Southlake Carroll (13-0) vs Duncanville (13-0), 2:30 p.m. Saturday at McKinney’s McKInney ISD Stadium: For the second straight season, Southlake Carroll and Duncanville meet up for the Region I title with unblemished records. Southlake Carroll rolled past Midland Lee, 49-27, last week in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Dragons raced out to a 35-0 second quarter lead and put it on cruise control from that point on. Sophomore QB Quinn Ewers threw for 357 yards and four touchdowns and chipped in two rushing touchdowns to lead a Carroll offense that rolled up 550 yards of offense. Texas A&M commit TE Blake Smith was the recipient of three of those TD passes. Duncanville handled Arlington Martin last week, 45-17, as Texas commit QB Ja’Quinden Jackson accounted for 297 yards of offense and three rushing touchdowns. RB Trysten Smith ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers swarming defense got in the act with a defensive touchdown and Duncanville’s special teams came up with a key blocked punt that led to a touchdown as well. Injuries are a concern for DHS as Auburn commit DB Chris Thompson, the leader of the defense, left last week’s game with an injury and his status is unknown for this week. Duncanville annihilated Southlake Carroll a year ago but don’t expect the same kind of blowout. This Dragons offense is much more balanced and can keep the Duncanville defense guessing at times. The real question is going to be can the Dragons defense, specifically the front seven, handle Duncanville’s offense? The motion and misdirection the Panthers show is tough enough, but you add in their team speed and then the fact that they have an absolute dynamo at QB in Jackson orchestrating it all and it’s a tough challenge.
Stepp’s Pick: Duncanville by 14
Lake Travis (12-1) vs Converse Judson (12-1), 4 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Alamodome: For the third straight season, Austin’s best tangles with San Antonio’s best as Lake Travis looks to make it three in a row over Converse Judson. The Cavs have had the Rockets’ numbers the past two years even though in a lot of ways you could make it out that Hank Carter’s squad has been the underdogs, but Judson’s got a new head coach now in Rodney Williams so Rocket fans are hoping maybe this time is different. In last year’s meeting, penalties and turnovers proved to be Judson’s undoing and mistakes for the Rockets will have to be limited if they want to return to the state semifinals. Both teams cruised to wins over out-manned opposition from South Texas a week ago as Lake Travis feasted on Weslaco turnovers in a 52-17 romp, while Judson’s offense led by QB Mike Chandler, II and RB De’Anthony Lewis, simply overwhelmed Laredo United, 69-21. Texas commit Hudson Card hasn’t played since the Austin Westlake game. It’ll be interesting to see if he tries to give it a go this week and where he plays as well. Card has been the QB all year, but backup QB Nate Yarnell has been outstanding since taking over. Does Coach Carter throw a wrinkle and put the versatile Card at WR to start or does he move him back to QB? Regardless, this Cavaliers team has shown plenty of grit all season battling through key injuries and it’s tough to pick against them when playing Judson, at least until Judson can prove they can get over this hurdle.
Stepp’s Pick: Lake Travis by 8
Denton Guyer (12-1) vs Amarillo Tascosa (10-3), 11 a.m. Saturday at Frisco’s Ford Center: After their heart-stopping area round playoff win over Cedar Hill, Denton Guyer showed no signs of a letdown on Saturday ripping past Arlington, 42-21, behind 250 yards of offense and five total touchdowns from Texas A&M QB commit Eli Stowers. Tough running Kaedric Cobbs added in 139 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Wildcats, whose personality is to get behind that big offensive line and try to wear you down. Speaking of running the football, the Amarillo Tascosa Rebels run the football and they run it often. In fact, the last three weeks they haven’t completed a single pass, yet they roll up yards and points in huge numbers as evidenced by their 46-14 rout of Flower Mound Marcus last week. QB Joseph Plunk continues to amaze as the maestro of the flexbone attack as last week he rolled up 257 yards rushing and six touchdowns. The most impressive part about Tascosa’s win was their defense led by Texas Tech commit LB Moore as they stymied an explosive Marcus offensive attack. The challenge this week is much tougher because Guyer is an offense that has all the pieces and is more than happy to line up and run right at you. The long road trip won’t bother Tascosa; this is par for the course for them. The key in this game is can Tascosa avoid the slow start that plagued them last year in their DFW trip and can their offense continue the magic? It’ll be a shootout but Guyer and that big defensive line gets disruptive in the second half and slows Tascosa down.
