Small School Mega Preview: Regional Semifinals

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Stephenville (12-0) vs Argyle (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium: The Stephenville Yellow Jackets take on the defending 4A Division I State Champion Argyle Eagles in the regional semifinal. Stephenville has been a very trendy pick to compete for a state title at this level and they have continued to show it in the playoffs. They beat Paris, from Argyle’s district, 22-10 in the Area round. Stephenville has a very balanced attack with junior quarterback Ryder Lambert, who had 228 yards passing with a touchdown and interception, and junior running back Julian Iribarren, with 20 carries and 110 yards and 1 touchdown. Many wrote off Argyle after they lost to Melissa earlier in the year but they have the chance to prove everyone wrong in the playoffs. They had a close win over Kennedale 27-3. Quarterback Jett Copeland had a shaky performance with 161 yards passing, two touchdowns, and three interceptions while running for 73 yards and a touchdown. While it is always hard to pick against the defending champs, they might be the round to do so. Argyle has shown they are not invincible this season and Stephenville should look to exploit them. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Stephenville by 7

Kilgore (11-1) vs Tyler Chapel Hill (9-3), 8 p.m. Friday at Tyler’s TMF Rose Stadium: For the second straight year 9-4A Division I is making noise in Region III as two of the four semifinalists this region are meeting up. Kilgore had a tough time last week, but escaped Stafford in a 28-26 win. RB Davin Rider ran for 181 yards and a pair of touchdowns helped KHS run out to a 21-6 halftime lead, but the Kilgore had to hold off a furious Stafford rally late. It was the exact opposite for Chapel Hill, who had some major transportation issues getting to the game causing the game to start twenty minutes late. CHHS started out slow, but found their stride in the second half blowing past Brazosport 51-27. Chapel Hill trailed most of the first half, but took their first lead right before halftime at 28-21 and pulled away with two quick third-quarter touchdowns. WR Tyson Berry accounted for 137 yards of offense on the night and scored three touchdowns on just five touches, three receptions and two carries. Kilgore won the first meeting and there’s a saying that it’s tough to beat a good team twice in one year and while true, Chapel Hill is relying on a freshman QB and it’s tough to make a deep run when you are so young at a key spot. Stepp’s Pick: Kilgore by 3

Van (12-0) vs Gilmer (11-1), 2 p.m. Friday at Tyler’s TMF Rose Stadium: Another all East Texas battle in 4A at Rose Stadium on Friday as the unbeaten, but underdog Van Vandals, matchup with the favored Gilmer Buckeyes. Van slipped past a tough Sunnyvale squad 35-25 last week, as the Vandals holding just a 14-7 halftime lead pulled away in the third quarter. QB Jackson Rainey again led the way for VHS throwing for 147 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Gilmer’s offense the last five weeks has been flat out unstoppable as the Buckeyes have scored at least 51-points in these last five blowout wins. Last week they drilled Caddo Mills 68-31 as UTSA commit QB Brandon Tennison threw for 438 yards and five touchdowns to lead a Buckeyes offense that rolled up 663 yards. RB Ashton Haynes ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns and added 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Van is explosive, but this Gilmer squad is too deep and too balanced, Buckeyes will find a way to contain Rainey and keep the Vandals in check. Stepp’s Pick: Gilmer by 14

China Spring (12-0) vs Carthage (11-0), 5 p.m. Friday at Prosper’s Children’s Health Stadium: The road now starts to get much tougher for Carthage who comes into this game as the favorite to win a third straight state title and riding a 41-game winning streak. The run Carthage has been on the past few seasons is nothing short of amazing, since going on a two-game losing streak in 2016 Carthage has won 81 of their last 82 games and taken home four state titles. Carthage rolled past Hamshire-Fannett 42-14 as QB Connor Cuff threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns and added a 50-yard touchdown run, while the sensational Carthage defense again got the job done. China Spring blasted Sealy 48-7 last week as the Cougars again got a big night from QB Major Bowden who threw for 239 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 119 yards as well. The difference in this one is that Carthage defense, the Bulldogs pound for pound have the best defense in the state and that unit will be what carries them. Stepp’s Pick: Carthage by 9

Tuscola Jim Ned (12-0) vs Brock (12-0), 2 p.m. Friday at Brownwood’s Gordon Wood Stadium: It’s the showdown we’ve waited a year for in 3A-Division I as defending state champion and number one ranked Jim Ned takes on second ranked Brock. A year ago, Brock came into this game as the number one team and the favorite and unheralded Jim Ned stunned the Eagles and that momentum carried the Indians all the way to a state title. This year’s matchup is a bit different as now the eyes of the state will be trained on Brownwood as both teams have been dominant in their dozen games played. Jim Ned rolled past Muleshoe 49-20 last week as Xavier Wishert ran for 327 yards and five touchdowns. Brock had no issues with Amarillo River Road 54-8 as Kutter Wilson ran for 254 yards and four touchdowns. There’s not much else to say when it comes down to this game, on paper the teams are evenly matched, the resumes are similar, the depth is similar. The key is Jim Ned’s ability to throw the ball with QB Tate Yardley, in the title run last year in key moments Yardley came up big time and time again, he’s the key in this one. Stepp’s Pick: Tuscola Jim Ned by 1

