Rouse used its bye week to rest and get a little healthier before the final sprint to the finish of the regular season.
The Raiders host Connally Friday at 7 p.m. at Gupton Stadium in a battle of teams looking to win their first District 11-5A Division I game of the season. Rouse shut out the Cougars last year on its way to a playoff berth.
"It's a big one, we've got to get off the hump," Rouse head coach Josh Mann said. "This district is everything that people thought it would be. It's a meat grinder. I think it's one of the best in Central Texas if not in the state."
Rouse opened the year with two wins in its first three games but has lost four straight to A&M Consolidated, Cedar Park, Pflugerville and Manor before last week's much-needed week away from the field.
Connally won in its third week of the season against Bastrop but has dropped five in a row since then, allowing 64 points per game while scoring just over 21 points a game in that span. The Cougars have given up more than 55 points in a game three times this season.
"They're extremely athletic and their quarterback runs their scheme really well," Mann said. "They move the ball on Cedar Park and Manor and they do some good things. And (Connally coach Jason Cecil's) teams are always going to be solid across the board on defense."
Rouse's offense is based largely on the ground with running backs Tavian Tate and Mylan Mitchell and quarterback Ethan Moore. The trio has combined for more than 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground this year.
Mann said he expects to have a pair of offensive linemen returning from injury to help boost their potent running game and there are potentially three starters returning on the defensive side of the ball.
"We've been rotating a lot of different guys on the offensive line all year," Mann said. "That's always tough if you're injured and you can't be consistent up front, it can affect your offensive productivity."
The Connally offense is much more of an air-raid attack as junior quarterback Darius McGrew has thrown 1,470 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. His favorite target is senior Diamonte Francois, who has 73 receptions for 990 yards and eight touchdowns this year.
A season ago, Rouse had lost three of its first four district games. But a 47-0 win against the Cougars helped the Raiders finish the season strong and sneak into the playoffs.
"I feel like, for the first time since August, we're getting healthy as a team and this is an opportunity with both of us trying to get a win in the district," Mann said. "With the way things can shape out, you never know what could happen."
But the Raiders' schedule the rest of the way is much more of an uphill battle as they head north to take on Georgetown on Nov. 2 and play host to a state-ranked Hutto team in the regular-season finale on Nov. 9.
In addition to getting a little rest the last week, Mann and the Rouse staff were able to dive into the nitty-gritty details so they'll be ready for whatever the next three games throw at them.
"We went back and watched some previous games and slowed it down and got some things fixed that maybe during a normal pressing week you can't slow down as much," Mann said.
Glenn at Marble Falls
Mustang Stadium, Marble Falls
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
What a season Glenn has had so far. The Grizzlies have pushed their winning streak to five games in a row, earned the first ranking in the coaches poll and sit at the top of the District 13-5A Division II standings. Glenn had a major comeback in their win against East View last week, scoring 28 points in the second half and holding off the Patriots to remain the only team still undefeated in district play. Drew McGuire had 182 yards and three passing touchdowns, while the stable of rushers had 203 combined yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Sam Martin caught two touchdowns, both of which were touchdowns. Marble Falls has yet to win a district game and allows a district-most 42.5 points per game. Glenn ends the regular season hosting Brenham next week and traveling to Bastrop in the regular-season finale.
Georgetown at Manor
Mustang Stadium, Manor
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Eagles had a brutal start to the district schedule, starting with Hutto and Cedar Park, both of which are still undefeated and currently in playoff positions. Georgetown got in the win column with a 28-17 win against Pflugerville last week as quarterback Jackson Sioson there for 145 yards and a score and rushed for 29 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Dylan Cahill had a big night, catching eight passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. They face off against another school that dropped down from Class 6A in Manor. The Mustangs have done well so far, winning four straight district games, highlighted by a 38-7 win against Pflugerville to begin district play. The Eagles and Mustangs split the only two games they’ve played against each other when they were district foes 2012 and 2013.
McNeil at Stony Point
Dragon Stadium, Round Rock
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Mavs are fighting for a playoff spot and have won three of their first five district games, while this game is almost ado or die for the Tigers as they sit one game back with two games to go in the regular season following Friday night. McNeil made quick work of Leander the last time they took the field last Thursday night at Dragon Stadium. Zane Kampfer threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns, Jordan Kerley caught seven passes for 160 yards and a score and Winston Hutchinson rushed for 111 yards and four touchdowns in the lopsided 55-20 win against the Lions. For Stony Point, quarterback Kyle Overton was injured in their loss against Hendrickson but returned last week against Round Rock. He only threw nine passes and split time with Jackson Tingler as the Tigers struggled to move the football and lost to the Dragons 43-7. Stony Point leads the all-time series against McNeil 9-3, but the Mavs have won two of the last three contests.
Vista Ridge at Hendrickson
The Pfiled, Pflugerville
Friday, 7 p.m.
This has been a largely forgettable year for the Rangers, who have one won one district game against Leander. They have one of the toughest closing stretches of the group as they play three teams currently in a playoff position in the last three weeks. Vista Ridge lost to Stony Point 44-0 two weeks ago and fell to Cedar Ridge 62-7 last Friday night. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Brown threw for 131 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Raiders and Caleb Cross caught the score, a 32-yard pass in the second quarter. But the running games struggled to get going as the Rangers combined for just 51 yards on 30 carries. The Hendrickson defense is the best in the league. The Hawks give up just 14.8 points through five district games, which the most they’ve given up being 29 in a loss to undefeated Vandegrift. Vista Ridge’s lone win against Hendrickson came in the season opener in 2010.
Westwood at Leander
Bible Stadium, Leander
Friday, 7 p.m.
Both the Warriors and Lions are looking to end the season on a high note. Leander has lost seven games in a row with the last being a 55-20 loss to McNeil, while the Westwood has dropped three straight games, including a 21-12 in a wet and slippery game last Friday afternoon. Leander has built a pretty solid running game utilizing the triple option and rushed for 3232 yards and two touchdowns last Friday against McNeil. Quarterback Rashad Carter is up to1,054 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year while Xavier Dotson has three rushing touchdowns and Addison LaRue has a pair of scores. The Warriors have more of a balanced offense with sophomore quarterback R.J. Martinez and running backs Nate Anderson and Mario Debs. Two of the older schools in Round Rock and Leander school districts, the Lions have won nine of the last 10 meetings, but the Warriors came away with a 46-21 win in non-district play a season ago.