3A/2A/1A/6M Preview: Area Round
The 3A, 2A, 1A and six-man Texas high school football playoffs hit full swing tonight, and DCTF gets you ready.
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It’s playoff time! The Texas high school football playoffs continue tonight in the area round. DCTF’s Greg Tepper picks out the best games from each 3A, 2A, 1A and six-man classification.
DON'T FORGET: DCTF Playoff Central has everything a true Texas high school football fan needs for the playoffs, including brackets, matchups and DCTF associate editor Greg Tepper's complete predictions for every bracket.
3A DI: Navasota vs. Carthage, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Corsicana
I told my friends on 1660 ESPN yesterday (I’m on every Thursday at 12:15pm, and you should listen to that station all the time because it’s pretty swell) that this is probably the best game in the state, regardless of classification. You’ve got the defending 3A Division II state champs in Navasota, and the 2008, 2009 and 2010 state champs Carthage. Is that not enough for you? Then how about the offenses? Navasota’s offense has been ludicrous, and doing so with underclassmen: sophomore QB Shelton Eppler, junior RB Derrion Randle, sophomore WR Tren’Davion Dickson. Carthage’s offense is a bit more senior-laden but just as explosive: QB Blake Bogenschutz, RB Tevin Pipkin (when healthy, and he is) and WR Tee Goree have been exceptional. So, with two offenses averaging about 100 points a game between them, we have to look at the defenses. Carthage’s defense has been good, but it’ll need to be great against Navasota, especially DL Mario McCain and that front seven. Navasota’s defense has been pretty much as awesome as its offense, and will feature the single-best defender (and maybe the single-best player) in the game in DT Jordan Wells. That very slight edge defensively makes me lean toward the defending champs.
Tepper’s pick: Navasota 30, Carthage 28
3A DII: Shallowater vs. Monahans, 7 p.m. Friday at Denver City
I think Monahans is better than its record indicates. The Loboes’ three losses came at Midland Christian (pretty clearly the best private school in the state), against unbeaten Canyon (a 4A team, mind you) and Sweetwater (OK, that one’s not a great loss). But with a defense like they have, with DB Junior Morales, LB Bryan Venegas and DE Barry Clayton, they can stay in pretty much any game. They’ll need to slow down Shallowater superstar RB Jarek Black, but the Mustangs are much more than just Black: QB Wes McCutcheon has been strong, and the defense is allowing just 15.9 points per game. Monahans absolutely has to keep the score in the 20s – the offense of QB Hassan Walker isn’t built for big, quick-strike points – and that’s easier said than done against Shallowater, who’s averaging upwards of 46 points per game.
Tepper’s pick: Shallowater 36, Monahans 21
3A DI: Kennedale vs. Burnet, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waco ISD Stadium
Call it a hunch, but I think we’re heading for a thriller in this one. These two teams have big offenses in different ways: Kennedale is an explosive squad with an amazing running game of Juwan Washington (2,269 yards and 36 TDs) and Donny Darville (1,320 yards and 18 TDs) while Burnet airs it out with 3,000-yard passer Derek Kiser (though it should be noted that he averages just 9.3 yards per attempt, so while he’s airing it out, it’s a lot of intermediate passing). In all, Kennedale probably has the better offense, and can control the clock for longer periods of time, but Burnet has a superior defense thanks to Kody Hall and Jake McElroy. So, who wins out? I’m not sure, but it feels like a “who has the ball last” type game.”
Tepper’s pick: Kennedale 42, Burnet 38
3A DII: Orange Grove vs. Port Isabel, 1 p.m. Saturday at Kingsville's Javelina Stadium
Down in South Texas, I’ve made no secrets about my affinity for Port Isabel. I love the way the Tarpons play defense with DE Jacques Guillot (it’s pronounced ghee-OT, and we know that because he told us on Twitter) and LB Jorge Mondragon. Of course, the offense isn’t anything to turn your nose up at – Jaime Gonzalez, Jacob Losoya, Isaiah Martinez and Juan Aguilera have combined to average 10.6 yards per carry as part of the bruising running game – but the defense is the star. And that’s what makes this clash with Orange Grove so interesting. Coach Jerry Bomar’s Bulldogs have been outstanding offensively this season, thanks to the emergence of sophomore QB Hondo Harris and the continued incredibleness (is that a word?) of WR Matthew Priddy. The challenge for Orange Grove will be to slow down the pass rush and give Harris enough time to operate. If that happens, OG’s right in this one.
Tepper’s pick: Port Isabel 32, Orange Grove 24
2A DI: Whitesboro vs. New Boston, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mount Pleasant
Hey, remember when Whitesboro never made the playoffs? The Bearcats, just a few years ago, snapped one of the state’s longest playoff droughts, and there was much celebration in the small town. Well, now, they’re a bona fide contender. Coach Eddie Gill is pressing all the right buttons, and the main button he’s been pushing has been the “run for a touchdown, Colin Kilcrease and Cody Ford” button. Well, that, and the “be awesome, defense” button, as the Bearcats have allowed double-digit points in fewer than half of their games. But New Boston is no playoff newcomer – the Lions, even with a new coach, have roared as usual behind DB Jawaun Johnson, LB Wes Teague, RB Quinn Dedmon and QB Aaron Conkleton. This is a balanced, dangerous and well-tested squad – its lone loss is to Daingerfield. This game should be a classic.
