The University Interscholastic League (UIL), in its infinite wisdom, produced “Zero Week” as a response to a scheduling problem. The idea was to give schools in districts with five, six or seven teams an 11th week to play with so they could schedule ten games.
Without Zero Week, a team in a seven-team district could run into trouble scheduling during the fourth week if all its neighboring schools in eight-team districts already are into district play. The extra week gives that team in a smaller district another chance to work in that tenth game.
That was the idea. In practice, Zero Week had evolved into a mechanism to give all teams an off week between the non-district games and the district schedule. For practical purposes, there really is no Zero Week anymore because almost every team schedules for Zero Week.
As it happens, this week is Zero Week, which used to be the week before high school football season was supposed to start, and now just is the first week. All three high school teams along the Interstate in Hays County have scheduled games for Friday night, just so they can take an off week to work out kinks and rest players right before the district schedule.
Following is rundown of the local high school football schedule during Zero Week.
San Marcos at Waco: If San Marcos is going to catch Waco vulnerable, Friday night is as good a time as any. The game is at Waco, which doesn’t help the Rattlers, but Waco is somewhat of a re-assembly mode, with only four starters on offense and two on defense returning from last year’s 9-2 outfit.
No one figures Waco will struggle too much this year. Indeed, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks Waco 25th in Class 4A. Come to think of it, that is struggling by Waco standards.
This game could go crazy, because both teams are rebuilding their defenses. San Marcos returns only three defensive starters.
Then again, this game could also go nowhere, because both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks. Waco is likely to go with junior Kollin Kahlin, though Clarence Willis could also work behind center. San Marcos is going with Aaron Canady, who also will play cornerback.
The top returning rusher for Waco, fullback Bronshae Dugas, carried for 817 yards last year. The top returning rusher for San Marcos also is a fullback, Joekkava Yzaguirre, who rushed last year for 425 yards.
Friday could be one of those nights when the San Marcos Slot-T offense truly makes a difference. The Waco defense is inexperienced to begin with, and now it’s faced with a deceptive running attack that has driven more experienced defenses mad. If Canady has the sleight-of-hand working in his first start, the Rattlers could ride home at the end of the night with a promising victory.
In fact, we’ll call this one for San Marcos, just because it’s the opener against a raw defense. Call it San Marcos 28, Waco 26.
Hays at Bastrop: The Rebels seem to always have their way at Bastrop. Last year, when all of Bastrop hoped for miracles as the Bears opened at home under former Westlake Coach Ron Schroeder, the Rebels thumped them, 28-14. Bastrop went on to finish the season 1-9 and Schroeder decided to leave.
But it’s a new year and Hays will have its hands full this time. Bastrop returns its top skill players on offense and defense hasn’t been a strong suit at Hays in years.
Bastrop returns seven offensive starters, including quarterback Matt Homesly, running back Bubba Johnson, and wide receivers Reshawn Lincoln and Daryl McFarlin. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be too impressed. The Bears were shut out in their last three games of 2007.
Trey Berry becomes the new quarterback at Hays after making some plays last year as a wide receiver. Unlike Bastrop, Hays is replacing offensive weapons, though Head Coach Bob Shelton thinks he has nice talent and depth at the skill positions. The real danger for Hays consists in playing new safeties against experienced skilled players for Bastrop, which could lead to big plays for the home side.
Anything can happen during the first game of the season. Hays has won ten straight against Bastrop going back to 1995. This time could be different, but Hays is looking to a big year after playing well in scrimmages against Westlake and Cedar Park. Call it for Hays, 30-23.
Lehman at Reisel: The Lobos were going to open against Johnston, but the state shut down Johnston, so the team against which Lehman notched two of its three wins in the last two years is gone.
Reisel is an emergency replacement, a Class 1A school that finished last year 3-7. Lehman should win easily, despite last year’s 1-9 finish. After all, Lehman, with 1,600 students, is about eight times as large as Reisel.
Keep an eye on Lehman running back R.J. Hardaway, who missed half of last season with knee trouble and still rushed for 446 yards. If Hardaway can put together a big year, he could carry Lehman into the playoffs. Give Lehman the nod in a big way, 38-16.