2020 Texas High School Football Playoffs: 4A-2A Regional Final Preview

By Darrell Gest

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Lindale (11-2) vs Kilgore (10-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Nacogdoches’ Bryce Stadium: It’s an East Texas rematch with a little more than a district title on the line as Lindale and Kilgore hook up at Stephen F. Austin for a shot at the state semifinals. Lindale is used to the rematch theme as the Eagles rolled past district rival Tyler Chapel Hill last week, 36-7. Baylor commit RB Jordan Jenkins, who had nine rushing touchdowns in the area round of the playoffs, made his mark once again with 210 yards and three touchdowns and also chipped in a 60-yard touchdown reception. Kilgore got pushed in a big way last week against Huffman-Hargrave, but survived, 20-17. Kilgore raced out to a 20-2 lead on the strength of a touchdown run from Trayveion Epps and a rushing and passing score from QB Dalton McElyea, but Huffman pushed with two late scores to make it interesting. Lindale won a shootout in the first meeting between these two teams, but its defense has shown the ability to be a shutdown unit. They’ll also have games like their area round win over Needville. So which Lindale defense shows up this week? What we do know is Lindale’s offense has shown up week after week and this week it’s no different and the Eagles take another high scoring affair between these two 9-4A Division I rivals. Stepp’s Pick: Lindale by 6

Corpus Christi Miller (9-4) vs Austin LBJ (8-2), 2:30 p.m. Saturday at San Antonio’s Farris Stadium: It’s the two teams who dropped down from Class 5A competing for the regional title in a Saturday afternoon tilt in San Antonio. Miler’s incredible offense picked up right where they left off after their upset win over Lampasas in the area playoffs as the Buccaneers blew past Boerne, 70-45. RB Ethan Greenwood ran for four touchdowns and had a touchdown reception, while Miller QB Andrew Body threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score. LBJ knocked off perennial power Corpus Christi Calallen on Friday, 38-24, as the Jaguars speed proved to be too much. LBJ had a pair of backs top the 100 yard mark in Daqwon Donaldson and Sedrick Alexander, and QB Oscar Gordon made great decisions in the pocket as he continues to progress leading the offense. The headline matchup is the LBJ two FBS commit DB’s Andrew Mukuba (Clemson) and Latrell McCutchin (Oklahoma) matching up against a dynamic quartet of Miller receivers who have a D1 QB in Andrew Body, who is absolutely out of his mind leading the Miller offense. The winner of this matchup wins the game; it’s a heavyweight battle and the edge goes to Miller because of Body’s versatility and the versatility of the Miller offense, which can run the ball very well also. Stepp’s Pick: Corpus Christi Miller by 7

Caddo Mills (12-0) vs Gilmer (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Commerce’s Memorial Stadium: Caddo Mills did what only one team had done in the past three years and that was defeat Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the playoffs. The Foxes, behind some late game heroics from QB Tyler Townley, stunned the defending state champions 35-31 to remain unbeaten and advance to the regional finals. Townley accounted for four touchdowns and 345 yards of offense and led the Foxes on a game winning touchdown drive. Gilmer won a slugfest with a rapidly improving Sunnyvale squad, 31-14, as the Buckeyes used a balance attack and tough defense to get the job done. QB Brandon Tennison threw for 226 yards and a touchdown, while RB Jaron Choyce ran for two touchdowns and Ashton Haynes led the ground attack with 98 yards and a touchdown. Caddo Mills has the team of destiny feel to it and they’ve got a singular player in Townley. But Gilmer is playoff tested and tradition-rich. With Pleasant Grove out of the way, it may be the Buckeyes time, but this one will be an absolute barn-burner. Stepp’s Pick: Gilmer by 3

Carthage (11-0) vs China Spring (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Midlothian’s Midlothian ISD Stadium: China Spring’s run through the playoffs has been nothing sort of remarkable with wins in the first two rounds over top five squads, but the challenge that awaits this week is at a different level with top ranked Carthage looming. Carthage had no issues with Salado last week, blowing past the Eagles 35-7. Carthage held Salado’s Slot-T offense to just 22 yards of offense in the first half, while racing out to a 28-0 halftime lead. The big blow was a 94-yard touchdown pass from Kai Horton to Montrell Hatton that made it 14-0 and put the Bulldogs in motion for the blowout. China Spring came into their matchup with Sealy as a slight favorite last week, but the Cougars dominated from the outset in a 31-13 win. QB Major Bowden got it done with his feet with four rushing touchdowns and 177 yards rushing, while his sidekick RB Emmanuel Abdallah added 168 yards on the ground. The Cougars defense was the story of the afternoon holding an explosive Sealy attack in check and putting their offense in good situations to make things happen. China Spring only threw two passes; they will have to open the offense up some this week if they want to have any chance of taking down mighty Carthage. One dimensional teams don’t fare well with Carthage as evidenced last week with Salado. China Spring is good enough to test Carthage for a half, but the Bulldogs pull away with the big play offense in the second half. Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 14