Tepper’s pick: New Boston 29, Whitesboro 26
2A DI: Tatum vs. Godley, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Teague
It’s hard not to be impressed with Godley’s dominating win over Elkhart last week. The whole team was clicking: Dylan Washington and Dylan Portillo dominated defensively, and quarterback Ian Aguirre and running back Taylor Luce did the rest for the Wildcats. But – and I mean this with all due respect to Elkhart – Tatum ain’t Elkhart. Tatum’s one of a handful of teams that can say with authority that it expects to win a state championship, especially considering the defense of DL Collin Gage and LB Kyshaun Smith has simply clobbered people all season. Factor in QB J.D> Taylor and big-play WR Deyante Roberson, and you have a 2A powerhouse with dreams of AT&T Stadium. Godley’s good enough to win this game, but it’ll take another huge day from the Wildcats’ offense to get past Andy Evans’ Eagles.
Tepper’s pick: Tatum 38, Godley 24
2A DII: Sonora vs. Post, 6 p.m. Friday at Big Spring
This is one of those games that it’s a shame someone has two lose, because they’re both really good. Sonora’s been solid all year—remember: the Broncos’ lone loss is to unbeaten Wall, on the road – and it starts with that bruising running game of Chance Campbell, Elijah Cross, QB Michael Rollert and RB Sid Anderson. But Post’s defense is going to provide a salty challenge to that, especially up front with LB Bryan Smith and DL Travis Greathouse. This is an old-school affair that’ll be decided in the trenches, but the difference may be that Sonora’s defense should be able to keep Post RB D.J. Brown in check.
Tepper’s pick: Sonora 26, Post 20
2A DII: Corrigan-Camden vs. Hughes Springs, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Carthage
It’s dangerous to let one game taint your opinion of a team. After all, have you ever had a bad day at work? Would you like to be judged exclusively on that one day? Of course not. But even though it’s just one game, and even though Waskom is a really, really good team, I can’t shake Hughes Springs’ 56-38 loss to Waskom on Week 10. There’s still a ton to like about this team – the running game of RB Michael Martinez, the defense that had given up 83 points combined in nine games before giving up 56 to Waskom. But I’m a little spooked, I admit. And especially going up against an underrated squad like Corrigan-Camden. Did you know, for example, that C-C is unbeaten? Yep. 11-0. And they’re doing it with a big-time offense, averaging upwards of 50 points per game thanks to a dominating offensive line and a sturdy runnig game with Carlos Inguanzo and Raheim Jones. So, there you have it: my confidence on Hughes Springs is a little down, and my confidence on Corrigan-Camden is at an all-time high. What’s that mean? I don’t know.
Tepper’s pick: Hughes Springs 38, Corrigan-Camden 35
1A DI: Stratford vs. Anson, 4 p.m. Friday at Lubbock's Lowery Field
You want proof that every district game matters? If Anson had beaten Stamford instead of losing in a thriller in Week 10, they wouldn’t be here, instead enjoying an easier road as the top seed out of District District 4-1A DI. Instead, the Tigers draw Stratford, and that’s trouble. The Elks have been nothing short of flawless this season, dispatching everyone in their path and doing it in different ways. Need to win a defensive battle? Turn to Tanner Stone and Chase Lutes like it did in their 22-21 win over 2A power Canadian. Need to win a shootout? Let the running game of Christian Martinez and Logan Uttley, or the passing game of QB Rett Schoonover, take over, like it did in the 73-46 win over equally explosive Panhandle. That’s not to say Anson is doomed: the Bulldogs are loaded with QB Jalen Garza at the helm and plenty of defense with DL Lance Norman and LB Matt Villanueva. But – well – district games matter, and now Anson is playing for its playoff lives against one of the state’s elite teams. In any case, this’ll be a lot of fun.
Tepper’s pick: Stratford 38, Anson 27
1A DI: Mason vs. Shiner, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Leander's Bible Stadium
I am accused of a lot of things, and one of them is not appreciating old-school football. Well, let me say this: this game is pretty much the epitome of old-school football, and I’m absolutely fired up about it. Mason and Shiner both run the ball a ton – almost exclusively – and they both play hard-nosed, front-seven heavy defense. LB Jacob Stafford doubles as a key part of the running game for Shiner, while Mason keeps rolling along with its big offensive line of Drigo Martinez and RB Luis Castillo darting right behind him. Oh, and the Mason defense has given up 80 points this year. That’s not a typo: 80 points total. Having a week to get healthy and rest up for Shiner should do the Punchers good, and it’ll take a special offensive effort from the Comanches to get past Mason.
