REGIONAL SEMIFINALS PREVIEW: Breaking down the biggest games in Texas high school football

Can Cedar Park's defense slow down Manvel? Who wins the 4A Division I clash between Kennedale and Midlothian Heritage? And is anyone stopping Newton?

Cedar Park (11-1) vs. Manvel (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waller’s Waller ISD Stadium
It’s a rematch of a third round game last season when Manvel rolled past Cedar Park in a battle of undefeated teams. Manvel graduated a lot of talent, but the Mavericks have reloaded with playmakers while a gritty Cedar Park team has had to rely on an extremely tough defense down the stretch after losing QB Mak Sexton to a broken leg late in the regular season. The Timberwolves did it again last week as after falling behind Ennis, 14-0, at halftime. They rallied in the second half to gut out a 17-14 victory.  They’ll certainly need more offensive output this week against the explosive Manvel offense. Last week, the Mavericks got pushed a bit but pulled away for a 51-26 win over Nederland. QB Kason Martin threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns, while Deneric Prince and Garrison Johnson combined for 148 rushing yards and two scores. Manvel just has so many weapons that it is really difficult to try and defend all that speed and talent. Cedar Park’s best chance is to try and slow the game down, limit Manvel’s touches and hope the Mavericks are a bit off their game. That formula worked for Temple last year in round four, but I’m not sure Cedar Park has the horses to pull it off.
Stepp’s Pick: Manvel by 17
Max’s Pick: Manvel
Ishmael’s Pick: Manvel
Brady’s Pick: Manvel
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Arlington Martin (11-1) vs. Allen (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium
Arlington Martin comes in playing as well as any team in the state at the moment after blasting Odessa Permian, 41-10, a week ago. QB Juma Otoviano ran for a pair of first-half scores to give the Warriors a 14-3 lead early and with Permian knocking on the door, Jayce Godley scooped up a fumble and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown to swing momentum totally to Martin. Allen got a major test last week from underdog South Grand Prairie, but the Eagles found ways to make plays at winning time in a 28-14 win. Arizona State commit Brock Sturges ran for 179 yards and a touchdown while QB Grant Tisdale ran for two scores and threw the game clinching touchdown to Theo Wease in the fourth quarter. Allen’s defense held SGP to 260 yards of offense in a solid effort. It’s unclear just how healthy Otoviano is for Martin. He only had seven carries for 20 yards a week ago. If he’s not able to hurt Allen with his running ability, I see a similar result to last week’s game for Allen. It’ll be close for a while, but the Eagles depth ultimately wears Martin down.
Stepp’s Pick: Allen by 9
Max’s Pick: Allen
Ishmael’s Pick: Allen
Brady’s Pick: Allen
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Houston Lamar (9-1) vs. Galena Park North Shore (8-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Houston’s Rice Stadium
Any questions about this Houston Lamar team and their ability to win physical slugfests were put to rest Friday as the Texans knocked off an outstanding Fort Bend Ridge Point squad, 36-29. Special teams and defense were the difference in this one for Lamar as its offense only gained 162 yards and the Texans were plagued by 14 penalties for 125 yards. The Texans got two kickoff returns on the game and an interception that was returned all the way to the Ridge Point one-yard line to set another score up. D’Shawn Jamison was the key player for Lamar as he returned the game’s opening kickoff for a score. He had a touchdown run and also got an interception. North Shore found new life offensively since the playoffs started averaging 50 points per game in two outings. Last week, the Mustangs rolled past Clear Springs 52-21 as Zach Evans ran for 232 yards and seven touchdowns and freshman (Yes, freshman) QB Dematrius Davis continued to impress as he threw for 294 yards in the victory. In order for Houston Lamar to pull off another upset, the Texan offense has to be more of a factor than it was a week ago because it isn’t likely to get those kind of game-changing special teams plays this week. North Shore depending on a freshman QB concerns me, but as long as the game is managed and he’s just a complimentary player, the Mustangs have enough playmakers to get the job done.