Stepp’s Pick: Denton Guyer by 7
Austin Westlake (12-1) vs San Antonio Brandeis (13-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Alamodome: It’s another Austin vs San Antonio rematch as Westlake and Brandies meet up with bragging rights on the line in Region IV at the 6A-Division II level. A year ago, a banged-up Westlake team dominated from start to finish in a 26-0 win to advance to the state semifinals. Westlake comes into this game much healthier on offense and just as stout on the defensive side of the ball, while Brandies is a year older and more mature but there’s concerns about the Broncos after they went to Laredo and had to eek out a 21-14 win over Edinburg Vela. Westlake had no such troubles as they blasted Weslaco East, 45-14. The Chaps defense, which has been dominant all year, continued that trend by not allowing any points until well into the second half when backups where in the game. QB Kirkland Michaux was outstanding for the Chaps tossing five touchdown passes in the win. The path to victory for Brandeis is clear as they are going to need a monster game from Jordan Battles and the Broncos defense is going to have to set them up with favorable field positions or force turnovers as I don’t believe they can consistently move the football the length of the field against that stout Austin Westlake defense.
Stepp’s Pick: Austin Westlake by 17
Frisco Lone Star (13-0) vs Lancaster (11-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rockwall’s Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium: Frisco Lone Star did what most thought was basically unthinkable and that’s defeat Highland Park twice in the same year, once at Highland Park and the other time last week in a 33-27 heart-stopping win in overtime at AT&T Stadium. QB Garrett Rangel threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns, two going to Marvin Mims, who, despite constant double teams, managed to get 86 receiving yards along with the two scores. The Rangers defense was sensational in once again containing the Scots offense and they’ll have a big test this week dealing with a Lancaster squad that’s going to match up with them quite well when it comes to team speed and athleticism. Lancaster erupted for 34 second half points last week in a 34-10 win over Frisco Independence. The Tigers got 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns from RB Tre Bradford and their defense stymied an explosive Frisco Independence offense holding the Knights to just 234 yards of offense. Expect a low scoring and physical game. Both teams bring elite level defenses to the table. The key matchup is the Lancaster defensive line against the Lone Star offensive line. The winner of that battle likely wins this game and I give the edge to Lancaster as it may be tough for Lone Star to bounce back from such an emotional win last week.
Stepp’s Pick: Lancaster by 2
San Antonio Wagner (12-1) vs Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial (10-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Corpus Christi’s Buccaneer Stadium: After rolling through Region IV a year ago, Wagner has had to work extremely hard the past two weeks to get to this point winning the last two games by a combined seven points. Last week Wagner had to hold off a furious rally from San Antonio Harlan in a 46-43 win. The Thunderbirds got huge efforts from QB Isaiah Williams, who ran for 206 yards and two touchdowns and RB LJ Butler, who ran for 209 yards and three touchdowns. The Wagner offense isn’t the problem, but the defense, specifically the secondary, has concerns as for the second week in a row they were carved up by a good passing offense. They are facing another dynamic aerial attack this week as they get Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial, which won a thriller last week taking down Corpus Christi Miller 56-49 as QB Carter Senterfitt torched the Miller DB’s with 377 yards through the air and four touchdowns. The Eagles should be able to move the ball on Wagner, but can their defense contain what’s been a lethal rushing attack? Expect a lot of points in this one and even on the road in a tough environment. Look for Wagner to escape with another close win.
Stepp’s Pick: San Antonio Wagner by 4
Aledo (12-1) vs Ennis (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Frisco’s Ford Center: Aledo rolled to another impressive win last week as the Bearcats took down a streaking Red Oak squad, 34-14, in the late game Friday at AT&T Stadium. Jase McClellan led Aledo with 178 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns and Aledo’s defense got in on the act with a fumble return for a touchdown, while totally shutting down a dynamic Red Oak offense. This week Aledo’s offense faces one of the area’s best defensive units at the 5A level. Ennis has allowed just 13 points in three playoff games and they pitched a shutout last week in a 17-0 victory over Frisco. The Lions held Frisco to just eight first downs and 146 yards of total offense in the win. The big concern for Ennis is their offense and the lack of firepower. The Lions will be asking a lot of their defense to hold down one of the state’s top offensive attacks in Aledo and if Ennis can’t generate first downs and keep the football the defense will wear down.