Lorena (10-2) vs Columbus (10-2), 1:30 p.m. Friday at San Marcos’ Bobcat Stadium: Lorena made a major statement last week as the Leopards throttled Woodville 50-6 on Thursday night to punch their ticket to the regional semifinals. Sophomore WR Jadon Porter was sensational in the win with 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns, he added sixty rushing yards and a score along with a punting average of over 50-yards per kick. QB Ryne Abel threw for 259 yards and five touchdowns as well for Lorena. Columbus escaped Houston with a 42-35 shootout victory over a scrappy Anahuac squad, the Cardinals offense was outstanding, but there are big concerns about their defense which gave up 492 yards to the Panthers. Lorena’s offense is dynamic and they are big and physical enough on defense to slow Columbus down. Stepp’s Pick: Lorena by 7

Waskom (11-1) vs Newton (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Nacogdoches’ Dragon Stadium: The 3A-Division II Region III favorite, Waskom, takes on Newton in the regional semifinal. Both teams now face their first true test of the playoffs after walking through the first two rounds with ease. Waskom has had the bigger of the score lines as they have outscored opponents 118-27. However, Newton still came close with 91-20. Newton is highlighted by a potent running game led by DeAnthony Gatson who had 24 carries for 154 yards and three touchdowns in the area round; with the Newton rushing attack putting up 318 yards and four touchdowns in total.  Gatson, a former USC commit is one of the state’s top running backs. Waskom also rumbled through with their ground game with 367 yards. In the air, quarterback Cole Watson had 81 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while running for 154 yards and three touchdowns. His running back, DJ Feaster, carried the ball 11 times for 99 yards and  two touchdowns. Two squads with high expectations, high powered running games, and hard-hitting defenses? Sounds like good ol’ Texas High School Football to me and should come down to the last second. Waskom’s flexbone offense is tough to prepare for and that gives the Wildcats the edge. DCTF Intern Joshua Price’s Pick: Waskom by 3

Hawley (12-0) vs Coleman (11-0), 6 p.m. Friday at Abilene’s Sandifer Stadium: Statistically, two of the state’s best defenses will collide in a massive showdown of unbeaten teams in South Abilene as Hawley takes on Coleman. The numbers speak for themselves, Coleman is allowing 4.6 points per game and Hawley is allowing just six points per game. Hawley took down a tough Sundown squad 40-22 last week as Austin Cumpton rushed for 178 yards and four touchdowns and QB Rodey Hooper threw for 130 yards and two scores for the Bearcats. Coleman dispatched two-time defending regional champion Post with relative ease as the Bluecats rolled to a 43-0 win. Devinar Roberson rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and he also caught a 41-yard touchdown pass. QB Jadin Jackson is one of the Big Country’s most dynamic playmakers and that offensive firepower that Coleman brings to the table is the key in this showdown. Stepp’s Pick: Coleman by 8

Beckville (12-0) vs Timpson (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Nacogdoches’ Bryce Stadium: It’s a rematch of the regional final from a year ago where Timpson dominated Beckville 55-14. The Bears have taken that level of domination and increased it this year as Timpson’s closest game was a 17-point win over an Arkansas program that would be Class 3A-Division I and is still alive in the Arkansas playoffs. In last week’s 74-13 win over Thorndale sophomore QB Terry Bussey ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Timpson fumbled on their opening drive and then managed to score touchdowns on their next ten possessions. Unbeaten Beckville has scored at least 50-points in eight straight games, including last week’s 50-31 win over Hearne. This year’s game won’t be as lopsided as the regional final from a year ago, but this Timpson squad is a legitimate title contender and they’ll roll once again. Stepp’s Pick: Timpson by 27

Muenster (12-0) vs Albany (11-0), 2 p.m. Friday at Springtown’s Porcupine Stadium: What a showdown in Region II in 2A-Division II as two of the top three teams in the state hookup in Springtown. Albany at 11-0 hasn’t been tested all season long, the Lions closest game ended up being last week’s 32-10 win over scrappy underdog Olney who hung around much longer than most anticipated. RB Jaheim Newton rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns and Coy Lefevre ran for three second half touchdowns as the Lions pulled away for the win. Muenster had no issues in their 63-24 win over Seymour as Colton Deckard ran for five touchdowns to pace the Hornets. Muenster’s got the big win over Windthorst on their resume, while Albany’s been dominant but they haven’t played anyone at the Windthorst level, that’s the big question and why I’m leaning to Muenster. Stepp’s Pick: Muenster by 3

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