The Follow-Through: What did we learn from the state semifinals of the Texas high school football playoffs?

Denton Ryan (Photo by Gary Sanderson)

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And then there were 12. We’ve reached the penultimate week of the 2019 season with the eyes of the state focusing on AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where beginning Wednesday, the final 12 games of the season will take place. Before we talk titles, let’s look back at the semifinal round and see how our experts did with their predictions.

Once again, our experts picked every game. Let’s first look at how our experts fared, and then we’ll look at a few games of note.

  • Managing Editor Greg Tepper: 16 winners of 20 (80 percent)
  • Insider Matt Stepp: 15 of 20 (75 percent)
  • DCTF Computer: 15 of 20 (75 percent)

Cinderella Lives

Pottsboro’s late interception dashes Brock’s hopes

What our Greg Tepper thought: Brock was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Brock was a 7-point favorite

What our computer thought: Brock was a 3-point favorite

What happened: Pottsboro 36, Brock 35

Pottsboro came into the semifinals riding a 14-game win streak and a pair of nail-biting wins. Brock, having just avenged a regular season loss to Pilot Point, was our experts’ consensus pick, and entering the fourth quarter with a 35-24 lead, looked to make our experts prophetic. Pottsboro had other ideas, scoring early in the quarter and then taking a one-point lead midway through the quarter on Braden Plyler’s 2-yard run. Brock gave it a rally, but Pottsboro’s Tyler Farris wrestled the ball away from Jaxon Gleaton for a game-sealing interception and the Cardinals’ first state title game appearance.

Gunter’s goal line stand shocks Canadian

What our Greg Tepper thought: Canadian was the favorite

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

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

What happened: Gunter 27, Canadian 20

Gunter erased a 20-13 deficit and stopped Canadian a yard short of the tying touchdown on the final play to win a thrilling semifinal in Vernon. Gunter’s Bryson Rigsby wrapped up Twister Kelton just short of the end zone to seal the win after Peyton Lowe’s 36-yard touchdown grab on fourth down put Gunter ahead. Gunter’s defense held Canadian to a season-low 20 points.

Pewitt wins battle of the Brahmas

What our Greg Tepper thought: East Bernard was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: East Bernard was an 11-point favorite

What our computer thought: East Bernard was a 15- favorite

What happened: Omaha Paul Pewitt 24, East Bernard 18

La-Jathan Allen forced three East Bernard turnovers, the last a fumble recovery to thwart a go-ahead score, and Paul Pewitt rallied from an 18-8 deficit to win a battle of Brahmas. Kadrien Johnson scored twice, including the go-ahead score that capped an 18-play, 78-yard march. On East Bernard’s next possession, Kameron Martinez coughed up the ball after Allen went low for a tackle, forced and recovered the fumble.

Two out of three experts agree…

Wimberley holds off Silsbee after opening up huge lead

What our Greg Tepper thought: Wimberley was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Silsbee was a 9-point favorite

What our computer thought: Silsbee was a 1-point favorite

What happened: Wimberley 56, Silsbee 43

The pick that gave Tepper weekly bragging rights nearly blew up late. Behind a monster night from Cooper McCollum (331 yards, 5 TDs passing), the Texans opened up a 49-16 lead late in the third quarter. It took five minutes of game time for Silsbee to erase nearly all of Wimberley’s advantage. When K’Drian Cartwright caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Raymond Foster with 7:26 left in the game, Wimberley’s lead had dwindled to 49-43. When Silsbee got the ball back looking for the lead, Wimberley’s defense rounded back into form, forcing a fumble that led to Moses Wray’s insurance touchdown.

Hamlin’s comfortable win leads followers to Arlington

What our Greg Tepper thought: Hamlin was the favorite

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

What our computer thought: Hamlin was a 4-point favorite

What happened: Hamlin 56, Stratford 23

Stratford used a fast start to rout Hamlin in the regular season. Given a second chance, the Pied Pipers returned the favor. Hamlin led 21-0 and 35-7 at the half and never let Stratford make things interesting. Hamlin’s defense intercepted Stratford’s Walker McBryde seven times. Austin Brown registered four of the interceptions, and Jevon Williams added an interception to go with 228 yards rushing.

…or disagree

Denton Ryan rolls on with thrashing of top-ranked Lone Star

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

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

What our computer thought: Frisco Lone Star was a 3-point favorite

What happened: Denton Ryan 35, Frisco Lone Star 7

Our experts felt an undefeated but untested Ryan team might finally meet its match in top-ranked Lone Star, which had beaten Highland Park twice. Ryan proved that their lack of a close game (Keller Fossil Ridge lost by less than 25 points) is more about them than a perceived lack of competition. Ryan broke open a 14-0 halftime game with a touchdown run from Drew Sanders and a pick-six by Billy Bowman, just two of the Raiders’ FBS prospects. Lone Star avoided a shutout when Marvin Mims caught a short touchdown pass from Garret Rangel just four seconds from the end. Mims broke Jordan Shipley’s state record for receiving yards in the game.

Favorites Pushed But Prevail

Aledo’s late score wins second-straight nail-biter

What our Greg Tepper thought: Aledo was the favorite

What our Matt Stepp thought: Aledo was a 17-point favorite

What our computer thought: Aledo was a 14-point favorite

What happened: Aledo 28, Lubbock-Cooper 21

A week after needing overtime to survive Ennis, Aledo found itself in another closer-than-expected game, tied with Lubbock Cooper late into the fourth quarter. But Jake Bishop converted a fourth-down on his own side of midfield, and Jase McClellan’s touchdown one play after an apparent fumble was ruled down kept the Bearcats’ quest for a ninth title alive.

Challenged late, Mustangs maintain distance to top Lake Travis again

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

What our Matt Stepp thought: Galena Park North Shore was a 10-point favorite

What our computer thought: Galena Park North Shore was a 15-point favorite

What happened: Galena Park North Shore 49, Lake Travis 38

For a half, it looked as if North Shore would put another serious beating on a proud Lake Travis team after a 51-10 win in the 2018 semifinals. The Mustangs lead 28-3 and Zach Evans hadn’t touched the ball – he took a college entrance exam in Galena Park Saturday morning and didn’t arrive at the game in Round Rock until just before halftime. Evans got untracked in the second half, rushing for 172 yards and two scores, and the Mustangs needed him to hold off a furious Lake Travis rally. Hudson Card passed for 254 of his 280 yards after the break, but the Cavaliers couldn’t get closer than 11.

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