The Follow-Through: What did we learn from the regional semifinal round of the Texas high school football playoffs?

Photo by Prentice James

We’ve narrowed each classification from 64 to 8 teams (and 4 in the 1A ranks). Did our experts enjoy sweet success predicting the round of 16? Let’s see.

It’s tough to beat a good team twice

North Shore passes huge test by avenging opening loss to Katy

What our Greg Tepper thought: Galena Park North Shore was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Galena Park North Shore was a 6-point favorite

What our computer thought: Too close to call

What happened: 6A No. 5 North Shore 56, No. 2 Katy 35

With apologies to Regions 1, 2 and 4, we knew from the outset that 6A, Division 1, Region 3 was the region of death, and the defending state champions delivered a clear statement that a season-opening loss to Katy meant little in late November. North Shore clearly unbridled their top players in last week’s rematch. Quarterback Damatrius Davis, who didn’t run the ball at all in the opener, ran through, around and over Katy’s vaunted defense for 283 yards and three touchdowns to more than compliment Zach Evans’ 115 rushing yards. Davis added 134 yards and three more touchdowns through the air, demonstrating that the Mustangs can throw it even without top receiver Shadrach Banks.

Fourth-place Manor keeps playoff run alive with late field goal

What our Greg Tepper thought: Cedar Park was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Cedar Park was a 14-point favorite

What our computer thought: Cedar Park was an 11-point favorite

What happened: Manor 17, 5A D1 No. 6 Cedar Park 14

Left for dead after limping into the playoffs with three straight losses – including a 49-24 loss at Cedar Park on Nov. 8 – Manor continues to prove it pays to get hot at the right time. The Mustangs’ defense, led by DL Princely Umanmielen, stood toe-to-toe with Cedar Park’s vaunted Black Rain, holding the Timberwolves to their lowest total since an opening week 17-0 loss to 6A Vandegrift. Leaning on running back Tahj Brooks, Manor played keep away, limiting Cedar Park’s to just 15 offensive plays after halftime. Brooks rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries after halftime, the last of which set up Yael Sanchez’s short, game-winning field goal with 8 seconds left.

Frisco Lone Star works overtime to dethrone Highland Park

What our Greg Tepper thought: Frisco Lone Star was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Highland Park was a 10-point favorite

What our computer thought: Frisco Lone Star was a 4-point favorite

What happened: 5A D1 No. 1 Frisco Lone Star 33, No. 4 Highland Park 27 (OT)

While admitting on his weekly picks that it is indeed difficult to beat good teams twice, Tepper felt top-ranked Lone Star had enough to do it even to an iconic program such as Highland Park. The Rangers needed overtime and a heavy dose of Garret Rangel, but they proved him right. Rangel passed for 417 yards – his fifth 400-yard game of the season – and three touchdowns, and Jaden Nixon’s overtime touchdown proved to be the game-winner. The Scots – winners of three straight state titles – had tied the game on Wesley Winters’ 39-yard field goal with less than a minute left in regulation.

Epic Comebacks and Unbeaten Showdowns

Refugio’s last call rally stuns Shiner in 1-2 matchup

What our Greg Tepper thought: Shiner was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Refugio was a 2-point favorite

What our computer thought: Shiner was a 7-point favorite

What happened: 2A D1 No. 1 Refugio 45, No. 2 Shiner 43

Heading into the game, Tepper’s belief was that Shiner’s ferocious ground game would be too much for the Bobcats. Stepp felt Refugio’s tight-game experience would come in handy. Both were right. For three quarters, Shiner controlled play, opening up a 31-14 lead. The teams traded touchdowns early in the fourth, but Shiner still held a 43-30 lead with three minutes left. Needing to run just a little bit of clock to see out the win, Shiner couldn’t do it. Refugio needed just a minute to close the gap to 43-36 on Austin Ochoa’s touchdown pass, but the two-point try failed. Shiner recovered the onside kick but fumbled, leading to another Ochoa touchdown pass to bring Refugio within 43-42 with 27 seconds left. The two-point try failed, but the onside kick didn’t, and Jordy Martinez’s 35-yard field goal capped the Bobcats’ comeback.

