Video: Joshua Fleeks's highlights vs. Mesquite Horn High School
See the Cedar Hill recevier lead the Longhorns to victory.
A six-mile drive down Belt Line Road separates two of the top high school football programs in Texas. College recruiters know neighboring southwest Dallas County cities DeSoto and Cedar Hill very well.
On Friday night at DeSoto's Eagle Stadium, the Battle of Belt Line will be renewed again in a District 7-6A opener. A little luster perhaps is missing this year with two losses already on the Cedar Hill ledger. But as coaches like to say, when rivals play, you can throw the records out.
Neither program was considered a football power until population growth in the 1990s. Both cities grew, but it was Cedar Hill that reached the summit first with state titles in 2006, 2013-14. Joey McGuire, coach of the three state championship teams, left after last season for the college ranks and one-time defensive coordinator Carlos Lynn is now in charge.
After some gut-wrenching playoff losses to Allen, DeSoto finally broke through last year under second-year head coach Todd Peterman with a perfect 16-0 state championship season that included two wins over Cedar Hill.
Here are some of this week's intriguing matchups:
Cedar Hill 1-2 at DeSoto 3-0, 7:30 p.m. Friday
DeSoto won both games last year on the way to a state title, 33-18 in the District 7-6A regular season and 55-41 in a fourth-round playoff game at AT&T Stadium. Coming off an open date, this is the District 7-6A opener for both. Cedar Hill has gotten productive play from running back and Memphis pledge Cameron Fleming (256 yards, three touchdowns) as well as receiver and Baylor pledge Joshua Fleeks (15 catches, 138 yards). DeSoto enters with a 19-game win streak. Quarterback Courtney Douglas has accounted for 815 of the team's 1,242 offensive yards with 223 coming on the ground. Four DeSoto players have already made college commitments including defensive backs including German Green and Gemon Green to Michigan.
Spring Westfield (Houston) 2-0 at Spring 2-0, 7 p.m. Friday
Nothing like beginning District 16-6A play with a rivalry game. Spring's only district loss last year was to champ Westfield. Junior quarterback Terrance Gipson has accounted for 460 yards of offense, 344 in the air for Westfield. Under first-year head coach Trent Miller, Spring has allowed only 13 points with a defense that returned eight starters. Heading the list is defensive end Willie Smith III, a Houston pledge who recorded 74 tackles and eight sacks in 2016.
Refugio 2-0 at Navarro (Geronimo) 4-0, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Refugio, the defending Class 2A DI state champion plays up two classifications against its 4A DII host hoping to avenge last year's 14-6 loss, the only stain on a 15-1 record. Heading the list of 11 returning starters is Jacobe Avery who accounted for 25 touchdowns in the title run. Navarro is coming off a 14-1 season when it reached the state semifinal playoff round. Quarterback Will Eveld stands out among seven returning starters.
Wimberley 4-0 at Fredericksburg 4-0, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Two Class 4A unbeatens in different divisions clash. Wimberley (DII) quarterback Jordan Weeks has thrown for 1,225 yards and he spreads it around. Four receivers have gone over the 200-yard season receiving mark. Fredericksburg (DI) loves to pressure the opposing quarterback as its 22 sacks indicates. Sack leader with six is senior Cullen Yates. The heavy rush has helped force four pass interceptions. The Billies have reached the 50-point plateau three times.
Cypress Ranch (Houston) 2-0 at Cy-Fair (Cypress) 2-0, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
Both teams are off to 2-0 league starts in the grueling 10-team District 17-6A. Ranch has a quick turnaround for a Thursday kickoff after a Saturday night win over Jersey Village (Houston). Ranch depends on massive senior offensive linemen Colten Blanton (6-7, 300), a Texas A&M pledge, and Jeffrey Rose (6-6, 290), committed to Stephen F. Austin. For Cy-Fair, senior Trent Kennedy is building on his 2016 rushing numbers of 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. Defensively, cornerback Erick Hallett II has verbally committed to Washington State.
Bishop Dunne (Dallas) 1-1 at Bishop Lynch (Dallas) 3-0, 7 p.m. Friday
The TAPPS Division I District 1 opener happens to be a rematch of last year's state championship game, won by Lynch 21-17. Dunne made its third consecutive state title game appearance last year. The Dunne passing combination of Peyton Culberson to highly regarded wide receiver Marquez Beason has been productive so far. Lynch has gotten exceptional defensive play, allowing only 14 points and accumulating 10 turnovers and 14 quarterback sacks. Senior Jeremy Irving has come up with three turnovers, two via interception.
Stephenville4-0 at Graham 4-0, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Stephenville has already exceeded last season's win total. Krece Nowak has rushed for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Graham returns 14 starters, including quarterback Tucker Horn who threw for 20 touchdowns and over 2,600 yards last fall.
Fossil Ridge (Keller) 4-0 at Timber Creek (Fort Worth) 4-0, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Fossil Ridge quarterback Cobe Craft has thrown for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns, nine going to Stefan Cobbs, Jr., (23 catches, 577 yards). Timber Creek could try to use its steady rushing attack led by Blake Irving (85 carries, 510 yards) to build a time of possession edge in this District 3-6A opener.
Veterans Memorial (Corpus Christi) 4-0 at Miller (Corpus Christi) 3-0, 7 p.m. Thursday
Two surprise teams in District 30-5A clash. Memorial has already reached last season's win total and Miller won just one in 2016. Senior Frank Jones helps balance the Memorial offense with 586 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Joshua Vasquez affords Miller versatility and experience at quarterback.
Childress 4-0 at Henrietta 4-0, 7 p.m. Friday
Junior dual-threat quarterback Luke Latimer has thrown for 844 yards and rushed for 318 in a solid start for Childress, which advanced three playoff rounds last year. Henrietta has a proven quarterback of its own in Zack West.