Pilot Point (10-3) vs Tuscola Jim Ned (11-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Stephenville’s Tarleton Memorial Stadium: If you had these two teams playing for a regional title in your bracket you are one of a very select group as Region I’s two mystery guests are hooking in Stephenville Thursday night for a trip to the state semifinals. Pilot Point, who finished second behind Brock in 4-3A Division I, may be the hottest team in the state at the moment. The Bearcats have won five of their last six and boast back to back playoff wins over powerful Shallowater and Bushland. Last week they dominated from the outset in a 49-14 rout of Bushland. Pilot Point’s offense was carried by a pair of virtuoso performances from RB Ish Harris and QB Max Hollar, with Harris rushing for 233 yards and three touchdowns, while Hollar rolled up 151 yards on the ground three touchdowns. Harris also picked off a pair of passes on the defensive side of the ball as well. Jim Ned pulled off one of the state’s bigger upsets last week as the Indians stunned number one ranked Brock 19-16 behind a stellar defensive effort and some key plays in the special teams. After getting a safety to go up 2-0 early, Jim Ned’s Zach Henderson returned the free kick 73-yards for a touchdown and Jim Ned built a 9-0 lead in the first quarter. The Indians before halftime added a short touchdown run from Xavier Wishert and they led Brock 16-0 at the half. Brock came roaring back in the second half to tie the game up at 16, but Jim Ned never blinked and a Hayden Humphries field goal with under five minutes left and a key defensive stop proved to be enough to lift Jim Ned to the win. Pilot Point’s dynamic offense may be a bit tougher matchup for Jim Ned than Brock’s effective, but one-dimensional attack, the Bearcats have good speed at the skill spots and more importantly they can make plays consistently in the passing game. That’s the key in this one as Pilot Point moves one step closer to a state championship game appearance. Stepp’s Pick: Pilot Point by 8

Columbus (11-2) vs Hallettsville (11-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Bastrop’s Memorial Stadium: The referendum in Region III is in the books and 12-3A Division I was clearly the best district in this region as its top two teams play for a regional title and the third place team Yoakum was eliminated by Columbus last week. Columbus, who won the Region IV title a year ago, used their dominance in the trenches to roll past Yoakum, 38-22. RB/LB Kion Hurd led the way for CHS with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns and he chipped in an interception on defense. The Columbus defense will have quite the challenge on their hands this week as Hallettsville RB Jonathon Brooks, a Texas commit, has been a one-man wrecking crew in the playoffs. He put up a staggering performance last week rushing for 501 yards and nine touchdowns to lead Hallettsville past a scrappy Lorena squad, 61-48. You can bet Columbus will be laser focused on doing what they can to slow Brooks and force someone else from Hallettsville to beat them, the problem is Hallettsville is capable of making things happen in the passing game and in certain spots getting Brooks involved to do that damage. This one will be much closer than the regular season meeting won by HHS 45-14, but the Brahmas advance to the state semifinals. Stepp’s Pick: Hallettsville by 10

Childress (10-2) vs Canadian (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Canyon’s Kimbrough Stadium: Canadian embarrassed Childress 63-13 in their district meeting as the Wildcats quickly dashed any hopes of a Bobcats upset a few weeks ago. Jason Sims’ squad would like nothing more than to end Canadian’s dominance, but that’s easier said than done as the Wildcats have owned Region I, with four straight regional titles. Childress avenged one of their two losses last week as the Bobcats knocked off district rival Spearman, 27-21. QB Collin Bishop led the way with 239 yards of offense and a pair of touchdown runs to go along with a touchdown pass in sloppy weather. WR/DB Devron Sims’ interception in the end zone on the final play of the game sealed it for Childress. Canadian had no such drama as the Wildcats blew past unbeaten Idalou, 56-6. Canadian’s dominance was evident from the jump as the Wildcats put on a 21-point second quarter blitz to go into halftime with a comfortable 28-0 lead. RB Hayze Hufstedler ran for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while QB Joshua Culwell spread the ball around to multiple receivers throwing for 238 yards and a touchdown. Childress will hang around in this one for a while and give Canadian a push they sorely need heading into the semifinals, but this Canadian bunch looks unstoppable at this stage of the game. Stepp’s Pick: Canadian by 18

Eastland (10-3) vs Gunter (12-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Arlington’s Globe Life Park: Eastland’s fast break offense almost saw their playoff run end early last week as a couple of red zone turnovers nearly did the Mavericks in, but led by Texas Tech commit QB Behren Morton Eastland found a way past Holliday in a tough 28-24 win. Morton tallied 398 yards and had a hand in all four Mavericks touchdowns, but his twelve-yard run with 2:35 left proved to be the difference to send Eastland to the regional finals. Awaiting is four-time regional champion Gunter who has been a buzzsaw in the playoffs and last week was no different as the Tigers rolled past upstart Wichita Falls City View 44-19. RB Ethan Sloan was the catalyst for the Tigers rushing for 134 yards and three touchdowns and he hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter that proved to be a back breaking touchdown. Eastland’s potent offense will test a Gunter secondary that hasn’t seen a major test in quite some time, but the shaky Eastland defense, which has played better late in the year is going to be hard-pressed to get stops against that Gunter pistol option offense which is a nightmare to defend. Stepp’s Pick: Gunter by 13

