Stepp's Ten Thoughts from the Bi-District Round Of the Playoffs

Photo by Gordon DeLoach

Dickinson dominates
In the state’s marquee non-district matchup, Dickinson defeated Pearland in the playoffs for the third straight time and this time, head coach John Snelson’s squad did it in emphatic fashion drilling the undefeated Oilers at home, 49-21. Junior quarterback Mike Welch was sensational for the Gators accounting for five total touchdowns, three on the ground and two in the air to pace the Dickinson offense. The tremendous team speed on defense for Dickinson held what had been a dynamic Pearland offense in check most of the night. It’s quite the win for Dickinson, but it doesn’t get any easier as next week Dickinson must go on the road to take on the No. 2 team in the state and undefeated Galena Park North Shore.

Alamo City upset
San Antonio Reagan had a death grip on Northeast ISD for the past few years. The Rattlers brought home multiple district titles in a row, but for the most part, playoff success had eluded them. 2018 could be different as despite finishing in second place in 27-6A, Reagan has already made an impact on the playoffs as on Friday night they stunned 10-0 San Antonio O’Connor with a 30-7 win. San Antonio Reagan stopped O’Connor twice on fake punts and held another time on fourth down to jump out to a 24-0 lead at halftime and in the second half, the defense was lights out in preserving the win. Lyndon Hamilton’s squad improves to 9-2 on the year and will now take on the top team in Greater San Antonio going to the Alamodome next Friday night to take on 10-0 Converse Judson.

Richardson Pearce knocks off Cedar Hill
Not many outside of head coach David Collins, his coaching staff and the Pearce Mustangs believed they could pull off the upset against 9-1 state powerhouse Cedar Hill, but Coach Collins and his team proved the doubters wrong shocking Cedar Hill 23-21 to advance to the area playoffs for the second straight season.  The key to the win was the Richardson Pearce defense which forced five Cedar Hill turnovers and kicker Gino Garcia who kicked three field goals from over forty yards out, including the game winning 44-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Mesquite Horn shocks Temple
After starting the season 0-7, many had already written the obituary for Mesquite Horn’s 2018 season. However, a deeper look at the Jaguars' schedule showed that seven teams had a combined three losses going into the start of the playoffs. Mike Overton’s squad pulled themselves off the mat and won their final three games of the year to get into the playoffs, but faced another daunting task in the bi-district playoffs a road game at Temple. However, Horn was facing a wounded Temple team that had lost back-to-back games to close the regular season and was a squad that had many questions surrounding them headed into the playoffs. Horn from the outset weren't overwhelmed by the environment and senior QB Jermaine Givens had maybe the best game of his career accounting for 504 yards of offense and four touchdowns as the Jaguars upset Temple at Wildcat Stadium 45-38. Now Horn looks to have a chance this week to advance to the regional semifinals taking on 6-5 Wylie at home next Friday night.

Amarillo Caprock First Playoff Win Since 1975
Dan Sherwood’s Caprock Longhorns have had a magical 2018 season that included a share of the District 2-5A Division I title, but Thursday night his squad accomplished something that Caprock fans had waited 43 years for and that was a playoff win. Sherwood’s squad jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead and never looked back in a convincing 42-17 win over El Paso Eastlake to send the Longhorns to the area round of the playoffs for the first time since 1975. Caprock will now practice on Thanksgiving Day preparing to take on 9-2 Grapevine next week.

Highland Park/College Station state champion showdown
We’ve got a rarity in the Texas high school football playoffs as two defending state champions will meet up in the area round of the playoffs as defending 5A Division I state champion Highland Park takes on defending 5A Division II state champion College Station next Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium. Highland Park got a test that was tougher than expected last week but eventually pulled away from Frisco Independence, 35-14. College Station was considered a slight underdog, but the Cougars showed championship mettle going on the road and knocking off Mesquite Poteet in a 41-38 thriller.

Splendora first-ever playoff win
Congrats to head coach Marcus Schulz and the Splendora Wildcats who on Friday night earned their first ever playoff win in school history knocking off Houston North Forest 47-19. The Wildcats' turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable and with the win, improved to 10-1 on the season. In the previous four seasons combined SHS had won just nine games. Splendora will advance to the area playoffs where they will take on Van next Saturday night at Stephen F. Austin University.

Eustace stuns Bonham
First-year head coach Steve Smith knew his Eustace Bulldogs would be considered an underdog going into their matchup with a very potent Bonham squad that finished the regular season 8-2. After all, Eustace hasn’t had much recent playoff success and finished the regular season with a 3-7 record. Eustace however, didn’t get the memo that they were an underdog and played like seasoned playoff veterans Thursday night dominating Bonham from start to finish with a 59-34 win to advance to the area playoffs for the first time since 2011. QB Alejandro Sanchez was sensational for Eustace running for five touchdowns and passing for another score to lead the way, three of his touchdown runs were of 62 yards or more.

Mount Vernon rallies to top Tatum Thursday
Ground-oriented Mount Vernon is a team built on getting an early lead and wearing you down with the running game, a tough defense and the ability to kill the clock. None of that strategy worked in the first three quarters of its game against Tatum. The Tigers trailed 26-10 heading to the fourth quarter and things looked bleak, especially considering three lost fumbles in the third quarter. But head coach Josh Finney’s squad stayed the course and rallied for 22-straight fourth-quarter points and a stunning 32-26 win to advance to the area playoffs. The rally started less than a minute into the final quarter as QB Kason Pletcher scored on a 29-yard run to help cut the lead to 26-18 after the two-point conversion. After forcing Tatum to punt on their next series, the Tigers' special teams came up big with a blocked punt that was returned to the Tatum seven-yard line. One play later, Pletcher scored again. The two-point try failed and Mount Vernon trailed 26-24 with plenty of time remaining. Cade Hyman gave the Tigers fans plenty to cheer about as his 50-yard touchdown jaunt with 2:12 left provided the winning margin and completed the big comeback, lifting MVHS to the area round for the second straight year.

Panhandle sweep in 3A Div II
We all knew District 3-3A Division II was tough. After all Canadian and Childress are two of the top five teams in the state of Texas. But the depth in this district was on display Friday night as the district swept its opponents from the Big Country (District 4-3A Division II) in the bi-district playoffs. Canadian and Childress, as expected, rolled to lopsided wins, while third-place Tulia won a 26-24 thriller over Merkel to advance. The big shocker was fourth place Spearman who stunned unbeaten and state ranked Cisco, 33-29. The Lynx had to win a tough game against fifth place Tulia a couple of weeks ago just to make the playoffs and played a flawless game and showed the entire state that at least in 2018 the part of the state with the most depth at the 3A Division II level is definitely up in the panhandle.

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