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

Does Austin McCallum's Cinderella season include a trip to Arlington and can Vernon Jackson carry Boling past Newton?

Allen (14-0) vs. Round Rock Cedar Ridge (13-1), 2 p.m. Saturday at Waco’s McLane Stadium
Allen advanced to the state semifinals for the sixth straight year after the Eagles knocked off Euless Trinity 41-20 last Saturday at Apogee Stadium. There’s no question that the Eagles had some breaks in the game, but credit Allen for capitalizing on them. The Eagles also continued their run of domination in the second half as they outscored Trinity 20-7 in the final quarters. Combine that with a disputed touchdown on the final play of the second half and you have the recipe for another Allen surge. Arizona State commit RB Brock Sturges did a lot of his damage in the second half as he finished with 177 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Eagles look to get over that state semifinal hump this week against upstart Round Rock Cedar Ridge who blew past district rival Pflugerville Hendrickson on Saturday, 30-2. The Raiders have played second fiddle in the Austin area to Lake Travis and Austin Westlake but at least for 2017, they are in that same tier. The Raider defense put together a dominant effort last week holding Pflugerville Hendrickson to just 117 yards of offense, while QB Ezekiel Coss threw for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Cross is having to take on a much bigger role in the offense as RB Simi Bakare, still battling an injury, was limited to just five carries. The hope for Cedar Ridge is another week of rest and treatment will get Bakare closer to 100% as the task to beat Allen will be large with all hands-on-deck. Allen’s lost in this round two straight years and has a chip on its shoulder after the talk of controversy in last week’s win. Look for a very Allen game, where its close for a half, but Allen in the second half with that superior depth just puts the squeeze on this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Allen by 15
Max’s Pick: Allen
Ishmael’s Pick: Allen
Brady’s Pick: Allen
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Katy (12-0) vs. Lake Travis (12-2), 3 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium
It’s a rematch of the 2015 state title game that Katy dominated at NRG Stadium. The Tigers have to hit the road to get it done as this game will be played in the elements at Alamo Stadium. But despite the long drive, expect it to be a partisan Katy crowd. Katy’s defense is starting to remind us of that legendary 2015 unit as during the playoffs, the Tigers have taken it to another level. In the last three weeks in wins over Cy Ranch, Humble Atascocita and Galena Park North Shore, Katy has allowed a total of 10 points.  Last week, the Tigers avenged a playoff loss to North Shore last season with a dominant 31-3 win. RB Deondrick Glass ran for two scores and the Katy defense forced three turnovers and allowed just nine first downs. The Tigers have a big test once again this week against Ohio State commit QB Matt Baldwin and that explosive Lake Travis spread offense. The Cavaliers pulled away late last week for a 38-17 win over previously unbeaten San Antonio O’Connor. The LTHS defense held a high-powered O’Connor passing game to just 100 yards while versatile Garrett Wilson made quite the impact as well. Wilson had three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing and spent spot duty on defense and when he was out there, he made some plays in the secondary. Katy’s defense is the key here. The Tigers make you work incredibly hard to just get a first down and I don’t think this Cavaliers offense is quite as dynamic as the two previous editions. I’m taking Katy and that defense to return to Arlington.
Stepp’s Pick: Katy by 8
Max’s Pick: Katy
Ishmael’s Pick: Katy
Brady’s Pick: Katy
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Hewitt Midway (14-0) vs. Longview (13-1), 6 p.m. Saturday at Allen’s Eagle Stadium
One of the most intriguing matchups in the semifinals pits unbeaten Hewitt Midway looking to advance to the state title game for just the second time in school history against a surging Longview squad. The Panthers, led by QB Tanner Mordecai (Oklahoma verbal commit), had a test last week from Southlake Carroll, but showed some mettle in a 42-28 win over the Dragons. The Panthers jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead but the Dragons rallied to tie it at 21 before Midway had a couple of big fourth quarter scores to secure the win. Moredcai threw for 191 yards and a touchdown, but also ran for 122 yards and four touchdowns to pace the versatile Panthers attack. They’ll take on a Longview squad that earned a hard-fought and emotional win over arch rival Lufkin last week, 33-32, in front of an overflow crowd at SFA.  The Lobos needed big efforts from QB Haynes King who has given Longview a true versatile passing attack and the return of RB Jesse Anderson last week sparked a Longview running game that went in fits and starts most of the year. He’s the thunder and speedy Keilyn Williams is the quick lightning back for the Lobos. They combined for 145 yards on the ground, while King passed for three scores and ran for another in the win. Longview’s defense is solid, especially in the secondary but I think against a big and physical offensive line, they could struggle. Midway has just that with three FBS commits up front along with another FBS commit at TE. I look for the Panthers to line up and try to simply over power the Lobos smallish defensive line.
