The stretch run to make the playoffs is here. The separation between the haves and have nots has emerged. It always comes down to those teams somewhere in between.
When it comes to our coverage area teams, we know some things are certain. Other things are clouded.
So let’s start with the easier path, because the difficult path is going to take some time. Grapevine (6-2, 3-1) has not clinched a playoff berth and needs to win one of its final two against Birdville or Fort Worth Eastern Hills or have Eastern Hills lose to Fort Worth Dunbar Saturday to qualify.
In District 7-6A, Euless Trinity (9-0, 5-0) is in and should wrap up the district title when it meets Richland Friday. Carroll (6-2, 3-1) is in the playoffs. For Colleyville Heritage (4-4, 2-2), if the Panthers don’t beat Coppell (4-4, 2-2) Friday, then it will still come down to the regular season finale Nov. 6 against Richland.
It’s scrambled in District 5-6A. With one exception, this district’s plus/minus 14-point tiebreaker will become much more clear following this weekend’s games.
Denton Ryan (8-0, 5-0) clinched a playoff spot with its win over Keller. Denton Guyer (6-2, 4-1) isn’t in but probably needs to win one of its last two games against Keller Timber Creek and Denton Ryan to do it.
You basically have four teams – Keller Fossil Ridge (4-4, 3-2), Keller (5-3, 2-3), Northwest Byron Nelson (4-4, 2-3) and Keller Timber Creek (3-5, 2-3) – vying for two spots.
Here’s the remaining schedule for each:
Fossil Ridge: vs. Keller and vs. Byron Nelson
Keller: vs. Fossil Ridge and at Justin Northwest
Byron Nelson: vs. Keller Central and at Keller Fossil Ridge
Timber Creek: vs. Denton Guyer and vs. Keller Central
Fossil Ridge controls its fate and could probably split and clinch. It’s possible that a 3-4 team could advance but it depends on where it matches up against others. Timber Creek is the only team to have played the other teams in this mix. The Falcons are minus-7 against the other three because they beat Nelson by three (57-54) but lost to Keller by three (41-38) and Fossil Ridge by seven (28-21). So the Falcons must win out in order to give themselves the opportunity.
Keller’s season will rest on the rivalry game with Fossil Ridge. Nelson has to beat Central on Friday in order for Fossil Ridge to mean something.
As for Central, it’s pretty much on the outside looking in because it’s already lost to Keller (17-14) and Fossil Ridge (34-21). A sweep of Nelson and Timber Creek helps. But when you’re looking for help elsewhere, you’re really up against it. All the Chargers can do is go play and see what happens.
This is the fun part of the season. Time will tell who will enjoy the ultimate of experience of being in the state tournament.
High school picks
We continue to be on a really good run. We’ve only dropped four games in the last three weeks. Last week, we took a flier on Keller over Denton Ryan. However, the Raiders were just better. But we couldn’t happier for first-year Hurst L.D. Bell coach Mike Glaze, whose team picked up its first win of the year against Haltom. No one wants to go through a season winless.
Now, the Blue Raiders get a bye to enjoy it.
Last week: 8-1
Denton Guyer (6-2, 4-1) at Keller Timber Creek (3-5, 2-3); 7 p.m. Thursday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The Wildcats must feel like this place is their home away from home. They’ve played all four Keller teams here. QB Shawn Robinson missed last week’s against Nelson with an illness. If he’s ready this week, this could end the Falcons’ playoff hopes.
Prediction: Denton Guyer 33, Keller Timber Creek 20
Birdville (3-5, 3-1) at Grapevine (6-2, 3-1); 7 p.m. Thursday, Mustang-Panther Stadium, Grapevine: While this isn’t a vintage Birdville team, this is still a team the Mustangs have to beat to prove they are really growing as a program. Grapevine enjoyed a good moment when it beat a talented Forth Worth Arlington Heights squad in September. I think GHS can get this.
Prediction: Grapevine 23, Birdville 20
Justin Northwest (1-7, 1-4) at Denton Ryan (8-0, 5-0); 7 p.m. Friday, C.H. Collins Complex, Denton: This season is pretty much a nightmare for the Texans, who are starting to look ahead toward the offseason. The rushing defense is among the problems for Bill Poe. Dave Henigan’s Raiders have momentum and can clinch a tie for the 5-6A championship with a win.
Prediction: Denton Ryan 38, Justin Northwest 14
Keller Fossil Ridge (4-4, 3-2) vs. Keller (5-3, 2-3); 7 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The oldest KISD rivalry renews. There have been some memorable finishes. That’s because the teams are that even. The Indians desperately need this. But Panthers QB Bryce Baccarini is really playing well. I think he’s going to make the difference.
Prediction: Keller Fossil Ridge 31, Keller 27
Keller Central (3-5, 1-4) at Northwest Byron Nelson (4-4, 2-3); 7 p.m. Friday, NISD Stadium, Justin: The Bobcats offense has been sputtering lately. But the defense has held its own. As hard as last week’s 12-10 loss to Denton Guyer was, this team has to put it in the past. The Chargers won’t go away quietly.
Prediction: Byron Nelson 20, Keller Central 16
Richland (3-5, 2-2) at Euless Trinity (9-0, 5-0); 7 p.m. Friday, Pennington Field, Bedford: This is the Trojans’ final regular season game. They get a bye next week. They’ve wrapped up the 7-6A title but are looking for perfection. No one has an answer for this rushing attack. The Rebels will give it a go, but this won’t be close.
Prediction: Euless Trinity 57, Richland 7
Carroll (6-2, 3-1) at Haltom (1-7, 0-4); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Birdville Fine Arts and Athletics Complex, North Richland Hills: This is pretty much a tune-up game for the Dragons, who need to keep the momentum going. The Buffalos probably played their best game of the year this past Saturday against Hurst L.D. Bell, but still fell short. There just isn’t the athleticism from the Buffalos to stay with the Dragons.
Prediction: Carroll 47, Haltom 7
Coppell (4-4, 2-2) at Colleyville Heritage (4-4, 2-2); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Mustang-Panther Stadium, Grapevine: These teams are pretty evenly matched. While Colleyville Heritage is tantalizing to watch, the Panthers are just not consistent. The Cowboys have been very up and down this year. The Panthers have beaten the teams they should have beaten. They’ve fallen short in their tests. Colleyville Heritage can win this. But will they? The Panthers have to prove it first.
Prediction: Coppell 28, Colleyville Heritage 21