We're at that point of the football season where we should have big games -- edge-of-your-seat encounters with playoff hopes hanging precariously in the balance.
They're here now.
Some games are obvious highlights like Cameron at McGregor. But even the loser of that game has a pretty good shot at the playoffs.
Not everyone has that luxury, and a couple of games jump out.
Hearne at Buffalo is one of those tight-collar games. After losing a squeaker to Rosebud-Lott two weeks ago, the Hearne Eagles face the more immediate pressure, but Hearne is a capable competitor. In Jamarcus Johnson, the Eagles have an outstanding two-way player. The senior leads Hearne's running game with 522 yards and seven touchdowns and is also the leading tackler, averaging 9.8 per game.
Since falling in the district opener to Crawford 28-14, Buffalo put itself back in playoff contention. In last week's 54-20 win over Bruceville-Eddy, Buffalo followed its typical ground-based style to overpower the Eagles. The Bison built a 28-0 lead by halftime and rolled to the win by averaging 11 yards per carry. Jose Dominguez, who has had a brilliant career running the ball for the Bison, rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Logan Jones had 128 yards and a touchdown run.
There will still be work ahead in District 11-2A Division II, but this is close to a must win for Hearne. It could be like taking out an insurance policy for Buffalo, which still has key games at Centerville and at home against Rosebud-Lott. A loss here could conceivably leave a very good Buffalo team at home when the playoffs begin for a second straight year.
Madisonville at Rockdale is another one that promises to make the participants sweat, featuring two 0-1 teams in 18-3A. The Mustangs are so deep into their quarterback bench at this point, you wonder if anyone will letter at that position.
Tyji Whaley, who has played well after starting the year low on the depth chart, couldn't play last week and will miss this week's game. Brent McCloud, a defensive back with five interceptions and two touchdowns, filled in at quarterback at the end of last week's game. It might be enough to hand off to running back Dontae Crist. The junior will likely surpass 1,000 rushing yards this week.
The Mustangs have played great defense, allowing 184 yards per game with the top-ranked rushing defense in 18-3A. That unit has been a takeaway machine, recovering 12 opponent fumbles and getting 15 interceptions. Madisonville even picked off Navasota's Kadarius Baker twice last week, though the Rattlers prevailed 38-0. Baker has thrown only two other picks all season.
When you play only four district games, a second district loss can be devastating, but the odds seem longer for Rockdale, which still has 3A's No. 1 team, Navasota, on its schedule.
Rockdale's Elijah Brooks is averaging 6.7 yards per carry with 691 rushing yards and a district-best nine touchdowns. Ethan Brinkley is back at quarterback. He has thrown for 998 yards and seven touchdowns but will need to be sharp against that Mustang secondary. Brinkley has thrown nine interceptions this year.
In past seasons, the Tigers have found a way to sneak into the playoffs in their final game. They may not have until then this season. Friday night might be Rockdale's now or never.
It started as a rumor, and it's still that, but Friday night at the Crosstown Showdown, speculation continued that the Southeastern Conference would not allow high school games to be played on its campuses next year.
That idea may have stemmed from the SEC banning 7-on-7 competition from campuses. Texas A&M received a waiver last summer to host Texas' state 7-on-7 event one last time. The NCAA followed suit and has cracked down on nonscholastic competitions on campuses during basketball season. The Crosstown Showdown would not appear to fall under any "nonscholastic" rules, with the two local high schools playing.
For now at least, make plans to be back at Kyle Field for the Crosstown Showdown between A&M Consolidated and Bryan. If not, hope that the construction on Briarcrest is complete, because Merrill Green Stadium would be the likely site with the Vikings serving as the home team next season.
The series between the Tigers and Vikings started in 1986 and has been played at a site other than Kyle Field once. The rivals squared off at Viking Stadium (since renamed Merrill Green Stadium) in 1987.