Stepp’s Pick: Hewitt Midway by 10
Max’s Pick: Midway
Ishmael’s Pick: Midway
Brady’s Pick: Midway
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Cy Fair (13-0) vs. Austin Westlake (14-0), 3 p.m. Saturday  at Houston’s NRG Stadium
After taking down nemesis Cibolo Steele last week, Austin Westlake will again have to go into a hostile environment and get a win as they tangle with unbeaten Cy Fair at NRG Stadium. Cy Fair in a lot of ways is a mirror image of Westlake. Both are big, physical and rely on a big back to gain most of its yards and are tremendous on defense. The biggest difference I see between these two is on offense, Cy Fair prefers to get under center while Westlake operates out of the spread exclusively. Cy Fair rolled past district rival Houston Langham Creek for the second time this year, this time to the tune of 31-14.  Trenton Kennedy was the key as he ran for 182 yards and four touchdowns and the Cy Fair defense held an explosive Langham Creek attack to just 183 yards.  Westlake, despite being minus three in the turnover battle, stepped up on the defensive side of the ball to knock off Steele 28-14. The Chaps were again led by Wisconsin commit RB Nakia Watson who ran for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He gained steam in the second half and that proved to be vital. Cy Fair is big enough and physical enough to contend with Westlake, so I expect this one to come down to QB Taylor Anderson and his ability to make plays in the passing game. I think he’s up to the task and I expect to see the Chaps in Arlington playing for a state title.
Stepp’s Pick: Austin Westlake by 7
Max’s Pick: Westlake
Ishmael’s Pick: Westlake
Brady’s Pick: Westlake
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Denton Ryan (14-0) vs. Highland Park (13-1), 9 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium:
It’s the rematch Spencer Sanders and his Denton Ryan teammates have waited a year for as unbeaten Ryan looks to avenge a stunning semifinal loss to Highland Park a year ago. Sanders, who suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of the 31-24 loss to the Scots, has been a man on a mission this year putting up video game numbers on a weekly basis. In last week’s 69-49 win over Lubbock Coronado, Sanders directed a symphony of offensive destruction with 485 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns.  The Raiders rolled up 647 yards of offense in the victory. They’ll need another big offensive day as there is no question the Highland Park offense, led by QB John Stephen Jones, is as lethal as any in the state.  Jones, who recently received an offer from Arkansas, led the Scots to a hard-fought 37-35 win over Mansfield Lake Ridge last week. As much as Highland Park’s offense gained the headlines last week, the defense came through in the fourth quarter with multiple key stops to preserve the two-point win. Both offenses will be the main story, but this game comes down to which defense can make plays down the stretch and this year, I think Denton Ryan finds a way to get it done with a key stop or two late.
Stepp’s Pick: Denton Ryan by 3
Max’s Pick: Denton Ryan
Ishmael’s Pick: Denton Ryan
Brady’s Pick: Denton Ryan
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Manvel (13-0) vs. Angleton (13-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Houston’s NRG Stadium
Two schools located just 24 miles apart but were placed in different regions at realignment two years ago meet up in Houston’s largest venue for the right to head to the state title game. Unbeaten Manvel avenged its stunning regional final loss to Temple last year with an emphatic 49-34 win over the Wildcats a week ago. The Mavericks were led by QB Kason Martin who threw for 242 yards and two scores and ran for another as the Mavs put up 407 yards on a tough Temple defense and also forced four turnovers in the win. Angleton has been a quiet 13-0 but the Wildcats have the playmakers to keep up with that balanced Manvel attack, most notably on a defense led by Texas-commit B.J. Foster. Angleton got past Richmond Foster for the second time this year exploding for four fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 41-10 victory. Foster and SMU commit Tamerick Williams combined for 244 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the victory. Although very potent on offense, I don’t believe Angleton wants to get into a shootout with Manvel, in fact it’s not recommended. The key for Angleton to win this is to control the pace with its ground attack, get a couple of stops early and plant that seed of doubt in Manvel’s head. The Mavericks are fast starters and when they get out of the blocks early, they are nearly impossible to beat.
