The 10-6A football season has featured some predictability, a couple of strange games and a few surprises.
As the eight teams come out of their bye weeks and return to the field, the biggest looming question is will the battle for the district championship and the final playoff berths go down to the wire, or will that issue be settled much sooner.
Each of the next four weeks will feature key match-ups, including this one, which could provide some clarity in the race, or could make the picture cloudier.
Here is a look at the field:
Rowlett (3-0, 3-3)
The Eagles sit alone in first place as the only undefeated team in 10-6A. Rowlett in good position to clinch a playoff berth for the 15th consecutive season, but they also have their eyes on their first district title since 2010, when they shared the crown with McKinney Boyd.
Rowlett knows the toughest portion of its schedule lies ahead. Their three wins have been against teams who are a combined 2-7 in district play.
Even those victories have not been easy, but the Eagles proved they can find a way with the game on the line. They used a 2-yard touchdown run by Alex Routt with 1:50 left to pull out a 7-6 win over Naaman Forest in a defensive battle in the 10-6A opener, and the following week, Routt found Antonio Hull for a 43-yard scoring pass with two minutes remaining to surge past North Garland for a 27-26 victory.
Routt has lived up to his billing as a dual-threat, accounting for 1,290 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Hull (20-364, 3 TDs) is a proven playmaker on the outside and Tre’Von King (30-230) has been reliable, but the Eagles are looking for others to continue to step up. It was a good sign in their last game when D’Wonyae Newton rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Colton Yarbrough had long scores on the ground and through the air.
Defensively, Andrew Drain has been a force with nine sacks, Daaron Loveless has recorded two interceptions and Xavier Wills has a pair of fumble recoveries.
Key Game: at Sachse (Nov. 8)
Sachse (2-1, 4-2)
The 10-6A road has been more difficult to navigate for the Mustangs thus far than in recent campaigns. They suffered their first district loss since 2015 with a 22-21 setback to Wylie in the opener and then had to rally from a halftime deficit in a 42-28 win over Naaman Forest.
Sachse started the season with a rotation at quarterback with Parker Wells and Xavier Forman and they have stuck with it, riding the hot hand not just week to week, but series to series.
The Mustangs had questions at running back, and although they have battled some injuries, Shon Coleman has proven he can be the workhorse, with 103 carries for 768 yards and six touchdowns.
Sachse has gotten big catches on the outside from Tristan Turner, Robert Jones and Jay Fair, but versatile sophomore Jordan Nabors (19-302, 3 TDs) has emerged as the main playmaker.
The offensive line has started three juniors and two sophomores, but has turned into one of the team’s strengths.
Defensively the Mustangs would like to force more turnovers down the stretch. Anthony Anyanwu is a defensive player of the year candidate with four sacks, eight quarterback pressures and an interception.
Sachse is also solid in the middle with linebackers Jordan Brooks, Quinton Williams and sophomore Justice Rider.
Key Game: vs. Rowlett (Nov. 8)
Lakeview (2-1, 4-2)
The Patriots were a popular pick as a dark horse to win the district and they have put themselves in position to do just that, despite an opening loss to North Garland.
Junior Camar Wheaton might be the most talented player in 10-6A and is ranked as the No. 1 running back in the nation in the Class of 2021 by 247sports.
Wheaton missed two games early, but has worked back into form with 75 carries for 410 yards. He rushed for four touchdowns in the first quarter in Lakeview’s 62-3 rout of South Garland and then went for 170 yards and a score in their key 27-20 victory against Wylie.
His impact on the ground game helps open the passing attack for quarterback Jarret Adams and receivers Ed White, Jalen Davis and Garnett Burke.
Key Game: at Sachse (Oct. 24)
Wylie (2-1, 2-4)
The Pirates shook up the district race a year ago, and as a team with a reputation for peaking late, they are in position to do so again.
Though they had a tough loss in their last outing against Lakeview, their win over Sachse could prove huge in tiebreaker situations.
Wylie has used both Marcus McElroy and Mason Long at quarterback. A big concern is the health of leading rusher Tre Sheffield, who was injured early in the Lakeview game and the ground attack was bottled up from that point.
Key Game: at Rowlett (Fri.)
North Garland (1-2, 4-2)
The Raiders were eyeing their first playoff appearance since 2009 when they started 4-0, including the district-opening win over Lakeview. However, they were stunned by Rowlett with its late score to claim a one-point win and Naaman Forest ran away from them in a 42-18 victory two weeks ago.
North Garland does have the firepower to get back on track with quarterback Timothy Gauthier (1,003 passing yards, 7 TDs), running back Sabron Woods (106-718, 14 TDs) and wide receiver Duke Parker (25-515, 4 TDs).
Key Game: vs. Wylie (Oct. 31)
Naaman Forest (1-5, 1-2)
The Rangers, under first-year head coach Jesse Perales were largely written off after a 0-5 start, but is there more to them than the record.
Naaman Forest pushed Rowlett to the limit in a 7-6 loss and led Sachse at halftime, and they put it all together in their last outing, rolling past North Garland in a 42-18 win.
The Rangers have used three different quarterbacks, but might have found something in Austin Valdez, who threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders.
Key Game: at Lakeview (Nov. 8)
Garland (1-2, 3-3)
The young Owls might still be a year away, but they have flashed their potential. Sophomore Cergio Perez has thrown for 1,444 yards and 19 touchdowns, sophomore Jayshon Powers has 125 carries for 636 yards and five scores and sophomore Jordan Hudson has 47 receptions for 753 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Key Game: vs. Rowlett (Oct. 25)
South Garland (0-3, 1-5)
It has been a rough go for the Colonels under first-year head coach Damaso Martinez, but South Garland does have some bright spots.
They scored 43 points in a loss to Garland and put up 28 against Rowlett.
Sophomore running back Jalil Brown could be a future star as has 93 carries for 951 yards, an average of 10.2 yards per attempt, and five touchdowns.
Key Game: vs. North Garland (Oct. 25)