Post (13-0) vs Cisco (10-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene’s Anthony Field: It’s a showdown in Region I between last year’s regional champion who has been even more dominant than they were a year ago and a Cisco squad who has dropped down from Class 3A and simply pummeled any 2A competition placed in front of them. Something has got to give in this one! Post put on one of the most dominating third round playoff performances you’ll ever see, in a 68-0 annihilation of Panhandle last week. The Antelopes shut out a Panhandle offense that was averaging 58.7 points per game, Post allowed a paltry four first downs on the night and held Panhandle to just 44 yards of offense. It was 60-0 at halftime as RB Ashton Jefferson ran for four first half touchdowns in what has to be viewed as one of the most dominating playoff wins of all-time. Post will need a similar effort this week against a Cisco squad playing their best football of the season, the Loboes rolled again last week blasting past Hawley 54-20. Cisco forced five Hawley turnovers and had a pair of backs top 100 yards as Jerrod Fisher ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns, while Andrew Acosta had 117 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. This will be a smash-mouth, physical, downright nasty game as both teams love to run the football and play a physical brand of defense, it won’t be for the faint of heart! Post is a little more explosive and a bit more battle tested in these late round playoff games, for a young Cisco squad this is their first trip to round four since 2014 so December football is new to them, but they’ll be back without question! Stepp’s Pick: Post by 8

Shiner (11-0) vs Refugio (11-0), 1 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Alamodome: It’s the rematch the entire state has been waiting for, and it’s being played in an odd time at 1 p.m. Friday so the eyes of the entire state will be on the Alamodome for this one. Shiner’s waited a year for this chance to avenge a loss that still stings to this day when they blew a late two score lead against Refugio in this round and they saw the Bobcats go on to win a state title, that they thought would be theirs. The Comanches have been on a mission this year and it’s been going quite well, and it didn’t slow down last week in a 56-0 destruction of Mason last week. RB’s Dalton and Doug Brooks combined for 263 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while QB Tyler Palmer ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score. Shiner’s defense held Mason to just seven first downs and 126 yards of total offense on the night. Refugio has been Shiner’s equal all year in their level of dominance and that continued last week as the Bobcats had no issues with Ganado in a 54-2 victory. As usual for Refugio it was a balanced attack with plenty of playmakers getting involved in the action, Jordan Kelley accounted for 126 yards of offense and had a receiving and rushing touchdown, while RB Eziyah Bland ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns and also returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown. Ganado managed just four first downs and only 77 yards of offense in the win. The dominance for these two programs is striking and on paper, there’s minimal difference, these are probably the two best teams in 2A-Division I. The rivalry is real between these two and it’ll come down as it often does, to mistakes and little things. This is Shiner’s bell-cow class, the group the town has been looking at to bring a state title home and this is their last and best shot to do it, they let an opportunity slip away last year, I don’t think it happens two years in a row. Stepp’s Pick: Shiner by 3


Quick Picks

Canyon (11-1) vs Springtown (11-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Midland’s Grande Communications Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Springtown by 8

Paris (9-4) vs Argyle (13-0), 6 p.m. Saturday at McKinney’s McKinney ISD Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Argyle by 16

Celina (6-4) vs Graham (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Arlington’s Globe Life Park Stepp’s Pick: Graham by 8

Geronimo Navarro (11-2) vs Wimberley (10-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Boerne’s Boerne ISD Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Wimberley by 2

Mount Vernon (11-2) vs Malakoff (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Mesquite’s Hanby Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Malakoff by 11

Llano (12-0) vs Lago Vista (9-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Leander’s Bible Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Llano by 13

Waskom (11-1) vs Elysian Fields (11-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Lobo Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Waskom by 2

Franklin (10-2) vs Buffalo (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waco’s Waco ISD Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Franklin by 22

Bosqueville (9-3) vs Crawford (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Hewitt’s Panther Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Crawford by 8

Timpson (13-0) vs Beckville (10-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Henderson’s Lion Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Timpson by 12

McCamey (11-1) vs Wellington (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Woodrow’s Pirate Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Wellington by 7

Muenster (10-3) vs Windthorst (12-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Bowie’s Jackrabbit Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Windthorst by 10

Mart (12-0) vs Tenaha (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Athens’ Bruce Field Stepp’s Pick: Mart by 24

Christoval (12-1) vs Falls City (10-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Fredericksburg’s Battlin’ Billie Stadium Stepp’s Pick: Christoval by 6

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