Bryan athletic director Harry Francis Jr., at an athletic directors conference in Houston on Wednesday, said that he has not received any word on such a move. He also indicated that Texas A&M would be quick to inform the schools if such a change became likely. The plan now is still for the rivals to meet at Kyle Field in 2013.
Consol head football coach David Raffield first heard the speculation from his players but told them that he had no information about a change.
One way or another, changes are coming for the game after next season. UIL realignment will likely send Consol to 4A, where Rudder currently plays and College Station High is projected to be. If Bryan ISD realigns, there could be four Class 4A schools in Bryan-College Station, as it was once billed.
If Bryan stays in 5A, a highlight game with Consol may no longer make sense. And it might be impossible. Remember, Rudder currently plays in a nine-team 18-4A, which means the Rangers play only two nondistrict games.
Even if the schedule would work, no one is likely to set up a hotly contested game against a rival in the middle of district play.
So whether the SEC changes the rule or UIL realignment alters it, the Crosstown Showdown seems rapidly on its way to the end of an era.
Speaking of Merrill Green Stadium, a visit to the Bryan field house this week served as a reminder of exactly why the school put down artificial turf on the field.
Even in the rain, the field was a beehive of activity in a variety of sports, which would have never happened in past seasons for fear the grass field would have been ruined for Friday's upcoming football game.
We recall the old immaculately kept grass field at the stadium fondly, but to get more workout bang for the bucks, Bryan took one giant step forward in productivity when that turf was installed this summer.
Three to watch
1. Cameron at McGregor -- A pair of unbeatens at this point in the season is a game to celebrate. Had they met two years ago, the headline would have been Cameron's offense against McGregor's defense. It probably wasn't that simple then. It definitely is not now.
2. Madisonville at Rockdale -- The Mustangs will try to bounce back from their loss to top-ranked Navasota. Rockdale, which has a pretty good tradition of rallying into playoff position, will likely need a win here to do it again after a triple-overtime loss to Taylor.
3. Allen Academy at Waco Methodist Home -- Some of the best teams in T-CAL populate the four-team district in which these two compete. The offenses for each team have been exceptional.
Here are this week's picks:
Consol at College Park -- No place to Park. Consol 34-21
Iola at College Station JV -- Dog day. Iola 34-14
Lufkin at Bryan -- Panthers good on the road. Lufkin 42-34
Rudder at Brenham -- Go green. Brenham 23-14
Madisonville at Rockdale -- Mustangs in a tussle. Madisonville 15-13
Taylor at Caldwell -- Ducks fill the bill. Taylor 35-23
The Woodlands JV at College Station -- Taking the High(lander) road. The Woodlands JV 34-28
Cameron at McGregor -- Yoe can go on the road. Cameron 30-20
Franklin at Elkhart -- Lions' run continues. Franklin 48-20
Hearne at Buffalo -- Where Buffalo roams. Buffalo 32-28
Centerville at Riesel -- Centerville of attention. Centerville 44-18
Anderson-Shiro at Deweyville -- Dew atop the mountain. Deweyville 37-21
Lexington at Universal City Randolph -- City's not slicker. Lexington 49-13
Leon at Bosqueville -- Retaining the ranking. Bosqueville 32-20
Somerville at Milano -- Eagles land the win. Milano 39-6
Granger at Burton -- Panthers scratch out a win. Burton 35-21
Bartlett at Snook -- Bart the star. Bartlett 34-28
St. Joseph at San Antonio St. Gerard -- Saints preserve us. St. Joseph 40-16
Brenham Christian at Alvin Living Stones -- Stones left unturned. Living Stones 46-22
Allen Academy at Waco Methodist Home -- Thank the Academy. Allen Academy 56-48
BVCHEA at Waco Live Oak -- Oak is OK. Live Oak 49-14
Harmony Science at West Columbia Charter -- Harmony district finale. West Columbia Charter 32-24
Last week: 20-4 (.833)
Season total: 129-32 (.801)
David Campbell's email address is email@example.com.