The playoff picture in high school football is starting to come together with three weeks left in the regular season.
Last year, traditional state powers Cedar Hill and Southlake Carroll met in the first round. We’re in for more big first-round games in 2016.
Richland (7-0, 4-0 District 8-5A) and Justin Northwest (7-0, 4-0 6-5A) won exciting games last week against Grapevine and Saginaw Boswell, respectively. They along with Aledo, Fort Worth South Hills and Brock are the only Tarrant County-area teams still unbeaten.
Richland plays Colleyville Heritage (5-2, 4-0) in the final week, likely for the district title.
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Northwest play Aledo (7-0, 4-0) in Week 10, also another probable district-title contest.
Looking at 8-5A
It’s looking as if Richland will go into Division II in the UIL playoffs, if Birdville gets in. So Richland will get Fort Worth schools Wyatt or Southwest from District 7-5A in the bi-district round. Among the four playoff qualifiers in each district, the two largest schools go into Division I and the other two in Division II. A team is seeded in its division based on its district finish.
Birdville (4-3, 2-2) and Fort Worth Dunbar (2-5, 2-2) are tied for fourth place. If Dunbar gets in, Richland is bumped up to Division I with a tougher game against FW South Hills (7-0, 4-0) or FW Arlington Heights (5-2, 3-1).
If Colleyville Heritage wins out, the Panthers get Heights.
What’s up in 6-5A?
Justin Northwest, the largest school in 6-5A, gets a spot in Division I, while Aledo will be Division II because it’s the smallest.
Denton Ryan (7-0, 3-0) and Denton (7-1, 3-1) will be Division I teams from 5-5A. Could we see a Ryan vs. Northwest first-round matchup?
Azle (2-5, 2-2) holds the fourth spot, but three teams sit at 1-3. If the Hornets clinch, they’ll be Division I and Boswell is Division II.
Over in Region II
In District 9-5A, Crowley (6-1, 4-0) is alone in first place and is 9-5A’s biggest school.
Burleson Centennial (6-1, 3-1) is another Division I team, unless Cleburne (4-3, 1-3) sneaks in. Arlington Seguin (5-2, 3-1), Burleson (3-4, 2-2) and Everman (4-3, 2-2) are the Division II contenders.
In 10-5A, Waxahachie (6-1, 3-1), Mansfield Legacy (5-2, 3-1) and Lake Ridge (5-2, 3-1) are tied for second, behind Lancaster. Legacy plays Lake Ridge this week.
If Waxahachie, Legacy, Lake Ridge and Lancaster get in, Crowley gets Waxahachie or Lake Ridge.
Among 6A squads
In 4-6A, Mansfield (5-2, 4-0), Arlington (4-3, 3-1) and Arlington Bowie (6-1, 3-1) hold the top spots, with Arlington Lamar (4-3, 2-2) and Arlington Martin (3-4, 2-2) tied for fourth.
Abilene (7-1, 4-0) is running away with 3-6A. Keller schools Fossil Ridge (5-2, 2-1), Timber Creek (5-2, 2-1) and Central (3-4, 2-1) share second place.
Abilene and Mansfield are the smallest schools. The only scenario where those two meet in the first round is if Arlington jumps the Tigers, but Mansfield owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Timber Creek would be Division I, while Fossil Ridge would play Mansfield in Division II if Fossil Ridge finishes second and the Tigers win 4-6A.
Wouldn’t it be crazy if Euless Trinity traveled to Allen to play the Eagles in the first round of the Division I playoffs?
The Trojans (5-2, 2-2 District 5-6A) are in a four-way tie for the final two spots behind Southlake Carroll (6-1, 4-0) and Hebron (5-2, 3-1).
If Trinity finishes below Hebron among postseason teams, with the two playing this week, the Trojans will play Allen (7-0, 4-0 in 6-6A). The two have combined for seven state titles since 2005.
However, if Carroll and Flower Mound (3-4, 2-2) are the other two teams, Trinity will drop to Division II with the Dragons, and probably play Denton Guyer (5-2, 3-16-6A).
Trophy Club Nelson (2-5, 2-2 in 5-6A) is also in the mix and gets a big task this week at Carroll. If the Bobcats squeeze in, they would be Division II bound.