Stepp’s Pick: Aledo by 19
Fort Bend Marshall (12-1) vs Manvel (13-0), 2 p.m. Saturday at Iowa Colony’s Freedom Field: Fort Bend Marshall gets the rematch they’ve been waiting several weeks for and now the Buffaloes can clinch their second straight Region III crown, but they’ll have to do it on the road as Manvel won the home/home flip. Marshall has passed back-to-back difficult tests as two weeks ago they knocked off A&M Consolidated by five points and last week they held off a feisty Huntsville squad, 28-14. Marshall got another monster game from Devon Achane, who ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns and chipped in 57 yards receiving and a touchdown. The concern for Marshall is the last two weeks they’ve been almost solely reliant on Achane for their offense. As great as he is, will that get the Buffs to a title? Manvel’s offense was hitting on all cylinders last week as the Mavericks rolled past Barbers Hill, 55-35, as Donovan Eaglin ran for 288 yards and five touchdowns, while QB Tucker Yarborough threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Manvel’s offense is hitting its stride late, but the defense left a lot to be desired last week. If the Mavericks can find a way to control Achane and his big play ability they should have enough offense to go 2-for-2 against Fort Bend Marshall this season.
Stepp’s Pick: Manvel by 6
Springtown (12-1) vs Dumas (13-0), 6 p.m. Friday at Midland’s Grande Communications Stadium: Springtown’s road travels haven’t impacted the Porcupines one bit and last week they showed why they are the favorite in Region I by throttling Andrews, 63-20, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. Springtown blocked a punt, picked off two passes and recovered four fumbles to race out to a 49-6 halftime lead. Springtown’s offense will get a test this week going against a Dumas defense that led the Demons to a big upset last week over Decatur, 38-35. QB Spencer Williams accounted for four touchdowns and over 300 yards of offense in the win, but the story was Dumas’ defense, which contained a Decatur attack that was putting up over 50 points in most games and forced a pair of key turnovers. The first quarter is going to tell a lot about this game. If Dumas is in this game after 12 minutes, it’s going to be a four-quarter war and bet against the Demons at your own risk. But don’t be surprised if Springtown gets out to a two-score lead early and takes Dumas out of their comfort zone in this one.
Stepp’s Pick: Springtown by 10
Waco La Vega (12-1) vs Argyle (13-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Waco’s McLane Stadium: Waco La Vega wanted that rematch with Argyle but they had to fight like heck to get this point last week in a 45-42 win over Melissa. The Pirates, who were dealing with a flu bug that had spread through the team during the past week, fell behind Melissa 20-0 early. But Elisha Cummings (236 yards rushing) and a last-second FG by a freshman kicker kept La Vega’s season alive. Argyle’s much-maligned defense played their best game in several weeks last week as the Eagles knocked off Brownwood, 42-14. RB Luke Farris ran for 210 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles in some less than optimal weather conditions got behind their big offensive line and wore down Brownwood. Argyle’s passing game led by QB Bo Hogeboom has been as lethal as any in the entire state this year and with what looks to be a clear night at McLane Stadium the Eagles look primed to knock off La Vega for the second straight time in Waco.
Stepp’s Pick: Argyle by 7
Midland Greenwood (13-0) vs Iowa Park (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene's Anthony Field: Unbeaten Midland Greenwood will look to avenge a playoff loss to Iowa Park and punch a ticket to the state semifinals for the first time since 2002 this week. The Rangers got 196 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Trey Cross last week as they took down previously unbeaten Lubbock Estacado 41-14. Iowa Park knocked off Glen Rose in the playoffs for the second straight year, but this time the Hawks had no trouble as they rolled to a 57-27 win. The Hawks had three different ball carriers rush for at least 130 yards, led by Trent Green, who had 130 yards and two touchdowns and Cameron Parker, who had 155 yards rushing and a touchdown in the win. Expect a lot of points as both teams have weapons all over the field. This time Greenwood gets the edge because of the Rangers’ ability to throw the ball, which will keep Iowa Park’s defense on their heels.
Stepp’s Pick: Midland Greenwood by 6
Texarkana Pleasant Grove (12-1) vs Gilmer (10-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Lobo Stadium: Texarkana Pleasant Grove will look to make it five in a row over Gilmer as the Hawks look for another Region II title this week against the surging Buckeyes. Pleasant Grove last week knocked off unbeaten Sunnyvale, 49-28. QB Ben Harmon accounted for three total touchdowns and the Hawks defense pitched in two touchdowns to stake PGHS to a 28-7 halftime lead, which gave them the cushion needed to hold off several Sunnyvale comeback attempts. Gilmer took down unbeaten Waco Connally, 35-20, in a game of runs. Gilmer raced out to a 19-0 lead before Connally scored 20 straight to take the lead at 20-19 late in the third quarter. However, RB Darrell Bush took over in the fourth quarter with two rushing touchdowns and an incredible 184 yards to lead Gilmer’s comeback efforts. The Gilmer defense rose to the occasion in the fourth quarter as well and with the running game churning out yards. Gilmer effectively took the ball out of Waco Connally’s hands. Pleasant Grove will get pushed this week, but this is a squad that is 14-1 in their last 15 playoff games. They know how to win these hard-nosed, physical playoff games in December. The Hawks defensive line dominates the LOS and forces Gilmer to throw the ball, which is not what they do best.