Stepp’s Pick: Galena Park North Shore by 11
Max’s Pick: North Shore
Ishmael’s Pick: North Shore
Brady’s Pick: Lamar
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

San Antonio O’Connor (12-0) vs. San Benito (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Corpus Christi’s Buccaneer Stadium
It’s a battle of the final two unbeaten teams in Region IV Division I as surging San Antonio O’Connor takes on the Valley’s top team in San Benito. O’Connor rolled past San Antonio Reagan last week, 45-21, as the trio of QB Roel Sanchez, RB Treyshaen Patterson and WR Jalen Hughes dominated. Sanchez has family ties to the San Benito program as his father and uncle are former Greyhounds players. The big surprise was the Panther defense which totally shut down Reagan allowing just two scores (Reagan had a fumble return for a score on the game’s final play). If O’Connor gets that type of defensive effort going forward, it’ll be a very tough out. San Benito had a major test last week in its second meeting with McAllen Memorial. But the Greyhounds escaped with a hard-fought 44-35 home victory. RB Tyrone Harper had four first half touchdowns, but Memorial’s defense made adjustments and took a 35-31 lead with 1:12 left. San Benito showed championship mettle and marched eight plays and scored on a two-yard run from QB Erick Retta to lift SBHS to the area title. The Greyhounds now take the role of underdog this week as the Valley teams traditionally struggle in the third round. They have strong senior leadership and playoff experience and a difference maker in Harper. The only way, in my view, they can win is if they get into a shootout and outgun O’Connor. But the way the Panthers’ defense is playing these days, I’m not sure that happens. San Antonio O’Connor looks to be peaking at just the right time.
Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio O’Connor by 17
Max’s Pick: O’Connor
Ishmael’s Pick: O’Connor
Brady’s Pick: O’Connor
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Mansfield (11-1) vs. Waco Midway (12-0),, 7 p.m. Friday at Waco’s McLane Stadium
Mansfield got the running game going in a big way last week as a second half surge lifted the Tigers past undefeated San Angelo Central 55-37.  The Tigers averaged well over eight yards per rush totaling 335 yards on the ground, Jaqulis Coleman led the way with 177 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  Baylor commit WR Jackson Gleeson hauled in two scores, while the defense led by UCLA commit Cam’ron Jones made Central one-dimensional shutting down the Bobcats rushing attack.  Jones also returned a kickoff for a touchdown as well.  Mansfield’s defense faces another big time signal caller this week as they’ll try to contain another unbeaten squad as Oklahoma commit Tanner Mordecai leads Waco Midway.  The Panther drilled Trophy Club Nelson 59-7 last week, Mordecai and his quartet of receivers are a handful for any team and you add in tough running James Fulbright who finished with 137 yards on the ground and the Midway offense is certainly one of the state’s best.  Mordecai had four total touchdowns last week in the win and the Panthers defense forced three turnovers as well.  This one also has some additional meaning for Midway Head Coach Jeff Hulme who two years ago left Mansfield after taking the Tigers to the state semi-finals in order to take over at Waco Midway.  On paper these two look very evenly matched, Mansfield’s defense is outstanding but San Angelo proved with an accurate QB you can throw the ball against them.  Midway’s got that and they also have a running game to go along with it, plus with this game being in Waco the edge has to go to the Panthers as I expect them to have a big crowd for this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Hewitt Midway by 5
Max’s Pick: Midway
Ishmael’s Pick: Midway
Brady’s Pick: Mansfield
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Lubbock Coronado (12-0) vs. Colleyville Heritage (11-1), 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Abilene’s Anthony Field
High-powered and undefeated Lubbock Coronado will look to avenge a third-round playoff loss to Colleyville Heritage a year ago. The Mustangs jumped out quickly on El Paso Del Valle and held off a second-half rally for a 52-42 win. Special teams were the difference as Lubbock Coronado got two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the first half from Blair Conwright. He also added a touchdown reception as CHS put up all 52 points in the first half. Colleyville Heritage rolled past Haslet Eaton, 42-7, a week ago as Ke’von Ahmad and Kam Brown combined for 283 receiving yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers attack. Colleyville Heritage’s defense, which has been solid all year but overlooked, stepped up as well holding Eaton to 247 yards of offense and getting a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Both teams have excellent signal callers and playmakers out wide. This game comes down to which offense can establish the running game and which defense can find ways to get stops. That edge for me still lies with Colleyville Heritage as it appears it will add to the West Texas frustration against DFW schools.
Stepp’s Pick: Colleyville Heritage by 10
Max’s Pick: Heritage
Ishmael’s Pick: Heritage
Brady’s Pick: Heritage
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Lufkin (10-2) vs. Spring Westfield (11-0), 1 p.m. Saturday at Porter’s Texan Drive Stadium
Surging Lufkin will get its biggest test in a few weeks as it looks to knock off unbeaten Spring Westfield and advance to the state quarter-finals. The Panthers took down Richardson Pearce, 35-18, last week as Isaiah Phillips ran for three scores to pace a Lufkin ground attack that rolled up 330 yards on the afternoon. Lufkin may have to take to the air more this week against a Spring Westfield defense led by Texas-commit Keondre Coburn at defensive tackle. Last week Westfield held a high-powered San Marcos rushing attack to just 27 yards rushing in a dominant 47-3 win. QB Terrance Gipson threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns as Spring Westfield scored on its first four drives of the second half to blow the game wide open. Lufkin’s been a nice story early in the playoffs, but Westfield overwhelms the Panthers this week. The Panthers won’t be able to have much success running and their passing game isn’t quite as dynamic as it was the past couple of seasons.
