FRIENDSWOOD

Two teams outperforming preseason expectations will clash under the Friday night lights as the Friendswood Mustangs (5-1 overall, 3-0 in District 24-6A) host the Clear Creek Wildcats (3-2, 2-1) at Henry Winston Stadium.

“Friendswood is a tough matchup,” Clear Creek head coach Darrell Warden said. “Friendswood is well-coached and they’re big. They’re pretty sound. We’re going to have to play well in all phases of the game to be competitive. They’re just solid. They do things right. They’re always in the right position. They don’t give you anything cheap, because they don’t miss a line or turn the ball over. They do a great job of controlling the ball and their defense is good, too.”

Both teams are on similar trajectories so far this season, with both starting off their seasons with tough losses but rebounding to improve week-to-week. Friendswood is on a five-game winning streak since a 45-28 loss at Barbers Hill, while Clear Creek has three wins and a close loss against a tough Clear Springs team since dropping its season opener to Houston Heights, 56-21.

While the Mustangs are one of just two teams still undefeated in 24-6A play, head coach Robert Koopmann knows the Wildcats present a stern challenge.

“In our short stay in 24-6A, we have a losing record against them,” Koopmann said. “I have a lot of respect for coach Warden; they know what they’re doing over there. I’m sure it’s going to be an uphill struggle for us.”

Friendswood snapped a two-game losing streak against the Wildcats last year with a 52-34 win. But, both teams have, to some degree, a new look this season.

Clear Creek is led by a potent offense helmed by senior quarterback Sam Mathews. A dual-threat QB, Mathews’ skills are utilized in the Wildcats’ offense similarly to how Friendswood’s standout QB from last season, Tyler Page, was used.

“I’m expecting them to be tough,” Mathews said. “We’re going to have to play hard and hopefully we’ll come through. … Coaching has always been there. We’re going to have to rely on the coaches to get us there and ready for this game.”

Without last season’s star Page, the Mustangs’ identity this season has been about getting stops on defense and chewing up yards and game clock on the legs of senior running back Mason Barnes.

“If you had asked me in August what our formula was going to be to win, it wouldn’t be what it’s become, and that’s run the football, control the clock, don’t turn the ball over and let our defense play. And I think that’s going to be who we are for the duration (of the season).”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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