Stepp’s Pick: Manvel by 8
Max’s Pick: Manvel
Ishmael’s Pick: Manvel
Brady’s Pick: Manvel
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Aledo (14-0) vs. Mansfield Legacy (12-2), 2:30 p.m. Saturday 2:30pm at North Richland Hills’ Birdville FAAC
It’s a regular season rematch as Aledo will look for more of the same from its September 24-3 win over Mansfield Legacy. After falling behind early 7-0 to Richland, the Bearcats scored the next 43 points of the game to cruise to the 43-7 victory and another Region I title. Oklahoma commit RB Jase McClellan ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns and the Aledo defense which had struggled the previous two weeks found its footing holding Richland to just 143 yards of offense. Mansfield Legacy surged in the playoffs and the Broncos won their first regional title in school history last week knocking off Frisco Lone Star, 24-20. RB Isiah Jones ran for 151 yards and a score while QB Jalen Catalon, who was held in check most of the game, found a way late tossing the game winning 66-yard touchdown pass to Randy Wright with 3:25 left in the game. This will be a physical, low scoring game, but expect Aledo to prevail. The team is more balanced and dynamic on offense that defense won’t let Catalon beat them.
Stepp’s Pick: Aledo by 13
Max’s Pick: Aledo
Ishmael’s Pick: Aledo
Brady’s Pick: Aledo
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

College Station (12-2) vs. Austin McCallum (14-0), 7 p.m. Saturday at Houston’s NRG Stadium
For the second straight year, College Station has advanced to the state semifinals and instead of taking on perennial power Corpus Christi Calallen, the Cougars get upstart Austin McCallum. Last week, College Station showed some serious mettle rallying from a 34-21 halftime deficit to knock off an outstanding Fort Bend Marshall bunch 49-47. The duo of QB Marquez Perez and RB Dada Anderson were just too much for the Buffalos as they combined for 262 yards rushing and six touchdowns. McCallum jumped out to a quick 20-0 lead on Calallen and the Knights’ defense was lights-out the rest of the way, containing the Wildcats in a 20-7 victory. RB Alex Julian scored a touchdown on the game’s third play and the defense had a sensational game from LB Jackson Masters to lead the way. The Knight defense was simply incredible and held Calallen to just a single first down in the first half. McCallum’s team speed, especially on defense, was too much for a slower Calallen team to handle. College Station, although not as stingy on defense as Calallen, is much more balanced and explosive on offense and will present a big test for McCallum. That balance and overall athleticism will be the big edge for the Cougars as McCallum hasn’t run into many teams who are quicker than they are one through eleven.  College Station is the favorite, but it’s obvious McCallum enjoys and embraces the underdog role, it fueled the team last week and they’ll likely be a consensus underdog in nearly every prediction. 
Stepp’s Pick: College Station by 6
Max’s Pick: College Station
Ishmael’s Pick: Austin McCallum
Brady’s Pick: College Station
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Stephenville (12-2) vs. Kennedale (13-1), 5 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
Stephenville kept up its surprising run in the playoffs with a hard fought 31-21 win over a strong Wichita Falls Hirschi squad last week. It wasn’t the sharpest effort from the Stephenville offense as the ‘Jackets turned the ball over four times, but the defense rose to the occasion not letting Hirschi turn a single turnover into points. Stephenville’s special teams were also key and recovered a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown. RB Krece Nowak was a major force as well as he ran for 165 yards and a touchdown and also had 96 receiving yards and a touchdown. The task is quite large this week as Stephenville looks to try and corral the tremendous team speed of Kennedale and its vaunted Wing-T offensive attack. Kennedale rolled past Kaufman last week 63-36 as Jaden Knowles and D.J. Kirven combined for 380 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Kennedale has good team speed on defense, but the last three weeks it’s given up over 35 points per game and that’s a big concern against a dynamic Stephenville attack. Stephenville’s defense traditionally has done very well against Wing-T offenses and I think that is a major key in this matchup. In what many would consider a slight upset, I’m taking Stephenville because of that pedigree.