Stepp’s Pick: Spring Westfield by 14
Max’s Pick: Westfield
Ishmael’s Pick: Westfield
Brady’s Pick: Westfield
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Austin Westlake (12-0) vs. Edinburg Vela (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Portland’s Akins Wildcat Stadium
After a slow start, Austin Westlake put together an impressive showing down in San Antonio last week and rolled past a very good Smithson Valley squad, 51-31. QB Taylor Anderson accounted for 307 yards of offense while RB Nakia Watson, a Wisconsin-commit, showed his versatility with 200 yards from scrimmage and three total touchdowns. The difference in the second half was the Chaps ability to stop the run and make Smithson Valley a one-dimensional offense. Edinburg Vela is one of the most athletic teams out of the Valley. It has good team speed and versatile playmakers but have been far from dominant in the playoffs. Last week, the Sabercats knocked off Eagle Pass, 28-10, as QB Nathan Garcia ran for two scores and threw for another to lead Vela. They’ll need to play a perfect game this week to slow down Westlake as I expect the Chaps to line up and physically overpower Vela with Watson and that big offensive line.
Stepp’s Pick: Austin Westlake by 28
Max’s Pick: Westlake
Ishmael’s Pick: Westlake
Brady’s Pick: Westlake
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Mansfield Lake Ridge (11-1) vs. Prosper (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Carrollton’s Standridge Stadium
It’s a rematch of a Week 2 game won by Mansfield Lake Ridge, 33-16. Things have changed quite a bit since that point, so I’ll be surprised if we see a 17-point margin this week. Last week, Lake Ridge cruised to an easy 70-7 win over Dallas Bryan Adams. QB Jason Bean a North Texas verbal commit tossed three touchdown passes to lead a LRHS attack that rolled up 574 yards of offense. De’Neric Pinson and Cartraven Walker combined for 195 yards rushing and five touchdowns as well. Prosper is playing some of its best football of the season right now. The Eagles rolled past Mesquite Poteet, 53-20, last week and now have a pair of dominant wins in the playoffs under their belts. Kaleb Adams led a potent offensive output rushing for 159 yards and four touchdowns, while also chipping in 104 receiving yards. Prosper’s edge lies in the trenches, but that edge is offset by Lake Ridge and a significant advantage at the skill positions. I think that speed on the edge for Mansfield Lake Ridge is the big difference.
Stepp’s Pick: Mansfield Lake Ridge by 9
Max’s Pick: Lake Ridge
Ishmael’s Pick: Lake Ridge
Brady’s Pick: Lake Ridge
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

El Paso Parkland (10-2) vs. Richland (10-2), 1 p.m. Saturday at Lubbock’s Jones Stadium
El Paso Parkland is the last team standing from the Sun City after the Matadors took down Lubbock Cooper last week, 45-34. It was a balanced effort from Parkland who got three rushing touchdowns and 140 yards from RB Deion Hankins and 373 passing yards from QB AJ Briggs. The Matadors jumped out to a quick 28-7 lead in the second quarter and simply never looked back. Richland trailed Saginaw Boswell, 21-7, heading into the fourth quarter. But the Rebels rallied as Drew Trent tossed a pair of touchdowns to Rashee Rice to tie the game and send it to overtime. Brandon Johnson scored on Richland’s first overtime possession and Ja’Corey Ashley got an interception to seal the win. Richland has to deal with the issues that a long road trip brings whereas Parkland is accustomed to it the past couple of years in the playoffs. Parkland’s playmakers are a threat, but I think Richland’s offense could have its way with a Parkland defense that has been shaky at times.
Stepp’s Pick: Richland by 16
Max’s Pick: Richland
Ishmael’s Pick: Richland
Brady’s Pick: Richland
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week


Brock (10-2) vs. Wall (12-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Brownwood’s Gordon Wood Stadium
It seems like this is a rite of passage in 3A Division I Region I as Brock and Wall hook up for the fourth straight year. Brock won the first two meetings in 2014 and 2015, while in 2016 Wall got some revenge knocking off the defending state champions, 28-17. The roles are a bit reversed this time around as Wall comes in as the prohibited favorite and have been the state’s top team much of the year. Brock, after a Week 11 loss to close out the regular season, has picked it up in the playoffs, including last week’s 31-13 win over a very good Shallowater squad. Tanner Patino scored a pair of touchdowns as the Eagles got out to a 24-0 lead early in the third quarter and held off a late charge from Shallowater. Wall has been a buzzsaw all year. The Hawks haven’t played a game closer than 19 points all year and kept it going last week ripping Tuscola Jim Ned 52-21 a week ago. The Hawks got off to a slow start but versatile Tymber Car led the way rushing for four touchdowns, catching another touchdown pass and he had an interception in the second quarter that completely turned the momentum of the game around. Wall has the look of a team that will be playing in the state title game in a few weeks. Brock isn’t quite the team it’s been the past couple of years and this Wall unit is on a mission.
