It's the first round of the Texas high school football playoffs, with 352 UIL games scattered across the state. There are favorites...but who could spring the upset?
Using DCTF's computer projections, Ishmael Johnson and Greg Tepper identify four teams that could pull the upset in bi-district play.
Killeen Harker Heights vs. DeSoto
DeSoto favored by 10
No. 21 DeSoto is a double-digit favorite versus the Knights out of Central Texas. One could just look at the strength of schedule and because DeSoto’s one of the name-brand powers in the DFW’s “District of Doom” and see why the Eagles would be favored.
But looking at Killeen Harker Heights, they’re a very intriguing matchup against an Eagles team that’s looked vulnerable. Let’s not forget that DeSoto struggled this year against Mansfield Lake Ridge and Waxahachie while Harker Heights picked up a massive win over No. 9 Pflugerville Weiss. While the strength of schedule certainly leans in favor of the Eagles, Harker Heights is more of a mysterious unknown when it comes to theirs plus that impressive win over the Wolves.
Plus, I’ve gone this far without mentioning perhaps the best player on the field, Knights running back Re’Shaun Sanford II. The junior running back is over 2,000 yards on the ground for the year and is averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. But even outside of him, the Knights have two other reliable runners in Aimeer Washington and Marcus Moultrie averaging over six yards per touch as well. — Ishmael Johnson
Yoakum vs. Little River Academy
Yoakum favored by 9
A third-place team a more-than-a-touchdown favorite over a runner-up? It’s true, largely because of the rough-and-tumble District 12-3A Division I from which Yoakum emerged. The Bulldogs are worthy favorites here, with quality that stretches far beyond their 7-3 record, and the combo of running back Jayden Jones and coach Bo Robinson’s famous hard-nosed defense will make them a tough out.
But Academy’s much more than just a flashy 9-1 record and a spectacular logo. Coach Chris Lancaster’s Bumblebees have just one loss on the year — to regional contender Lorena — and a group of youngsters in sophomore QB Kasey Mraz and RBs junior Brayden Bartlett and sophomore Zane Clark that will give even the fiercest defense trouble. If the Bumblebees are to spring the upset, they’ll need their own defense — which has forced 21 turnovers on the year — to be plus-2 or plus-3 in the margin. They can definitely do it, which could reshape the way Region III looks. – Greg Tepper
Fulshear vs. Texas High
Texas High favored by 12
Is Fulshear the best 5-5 team in the state? I don’t mean that as an insult, they legitimately might be. Check out the losses: Manor, Montgomery, Huntsville, A&M Consolidated and Bryan Rudder, all but one are playoff teams. That’s hardly an easy rough. District 10-5A DII was one of the toughest this year and for them to make it out of that pack is impressive alone.
Not to mention, they have a huge win over No. 3 El Campo, one of the favorites in 4A DI, in non-district. Outside of Marshall, has Texas High really been put to the test yet? I still the think No. 6 Tigers are worthy of their ranking but as we always say, the playoffs are a different animal and the rough schedule could play in Fulshear’s favor.
The Chargers will try and run the ball with their three-headed attack of Tyjae Williams, Parker Williams and Davion Godley but this Fulshear team is pretty exciting defensively too. They have 64 tackles for loss as a team, 21 sacks and have forced 10 interceptions. They’ve only allowed one team to get over 30 this year and average almost two turnovers per game. Watch out for the Fulshear defense to make this one interesting. — Johnson
Frisco Wakeland vs. Dallas Wilson
Wakeland favored by 13
Perhaps unfairly, Dallas ISD teams get overlooked in the playoffs, especially when they’re facing teams from the suburbs. Woodrow Wilson is among the best DISD teams this season, and most of it stems from the Wildcats’ versatile offense — quarterback Cam McGuire has a variety of weapons to throw to, including Noah Calhoun and Deldrick Smith, and running back Nathan Barrilleaux is a certified workhorse.
Wakeland’s a third-place finisher from a tough District 5-5A Division I, but the Wolverines two best results on the season are losses — albeit excellent ones to district bunkmates Denton Ryan and Frisco Lone Star. The Wolverines have one win over a team .500 or better (a 35-28 win over 5-5 Frisco Reedy), and while Wakeland’s got firepower of their own (RB Jared White, QB Brennan Myer, et al), Woodrow will be a tough team to tackle, especially at home at Forrester Stadium. — Tepper
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