Before the season began, the District 19-3A championship race figured to come down to Palestine and Fairfield. And after a very telling non-district, those two remain the favorites heading into league play.

ETSN.fm tabbed Palestine to win the district title back in August, and after a 3-0 start, the Wildcats looked to be every bit of the 19-3A favorite. But losses in two of the Wildcats' last three games, coupled with a dominant start to the season by Fairfield, has caused us to revisit the situation with league action set to begin later this week.

Rusk's Ray Foreman (34) lunges for the end zone during a 21-0 home win against Eustace on Sept. 13. (Special to ETSN.fm)

Palestine (4-2) was on a roll, outscoring Waco La Vega, Jacksonville and Kaufman by a combined score of 116-75. But consecutive losses to Chapel Hill (62-27) and Athens (35-28) brought the Wildcats down a notch or two.

Injuries to key performers, including leading rusher Ben Luckett and offensive lineman Eric Gonzales, played a role in the two defeats. Palestine was able to secure a 32-0 win over Pittsburg in its non-district finale last week, which could serve Wildcats well when they began 19-3A play next Friday after their bye week.

No. 7 Fairfield (6-0) has emerged a clear favorite to win the district. The Eagles' strong non-district includes a 44-24 victory over defending Class 3A Division II state champion Navasota. Fairfield, which averages 55.6 points and 491 yards per game, is led by senior running back Larry Rose, who has rushed for 1,132 yards and 18 touchdowns. Quarterback Jacob Gallegos has also been efficient, passing for 903 yards with 11 scores and no interceptions in 105 attempts.

The rest of the district -- Groesbeck (3-3), Rusk (2-4) and Mexia (2-4) -- will fight it out for the last two playoff spots.

Groesbeck, last season's third-place finisher, has been outscored 179-44 in losses to Waco Robinson, Teague and Lorena. Mexia, which suffered through an 0-10 2012 season, has picked up impressive wins over Waco La Vega and Kaufman. Rusk, trying to reach the playoffs for just the second time in head coach Ted Patton's six seasons, needs to improve an offense that's averaging just 15.8 points per game.

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* -- denotes playoff berth.

Friday's District 19-3A Openers

  • Rusk at Fairfield
  • Groesbeck at Mexia