Dumas picks off late win over Decatur

What our Greg Tepper thought: Decatur was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Decatur was a 13-point favorite

What our computer thought: Decatur was a 10-point favorite

What happened: 4A D1 No. 5 Dumas 38, No. 4 Decatur 35

In a top-five matchup of unbeatens, Decatur’s resume appeared a bit more robust than Dumas, but the Demons weren’t bothered. Dumas hung with Decatur for three quarters and then got a pair of timely interceptions to pull the, by definition at least, upset. Tied at 35 heading into the closing moments, Dumas’ Caleb Suggs stopped a Decatur drive with his interception, and Dumas drove deep into Decatur territory, running out the clock to set up Ah Lee Yart’s 27-yard field goal as time expired.

Midland Greenwood rolls past Lubbock Estacado

What our Greg Tepper thought: Midland Greenwood was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Lubbock Estacado was a 2-point favorite

What our computer thought: Midland Greenwood was a 2-point favorite

What happened: 4A D2 No. 4 Midland Greenwood 41, No. 5 Lubbock Estacado 14

Our experts foresaw a close game, and that’s what they got for a half. Late in the second quarter, Midland Greenwood and Lubbock Estacado were locked in a 14-14 tie. Then Greenwood took over. A 49-yard touchdown pass from Weston Wilber to Austin Groeschel gave the Rangers a 21-14 lead just before halftime, and Estacado couldn’t answer after the break. Trey Cross scored three of his four touchdowns and Greenwood shut down Estacado’s offense.

Split Decisions

Lampasas comes up aces in shootout against Needville

What our Greg Tepper thought: Lampasas was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Needville was a 6-point favorite

What our computer thought: Lampasas was an 18-point favorite

What happened: 4A D1 No. 6 Lampasas 66, Needville 44

If he isn’t the best player in the state, perhaps he has the best name. Lampasas quarterback Ace Whitehead used his long, dangerous left arm to keep Needville at bay in an Alamodome shootout Saturday. Whitehead passed for four scores and ran for two more – giving him 65 on the season – while accounting for 441 yards. He also kicked seven extra points and a field goal. The win ties Lampasas’ school record for wins in a season and sends the high-scoring Badgers into the regional final for the first time since 1993.  

Grandview continues drive toward back-to-back titles by dispatching Cameron Yoe

What our Greg Tepper thought: Cameron Yoe was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Grandview was an 8-point favorite

What our computer thought: Cameron Yoe was an 8-point favorite

What happened: 3A D1 No. 2 Grandview 45, No. 8 Cameron Yoe 14

Both our computer and Tepper were impressed with the way Cameron Yoe dismantled Diboll. Stepp recognized that but stuck with a Grandview team on a mission. On Friday, Grandview’s focus proved too much in a 45-14 thumping of the Yoemen. Zebras’ quarterback Dane Jentsch had has hands all over the win, throwing for a touchdown, rushing for a touchdown, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and intercepting a pass on defense. Grandview forced four Yoe turnovers on the rainy afternoon in Waco.

Holding Serve

Canadian rolls on with top-10 win over Cisco

What our Greg Tepper thought: Canadian was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Canadian was a 14-point favorite

What our computer thought: Canadian was an 11-point favorite

What happened: 3A D2 No. 1 Canadian 55, No. 6 Cisco 28

Top-ranked Canadian stormed out to a 48-0 lead over Cisco and cruised into the regional finals. Grant McCook scored on Canadian’s opening drive and then took advantage of a trio of Cisco turnovers. He finished with 222 yards passing, 45 yards rushing and five total touchdowns.

Fort Bend Marshall ends Huntsville’s Cinderella run

What our Greg Tepper thought: Fort Bend Marshall was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Fort Bend Marshall was a 16-point favorite

What our computer thought: Fort Bend Marshall was a 15-point favorite

What happened: 5A D2 No. 4 Fort Bend Marshall 28, Huntsville 14

Our experts had this spot-on. Quoting Stepp: “Huntsville keeps this close for a half, but Marshall is simply too explosive….” Fort Bend Marshall’s Devon Achane scored two of his four touchdowns in the third quarter to break a 14-14 tie and send the Buffaloes into the regional final, where they will face district rival Manvel. Achane finished with 200 yards and scored all four of his team’s touchdowns. The Buffaloes got second-half interceptions from Chris Jackson and Jahkarri Strong-White, and Quincy Blair led a pass rush that sacked Huntsville quarterback Matthew Southern four times. Huntsville was District 10-5A-2’s fourth seed by virtue of a tiebreaker system. The Hornets posted upsets for Marshall and Crosby before falling.

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