Everything about the Texas high school football playoffs is as good as you hoped it would be.
But one of the best things about the playoffs is that this is Thanksgiving week. If you’re team is practicing on this fourth Thursday of November, then you’re having a great season.
For Northeast Tarrant County teams, there are eight taking part of this special moment: Birdville, Southlake Carroll, Colleyville Heritage, Euless Trinity, Grapevine, Haslet V.R. Eaton, Richland and Trophy Club Byron Nelson.
There were the heroic performances between Eaton’s Titus Swen going for 291 rushing yards and another 46 receiving to lead the Eagles in their postseason debut, a 26-21 win over Sherman.
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Back from his thumb injury and surgery, Carroll running back T.J. McDaniel ran around, through and over McKinney for 311 yards in the Dragons’ 43-0 win over McKinney.
Both Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage overcame sluggish starts to win their playoffs games.
Then there’s Birdville and Trophy Club Byron Nelson. They of the sub .500 records. Each entered the playoffs at 4-6. They’re still playing at 5-6. Birdville knocked out the best Fort Worth had to offer in South Hills (10-0), 43-0. Nelson didn’t flinch against 7-3 Denton Guyer. The Bobcats defeated the Wildcats, 28-24. They weren’t even picked to make the playoffs.
Their stories are like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, when the No. 14 seed upsets the No. 3 seed. They are the darlings.
But now, the road gets tougher. The deeper a team goes, the tougher the competition is.
We went 8-4 last week. The real disappointment is that all of 3-6A – Haltom, Keller, Keller Central and Keller Fossil Ridge – was eliminated. Fossil Ridge might be the biggest disappointment after putting together a 10-0 regular season.
Here we go for the area round.
Last week: 8-4
Season: 105-26 (.801)
Grapevine (9-2) vs. Aledo (11-0); Class 5A Region I Division II area; 1 p.m. Friday, Midlothian: When these two teams met last year in this round, it wasn’t pretty. Aledo won, 51-7. The Mustangs understand they’re going to have to play a nearly flawless game against a team that’s going for it seventh state championship in the last nine seasons and features a running game that can go four deep.
Prediction: Aledo 42, Grapevine 17
Richland (9-2) vs. Saginaw Boswell (10-1); Class 5A Region I Division II area; 1 p.m. Friday, Burleson: The Rebels have emerged through the bi-district round for the last two seasons. But they’re in a different division this year. They’re in Division II unlike 2016 when they were in Division I. Boswell is a really solid program and features fearless sophomore quarterback Braydon Thomas. Richland quarterback Drew Trent has to match or exceed Thomas.
Prediction: Saginaw Boswell 31, Richland 22
Colleyville Heritage (10-1) vs. Haslet V.R. Eaton (6-5); Class 5A Region I Division I area: 5 p.m. Friday, Apogee Stadium, Denton: Early penalties and turnovers caused the slow start for the Panthers in their very unimpressive 35-21 win over Fort Worth Arlington Heights. Since the season opener when they faced Aledo’s Jase McClellan, their defense gets its toughest test as it faces the best running back in Eaton’s Titus Swen, who is closing in on 2,000 yards.
Prediction: Colleyville Heritage 32, Haslet Eaton 26
Birdville (5-6) vs. Denton Ryan (11-0); Class 5A Region I Division I area; 3 p.m. Friday, Saginaw High School, Saginaw: The Hawks should take the approach that they have nothing to lose in this contest. They are a heavy underdog. All but one of Ryan’s wins have come by fewer than seven points. Raider quarterback Spencer Sanders, who is committed to Oklahoma State, is a special talent throwing for more than 2,700 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Prediction: Denton Ryan 45, Birdville 14
Trophy Club Byron Nelson (5-6) vs. Waco Midway (11-0); Class 6A Region I Division II area; 8 p.m. Friday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington: Don’t be deceived by the Bobcats’ record any longer. They are finding their second wind. Senior quarterback Nick Santini has turned into a solid game manager. But the Panthers are pretty stacked with Oklahoma quarterback commit Tanner Mordecai and SMU tight end commit David Preibe.
Prediction: Waco Midway 38, Trophy Club Byron Nelson 21
Euless Trinity (9-2) vs. Duncanville (11-0); Class 6A Region I Division II area; noon Saturday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington: The Trojans lived the creed of survive and advance in their 28-21 overtime win over Plano. In fact, as much as 5-6A was maligned, the district won three of the four bi-district meetings against 6-6A. Trinity faces a Duncanville team that is built to win a state championship under head coach Reginald Samples. The Trojans have to have enough defense to give themselves a chance.
Prediction: Duncanville 34, Euless Trinity 22
Carroll (8-3) vs. DeSoto (10-1); Class 6A Region I Division II area; 7 p.m. Saturday, Ford Center (The Star) Frisco: The reigning 6A Division II state champion Eagles have the talent to make another title run. But they’re a little more vulnerable in this rematch with the Dragons. Carroll’s chances will come down how well its offensive line can win the line of scrimmage. Running back T.J. McDaniel doesn’t have to have the kind of day that he did against McKinney. But it wouldn’t hurt. Carroll can win this. I’m so tempted to pick the Dragons.
Prediction: Desoto 34, Carroll 27
Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s win them all!