Aledo, Birdville face off on ESPNU in Week 9 Texas football

When it was announced that Aledo would be playing Birdville on national TV this season, most figured Bearcats tailback Johnathan Gray would be on the verge of breaking yet another record. What they probably didn't imagine was that Birdville (7-1) would have a better record than Aledo (6-2).

Both are true, for the moment, entering their 7 p.m. Thursday matchup at Birdville on ESPNU, but Aledo is still in the driver's seat. The Bearcats are 5-0 in District 5-4A play and can clinch the title with a win tonight. What's more, Gray needs 24 more points to move into second place on the all-time national career scoring list. Doing so, would punctuate a big week for Gray, who received his honorary Under Armour All-America Game jersey and met Sugar Land legend Ken Hall, who holds many of the records that Gray has broken and looks to surpass.

The last time these two met, Gray had 313 yards and six scores. It could be much of the same against a Birdville squad that hasn't scored less than 21 points in a game this season and doesn't mind getting in a shootout.

My pick: Aledo 42, Birdville 28

No. 11 Highland Park (8-0) at Rockwall-Heath (8-0)

The District 10-4A title will likely be decided Friday when these two teams meet up. Running back Preston Miller leads Highland Park after racking up 117 yards and three scores in last week's win against McKinney North. Rockwall-Heath has a playmaker of its own in dual threat QB Cody Court, but the onus will be on Hawks defense to take control of this games.

My pick: Highland Park 28, Rockwall-Heath 20

No. 22 Dawson (8-0) at La Marque (7-2)

La Marque started slow but has come on of late, winning its last four games behind the rushing of All-State back Tim Wright (1,365 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns). The Cougars will need a win to keep pace in the District 24-4A race, but in this case two stars may be better than one.

Dawson features a two-headed monster in the backfield of QB Garry Kimble (1,825 passing yards and 18 TDs) and RB James White (1,104 rushing yards, 14 scores) that has been nearly unstoppable this season.

My pick: Dawson 35, La Marque 24

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.