Stepp’s Pick: Stephenville by 3
Max’s Pick: Kennedale
Ishmael’s Pick: Kennedale
Brady’s Pick: Kennedale
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Carthage (14-0) vs. Waco La Vega (14-0), 7: 30 p.m. Friday at Frisco’s Ford Center
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another single game on the state semifinals slate better than this matchup of Class 4A Division I titans. It’s a classic offense vs. defense matchup as the dynamic and versatile pro-style offense of Carthage goes against one of the state’s most fierce defensive units in Waco La Vega. Both are fresh off wins over district opponents in the regional finals, but La Vega’s win may be costly as it had a few contributors injured in the 28-18 win over Liberty Hill last week. The team will need all hands on deck this week to try and contain that Carthage attack. In last week’s 35-0 win over Henderson, the Bulldogs erupted for 28 points in the second half led by two third-quarter touchdown runs from Texas commit RB Keaontay Ingram and two touchdown passes from Gunner Capps to Dee Bowens. Carthage’s defense, which often gets overshadowed by their offense, was outstanding as well holding Henderson to just 250 yards of offense and forcing four turnovers. These two met in the 2015 semifinals and La Vega rolled past a banged-up Carthage squad on that night. Many of these Carthage seniors were on that team and remember what happened, I think they get some measure of revenge this week as the Bulldogs look primed for a sixth state title.
Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 6
Max’s Pick: Carthage
Ishmael’s Pick: Carthage
Brady’s Pick: Carthage
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Graham (14-0) vs. Texarkana Pleasant Grove (14-0), 7 p.m. Thursday at Frisco’s Ford Center
It’s another battle of unbeaten teams as Graham and Texarkana Pleasant Grove have both rolled in to the state semifinals. Last week Graham cooled off red-hot Bushland in a 69-41 win as QB Tucker Horn was in the zone for Graham throwing for 590 yards and seven touchdowns. WR Adam Groves did much of the damage with 240 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The Steers’ offense gets their biggest test of the year this week as they go against a fast, athletic and physical Pleasant Grove defense led by Texas Tech commit Xavier Benson. The Hawk defense was key in their 55-14 rout of Melissa last week and contained an athletic and high-powered Melissa attack. Pleasant Grove was also brutally efficient on offense, scoring on its first six drives of the night. T.J. Cole did much of the damage with 139 yards and four touchdowns rushing, however Chauncey Martin and Bruce Garrett were solid as well combining for 179 yards rushing and two scores. Graham’s offense, although not as athletic as Melissa, is brutally efficient. They’ll take what you give them and won’t mistakes. If Pleasant Grove wants to win this one, its defense is going to have to step up and make some plays because Graham’s not going to give it much. I like the Hawks and the team’s speed, but this has the makings of a classic written all over it.
Stepp’s Pick: Texarkana Pleasant Grove by 2
Max’s Pick: Pleasant Grove
Ishmael’s Pick: Graham
Brady’s Pick: Pleasant Grove
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

West Orange-Stark (12-0) vs. Wimberley (13-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Katy’s Legacy Stadium
It hasn’t always been pretty, but it has been brutally effective as West Orange-Stark won its fourth-straight regional title last week on the strength of its defense in a 14-0 win over Salado. The Mustang defense held Salado to less than two yards per carry and allowed just five first downs in the victory. The offense again struggled and that is a big concern because Wimberley’s offense is humming along at a tremendous rate. The Texans upset Region IV favorite Cuero last week, taking the Gobblers down 44-36. The key sequence was three WHS touchdowns in five minutes that turned a 36-24 lead into a 44-36 Wimberley edge. QB JoJo Weeks, who has been sensational all year tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gavin Martinez to put WHS up 37-36 and then Thomas Dingman’s 36-yard pick six sealed the win with 3:12 remaining. WOS has allowed three points or less in three of its four playoff games, so the matchup of the Chain Gang Defense against an efficient Wimberley offense is very intriguing. I am taking Wimberley in an upset to end what is the state’s longest winning streak at 39 games. I think the formula to beat WOS is an accurate QB who will take the short passes and gets rid of the ball quickly. That’s what Wimberley does and Weeks is as efficient as they come in throwing the ball.
Stepp’s Pick: Wimberley by 3
Max’s Pick: Wimberley
Ishmael’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Brady’s Pick: West Orange-Stark
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Brock (12-2) vs. Kemp (13-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
Any doubts about Brock and its ability to win a second state title were firmly put to rest early in the playoffs as its stunning Week 10 loss to Breckenridge is a distant memory. The Eagles continued their strong run with a 34-7 win over Comanche last week. The Eagles led by just six at the half, but had two second-half touchdown runs from Dawson Littlejohn and that put the game out of reach. Kemp is one of the state’s real Cinderella stories as the Yellowjackets continued their magic stunning district rival Grandview 13-10 last week. The ‘Jackets, who lost to Grandview by 27 earlier in the year, got a massive effort from their defense to contain one of the state’s most explosive rushing attacks. Kemp’s outstanding defense will keep them in the game, but the offense just lacks that firepower to put pressure on Brock’s very aggressive defensive unit. Big game experience on the big stage certainly works in Brock’s favor as well.
