There are 352 UIL Texas high school football games in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend, and according to the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football computer, there are 352 favorites — see all of the computer’s projections right here!
But upsets can and do happen in the unpredictable Texas high school football playoffs. Here are some games that have us sounding the Upset Alert in the bi-district round!
Austin Vandegrift vs. Cypress Bridgeland
7 p.m. Friday at Austin’s Monroe Stadium
Vandegrift is a 7-point favorite
There’s little reason to doubt Austin Vandegrift this year — the Vipers are one of just 57 unbeaten UIL teams across the state, and have put together one of the state’s most fearsome defenses led by star linebacker Jax McCauley, holding all but two of their opponents to 17 points or fewer. Coach Drew Sanders has eyes set on AT&T Stadium, and for good reason.
But there’s nothing more dangerous than a team that has nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that’s what the Vipers will face in their opening round contest with Bridgeland. The Bears, in their second varsity season, will play their first playoff game in the program’s young history on Friday, and they’ve got the offensive firepower to make things uncomfortable — QB Connor Weigman and WR Dylan Goffney form one of the Houston area’s most dangerous pass-catch duos, and sophomore Mason Culton gives the Bears a threat on the ground.
But the X-factor in this matchup is on the sideline — Bridgeland is coached by former Cy Falls and A&M Consolidated coach David Raffield, who is no stranger to the playoffs, including guiding Cy Falls to the 2006 5A Division II state title game. The Bears may be new to the playoffs, but the guy calling the shots certainly isn’t.
Breaking through the Vandegrift defense is a chore, but if the Bears can crack they code, they can shake up the 6A Division II bracket in a hurry. — Greg Tepper
Weatherford vs. Arlington Bowie
7 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s Wilemon Field
Bowie is a 9-point favorite
There’s a phrase we like use around the Texas Football office when it comes to high school football discussions when it comes to potential keys to a game. Well, it could be worded in a question too. Does a team, “have the guy”?
In use, it goes a little like this:
“Can they win this weekend?”
“Well, they have the guy.”
The guy, or perhaps more traditionally known as the star. The player you look to when things get tough or teams need an added boost to elevate the collective.
In this case, Weatherford has the guy – Ken Seals. The four-star Vanderbilt commit has helped turn the Kangaroos into a shootout waiting to happen. What makes Weatherford so dangerous in the playoffs is that Seals pilots an offense that has averaged 46.8 points per game and have only been held under 30 points twice this season.
And Seals isn’t doing it alone either. Dezmond Forrest has been Weatherford’s biggest skill-position weapon all season with 2,283 total yards and 35 total touchdowns to his name. Jorden Wheeler and Nicholas Schwikal are reliable targets as well. When was the last time Arlington Bowie played against a team that could rack up points like Weatherford? The Vols played Rockwall and Arlington Martin and lost both matchups.
If this one gets points-y, don’t be surprised to see the Kangaroos moving to area. — Ishmael Johnson
Lindale vs. Lamar Consolidated
7:30 p.m. Friday at Rosenberg’s Traylor Stadium
Lamar Consolidated is a 10-point favorite
Let’s get this out of the way: if this upset is going to happen, it’s probably going to be a high-scoring shootout. Lamar Consolidated has a bevy of weapons — most notably star running back Taye McWilliams and quarterback Byron Harris — and Lindale’s defense has, um, left something to be desired for the most part this season.
But if the fireworks start going off at Traylor Stadium on Friday, Lindale is certainly explosive enough to join in the fun.
Running back Jordan Jenkins is one of the most fun players in the state, and he’s getting hot at the right time — the junior ran for eight touchdowns on 282 yards in the season finale against Jacksonville, part of a 501-yard assault last week. Add in playmakers like Conner Boyette and quarterback Sam Peterson, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that the Eagles can go score-for-score with almost anyone.
Lamar Consoldiated is an understandable favorite, but if this game gets into the 40s, watch out. — Greg Tepper
Manor vs. Dripping Springs
7:30 p.m. Friday at Dripping Springs’ Tiger Stadium
Dripping Springs is a 7-point favorite
Does this look familiar to anyone else?
It should, because these two teams met during last year’s bi-district round when Manor was also an underdog at 4-6 before coming away with a 43-40 win. Hopefully Dripping Springs remembers that loss because even at 5-5, the Mustangs still pose a threat with skill talent to match the Tigers on the field.
Coming from District 11-5A DI helps too. While Dripping Springs’ 7-0 district record reflects some of the team’s dominance, it only really got a challenge from LBJ Austin and you have to go back to a month prior to that to find name-brand opponents like Kerrville Tivy (Win) and Buda Hays (Loss) on the schedule.
Manor’s been through the gauntlet of Hutto, Cedar Park, Liberty Hill and Georgetown and although three of those were losses, those are still name brand programs in CenTex. The Mustangs have seen top-quality talent and were in a one-score game with Hutto until a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the fourth broke the game open. All year, Manor’s rode the back of the bulldozing Tahj Brooks and he had over 100 yards in this meeting last year, does Dripping Springs have an answer for the Texas Tech signee this time around? — Ishmael Johnson
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