Tepper's Take makes 10 bold playoff predictions, picks some championship sleepers, and gives you music and food, too.
[Editor’s note: This is Tepper’s Take, the weekly column from associate editor Greg Tepper. It’s a blend of football and non-football topics. All opinions are Greg Tepper’s alone. Enjoy.]
It’s the November 15 edition of Tepper’s Take, got my fingers stained red and I cannot get them off me, you can catch me and my crew eating hot Cheetos and Takis.
Longtime readers of this column – or, really, anyone who’s ever read it even once before – know that I use this space to make predictions. Whether it’s predicting specific games or specific performances, Tepper’s Take doubles as both a column and a way to embarrass myself with horribly inaccurate prognostications.
But you see…this is no ordinary week of Tepper’s Take. It’s the Texas high school football playoffs, baby. And that’s why I’m going to embarrass myself even further with Ten Predictions About The 2012 Texas High School Football Playoffs. Ready? Here goes.
1- Katy will meet La Porte again this year, in a rematch of La Porte’s stunning upset from 2011. And Katy will exact revenge.
2- Aledo’s streak of state championships will come to an end.
3- So will Lake Travis’.
4- Richland Springs and Milford will play for the Region IV championship in Six-Man Division II, and the winner will win the state championship.
5- Whoever wins Region I in the Class 5A Division I bracket will win the state title.
6- Three teams that will go farther than you think: Mesquite, Corpus Christi Ray, Redwater.
7- Three teams that won’t go as far as you think: Brenham, Birdville, Pearland.
8- Three names you’ll know by the time we’re all said and done: Abilene Wylie RB Garrett Martin, Longview QB Dezmond Chumley, Fort Bend Marshall QB J.W. Ketchum.
9- At least six of the 24 teams that reached the state championship game last season will make a return appearance this year.
10- Attendance at the state championship games at Cowboys Stadium this year will increase at least 10% over last year.
So, there you have it: my ten overarching predictions for the 2012 Texas high school football playoffs. All that’s left to do is…get proven wrong.
Games I’d TiVo If The UIL Would Let Me (And College Games I Will, In Fact, TiVo)
Van vs. Henderson
Not only is this the site of Fox Football Friday Powered by DCTF (airing LIVE from 7-11pm on Fox Sports Southwest, and streaming online at TexasFootball.com), but it might also be the toughest call of the first round. Henderson survived the District of Doom – District 16-3A – despite not really having a consistent offense. The reason? Defense. DE Bo Brady has turned into one of the monsters of East Texas, and he’ll need to be in Van QB Garrett Smallwood’s kitchen if the Lions are going to win this one. Van can light up the scoreboard with Smallwood and sophomore RB Matt Savis. The key, in my view, is whether or not Henderson can get Patrick Brown loose for a couple of big plays. If so, I like the Lions. If not, though, Van has a chance to prove it’s one of the 3A Division II bracket’s teams to beat.
Tepper’s pick: Van 27, Henderson 20
SMU at Rice
I think it’s fair to say that neither of these teams are where they’d prefer to be. SMU’s resurgent season never came to fruition, as both the offense and defense have tended to come and go. And Rice, well, the Owls have had all sorts of trouble stopping people, ranking 104th in total defense. It’s fair to call this a must-win for both teams with regards to bowl eligibility. For Rice, it’s absolutely a must win, needing to win out to get to six wins. For SMU, it’s true that they’ve got two games to win one, but with Tulsa lurking next Saturday, this is the one the Ponies need to win. This one comes down to which playmakers hit the big ones. Can Garrett Gilbert continue to play (surprisingly, all of a sudden) well? Can Rice continue to deploy the X-factor Luke Turner appropriately and effectively?
Tepper’s pick: SMU 31, Rice 27
El Paso Franklin vs. San Angelo Central
Off to the 5A Division I bracket, and this one is full of intrigue. First of all, these teams have already played one another, way back in the season opener, in which Franklin got a late touchdown pass from QB Cameron Candeleria to edge Central, 41-40. Will we see a similar thriller in this bi-district playoff game? Franklin’s offense, especially Candeleria, has been off the charts, while Central has some firepower of its own, especially when RB Jordan Charles starts feeling it. This one, to me, is all on San Angelo Central; can they put the pieces together (which it hasn’t always done) to get a win?
