of contention once again, but don’t count out a Plano team that had won four straight against West prior to last season.

Coppell at Flower Mound

Nov. 5: Speaking of compelling late-season matchups, this matchup pits strength versus strength in a meeting of two teams projected to contend for playoff spots. The Cowboys, while young in some areas, won’t lack for talent in the secondary, especially following the transfer of blue-chip defensive back Braxton Myers, but those defensive backs will have their work cut out trying to slow a seasoned Jaguar passing attack led by Evers.

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

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