Last week’s opening round of the playoffs gave Texas high school football fans Euless Trinity versus Allen — at least on paper, a match more suitable for a state quarterfinal.
It didn’t disappoint as the two former state champions fought tooth-and-nail to the end with Class 6A No. 1 Allen coming out on top 34-25.
This week features another heavyweight contest between No. 8 Southlake Carroll (10-1) and No. 2 DeSoto (11-0), at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kimbrough Stadium in Murphy in the 6A Division II area round.
The eight-time state champion Carroll Dragons have a rich football history from coaches Bob Ledbetter, Todd Dodge and Hal Wasson to quarterbacks Will Mantooth, Chase Daniel and Kenny Hill and all that blonde hair.
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Last season the Dragons were bounced in the second round. Prior to 2015, Carroll had reached at least the third round in six consecutive seasons and 15 in 16 years.
Carroll lost the season opener this year, but hasn’t dropped a game since. A big reason is the emergence of running back Audricke Gaines (1,419 yards, 20 TDs), who transferred from Mansfield Timberview.
In 11 games, Gaines has rushed for at least 100 yards eight times, and has scored in every contest.
DeSoto is picking up steam. The last two times the Eagles started 11-0, they went on to play in the state semifinals in 2012 and 2013.
After a troubling 6-6 record last season, DeSoto has turned it around in 2016 with the help of former Denton Guyer quarterback and TCU commit Shawn Robinson.
Robinson has thrown for 700 yards more than last year with Guyer, but his rushing numbers are down, for good reason. Robinson has rushed for 10 scores, but Kelan Walker (12 TDs) and Jamonne Williams (9 TDs) are helping shoulder the load.
Expect a lot of fireworks on Friday night, with DeSoto winning 48-42.
Denton Ryan vs. Richland
Moving over to Northwest ISD Stadium on Friday, Richland looks to build on last week’s come-from-behind victory when the Rebels meet a second straight undefeated opponent, Denton Ryan, which is No. 4 in Class 5A.
Richland won its first playoff game in 32 years last week, 42-35 versus Fort Worth South Hills, but now faces an even better unbeaten squad.
Senior quarterback Trae Self has 40 touchdown passes for Richland, throwing scores to nine receivers, led by Landon Le, who had 215 yards last week.
If Richland wants to make it two in a row, its primary target will be Ryan’s dynamic dual-threat quarterback Spencer Sanders, an Oklahoma State commit. Sanders has accounted for 48 touchdowns, 31 in the air, and over 3,300 yards.
Richland is 8 points better per game on offense than Ryan, but Ryan’s defense gives up 5 points less per game than the Richland defense. The Rebels’ magical season ends this week as Ryan prevails 45-35.
Aledo vs. Grapevine
Talk about rich football history, how about the Aledo Bearcats (11-0), the No. 1 team in 5A. They travel to Saginaw High School on Friday to play the 10-1 Grapevine Mustangs.
Aledo shrugged off a slow start to rout Wichita Falls Rider last week, making it 21 consecutive bi-district championships.
The Bearcats are definitely a second-half team this season, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Grapevine should find itself ahead sometime during the first 24 minutes.
It’ll be a battle of the quarterbacks in Aledo’s Dillon Davis (2,870 yards, 36 TDs) and Grapevine’s Alan Bowman (2,830 yards, 42 TDs), but what the Mustangs will have trouble with is Aledo’s three-headed monster in the backfield.
Michael Jordan, Donnie Evans and Jase McClellan have combined to rush for more than 2,400 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Only two teams have owned a lead this year against Aledo. Grapevine could be a third, but the Bearcats will roll in the second half for the win, 58-32.
Northwest vs. Colleyville Heritage
Speaking of leads versus Aledo, Justin Northwest and Colleyville Heritage are the two teams to do so this season. Now they face off Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Ford Center in Frisco.
Northwest (10-1) is another feel-good story after a 1-9 year in 2015. The Texans finally broke their playoff curse with a 31-29 win over Denton, their first in nine tries.
Heritage (8-3) routed Fort Worth Arlington Heights 50-16 for its first playoff win since 2012. The regulars Cam Roane (2,247 passing, 22 TDs) and Ke’Von Ahmad (660 receiving, 9 TDs) will put in their usual work, but the X-factors lie in running back Mario Ortiz (1,143 yards, 17 TDs) and receiver Kam Brown (609 yards, 9 TDs).
The Texans can score with the best of them with Prince Mavula (31 pass TDs), Syrus Moore (20 rush TDs) and Gavin Holmes (16 receiving TDs) on offense, but can they make the necessary stops to win another playoff game? Yes, Northwest 38-34.