There are 88 UIL Texas high school football games in the third round of the playoffs this weekend, and according to the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football computer, there are 88 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 regional semifinals!
Richmond Foster (8-4) vs. Alvin Shadow Creek (12-0)
2 p.m. Friday at Webster’s Challenger-Columbia Stadium
Shadow Creek is an 18-point favorite
We can all agree that Richmond Foster’s regular season hasn’t gone the way we originally foresaw, with losses to Friendswood, Fort Bend Hightower and Fort Bend Travis. But things seem to be turning.
The Falcons may have snuck into the playoffs via the fourth-place spot in District 10-5A but have looked the part of a darkhorse contender following a 52-14 dismantling of Georgetown in the area round last week.
But that still begs the question, why should you believe the Falcons have shot against arguably the best 5A team in the state? Well, aside from their state-championship loss to Highland Park, through two seasons, no one’s been a challenge to Shadow Creek like Richmond Foster. In three matchups, the Sharks have only won by no more than a touchdown. Last season, it was giving Jamarian George fits and this year, Shadow Creek QB Kyron Drones’ worst game of the year came against Chidozie Nwankwo and the Falcon defense and threw two picks.
If Foster QB Ryan Stubblefield can keep it clean himself and get it to Cody Jackson consistently against an insane Shadow Creek defense that hasn’t allowed over 17 points all year, look for another close game between these two district foes. — Ishmael Johnson
Boerne Champion (11-1) vs. Sharyland Pioneer (11-1)
4 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Alamodome
Boerne Champion is an 8-point favorite
Every year we wonder what team from the RGV is going to make a deep run in Region IV and here’s why that team is likely Sharyland Pioneer.
First of all, Eddie Lee Marburger might be the most underrated quarterback in the state that’s playing at an elite level. The junior gunslinger has 3,909 yards passing, 56 touchdowns to just three interceptions on 67 percent completion. Oh yeah, and he’s also added nearly 1,000 yards and another 13 touchdowns on the ground. Ask Plugerville Weiss just how tough it is to not only stop Marburger but contain his primary target Luke Castillo (18 touchdowns this season).
Six different Diamondback receivers have eclipsed the 400-yard mark this season including running back Trey Castillo who has 0over 600 yards rushing to add another dimension to the offense. If this one turns into a shootout, I like the chances of Pioneer’s offense, averaging 47.5 points per game, coming out on top.
The difference will be if the Diamondback defense led by Fernando Salcedo can stop a very balanced and tested Boerne Champion offense, the only team that’s been able to do so so far this season has been Kerrville-Tivy. And while Pioneer’s defense has had its ups and downs, but all the offense needs is a few stops and things could get interesting. — Ishmael Johnson
Aledo (11-1) vs Red Oak (11-1)
7 p.m. Friday at Arlington's AT&T Stadium
Aledo is a 13-point favorite
When’s the last time Aledo has really been challenged in a playoff game? It’s been a minute. Maybe you can squint and consider Frisco Reedy or South Oak Cliff challengers last year, but in many ways, the Bearcats have cruised through every playoff game since their title game loss to College Station in 2017.
There’s a good chance that ends this week, because this Red Oak team is serious business. Coached by Chris Ross — he of Cedar Park state championship fame — the Hawks are a fast, physical and mean squad with talent to spare.
The Hawks feature a balanced offense that can beat you through the air with QB Josh Ervin or on the ground with CJ Palmer, but the real strength of the team is the defense, which is playing its best ball right now. They avenged their opening week loss to Denton Braswell in last week’s area round victory, and they’re playing with a tremendous amount of confidence.
Aledo needs no introduction at this point — QB Jake Bishop, WR JoJo Earle, now-healthy-RB Jase McClellan — but the defense has been susceptible to the run, and if Red Oak can force a couple of turnovers, this game could get hairy in a hurry.
Don’t believe me? Here at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, we’ve heard from multiple folks out in Aledo country that they are taking this game a serious threat to their dynasty. — Greg Tepper
Pottsboro (12-0) vs Malakoff (11-1)
2 p.m. Friday at Wylie’s Wylie ISD Stadium
Malakoff is a 15-point favorite
Malakoff passed a big test against an explosive Jefferson squad last week. Now comes arguably an even bigger one.
One of the quietest 12-0 squads in the state, Pottsboro has surprised a lot of folks (including us here at Texas Football) with their rapid bounce-back from consecutive 6-5 seasons. What’s the difference this year? Defensive splash plays — last year, the Cardinals picked off six passes and recovered seven fumbles, averaging a little more than one takeaway per game; this year, it’s 12 interceptions and 20 fumbles, more than 2.5 takeaways per game.
The numbers go on, too: Matt Poe’s squad accumulated 27 splash plays in the backfield last year (that is, sacks and tackles for loss); this year, that total has spiked to an astonishing 73 splash plays. And they come from all angles, too, whether it’s Hunter Fulton or Silas Barr or Riley Deaton or Keatyn Eitelman or Tyler Farris or Jasek Hooker — this is a defensive unit full of playmakers.
And that’s not to mention the traditionally strong Cardinals offense, which has ticked upward this year under RB Cy Shope and QB Brandon Plyler.
The key for Pottsboro is to let their defensive havoc-wreakers loose. If form holds, they’ll make an impact on this game, and if they make an impact on this game, we could be talking about a 13-0 Pottsboro squad. — Greg Tepper
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