Stepp’s Pick: Texarkana Pleasant Grove by 13
Brock (11-2) vs Pilot Point (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bedford's Pennington Field: After a less than stellar (by their standards) regular season, Brock has gotten going in the playoffs and looks like the squad that has been a state title contender since they started playing varsity football. The Eagles will have a shot at a regional title this week against district rival Pilot Point, who took the Eagles down in the regular season, 20-14. Brock slipped past Bushland in overtime, 20-17, last week in a tough defensive battle as Cash Jones ran for 227 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime. Pilot Point rolled past unbeaten Wall, 26-7, last week as the Bearcats defense totally shut down Wall’s flexbone offense and QB Jacob Pitts tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the win. Expect another absolute battle in this one as both teams know each other well and there won’t be any secrets scheme wise. Pilot Point’s skill talent gives them an edge, but Brock’s got some playoff magic working right now.
Stepp’s Pick: Brock by 3
Troy (12-1) vs Grandview (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waco’s Waco ISD Stadium: If you had picked these two teams to play for the Region III title in 3A-Division I, the Grandview pick would have made plenty of sense, but you would have been out on a big limb picking Troy. Not to say the Trojans haven’t been a good team, but they were definitely overshadowed by powerful Rockdale and Cameron Yoe in their own district. Troy, however, has earned their way to this point with wins over Yoe and Rockdale in the regular season and then last week taking down a Whitney squad that beat Grandview late in the regular season. In last week’s 9-7 win over Whitney, Troy’s defense shut down a potent Whitney offense and they got another big game from Zach Hrbacek, who ran for 280 yards and Troy’s only touchdown in the third quarter. The key play was a safety just 15 seconds after Troy tied the game at seven that proved to be the eventual game winning score as Beau Workman tackled a Whitney RB in the end zone after a bad snap that gave Troy the winning margin. Grandview looks to be rounding into form at the right time as the Zebras blasted Cameron Yoe, 45-14, a week ago. QB Dane Jentsch accounted for 296 yards of offense and two touchdowns, while the Zebras defense forced four Cameron Yoe turnovers. Troy’s running game is tough to stop, but running right at the Grandview defense is often a tough proposition and Grandview’s offense looks to be peaking as the playoffs move into championship time.
Stepp’s Pick: Grandview by 13
Abernathy (12-1) vs Canadian (13-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Canyon’s Buffalo Stadium: Abernathy will look to take down unbeaten and top ranked Canadian in the first ever high school game to be played at West Texas A&M’s new stadium. Abernathy, led by Army commit QB Bryson Daily, has been flat out sensational in the playoffs as last week the Antelopes rolled past Friona, 62-14. AHS held a 21-0 lead before Friona even touched the ball as Abernathy recovered two kickoffs, once on a pooch kick that did not get fielded and the other time after a line drive kick hit a Friona player and bounced back to get recovered by Abernathy. Daily finished the game with 356 yards of total offense and six touchdowns to lead Abernathy. Canadian made quite the statement as well last week as the Wildcats demolished a really good Cisco squad, 55-28. The Wildcats forced three turnovers in the first half and raced out to a 41-0 halftime lead and put it on cruise control in the second half. QB Grant McCook led the way for the Wildcats throwing for 218 yards and rushing for 55 yards and accounting for five touchdowns (four in the first half). Canadian will be focused on slowing Daily down and they are going to make someone else beat them and I’m not sure Abernathy has the depth of playmakers and versatility that the Wildcats bring to the table.