Stepp’s Pick: Wall by 10
Max’s Pick: Wall
Ishmael’s Pick: Wall
Brady’s Pick: Wall
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

College Station (10-2) vs. Port Neches-Groves (10-1), 1 p.m. Saturday at Humble’s Turner Stadium
There will be lots of purple at Turner Stadium for this third-round rematch from a 2016 playoff game won by College Station. The Cougars needed a second-half rally last week to knock off a tough Georgetown squad, 34-31. QB Marquez Perez was the difference tallying 425 yards of offense and four total touchdowns. The Cougars’ defense has all eyes on PNG junior QB Roschon Johsnon. The Texas-commit has put up staggering numbers all year long to lead the Indians. Last week however, Texas City had a good game plan to slow the PNG attack as although Johnson ran for 193 yards and a touchdown, he only threw for 67 yards in a 24-17 win. PNG has the best player on the field in Johnson, but College Station has multiple playmakers and good speed on the defensive side of the ball. Unless Johnson just goes nuts like he did in bi-district, I expect College Station to pull away in a high scoring affair.
Stepp’s Pick: College Station by 15
Max’s Pick: College Station
Ishmael’s Pick: College Station
Brady’s Pick: Port Neches-Groves
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Austin McCallum (12-0) vs. Alice (9-3), 12 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Alamodome
Expect Alice fans to show up en masse to the Alamodome on Saturday as first-year head coach Kyle Atwood has the Coyotes back in the third round of the playoffs. They’ll have a tall test this week as they take on undefeated Austin McCallum who is in the midst of the best season in school history. Last week, the Knights rolled past Rosenberg Terry, 52-24. The Knights’ defense started slow but the final three quarters put the clamps on the Rangers’ ground-oriented offense. Alice need three overtimes to earn an area round home playoff win against Mission Sharyland, 42-39. QB Trey Jaramillo was massive in the win as he led an Alice attack that rolled up 495 yards of offense and his one-yard plunge in the third overtime sent the thousands of fans clad in orange into a frenzy. Jaramillo finished the night with 167 rushing yards and 243 yards assing. Alice will be facing a tall test this week against a McCallum squad that has more size and more team speed across the board. I expect Alice to come out with a strong start, but McCallum wears them down late.
Stepp’s Pick: Austin McCallum by 20
Max’s Pick: McCallum
Ishmael’s Pick: McCallum
Brady’s Pick: McCallum
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Kennedale (11-1) vs. Midlothian Heritage (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Frisco’s Ford Center
Lots of storylines here in a playoff rematch of a classic game won by Kennedale in the third round last season, 49-47. The two schools are only about 20 miles apart on Highway 287 and are a big contrast in styles offensively as Kennedale relies on its tried and true Wing-T offense, while Midlothian Heritage loves to air it out. Last week, Kennedale knocked off a game Van squad 42-28 on Friday. Kennedale got 358 yards rushing as Jaden Knows, QB Evan Jowers and DJ Kirven led the way. Knowles’ 46-yard touchdown run with 2:29 proved to be the clincher. Midlothian Heritage rolled past Crandall last week 51-20 as QB Landon Ledbetter threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Jaguars who dominated the first half jumping out to a 34-7 lead. Much like last year, this game is going to come down to which defense can make a play or two down the stretch. I’m leaning toward Kennedale as the team has pedigree and the speed on that side of the ball. Expect a game similar to last year with lots of points.
Stepp’s Pick: Kennedale by 3
Max’s Pick: Kennedale
Ishmael’s Pick: Kennedale
Brady’s Pick: Kennedale
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Henderson (10-2) vs. Kilgore (9-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Pirate Stadium:
It’s a district rematch in front of what should be a full house on Friday night at Pine Tree High School. Kilgore won the regular season meeting, 45-35, as the Bulldogs’ rushing attack rolled through the Henderson defense. Since that point, the Lions played tremendous football in winning four straight including a 35-14 win over Sealy last week. In the win, Henderson was led by RB Lynn Freeney who is finally at 100 percent after battling injuries all year. He ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the win and with him being back, it really gives the Lions a dynamic 1-2 punch with QB Trae Hall. Kilgore had a very Kilgore-like win last week over El Campo beating the Ricebirds, 24-9. Ja’Vorie Hamilton led the Bulldogs with three rushing touchdowns, while Briant Mumphrey led the team with 147 yards on the ground. I don’t see the second meeting being quite as high-scoring as the first and I see a different winner as well. A full-strength Henderson squad should be able to jump out to an early lead and make Kilgore play from behind and that will be big.
