Small School Mega Playoff Preview and Predictions: Area Round

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Melissa (8-2) vs Midlothian Heritage (8-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium: Melissa and Midlothian Heritage face off for the second time this year in the area round of the 4A-Division I playoffs. Melissa picked apart North Dallas in their 73-20 win. The ground game rumbled through as running back James Gatson had 184 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries. Fellow running back Ashton Mitchell-Johnson had even less carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The Melissa defense forced five turnovers with two interceptions being ran back for touchdowns.  Midlothian Heritage used their passing game in their win over Benbrook 49-20. Quarterback Kaden Brown threw for 203 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The Heritage defense forced two interceptions that were returned for scores. Both teams coming in battle tested will mean this point spread will be much closer than the first encounter. Look for defense to be the difference maker in favor of the Cardinals. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Melissa by 6

Cuero (10-1) vs Rockport-Fulton (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Victoria’s Memorial Stadium: The playoffs get ramped up in a big way in Region IV in 4A-Division II as regional favorite Cuero has a tricky area round matchup with Rockport-Fulton. Cuero had no problems in their playoff opener as the Gobblers blasted past San Antonio YMLA 62-7. RB Tycen Williams ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns on just five carries and QB Jerry Rossett tossed a pair of touchdowns as the Cuero starters were pulled late in the second quarter. Rockport-Fulton also had an easy time in the first round as the Pirates smashed Hondo 60-17 as QB Ace Seibert accounted for five touchdowns to lead an explosive offense. Rockport’s versatile offense is going to be a test for Cuero, but this Gobblers defense has speed and has a propensity to force turnovers and that unit is the key in what should be a raucous atmosphere in Victoria. Stepp’s Pick: Cuero by 12

Gladewater (8-2) vs Grandview (9-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Royse City’s Royse City ISD Stadium: The Gladewater Bears face off against the number nine in 3A-Division 1 Grandview in the area round. The Gladewater Bears ran over Bonham in their 49-10 win over the Purple Warriors. The Bears cured their playoff disappointment last year after being bounced out by Mount Vernon in the first round. Two-way player Za’Veyion Campbell made sure of that with his 12 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two interceptions to seal the win. Grandview after losing out on the district title late in the year took out some frustration in the bi-district round with an easy 49-7 win over the Teague Lions 49-7. Sophomore quarterback Ryder Hayes threw for 380 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The Zebras’ defense kept Teague at bay allowing only 152 yards and forcing three interceptions. The Zebras looked great in their Bi-District game and they might have too much in the locker for Gladewater. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Grandview by 14

Holliday (11-0) vs Leonard (8-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Krum’s Bobcat Stadium: If there’s any team capable of challenging mighty Gunter in Region II, it might be the unbeaten Holliday Eagles who opened the post-season up with an emphatic 63-12 rout of Jacksboro. Seven different Eagles found the end zone in the win, while versatile Jaxx Johnson managed a touchdown rushing, receiving and he threw a touchdown pass as well. Holliday ended the night with an impressive 597 yards of total offense. Leonard had no trouble in their playoff opener as the third-place Tigers showed the depth of their district with a comfortable 47-15 win over Edgewood. Dynamic QB DJ Brown led the attack for Leonard rushing for three touchdowns in the victory, but this Holliday team is a special group, they’ll be laser focused on Brown and will make Leonard’s complimentary players beat them. Stepp’s Pick: Holliday by 15

New Deal (10-1) vs Forsan (10-1), 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Colorado City’s Wolf Stadium: The grind gets started now in 2A-Division I as there are some big-time matchups on the road to the state semifinals and this matchup Thursday night in Colorado City is a big one. Two teams who ended the season ranked in the top ten hook up in this showdown in the area round. New Deal opened the playoffs up Thursday afternoon avenging last year’s playoff loss to Olton with a big 63-21 victory. New Deal converted four first half turnovers into touchdowns as the Lions raced out to a 42-7 halftime lead. QB Harley Patterson accounted for five touchdowns– three on the ground and two in the air. He threw for 108 yards and ran for 90 yards, while Leric Eaton totaled 182 yards and two touchdowns. Forsan bounced back from their Week 11 loss to Hawley with a hard-fought 22-15 win over Goldthwaite. QB Major Stockton rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and added 105 passing yards and a touchdown as FHS had to overcome a ball-control offensive attack from Goldthwaite that nearly worked to perfection. New Deal’s offense is really explosive and Forsan may be the team this week trying to play keep-away, but the Lions have the look of a regional contender in 2021, much like they were in 2018 when they played for a state title. Stepp’s Pick: New Deal by 10

Cooper (11-0) vs Tolar (9-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Denton’s Bronco Stadium: Unbeaten Cooper will face their biggest test of the season against an outstanding Tolar squad whose only two losses are to 3A Dublin who is in the area playoffs and unbeaten district rival Crawford. Cooper blasted past Trenton 52-22 last week as Canon Ingram, Matt Langley and Markell Smith combined for 248 yards rushing and five touchdowns to lead a balanced Bulldogs attack. Tolar blasted overmatched Cayuga 56-6 as freshman RB Peyton Brown ran for 159 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Rattlers. Brown at 205 lbs is a load to bring down and will be a challenge for a small, but quick Cooper defense. Stepp’s Pick: Tolar by 8

Clarendon (10-1) vs Wink (8-3), 7 p.m. Thursday at Lubbock’s Lowrey Field: Clarendon opened up the playoffs in style on Thursday with an easy 43-6 rout of Sunray, the Broncos combination of Jordan Herndon and Jmaury Davis was simply lethal in the win. Herndon ran for 137 yards and five touchdowns, while Davis ran for 129 yards and a touchdown and also added a sensational one-handed grab on a two-point conversion in the first quarter. Wink had no troubles of their own in their playoff opener rolling to an easy 63-26 win over Sudan. The Wildcats will have to play their best game of the year to contain Clarendon’s speed at the skill spots and that’s the difference in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Clarendon by 11

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