Stepp’s Pick: Canadian by 10
Omaha Pewitt (12-1) vs Daingerfield (11-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mount Pleasant's Parker Field: One of the state’s most underrated rivalries features two towns just 14 miles apart meeting up in what should be a packed house in Mount Pleasant for the Region III title in 3A-Division II. Daingerfield won the meeting in Week 10 by just four points and the Tigers are riding high after knocking off two-time defending state champion Newton last week with a fourth quarter rally that will be talked about for years to come. Pewitt and their run-oriented offense continues to roll along as the Brahmas beat up on Bells, 53-20, last week. QB Cross Holder accounted for four touchdowns as the Brahmas raced out to a 30-7 lead at halftime and cruised in the second half. The contrast in styles will be fascinating in this one as Daingerfield will look to spread the field and get their playmakers in space, while Pewitt is going to try and line up and keep it between the tackles and churn out yards and clock. This one comes down to which defense can emerge and get stops, especially in key moments. Daingerfield won the regular season game, but we’ll go with the odds and take Pewitt in an absolute thriller.
Stepp’s Pick: Omaha Pewitt by 2
Post (13-0) vs Hawley (13-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Sweetwater’s Mustang Bowl: If you like old school football where both teams rely on running the football and physical defense, Sweetwater is the place for you on Friday night as two unbeatens tangle for a regional title. Post rolled past Stinnett West Texas, 48-14, a week ago as the Antelopes defense rose to the occasion in a big way shutting down one of the panhandle’s most explosive offensive attacks. Post’s defense forced some key turnovers and dominated in the second half, while RB Ashton Jefferson again led the charge with 209 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Hawley needed some late heroics to escape an upset bid from Sundown in a 22-21 win. Colton Marshall ran for 304 yards and a touchdown, but his two-point conversion with 2:44 left in the game proved to be the game winner for the Bearcats, who are in the regional finals for the first time in school history. Post has a unique combination of size and speed that causes a lot of matchup problems and that could be the case once again in this matchup. Look for the Antelopes to pull away in the second half and claim their first regional title since 2001.
Stepp’s Pick: Post by 7
Holland (13-0) vs Refugio (13-0), 7:30 p.m. Thursday at San Antonio’s Alamodome: It’s a battle of unbeaten teams in Region IV, both of whom are fresh off impressive wins a week ago. Holland, who owns an impressive win over Mart in non-district, rolled past defending state champion Mason last week, 26-0, to advance to the regional finals for the first time in school history. QB Zane Spinn threw a touchdown pass and ran for another in the first half as HHS raced out to a 20-0 lead and the Hornets defense did the rest limiting Mason’s offense to just 174 yards of offense. Refugio needed some late game heroics to rally from a fourth quarter deficit to take down unbeaten Shiner 45-43 as a last second field goal capped a miraculous 31-point fourth quarter. QB Austin Ochoa was sensational for RHS rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and passing for 352 yards and three touchdowns. These two met in the playoffs in 2017 with Refugio putting a 70-22 beatdown on Holland. Expect a much closer game this time. Holland has the look of a team of destiny at the moment and their defense is reminding me of Mason’s from a year ago. Take the Hornets in what would be considered a mild upset.
Stepp’s Pick: Holland by 4
Wellington (12-1) vs Hamlin (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Vernon’s Lion Stadium: A year ago, Wellington came into their third-round matchup with Hamlin as the heavy favorite to win the Region II title and return to AT&T Stadium. Hamlin had other ideas as the Pied Pipers defense put on a performance for the ages in a big upset win. The teams come into this one a bit more evenly matched with both playing some of their best football of the season. Wellington blasted past Windthorst last week 44-14 as sophomore RB Marc Ramirez led a balanced rushing attack with 117 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Hamlin RB Jevon Williams had himself a day last week as the senior ran for seven touchdowns as the Pipers for the second time this year rolled past Wheeler, this time 56-22. Hamlin is one of the few teams in 2A-Division II with the defensive line to stand up to Wellington and their bruising offense. That combined with their playmakers at the skill spots makes this a tough matchup for Wellington.
Stepp’s Pick: Hamlin by 8
Bremond (12-1) vs Falls City (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Pflugerville’s The Pfield: Bremond needed some late heroics from RB JT Anthony to slip past a very good Flatonia squad in a 41-35 overtime win. Anthony ran for 247 yards and five touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime as the Tigers battled back from two scores down in the third quarter. They’ll have their hands full with defending regional champion Falls City, which rolled past Granger, 55-8, last week. Brady Lyssy ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns - all in the first half - as FCHS raced out to a 48-0 lead at halftime and rested their starters in the second half. Since their Week 2 loss to 3A Poth, the Beavers haven’t played a game closer than 17 points and have simply dominated overmatched opponents. Expect a closer game this week, but Falls City extends the lead in the second half and wins comfortably.
Stepp’s Pick: Falls City by 21
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.