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Football takes a back seat after events of 9-11

It’s hard to even think about anything else these days after we watched with horror the events that unfolded on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in New York and Washington, D.C. The senseless acts of violence aimed at our country will never be forgotten and our thoughts and prayers go out to all who lost loved ones and friends.

But as we have done following other national tragedies, we will rise from the ashes, rebuild, move on and be a stronger, more united nation, but I hope for our sake, that none of us ever forget what transpired on Sept. 11, 2001.

This column has been a joy to write over the years, so I’ll apologize beforehand if this week’s edition doesn’t have it’s usual dash of humor. I hope you’ll understand.

The third week of the high school season is upon us and that means the final tune-ups before District 21-5A play begins for Aldine ISD’ s four varsity program next week. Before we take a look at this week’s game, let’s review the results of the first week, which produced an 8-4 record (66 percent).

Aldine vs. Spring: The Mustangs had a rough start to the season, losing by three touchdowns to Madison. In that game, the Mustangs saw what a talented player quarterback Vincent Young is as he ran and passed his team past Bill Smith’s bunch. This week, Aldine will go up against another top QB in Spring’s Adam Karas, a team that favors the pass to the run. The Mustangs secondary will have to be on its toes this week and solid play by the defensive front is a must. Something tells me Smith will right the ship and have his troops ready for 21-SA play. My pick, Aldine 31, Spring 23

MacArthur vs. Hightower: The Generals got off to a good start with a 24-22 win over Conroe two weeks ago and this week they’ll be looking for more pay back when they take on Hightower. Terry Forga and his team want to go into league play with momentum at its back and winning on the road would do a lot for the team’s confidence. My pick, MacArthur 26, Hightower 14

Lufkin at Eisenhower: This is one of the featured game in the state as the No. 3-ranked Panthers and star quarterback Reggie McNeal (6-3, 185 pounds, 4.4 speed) pays a visit to Thorne Stadium to take on Richard Carson’s No. 4-ranked Eagles. Eisenhower looked in midseason form in its opener against Willowridge as the Eagles recorded a 28-0 victory, but things will get decidedly more difficult this week when Lufkin comes to town. A year ago, Ike returned from Lufkin with a victory and a win over a highly-ranked team will send a message to the rest of 21-SA that the Eagles are serious about defending their league title. This should be a great game to watch. My pick, Eisenhower 23, Lufkin 20

Washington at Nimitz: A year ago, the Cougars had a tough time against Washington, but it appears that Randy Rowe’s team is better defensively this year, as evidenced by their 16-3 season opening win over LaPorte two weeks ago. Nimitz is a team that the rest of 21-SA had better be aware because they have enough talent on hand to contend for not only a playoff spot, but for the league title. You’d better believe that the Coogs will have revenge on their mind when they entertain Washington this week. My pick, Nimitz 30, Washington 7

Now let’s take a look at the key games in college football this weekend.

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M: The Aggies are off to a 2-0 start, but the wins have not been impressive enough for some Aggie fans. The Internet chat rooms are full of R.C. Slocum bashers, so it’s imperative that the Ags get off to a solid start in their Big 12 opener against a much-improved OSU squad. A&M’s running game has been missing for almost two years now and it’s time Slocum named a starter and sticks with him. This is the type of game the Aggies must win, and win convincingly and they can’t allow themselves to look ahead to Notre Dame’s visit the following weekend. If they do, they just might make things uncomfortable for their head coach. My pick, A&M 31, OSU 14

Mississippi State at South Carolina: A key game in the SEC as Lou Holtz’s Gamecocks host Jackie Sherrill and his talented Bulldogs. MSU has enough talent on hand to win the SEC West, so South Carolina had better bring its A game on Saturday. Holtz has turned the program around in a short time and a win over MSU would convince many that last year’s 8-4 record was no fluke. Look for a tight, defensive struggle in this one. My pick, South Carolina 13, Mississippi State 10

Ohio State at UCLA: Another Big lO-Pac 10 meeting in what should be a good football game to watch. UCLA is one talented football team. They rolled the Tide in Alabama in week 1 and then ran roughshod over Kansas the following week. The Bruins are loaded on offense and have speed to burn on defense. Ohio State looked OK in its 28-14 win over Akron in head coach Jim Tressell’ s debut, but they will get their first real test this Saturday in the Rose Bowl. Tressell should know more about his team after this game, and he might not like what he sees after the Bruins get through with the Buckeyes. My pick, UCLA 34, Ohio State 17

USC at Oregon: A key Pac 10 game as the Ducks open their Pac 10 season against the improved Trojans. Oregon has looked sharp in its first two outings (wins over Wisconsin and Utah), while the Trojans have split their first two games under first-year head coach Pete Carroll. Oregon QB Joey Herthington is a Heismann Trophy candidate, but he’s not the only talented player in Duckland. The Trojans will find that out the hard way this weekend. My pick, Oregon 27, USC 10

Now let’s take a look at what the NFL has to offer this weekend.

Oakland at Miami: This could be a preview of the AFC Championship game. Both teams got off to good starts in their openers, but the Dolphins’ 31-23 win at Tennessee was much more impressive than Oakland’s 27-24 win at Kansas City. Miami’s defense played well in the win over the Titans, but it was the offense that opened a lot of eyes around the NFL. The once conservative Fish were filling the air with passes and running back Lamar Smith proved he’s a threat as a runner and receiver. Look for these two to play it close to the vest and in games like that, always go with the home team. My pick, Miami 20, Oakland 17

San Diego at Dallas: Just when you thought this would be one of the Cowboys’ two wins on the season, the Chargers jump up and whomp Washington 30-3 in their opener, so Dallas had better not think this one is a gimmie. The Chargers are a young and talented group and quarterback Doug Flutie and rookie running back LaDanian Tomlinson have breathed new life into what was a drab offense a year ago. The Cowboys played hard in their opener, but rookie quarterback Quincy Carter looked overmatched against the Tampa Bay defense. Dallas must keep up the defensive intensity it showed in the opener because you can bet the Chargers are hungry to erase the memories of last year’s 1-15 campaign. My pick, Dallas 17, San Diego 13

St. Louis at San Francisco: Get out the calculators for this one. Both of these teams can score with any team in the league, but it appears both have improved their defensive play if Week 1 is any indication. The Rams looked solid in their 20-17 overtime win at Philadelphia, while the 49ers earned a hard-fought 16-13 OT win over Atlanta in their opener. These two teams do not like one another, so expect a hard-hitting affair by the Bay on Sunday. The nod goes to the Rams in this one because of their overall team speed on offense. My pick, St. Louis 33, San Francisco 26

Washington at Green Bay: Wasn’t it a joy to watch little Danny Snyder’s ‘Skins get trounced by San Diego two weeks ago? Yes it was. The Redskins, two years removed as NFC East champs, looked like an old football team in the first week of the season. Jeff George is up to his old tricks of pouting (and throwing interceptions) on the sidelines, while the defense was pushed all over the field by the upstart Chargers. Green Bay, on the other hand, looked in midseason form in its 28-6 win over Detroit. Quarterback Brett Favre was sharp and running back Ahman Green proved he is developing into one of the league’s elite backs with two long touchdown runs and 177 yards of total offense. Look for the Pack to light up the ‘Skins on Monday night. My pick, Green Bay 31, Washington 14.