District 9-A Division I appears to be one of the hardest leagues to gauge in East Texas entering this week's openers.

ETSN.fm's preseason pick of Joaquin as district champion still seems to be relatively safe despite the Rams' 2-2 record. Joaquin's losses came to Class A Division II power Tenaha and 4-1 Class 2A Elkhart.

After that, the district race gets very interesting.

Timpson OL/DL Dimric Caraway. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Timpson and Harleton are each 4-1 entering Friday night's meeting at Wildcat Stadium. Harleton is 3-1 against Class 2A teams with its only loss coming against 3-2 New Diana. Timpson won its first four games before last week's 20-15 loss at Mount Enterprise. This week's contest gives the winner a leg up not only on second place, but potentially the league championship if Joaquin falters.

Beckville has started unexpectedly strong at 4-1. The Bearcats lost their opener to a 3-2 Tyler Bishop Gorman team, but have won four consecutive games against fellow Class A opponents by an average of 34.8 points per game. In that four-game span, Beckville has allowed a total of 19 points.

Beckville DL Haston Adams. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Big Sandy has had opposite results with an 0-5 start, but the Wildcats have faced four 2A teams and four teams that have winning records. Four of Big Sandy's five losses -- excluding the 55-19 loss to West Rusk, the Raiders' lone win in their 1-5 start -- came by a total of 23 points. The 9-A D-I schedule favors Big Sandy, too, considering that the Wildcats get 3 of 5 games at home.

Carlisle's 3-2 start has included two wins against 1A schools, one against a small private school, and two losses to fellow 1A programs. The Tribe is one of the harder teams to judge entering district play, but like Big Sandy, Carlisle gets 3 of 5 league contests at home.

Beckville, Big Sandy, and Carlisle all have reasons to believe they can fight their way into the top three, although Joaquin, Harleton, and Timpson probably must be considered the playoff favorites through non-district action.

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* -- denotes playoff berth

Friday's District 9-A Division I Openers

  • Joaquin at Carlisle
  • Timpson at Harleton
  • Beckville at Big Sandy
Big Sandy QB Travis Willoughby. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)