Annual ‘Battle For the Saddle’ Has More at Stake

W.T. White quarterback Jackson Fults will lead the Longhorns against Jesuit tonight. (Photo: Chris McGathey)
W.T. White quarterback Jackson Fults will lead the Longhorns against Jesuit tonight. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

Neighborhood bragging rights will be on the line tonight in the annual “Battle for the Saddle” football game between Jesuit and W.T. White — two campuses just a few blocks apart.

But more important to both teams in the 7:30 p.m. game at Loos Stadium will be the potential playoff implications of the matchup, with both teams in contention for postseason spots in District 9-6A.

The Longhorns (4-3, 2-2) are in a more precarious position in the league standings, having dropped to fourth place — with just three games remaining — after a 42-0 loss to powerhouse Skyline last week. White’s game at Irving Nimitz next week will also be critical.

The Rangers (5-2, 3-1) are in third place and appear more secure in their playoff future after a 51-27 drubbing of Irving Nimitz a week ago behind four passing touchdowns from Bo Schneider, who has verbally committed to Central Florida.

Jesuit also faces a key showdown next week against Irving MacArthur, who has started 4-0 in district play. But that game likely won’t impact the Rangers’ seeding either way because MacArthur is destined for the 6A Division I bracket while Jesuit will be in Division II.

At any rate, Jesuit has dominated the rivalry against the Longhorns in recent years, including a 71-34 blowout last season. The Rangers have won all four meetings since 2010 in lopsided fashion.

But this arguably is White’s best team during that stretch, since the Longhorns haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t posted a winning record since 2000.

The main question will be whether White can slow down Jesuit’s high-powered offense, because nobody else has accomplished that feat. The Rangers average more than 50 points with a slew of playmakers including Schneider (who has 30 touchdown passes and just one interception this year), running back Matt Slovak, and receiver Garrett Amy.


Other key games this week:

St. Mark’s (5-3, 4-2) at Greenhill (3-5, 2-4)

7 p.m. Friday

The Lions, who will travel to Bellaire Episcopal for an SPC playoff game next week, have averaged more than 42 points during their three-game winning streak that included a 42-13 drubbing of Holland Hall. The Hornets will finish their season trying for their first upset of St. Mark’s in more than a decade.


Woodrow Wilson (5-2, 3-1) at Hillcrest (6-1, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday at Franklin Stadium

These two Dallas ISD rivals have a long history, and the winner of this year’s meeting will clinch a playoff spot. Both squads had blowout wins last week, with QB Arico Evans and the Panthers dominating Thomas Jefferson 63-0, and the Wildcats topping Conrad 65-0 behind standout RB Tracy James.


Cistercian (4-4, 1-3) at ESD (6-2, 2-2)

7 p.m. Friday

A late rally by Houston Kinkaid last week left the Eagles with their second straight loss after a 6-0 start, but ESD can still clinch a home SPC playoff game with if it can bounce back with a victory over the Hawks in the regular-season finale. Cistercian is led by QB Matthew Merrick and RB Dare Odeyingbo.


Arlington Grace Prep (4-4, 2-2) at Parish Episcopal (6-1, 3-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The Panthers continue their march toward the TAPPS playoffs with a four-game winning streak intact after a 57-18 nondistrict drubbing of Lubbock Trinity last week. Parish has eclipsed the 40-point mark on offense in six straight games. The Lions won last week, but haven’t taken two straight all season.


Trinity Christian (3-4, 1-3) at Argyle Liberty (5-2, 3-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

The Trojans snapped a three-game skid with a 63-21 rout of John Paul II last week, with Nahshon Ellerbe rushing for 333 yards and five touchdowns, and now TCA begins a stretch of three tough games to close the season. The Warriors narrowly dropped a first-place showdown with Bishop Dunne a week ago.

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