Stepp’s Pick: Henderson by 3
Max’s Pick: Henderson
Ishmael’s Pick: Kilgore
Brady’s Pick: Henderson
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Rockdale (9-3) vs. West (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Belton’s Tiger Stadium:
Two teams who are surging in the playoffs meet up in Belton in what should be a dandy CenTex clash. Not many teams have had two tougher games in the playoffs than Rockdale who beat Malakoff to open the postseason then last week dispatched Woodville, 55-30. The Tigers trailed at halftime, 24-21, but rattled off 34-straight points to turn the game into a blowout. QB Torrey Locklin had 309 yards of offense and three touchdowns to lead the Rockdale attack in the win. West’s run defense had no trouble against the Slot-T offense of Hitchcock in a 42-0 last week. The Trojans were led by QB Nathan Gerik whose three first half touchdowns proved to be more than enough. Rockdale’s speed and versatility will be a challenge for a solid but battle-tested West bunch. The key in this one will be can the West defense contain the Rockdale offensive balance?
Stepp’s Pick: Rockdale by 13
Max’s Pick: Rockdale
Ishmael’s Pick: Rockdale
Brady’s Pick: Rockdale
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Melissa (11-1) vs. Gilmer (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium:
If you are looking for a game that needs to go on upset watch, this one might be it. A year ago, Gilmer rolled past Melissa, 55-6, in this round of the playoffs. But it appears that the Cardinals are prepared this year to be much more competitive. Red-hot Melissa comes in with eleven straight wins after pulling away from Rusk 56-34 a week ago. MHS led 35-34 at the end of three quarters, but outscored Rusk 21-0 in the fourth to get the win. QB Brendon Lewis tossed two touchdowns in the deciding quarter and finished the night with five total touchdowns. Gilmer had no trouble blasting past Caddo Mills 63-14 a week ago led by QB Poppy Brown who had a hand in five touchdowns as Gilmer rolled to a 49-0 halftime lead and cruised in the second half. Gilmer is fantastic on offense and put up yards in bunches, but this is a team that I have concerns about. Gilmer turns the ball over a lot and are suspect on the defensive side of the ball. That’s not a recipe for winning deep in the playoffs and many times Gilmer’s offense has been good enough to overcome it, but this Melissa team has the right mix. I can’t pick against Gilmer but I’m putting the alert out.
Stepp’s Pick: Gilmer by 4
Max’s Pick: Gilmer
Ishmael’s Pick: Melissa
Brady’s Pick: Melissa
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Cuero (11-0) vs. Geronimo Navarro (11-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Heroes Stadium:
Cuero and Navarro have developed quite the playoff rivalry as for the fifth straight year these two square off fairly deep in the playoffs. Cuero won the first three meetings from 2013-2015 until Geronimo Navarro exacted revenge last year knocking the Gobblers off. This year, Cuero looks like a clear favorite as the Gobblers have just rolled in their first two playoff games winning by a combined score of 137-17. In last week’s 70-7 win over Crystal City, Baylor-commit Bralen Taylor had 159 receiving yards and a 96-yard touchdown reception. Jordan Whittington had 83 receiving yards and a touchdown while Keiran Grant had 138 yards rushing, two scores and also hauled in a 48-yard touchdown catch as Cuero’s offense put up staggering numbers. Navarro also hit the 70-point mark last week in a 71-44 win over Rio Hondo. RB Chris Gomez ran for 167 yards and five touchdowns as the Panthers ran for a total of 464 yards in the win. Cuero with its experience defending the Slot-T offense and talent on the defensive side of the ball should be equipped to slow down Navarro enough to allow its offensive playmakers to do what they do best.
