Star-Telegram writers Jarret Johnson, left, and Josh Bowe of the High School Huddle sound off on the games of the week. To catch the weekly show, visit dfwvarsity.com, where you will also find photo galleries from the games.
Southlake Carroll (9-1) vs. Arlington Martin (7-3)
Class 5A Division I bi-district
6 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington
Jarret: This is the marquee matchup of a three-day football playoff extravaganza at Jerry World. Carroll is rolling into the playoffs as winners of nine in a row. Martin just had its seven-game winning streak snapped in the regular season finale against a very good Arlington Bowie squad. The Warriors are the most talented, physical team the Dragons have faced in two months, if not since the season opener against Allen. Still, I'm taking quarterback Kenny Hill and one of the top defenses in the area to get it done.
Josh: Martin has had an unfavorable schedule all year, starting the season with DeSoto and Dallas Skyline and now ending it with Bowie and Southlake Carroll. At least the Warriors are plenty used to playing the best teams in the area this season, so while Carroll has unbelievable talent, Martin won't be shell-shocked. The Dragons haven't been challenged since their season-opening loss to Allen, so it wouldn't surprise me if Martin took an early lead in this one. But Kenny Hill and the Dragons are too good. Carroll wins by a touchdown.
Justin Northwest (8-2) vs. Arlington Lamar (5-5)
Class 5A Division II bi-district
9 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium
Jarret: The Texans just capped their best regular season in almost 25 years by blanking rival Keller Central. Now they face the Vikings looking for their first playoff win in decades. I'm a fan of how the Texans have handled their business this season, but I think they will have a hard time handling Lamar's rushing attack, especially with some key injuries along the defensive front. The return of quarterback Charlie Baird from illness makes the Vikings a legitimate passing threat. I think the Vikings get it done.
Josh: I'm not as high on Lamar as you are. The Vikings are a solid team but have looked awful against the three good teams in their district, losing all three to Bowie, Martin and Arlington by an average of 27 points. Northwest isn't the same elite team that Bowie and Martin can be, but it's still a talented team behind a balanced offense with quarterback Draze Lawliss and running back Dakota Chavis. It'll be close, but I'm leaning toward Northwest pulling this one out.
Aledo (9-1) vs. Cleburne (7-3)
Class 4A Division I bi-district
7:30 p.m. Friday at Newsom Stadium, Mansfield
Jarret: Everybody is already talking about a Aledo/Denton Guyer mega area-round matchup, but the Bearcats must get through a Cleburne team that has lit up the scoreboard this season behind quarterback Quade Coward. I think the Yellow Jackets will be competitive early, but will be eventually worn down by the constant pressure Aledo puts on opponents in all three phases of the game. I'm picking the Bearcats to pull away late and win by a couple of scores.
Josh: This will be a challenge for Aledo. Cleburne isn't typical first-round fodder for a big program like Aledo, and the Yellow Jackets should have confidence to pull off the upset. But the Bearcats' defense should be up to the task. Aledo's defense has been unbelievable all season, even holding the high-powered offense of Fort Worth Southwest to just eight points a few weeks ago. The defense will hold and quarterback Pate Davis will make just enough plays. I'm picking Aledo.
Birdville (10-0) vs. Azle (7-3)
Class 4A Division I bi-district
7 tonight at Chisholm Trail Stadium, Fort Worth
Jarret: This is a great first-round matchup between two very good teams. Birdville not only ran the table in the regular season for the first time in years, it crushed everyone it faced and was one of the first teams in the area to clinch a playoff spot. The Hawks' offense has been explosive, averaging 472 yards per contest. Azle has played some of the best 4A teams in the state and won't be shocked by Birdville's team speed. Still, I think the Hawks' overall talent will be too much for Azle to overcome.
Josh: Azle's schedule has definitely been tougher, facing off against 4A contenders in its district like Denton Guyer and Wichita Falls Rider. Even then, Birdville should still win. Birdville quarterback Justin Martin will be the best player on the field (2,319 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, three interceptions) and while Azle might land an early punch, the Hawks will land the knockout blow. Birdville puts this game away in the second half and wins by multiple scores.
Crowley (9-1) vs. Granbury (7-3)
Class 4A Division I bi-district
7:30 p.m. Friday at Chisholm Trail Stadium
Jarret: Granbury's been great this year, and I can see why some are picking them to win this one, but I think they have run into a team on a mission. Crowley is one of those senior-laden teams that took its lumps for a couple years and this season has been all about a little payback. The Eagles' potent rushing attack, which churns out over 300 yards a game, combined with a defense that continues to improve will get the job done this week against the Pirates and advance.
Josh: I've loved Crowley's season. Every big game this season, the Eagles have answered the call, beating preseason district favorite Everman and dispatching an improved Cleburne team. Running back Larry Cheeks is the Crowley offense, rushing for 1,553 yards and 20 touchdowns. But despite all of that, I'm picking Granbury. I'm not sure Crowley is ready for the playoff spotlight, and I think Granbury will be extra motivated after a tough loss to Aledo. I'm going out on a limb, but I think the Pirates win a close game that's decided in the final minutes.
Twitter: @JohnsonJarret, @boweman55
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