It's only January, but Texas high school football fans are already pointing toward a handful of key football games in the opening weeks that may shape the race for the 2009 UIL 5A Football Finals.Among a handful of key games in the opening weeks of the season before district play begins:
Southlake Carroll vs. Plano West:Two premier 5A programs from the North Texas area will return to anchor the Tom Landry Classic on Saturday, August 29 at SMU's Ford Stadium. Red Oak and Highland Park will again complete the season-opening doubleheader.
Odessa Permian vs. Duncanville:Both perennial powers will be meeting at a neutral site for the second year. After playing at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene to kickoff the 2008 season, the 2009 matchup moves to San Antonio as part of the season-opening 2009 Texas Football Classic. A kickoff on Thursday August 27 – the opening night across Texas – remains a possibility for this game.
Euless Trinity vs. Cedar Hill/Euless Trinity at Allen:Trinity's fierce warpath during the non-district schedule includes huge back-to-back meetings with recent 5A state champions. Look for the Cedar Hill game possibly being moved to Saturday, September 12, while the Allen game (remember the Eagles ended Trinity's 27-game winning streak during the postseason last fall) will be at Pennington Field on the 18th.
Galena Park North Shore at Katy:It was a top game on our regular-season list for 2008, and may be another memorable collision in 2009. The site will be Rhodes Stadium in Katy on Friday, August 28, as North Shore looks to extend its regular-season winning streak. Don't be surprised if regional TV moves this game to Thursday the 27th or Saturday the 29th.
Galena Park North Shore vs. Southlake Carroll:The much-anticipated meeting in North Texas between the two 5A powers in 2008 was cancelled due to Hurricane Ike. Since the Dragons lost the home game, the 2009 game on September 25 will be played at a neutral site instead of in Galena Park, perhaps Texas A&M's Kyle Field or Waco ISD Stadium.
Allen at Longview:It's the Battle of Champions, with Allen coming off a 5A, Div. I state championship and Longview losing to explosive Lake Travis for the 4A, Div. II crown last December. Yes, Longview is in 4A, but traveling to East Texas will show how good the Eagles will be defending their crown in '09. No time to rest for the Lobos, who will then head to Tyler to meet Tyler Lee in the 2009 Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic, which will also include a matchup of John Tyler vs. Lufkin in the annual three-day event.
Katy vs. TBD:One noteworthy game in 2009 yet to be determined involves the two-time defending state champion Katy Tigers. The Tigers will again host a highly-regarded opponent from outside Texas. Last October, Katy defeated then unbeaten Weston ( Fla. ) Cypress Bay in the Battle At Rhodes on ESPNU. TITUS Sports Marketing, which is based in Dallas, is charged with finding the national opponent again for Katy.