Stepp’s Pick: Cuero by 9
Max’s Pick: Cuero
Ishmael’s Pick: Cuero
Brady’s Pick: Cuero
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Goliad (10-1) vs. Edna (8-4), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Victoria’s Memorial Stadium:
Goliad made quite the statement last week as it blasted past Hallettsville, 37-14.  The Tigers, led by the all-around performance of Dontavion Clay, rolled in the second half. Clay had a first-half punt return for a touchdown and then in the deciding second half, had a pick-six to ice the game. RB Logan Bland ran for three touchdowns and the Tiger defense put the clamps on the explosive Hallettsville attack. Edna rolled past Lyford, 45-7, a week ago behind the running of Kenny Haynes who ran for 241 yards and four touchdowns and the Cowboys defense held the high-powered passing attack of Lyford in check. These two programs, despite being in different districts, are quite familiar with each other and have a long history. Last year, they met in the playoffs and it was a hotly contested game with Goliad coming out on top 22-17 in the second round. Expect another nip and tuck game as on paper these two are evenly matched. I give the edge with senior leadership and playmakers to Goliad in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Goliad by 3
Max’s Pick: Goliad
Ishmael’s Pick: Goliad
Brady’s Pick: Goliad
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Sonora (12-0) vs. Childress (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene’s Bulldog Stadium:
One of the most intriguing matchups in the state is a rematch of a third round classic from last year won by Sonora 40-36.  Both teams look to be legitimate contenders once again in Region I as Sonora comes in undefeated and Childress with just a single loss to Canadian.  The Broncos rolled past Spearman 56-8 a week ago behind the stellar play of QB Kaden Cordell who threw for 390 yards and three touchdowns and he chipped in 94 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.  The Broncos defense will be facing a major test against a fast and physical Childress attack led by QB Luke Lattimer and WR Joe Dan Gambol.  The Bobcats blew open a close contest with Cisco last week in the fourth quarter scoring the game’s final 28 points to cruise to a 42-20 victory.  Much like last year, this game will hinge on which defense can make stops down the stretch, last year it was Sonora who made the key plays and even though the Broncos have the more impressive resume via scores, I think Childress is more battle tested and they are hungry for that rematch with Canadian.
Stepp’s Pick: Childress by 2
Max’s Pick: Childress
Ishmael’s Pick: Childress
Brady’s Pick: Sonora
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

West Rusk (10-1) vs. Newton (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tatum’s Eagle Stadium:
West Rusk boasts one of the state’s top defensive units. It has six shutouts on the year including last week when it dominated a good Buffalo team, 35-0. QB L.J. Harper tallied three touchdowns and the defense led by Texas A&M commit Tyree Wilson did the rest. The test is about as tough as it gets this week against a Newton team that many are calling a clear favorite to win a state title. The Eagles’ closest game of the year was a 20-point win over a 4A playoff team in Silsbee. Their defense has also been incredible posting five straight shutouts before allowing 11 points in garbage time last week in a 65-11 rout of Rice. RB Darwin Barlow led an efficient offense with 191 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Keep an eye on DB Tamauzia Brown who holds multiple FBS offers and has an incredible 11 interceptions on the year. He also averages 11 yards per carry when he’s on offense. Newton has the look of a special team and I think it makes a major statement this week.
Stepp’s Pick: Newton by 27
Max’s Pick: Newton
Ishmael’s Pick: Newton
Brady’s Pick: Newton
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Lexington (12-0) vs. Tidehaven (11-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hallettsville’s Brahmas Stadium:
It’s a Region IV battle of unbeatens as regional favorite takes on surprising Tidehaven. Lexington rolled past Odem last week, 33-13. The Eagles jumped out to a quick 19-0 lead behind a pair of Walker Hess touchdown passes and then hung on down the stretch as Odem made a couple of runs and cut the lead to 13 points at one point. Speedy RB Ja’Kobe Cooper had a 66-yard touchdown run and a short scoring run in the fourth quarter. He also hauled in a 57-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter from Hess.  Lexington’s potent offense will get a big test this week against a tough Tidehaven defensive unit that’s quite underrated. The Tigers drilled Skidmore-Tynan, 58-29, last week and own an impressive resume having wins over East Bernard and Boling who are playing on the other side of the bracket this week. I expect a close one but Lexington’s balance and efficient play at QB are the difference.
Stepp’s Pick: Lexington by 4
Max’s Pick: Lexington
Ishmael’s Pick: Lexington
Brady’s Pick: Lexington
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

DeLeon (12-0) vs. Mart (11-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Whitney’s Wildcat Stadium:
Two of the best teams in Central Texas meet up in a relatively new location for playoff games, Wildcat Stadium in Whitney. Unbeaten DeLeon has been dominant all year with no game closer than two touchdowns. Last week, the Bearcats rolled past Celeste, 46-15, behind QB Kevin Yeager who threw for 275 yards and five touchdowns in the win. Mart presents some major matchup problems because the Panthers are loaded at the skill positions. In two playoff games, Mart has outscored opponents 120-9, including a 58-6 win over Windthorst last week. In the win, Mart jumped out to a 48-0 halftime lead and big plays carried the day as four touchdowns in the first half covered over 50 yards. RB’s Tyrek Horne and Shatydrick Bailey each topped 100 yards rushing in the first half before sitting out the remainder of the game after the break. Mart’s lone loss is to Lexington in a close one. Lexington is still alive in the 3A Division II bracket so despite DeLeon being unbeaten the Panthers are the prohibited favorite, it’ll be tough for DeLeon to matchup.
