After 15 weeks, including the bye week, Northeast Tarrant County is out of the high school football playoffs business.
Richland, Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity played in the state quarterfinals this past weekend and learned that if you are going to win a state championship, you have to have fewer flaws than your opponent. Your team also has to be deeper and possess a few more playmakers.
Richland couldn’t match Aledo in the Class 5A Division II Region I championship game and fell, 43-7. Carroll’s defense just didn’t have enough to limit Waco Midway’s explosiveness in the Class 6A Division II Region I championship game and lost, 42-28.
Euless Trinity gave itself a chance against No. 1 Allen in the Class 6A Division I Region I championship game. However, the Trojans’ second-half magic didn’t appear and they lost, 41-20.
Now, the offseason officially begins for all 15 area teams. Hopes for 2018 have started.
Still, it’s hard to deny the kind of postseason this area enjoyed. Growth spurred more opportunities for teams to emerge. There’s a larger talent pool. The coaching has gotten better.
Consider that eight of the 12 teams won bi-district playoff games. Then, four of the remaining eight moved on to the regional semifinals. Finally, three played this past Saturday. Indeed, this was quite the journey.
But we’re not done with the picks. We’re in the state semifinal round. Texas high school football fans are always interested to see what happens. When you see the names below, you are talking about the high-rent district.
Here we go!
Last week: 5-1
Season: 117-31 (.791)
Mansfield Legacy (12-2) vs. Aledo (14-0); 2 p.m. Saturday, Pennington Field, Bedford; Class 5A Division II state semifinal: These teams met three months ago (Sept. 15) at Aledo and the Bearcats won, 24-3. But make no mistake, the Broncos are a different team. They’ve moved Jalen Catalon to quarterback and things have clicked. Aledo has 11 postseason interceptions and leans on Oklahoma running back commit Jase McClellan. Then you have two really impressive defenses. Each is state-championship caliber. It’s about playing clean.
Prediction: Aledo 24, Mansfield Legacy 22
College Station (12-2) vs. Austin McCallum (14-0); 7 p.m. Saturday, NRG Stadium, Houston; Class 5A Division II state semifinal: College Station features a pair of rushers who are each over 1,400 yards. McCallum knocked out last year’s state finalist Corpus Christi Calallan, 20-7. McCallum’s defense has been pretty good all season. It’s allowed just 15 points in the last two playoff games.
Prediction: Austin McCallum 23, College Station 14
Denton Ryan (14-0) vs. Highland Park (13-1); 9 p.m. Friday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington; Class 5A Division I state semifinal: This is a rematch of last year’s state semifinal where the Scots won, 31-24. The Scots were really fortunate in their 37-35 win over Mansfield Lake Ridge when the Eagles fumbled deep in HP territory. The question is going to be how healthy Scots quarterback John Stephen Jones is. He finished the game against Lake Ridge but was beat up. The Raiders get another shot and quarterback Spencer Sanders, an Oklahoma State commit, has accounted for more than 4,800 rushing and passing yards. This sequel will be just as good.
Prediction: Denton Ryan 31, Highland Park 24
Angleton (13-0) vs. Manvel (13-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday, NRG Stadium, Houston; Class 5A Division I state semifinal: Angleton is enjoying a magical season. The last time the Wildcats played in a state championship game was in 1958. A win puts this program in this game for the first time in 59 years. Manvel knows it should have been playing for a state title last year when it fell to Temple. This is a deep a solid program under head coach Kirk Martin. There is always an assortment of Division I recruits, including standout wide receiver Jalen Preston, who is committed to Texas A&M.
Prediction: Manvel 40, Angleton 23
Allen (15-0) vs. Cedar Ridge (13-1); 2 p.m. Saturday, McLane Stadium, Baylor University, Waco; Class 6A Division I state semifinal: The Eagles have been derailed in this round in the previous two seasons. But they are healthy and playing at a high level. Cedar Ridge is the newcomer to the party. Junior quarterback Grant Tisdale is a two-way threat. He also has a tremendous receiver in junior Theo Wease, who is a national recruit. Allen’s tradition is really hard to match.
Prediction: Allen 35, Cedar Ridge 17
Katy (12-0) vs. Lake Travis (12-2); 3 p.m. Saturday, Alamo Stadium, San Antonio; Class 6A Division I state semifinal: These programs have combined for 14 state championships. Katy has eight. Lake Travis has six. They actually met for the 6A Division II state championship in 2015 when Katy won 34-7. Katy is a no-nonsense running team led by junior national recruit Deondrick Glass. All Lake Travis does is produce quarterbacks. The latest is Stephen Baldwin who just committed to Ohio State. Flip a coin.
Prediction: Katy 27, Lake Travis 24
Austin Westlake (14-0) vs. Houston Cy-Fair (13-0); 3 p.m. Saturday, NRG Stadium, Houston; Class 6A Division II state semifinal: Former Carroll head coach Todd Dodge is trying to pick up his first state championship at Westlake. He has a very dynamic team. He’s got a budding quarterback star in junior Taylor Anderson. Cy-Fair has enjoyed a phenomenal season. But the Chaparrals defense could be overmatched.
Prediction: Austin Westlake 35, Cy-Fair 22
Longview (13-1) vs. Waco Midway (14-0); 6 p.m. Saturday, Eagle Stadium, Allen; Class 6A Division II state semifinal: The Lobos survived their backyard East Texas brawl with Lufkin, 33-32, last week and are always in the state championship conversation. They just haven’t won one since 1937. The Lobos don’t do anything special. But they will always run the football. Midway handled Carroll last week and has a pretty masterful quarterback in Oklahoma commit Tanner Mordecai.
Prediction: Waco Midway 39, Longview 28
Let’s win them all!