Tepper’s pick: Mason 35, Shiner 21
1A DII: San Angelo TLC vs. Hamlin, 1 p.m. Saturday at Clyde
With all the attention paid to San Angelo Central and – to a lesser extent – San Angelo Lake View, has anyone noticed what TLC is doing? The Eagles have put together their best season ever, and the defense – Trenton Massey, Hays Wood and company – is the reason why, allowing a paltry 10 points per game and notching 14 interceptions in just nine games. But now comes the playoffs, and games that really matter – are they ready for the biggest stage? Hamlin’s a more-than-worthy first-round adversary, scoring points in bunches with junior QB Caymon Georges and RB Tyrone Johnson…and the defense is pretty salty, too. San Angelo TLC has been a great story, and now’s the time they can move from “great story” to “legit contender.”
Tepper’s pick: Hamlin 28, San Angelo TLC 27
1A DII: Falls City vs. D'Hanis, 7:30 p.m. Friday at South San Antonio
After mentioning in my bi-district recap that I was really excited about this game, I got an e-mail this week from a Falls City fan that stated, and I quote, “I’ll tell you what. You big city boys don't know squat about these small town football teams.” Not kidding. I actually got an e-mail that said that. He then went on to explain that Falls City beat D’Hanis, 52-0 earlier this season. And it’s true. But D’Hanis beat Falls City last year. And D’Hanis is playing better, especially offensively, than they were back in Week 3. Now, I’m not picking against Falls City – I think the Beavers have one of their best teams in years, and that includes their state championship team from a few years back – but I do expect this game to be closer. And if D’Hanis can force a few Falls City turnovers…who knows? It’s the playoffs, after all, and that’s something even a big city boy knows.
Tepper’s pick: Falls City 41, D’Hanis 21
Be sure to check out Ken Capps’ six-man blog for more six-man coverage, and make sure you see DCTF associate editor Greg Tepper’s predictions of the six-man brackets!
Six-man guru Leman Saunders previews the area round action this weekend.
DI #1 Water Valley (11-0) v DII #2 Crowell (10-1) – Friday @Hermleigh 7:00pm
Texasfootball.com #1 v #2…need I say more! Region 2 Is without question the toughest in Six-Man..with the four teams left standing ranked #1, #2, #3, and #6…O and Throckmorton who lost in the first round is still Ranked #4! That should tell you something about this region! Crowell will take on the underdog roll yet again and their only loss has come at the hands of DII #2 Follett (74-58)…a team that Water Valley beat in week 7 on the last play of the game (60-54). This will be a battle…and in the Battle of the Cats I will take Water Valley.
DI #3 Ira (11-0) v DI #6 Garden City (10-1) – Friday @Robert Lee 7:30pm
As previously mentioned, these two teams makeup the other game in Region 2 this week. This will be the second time these schools have crossed paths this season. Ira handed Garden City their only loss way back in week 3 by a score of 48-28. I suspect the outcome to be the same but the game will be a little closer. Ira wins their second playoff game in as many weeks by less than 10 points.
DI #5 May (11-0) v DI #7 Blum (11-0) – Friday @Hamilton 7:30pm
A matchup of Ranked unbeatens and the winner seems to be the team in the driver’s seat out east on the road to the state title game. Both won their respected districts and both recorded easy Bi-District wins last week. May’s district was more of a gauntlet run than Blum’s and I feel like that will give them the edge in this game. I pick May.
Borden County (6-5) v Valley (8-3) – Friday @Slaton 7:00pm
In what has been dubbed a rebuilding year for Borden County, many didn’t think they would win their district’s championship…they did…then many didn’t think they would win their Bi-District game against the 9-1 Anton…they did…now the six-man power house meets up with another six-man power house Valley. Valley has suffered some setbacks this season but still won the district and easily handled McLean in Bi-District play. I will ride the Cinderella story that is Borden County and pick them to win.
DII #5 Dawson (11-0) v DII #6 Loraine (10-1) – Friday @ Ackerly (Sands ISD) 5:00pm
In probably the best matchup in Division II the undefeated Dawson Dragons take on the Loraine Bulldogs. Both are district champs but Loraine seems to have a little easier time with their opponent this season with a close win over Highland and a close defeat at the hands of DII #4 Newcastle, while Dawson has remained undefeated by eking wins against Whiteface, Borden County and Sands. I believe the Bulldogs will act just like that…a Bulldog…and win this one and move on. I pick Loraine.
DII #8 Calvert (9-1) v DII #10 Richland Springs (8-1) Saturday @Hico 4:00pm
Calvert played spoiler and upset the then ranked #4 team in DII 6-man last week in Jonesboro 46-38, vaulting them into the rankings this week. Meanwhile, Richland Springs did what Richland Springs does and that is winning playoff games and beat Cherokee easily in their Bi-District game (87-20). These two schools are top teams in the East year in and year out and have a rich playoff history against each other with Richland Springs holding the all-time record at 5-1. The lone time Calvert won was the first time these schools ever played each other back in 2002 (60-57 in a six-man instant classic!) when they went on to win the State Title. In fact the only time that the winner of this game did not win the State title was back in 2003 (RS win 48-26). This team at RS is one of the smallest in numbers they have had in recent years and they are ranked the lowest they have been in almost a decade…and that makes it incredibly hard to pick against the Coyotes…I just can’t bring myself to do it…yet…I will pick Richland Springs…but might be kicking myself for it come Saturday night.
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