Stepp’s Pick: Mart by 15
Max’s Pick: Mart
Ishmael’s Pick: Mart
Brady’s Pick: Mart
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Gruver (10-2) vs. Wellington (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Canyon’s Kimbrough Stadium:
Can surging Gruver take down the monster that is Wellington? The Greyhounds have won eight straight games since a 2-2 start and none of the games have been closer than 30 points. They rolled past Seagraves a week ago, 51-7, as Ulysses Garcia and Brice McLaughlin combined for 272 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while WR Cole Logsdon topped 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Wellington after dropping its season opener to Childress (who is still alive in the 3A Division II bracket), has been a buzz saw winning 11-straight games. The Skyrockets’ closest game in this winning streak was a 43-21 win over 3A playoff team Tulia in Week 4. Last week, Wellington rolled past Farwell, 34-0, as JoJo McKnight had a punt return for a touchdown and a touchdown run in the victory. Wellington’s defense will be the difference in this one, they held Farwell to just 132 yards of offense and eight first downs and I expect a similar effort this week as Wellington looks to be the clear favorite in Region I.
Stepp’s Pick: Wellington by 21
Max’s Pick: Wellington
Ishmael’s Pick: Wellington
Brady’s Pick: Wellington
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Lindsay (10-2) vs. Albany (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Mineral Wells’ Ram Stadium:
Lindsay will look to pull off what would be considered quite the upset against unbeaten and heavily favored Albany. The Knights last week got a great defensive effort in a 28-0 win over Menard. They held Menard to 145 yards and Lindsay also got a defensive touchdown. QB Brandon Craigie threw for a touchdown and ran for another score to lead the Knights attack. Albany rolled through Santo 58-16 last Friday afternoon behind the duo of RB Cutter Edgar who ran for 187 yards and four touchdowns and Brian Hamilton who threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Albany’s 29-point second quarter was key as it turned the game into a rout and allowed their starters to rest. Lindsay keeps this one close for a quarter or maybe two, but Albany rolls late.
Stepp’s Pick: Albany by 27
Max’s Pick: Albany
Ishmael’s Pick: Albany
Brady’s Pick: Albany
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Each week, six-man insider Leman Saunders provides his insight and analysis on the best games in Class 1A. Contact Leman on Twitter @LemanSaunders.

May (12-0) vs. Jonesboro (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Dublin
The biggest game of the week will decide the Region III crown in Class 1A Division I. Both teams have outstanding coaches in Craig Steele for May and Eddie Gallegos for Jonesboro, and both boast a rich playoff history — May was a state runner-up in 2013 and 2014, while Jonesboro was state runner-up last season. And, oddly enough, both have key players named Wyatt — Jonesboro RB Wyatt Young, and May QB Wyatt Mote. Jonesboro’s schedule has been a bit tougher than May’s this season, which may give them a very slight edge. May will have the better passing game with Mote, but Jonesboro’s running game is especially tough to handle. Expect a classic, with the Wyatts playing a key role in the outcome.
Leman’s Pick: Jonesboro
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Borden County (12-0) vs. Garden City (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Forsan
It’s a showdown out west for the Region II crown in Division I, and Borden County’s defense has been nothing short of amazing – the Coyotes have outscored their two playoff opponents 112-0, and haven’t allowed a touchdown in their last six games. Garden City is a feisty and aggressive team that held its own against top-ranked squads Milford and Balmorhea earlier in the year (their only two losses on the season). Watch out for GC’s multi-back system, which keeps the backfield fresh. The question here is whether Garden City can wear down Borden County’s defense enough to pull off the upset. It could happen, but Borden County is the favorite here.
Leman’s Pick: Borden County
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Valley (11-1) vs. Follett (8-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Pampa
Arguably the best game in Class 1A Division II presents a pair of Panhandle powerhouses in the Patriots and the Panthers. This is a rematch of a Week 2 matchup, in which Valley edge Follett, 44-20; it’s also a rematch of last year’s Region I final, when Valley won a high-powered slugfest, 94-62. These teams have a similar style, offering a balanced attack between run and pass. Valley has an obvious edge defensively, allowing just 19 points per game, and that could be the difference; Follett allowed more than 600 yards of total offense in their 84-74 win over Petersburg last week. This game is almost too close to call, but lean toward the superior defense.