Tepper’s pick: El Paso Franklin 38, San Angelo Central 34
Apologies to: All of them; it’s the playoffs! But also Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, Kansas State at Baylor and Texas State at Navy.
Three Bold, Sure-To-Be-Wrong Predictions
Yeah, we’re still doing more predictions, because it’s my column. And guess what? I went three for three last week! Believe it! I’m 22-11 on the year, a pretty darn good regular season if I do say so myself.
-Dallas Skyline, which is still a state title contender even after a loss, establishes itself as one of the teams to beat in 5A with a win over Plano.
-UTSA puts a hurtin’ on Idaho, securing a winning season (4-2) on the road.
-Smithson Valley, in its first playoff game in 5A, proves it belongs with an impressive win over San Antonio Reagan.
Every week, I’ll identify one player to watch across the state who could be poised for a breakout game. If he does, in fact, have a breakout game (we’ll define the stakes each week), he’ll get the honorary title of Manster – half-man, half-monster – and a place in this column for the entire season. Also, a pair of Hot Booties. OK, just the title.
Last week, the Manster Watch fell on Austin Del Valle RB Josh Cleveland. The stakes for Mansterhood: 150 yards and a touchdown in their game against Austin Bowie. Well, Josh didn’t manage to get there, but I got a really nice e-mail from a Del Valle coach telling me what a great leader and teammate Josh has been for Del Valle, and how he deserves recognition. And that, to me, is way better than some arbitrary award handed out by an Internet columnist. Good on you, Josh!
This week, the Manster Watch sets its eyes on Medina Valley RB Ben Mata. Have you seen what the bruising runner from Medina Valley has done this year? 1,637 yards, 21 touchdowns, pretty much putting a saddle on his back and telling the Panthers, “OK, guys, hop on and let’s go to the playoffs.” He’s been remarkable, but now he’s going up against an outstanding run defense in Corpus Christi Calallen. So, here’s the deal, Mr. Mata: if you can crack the 120-yard mark and score a touchdown against Calallen, we’ll give the title of Manster. I think you can do it, but what’s more important is…do you think you can do it? #BelieveInYourself.
2012 Mansters: Jasper WR D’Marcus Collins, Newton RB Kevin Shorter, Glen Rose QB Colton Bretton, Dallas Jesuit WR Jake Oliver, the Poth Pirates defense, Mason RB Rio Schmidt.
Song Sure to Get You Fired Up for Football
“M.A.D.” by Hadouken!. Yeah, like I’m not going to include a song by a group named after one of the iconic video game sound bytes ever.
Personal Rankings Apropos of Nothing
Top 5 High School State Championship Sleepers:
2) Lucas Lovejoy
3) Wolfforth Frenship
5) Texas City
Pre-Game Meal of the Week
Buffalo chicken dip. OK, y’all, I’m going to share with you my all-time favorite tailgating recipe, so remember this the next time I pick against your favorite team. If you’ve never had buffalo chicken dip, the only way to describe it is “game-changer.” Seriously: it is the single best party food I’ve ever had, and it’s not particularly close. TepWife’s recipe has a few extra secret ingredients, but this should get you started. And now’s an important time to note that you cannot sue me if you gain 100 pounds from eating nothing but this dip for the next month. I said it on the Internet so therefore it is legally binding.
Bye Week Distraction
So, your team’s out of the playoffs, huh? Bummer. Let’s waste your weekend in a different way, getting your mind off football.
The Internet is a vast, confusing place, full of inside jokes that you probably don’t understand. Trust me: I spend far too much time online, and there are a lot of things that confuse me. The biggest means of confusion for most people: memes, those little jokes and tidbits that go viral in no time. And it can be very, very hard to keep up with all of them, since they’re here today, gone tomorrow. Luckily, the folks over at KnowYourMeme have you covered, doing their best to explain both the origin and the meaning of all of those confusing things on the Internet. Here’s a good place to start: how Rickrolling became a thing.
Yell At Me
Impressive (and True!) Trivia of the Week
Did you know that the world’s largest mall is in Dongguan, China…and it’s 99% vacant, and has been since it opened in 2005? That’s right: there are 2,350 retail spaces in the New South China Mall, and a whopping 47 are filled. Remind me again why we’re scared of the Chinese?
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.