Stepp’s Pick: Brock by 11
Max’s Pick: Brock
Ishmael’s Pick: Brock
Brady’s Pick: Kemp
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Rockdale (11-3) vs. Yoakum (13-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Cypress’ Cy Fair FCU Stadium
There will be some serious talent on the field for this game as Rockdale will look to do something that hasn’t been done since 1976 and that is play for a state title. Rockdale ended a streak of bad luck at Waco ISD Stadium last week by rolling past Teague, 42-20. QB Torrey Locklin and playmaking ATH JaQualyn Crawford (Oklahoma commit) were just too much for the Lions to handle. Yoakum rolled past a young but very talented Goliad squad 40-7 Saturday evening in Austin. Once again, the Bulldogs leaned on Texas A&M commit Jordan Moore who ran for 270 yards and two touchdowns and he hauled in a 19-yard scoring pass to pace Yoakum. The Bulldog offensive line dominated all evening long and if they can get that kind of effort the next two weeks, they’ll be hard to beat. Yoakum is working on a short week this week, but the Bulldogs have good depth for a 3A Division I team and come into the semifinals fairly healthy. I think the dominance up front combined with the playmakers Yoakum brings to the table will be a bit too much for RHS.
Stepp’s Pick: Yoakum by 9
Max’s Pick: Yoakum
Ishmael’s Pick: Yoakum
Brady’s Pick: Yoakum
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Canadian (14-0) vs. Gunter (14-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Vernon’s Lion Stadium
Two state title contenders meet in the semifinals for the second-straight year. This time, a little closer to Canadian as the game will be played in Vernon. A year ago, upstart Gunter ended Canadian’s 15-game playoff winning streak, but now the roles are reversed and it’s Gunter with its 30-game winning streak that enters as the favorite. Canadian knocked off a tough Childress squad for the second time this season last week, this time beating the Bobcats 35-20. Canadian led by just a single point at 21-20 going into the fourth quarter, but QB Casen Cavalier ran for a score and threw for a touchdown in the deciding frame to allow Canadian to advance to its fourth straight state semifinals. Gunter has been on a roll all year. In fact, the Tigers haven’t played a game closer than 26 points all year long. They blew past New Diana last week, 62-13, in a balanced effort. Dylan Jantz, the Tigers’ star, ran for two scores and had an interception on defense. Zach Lowe and Braiden Clopton each ran for three scores as well. Both offenses combine sound and well coached schemes with flawless execution and above-average athletes. The key here for me is the Gunter defense. This is a very underrated group. They fly around and make plays all over the field. Canadian will score some points and I anticipate this game being very similar to last year with Gunter pulling away late.
Stepp’s Pick: Gunter by 8
Max’s Pick: Gunter
Ishmael’s Pick: Gunter
Brady’s Pick: Gunter
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Newton (13-0) vs. Boling (9-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Porter’s Texan Drive Stadium
Newton looks to get back to the state title game for the first time since 2014 taking on a Boling squad that’s putting together a run eerily similar to last year’s run to the state title game. After a less than stellar effort in its third round win, Newton got the offense rolling last week in a 45-6 rout of Waskom. RB Darwin Barlow scored on the first play from scrimmage and the rout was on as he finished with 205 yards rushing and two scores while Tamauzia Brown chipped in a pair of touchdown catches to pace the Eagles’ offense. The Newton defense held a potent Waskom triple option offense to just 87 yards rushing on 46 carries as well. Boling came into the playoffs with a pedestrian 5-3 record and finished third in district, but the team rode the hot hand of Alabama commit Vernon Jackson once the playoffs got rolling. Jackson put Boling on his back after his team got behind 14-0 early and carried the Bulldogs to victory with an incredible 418 yards and five rushing touchdowns on 36 carries. The 245-pound monster is a tough matchup for 6A defenses much less 3A defenses. Newton will look to make it a team effort and use its edge in team speed to swarm to the football and corral the big but very shifty back.  Boling will have some early success, but I expect Newton to use its depth and firepower to run away with this one and advance to the state title game and an unbeaten showdown with either Gunter or Canadian.