Leman’s Pick: Valley
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Milford (12-0) vs. Iredell (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at McGregor
Milford’s 62-16 mercy rule win over Richland Springs last week is the talk of the six-man world, but Iredell — coming off a 54-8 mercy rule win over Oakwood — might be the best team that nobody is talking about. One of the most disciplined teams in the state, Iredell leans on the duo of RB Morgan Whitfield and QB Adrian Benitez. But can the Dragons hold their own against the hottest six-man team in Texas? Milford boasts Taron Smith, who is quickly becoming a household name, but Corbin Schrotke may be the unsung hero of this Bulldogs quad — he had a team-high 16 tackles and a fumble recovery in the win over Richland Springs. That’s not to mention all-state-caliber players like Rickey Pendleton, James McIntyre, Jasean Brooks and kicker Lowisley Ojeda. The question here: Will Milford, riding high after their victory last week, overlook Iredell with a potential matchup with Strawn looming? The Dragons have a great chance of springing the upset, but Milford looks to be too much.
Leman’s Pick: Milford
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Quick Picks

Coppell (11-1) vs. Round Rock Cedar Ridge (11-1), 7 p.m. Saturday at Waco’s McLane Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Coppell by 4
Max’s Pick: Coppell
Ishmael’s Pick: Coppell
Brady’s Pick: Cedar Ridge
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Cy-Fair (11-0) vs. Friendswood (9-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Houston’s TDECU Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Cy-Fair by 10
Max’s Pick: Cy-Fair
Ishmael’s Pick: Cy-Fair
Brady’s Pick: Cy-Fair
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Angleton (11-0) vs. Corpus Christi Flour Bluff (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Marcos’ Bobcat Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Angleton by 24
Max’s Pick: Angleton
Ishmael’s Pick: Angleton
Brady’s Pick: Angleton
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Waxahachie (8-4) vs. Frisco Lone Star (11-1), 1 p.m. Saturday at Frisco’s Ford Center
Stepp’s Pick: Frisco Lone Star by 8
Max’s Pick: Lone Star
Ishmael’s Pick: Lone Star
Brady’s Pick: Lone Star
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Stephenville (10-2) vs. Argyle (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Argyle by 11
Max’s Pick: Argyle
Ishmael’s Pick: Argyle
Brady’s Pick: Argyle
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Waco La Vega (12-0) vs. Canyon Lake (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Round Rock’s Reeves Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Waco La Vega by 17
Max’s Pick: La Vega
Ishmael’s Pick: La Vega
Brady’s Pick: La Vega
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Graham (12-0) vs. Sweetwater (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene’s Anthony Field
Stepp’s Pick: Graham by 13
Max’s Pick: Graham
Ishmael’s Pick: Graham
Brady’s Pick: Graham
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Madisonville (11-1) vs. West Orange-Stark (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Porter’s Texan Drive Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: West Orange-Stark by 12
Max’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Ishmael’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Brady’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Whitesboro (9-3) vs. Grandview (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Justin’s Northwest ISD Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Grandview by 16
Max’s Pick: Grandview
Ishmael’s Pick: Grandview
Brady’s Pick: Grandview
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Holliday (11-1) vs. Gunter (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Springtown’s Porcupine Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Gunter by 17
Max’s Pick: Gunter
Ishmael’s Pick: Gunter
Brady’s Pick: Gunter
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Stratford (11-1) vs. Post (9-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Amarillo’s Bivins Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Stratford by 22
Max’s Pick: Stratford
Ishmael’s Pick: Stratford
Brady’s Pick: Stratford
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San Augustine (12-0) vs. Price Carlisle (9-3), 6 p.m. Saturday at Carthage’s Bulldog Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: San Augustine by 19
Max’s Pick: San Augustine
Ishmael’s Pick: San Augustine
Brady’s Pick: San Augustine
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Refugio (10-1) vs. Holland (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Gustafson Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Refugio by 25
Max’s Pick: Refugio
Ishmael’s Pick: Refugio
Brady’s Pick: Refugio
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Tenaha (12-0) vs. Iola (8-4), 7 p.m. Friday at Palestine’s Westwood Panther Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Tenaha by 28
Max’s Pick: Tenaha
Ishmael’s Pick: Tenaha
Brady’s Pick: Tenaha
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

Falls City (10-2) vs. Milano (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Buda’s Shelton Stadium
Stepp’s Pick: Milano by 6
Max’s Pick: Milano
Ishmael’s Pick: Falls City
Brady’s Pick: Falls City
Check out Tepper’s pick — along with his picks for the other 87 TXHSFB playoff games this week

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