Star-Telegram and dfwvarsity.com editor Eric Zarate, left, and reporter Travis L. Brown of the High School Huddle sound off on the games of the week, and they will predict the winners for each round of the playoffs. Visit dfwvarsity.com to catch the show and to find photo galleries from many area games.
DeSoto Eagles (14-0) vs. Allen Eagles (14-0)
Class 5A Division I semifinal
2 p.m. Saturday, Mesquite Memorial Stadium
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Eric: No disrespect to Pearland or San Antonio Madison, but it’s a shame this isn’t a title game. Both DeSoto and Allen have so much offense. They can score in a matter of seconds or they can grind it out and run the ball. But even if they run, it’s usually effective in that it doesn’t take that long to score. I think this will come down to who gets that break in the fourth quarter, that one turnover or one time the defense forces a punt and makes all the difference. I think Allen wins this.
Travis: This really should be a state final matchup, as the two best teams in North Texas duke it out for a title-game berth. Both teams are similarly composed, featuring dual-threat quarterbacks in Allen’s Kyler Murray (3,163 yards, 40 TDs passing; 927 yards, 17 TDs rushing) and DeSoto’s Desmon White (3,675 yards, 38 TDs passing; 1,635 yards, 16 TDs rushing). As I’ve said all season, I believe the class of athlete DeSoto features is just a step ahead of its competition this season and the Eagles will take down the defending state champs this week.
Aledo Bearcats (14-0) vs. Ennis Lions (14-0)
4A Division II semifinal
3:30 p.m. Saturday, Midlothian ISD Multi-Purpose Stadium
Eric: Aledo has dispatched every opponent it has faced, including state semifinalists Highland Park (4A Division I) and Stephenville (3A Division I). The question is, can Ennis accomplish what no other team has come close to achieving? Ennis has been tested well in 15-4A, but I’m picking Aledo. They may not get 50 or 60 points, but they should roll through this one.
Travis: Ennis is undefeated and battled through a rigorous regular-season schedule, but no one is stopping this Aledo team. Just a tip — if you happen to watch this 4A Division II matchup, watch Aledo’s offensive line. Much has been said about the skill players Aledo boasts this season, but much of the offense’s success comes from the gaping holes the big men create and the downfield blocks they hustle to make.
Stephenville Yellow Jackets (12-1) vs. Kilgore Bulldogs (13-0)
3A Division I semifinal
2 p.m. Saturday, Corsicana’s Tiger Stadium
Eric: Both teams have impressive playoff histories. Based on Stephenville’s 3A Division I title last year, and the ability of quarterback Jarrett Stidham to lead this team through adversity, like last week’s comeback against Lubbock Cooper, I see Stephenville winning this one.
Travis: Two programs with deep playoff pedigrees. Stephenville is the defending state champion, but give me the physical, power rushing offense of Kilgore in this matchup. The Bulldogs come off a 59-19 win over district rival Chapel Hill last week and carry impressive momentum on the legs of a committee of capable running backs.
Cedar Hill Longhorns (12-2) vs. Lake Travis Cavaliers (12-1)
5A Division II semifinal
1:30 p.m. Saturday, Waco’s Floyd Casey Stadium
Eric: Lake Travis was a power in Class 4A for years, winning five consecutive state titles from 2007 to 2011. Now the second-year 5A program is making another long playoff run. The Cavaliers have proven they have enough depth to compete at the 5A level. Cedar Hill reached the 5A Division II title game last year, and that was with four losses. This team is bigger and better, and the Longhorns should win this one convincingly.
Travis: Lake Travis is certainly one of the dynasties of Texas high school football and Cedar Hill is coming off a state championship berth last season. Something has to give in what should be an incredibly athletic and well-coached matchup. Give me Cedar Hill in this one as the records are basically even, given one of the Longhorns’ losses came at the hands of district rival and state semifinalist DeSoto.
Denton Guyer Wildcats (12-2) vs. Highland Park Scots (13-1)
4A Division I semifinal
1 p.m. Saturday, Allen’s Eagle Stadium
Eric: Highland Park, led by quarterback Brooks Burgin, has a very effective passing game that is tough to defend. Burgin fires to a spot on the field, and the receivers get there more often than not. Guyer has the lesser record by virtue of a season-opening loss to Cedar Hill, and a forfeit because of an ineligible player. That might be the only edge the Scots have, really. Guyer’s a defending champion and it has versatile quarterback Jerrod Heard, with his 1,900 passing yards and 1,800 rushing yards. Highland Park is a formidable opponent, but Guyer will win.
Travis: Guyer entered the season as the far-and-away favorite from the area to take a 4A state crown, but has faltered through the season, to an extent. Highland Park is always in the running for a deep playoff run, due to its rich football tradition, but I think many would say this team has overachieved in reaching the state semifinals. That being said, Highland Park has steadily improved after an embarrassing season-opening loss to Aledo, so give me what I believe is the hotter team in this matchup — Highland Park.