Stepp’s Pick: Newton by 12
Max’s Pick: Newton
Ishmael’s Pick: Newton
Brady’s Pick: Newton
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Stratford (13-1) vs. Mart (13-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Snyder’s Tiger Stadium
If you want to see a classic size vs. speed matchup, Snyder is the place for you on Thursday night.  Stratford brings its bruising ground-oriented offense south after a dominating 61-7 win over district rival Panhandle last week. The Elks jumped out to a 41-0 halftime lead which rendered the second half a forgone conclusion. Pedro Ortega led a balanced ground attack that churned out 470 yards total. Ortega finished with 99 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Elks’ defense will have a challenge unlike any they’ve seen this year and that’s trying to replicate the speed and overall athleticism of Mart who avenged a playoff loss to Crawford a year ago with an easy 47-6 victory. Mart has playmakers all over the field with QB Jace Terry leading the offense and a 1-2 rushing combo of Tyrek Horne and Shatydrick Bailey and Houston commit Zamar Kirven at LB and out wide at receiver. Mart’s speed will be too much for Stratford to handle in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Mart by 10
Max’s Pick: Mart
Ishmael’s Pick: Mart
Brady’s Pick: Mart
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

San Augustine (14-0) vs. Refugio (12-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Cypress’ Cy Fair FCU Stadium
For once this season, Refugio may not be the fastest team on the field when it meets up with San Augustine on Thursday night in the Houston area. The Wolves rolled to the Region III crown with an easy 50-14 win over Centerville last week as RB K.J. Davis led the way with 180 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He’s averaging well over 200 yards rushing per game in the playoffs. Refugio is one of the state’s feel good stories without question as despite the adversity of a hurricane basically wiping their town out and one of their best players suffering a life-threatening injury, the Bobcats have stayed the course. After trailing early last week against unbeaten Mason, Refugio came to life in the second half scoring 28 straight points in the final two quarters and the Bobcats defense held Mason to just 44 second half yards in the win. Refugio is the name brand in this matchup and have the championship pedigree, but I’ve rode the San Augustine bandwagon all year so I’m not jumping off quite yet. Give me the Wolves and that team speed to pull the upset.
Stepp’s Pick: San Augustine by 3
Max’s Pick: Refugio
Ishmael’s Pick: Refugio
Brady’s Pick: Refugio
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Wellington (13-1) vs. Muenster (14-0), 7 p.m. Thursday at Vernon’s Lion Stadium
Wellington bulldozed its way through Region I in dominant fashion winning four games by an average of nearly 40 points per game. Last week the Skyrockets knocked off district rival Clarendon 33-0. QB Luke Williams threw a first quarter touchdown pass and that was enough for the Rockets whose defense totally dominated the game. The headliner and a guy that’s hard to miss is massive 6’11 340 pound OL Trevor Roberson for Wellington. The Texas A&M commit is not just a spectacle because of his size, he is an outstanding football player. Muenster won its unbeaten showdown with Albany last week 28-12 as the Hornets’ outstanding defensive line proved to be the difference in a game dominated by two outstanding defensive units. QB Parker McGrew ran for a touchdown and threw for another score in the second half to turn a 12-7 deficit into a 21-12 lead and the Hornets never looked back. Expect another physical, low scoring battle. Wellington has some playmakers that could cause issues for Muenster, namely JoJo McKnight, but Muenster has a little of size and depth across the board for a 2A Division II. I think they’ll have a similar effort to last week where in the second half and wear Wellington down and advance to the state title game for the first time in school history.
Stepp’s Pick: Muenster by 6
Max’s Pick: Muenster
Ishmael’s Pick: Muenster
Brady’s Pick: Muenster
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

Tenaha (14-0) vs. Burton (13-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Crockett’s Driskell Stadium
We saw this matchup coming all the way back in the preseason as a Tenaha squad loaded with experience looked to be a good bet in Region III while Burton easily defended its Region IV crown from a year ago. Tenaha was as dominant as you can be last Thursday and blasted past district rival Timpson 59-0. Tenaha scored on its first six drives and got 195 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Onterio Thompson in the easy win. Tenaha outgained Timpson 416-79. Burton’s offense had it rolling last week and knocked off Falls City 69-45. It was the De’Monderick Winters show for the Panthers as he accounted for 362 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in the win. Burton has the firepower to cause Tenaha some problems, but the defense is going to have to be much better if it wants to knock off what many believe is the state’s top team in 2A Division II.
Stepp’s Pick: Tenaha by 10
Max’s Pick: Tenaha
Ishmael’s Pick: Tenaha
Brady’s Pick: Tenaha
Check out Tepper’s breakdown for this game — and the other 19 state semifinal matchups

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