High School Football

Playoff picks: Can Haltom pick up its first postseason win in 20 years?

Michael Black and the Buffalos are after their first bi-district win since 1997, and they’ve got a shot.
Michael Black and the Buffalos are after their first bi-district win since 1997, and they’ve got a shot. Star-Telegram Archive

Now is not the time to look back on what has been accomplished and what has been missed. Now, is the time to keep moving forward to next set of picks.

This is the playoffs. Game faces — whatever those look like — have to be worn. Seasons are in balance. What you love about the Texas High School football playoff tournament is the finality of it. You win and you keep wearing the pads and helmet. You lose and you’re turning them in to the equipment staff.

Northeast Tarrant County’s 2017 high school football regular season is history. We have the distinction of 12 of our 15 area teams making the postseason. That’s Birdville, Carroll, Colleyville Heritage, Grapevine, Euless Trinity, Richland, Haltom, Haslet V.R. Eaton, Keller, Keller Fossil Ridge, Keller Central and Trophy Club Byron Nelson.

The veterans of this are Trinity (20 consecutive appearances) Carroll (18), Colleyville Heritage (12). Haltom returns for the first time since 2009. In its second year as a varsity program, Eaton makes its debut. Another feel good story is Keller. After going 1-9 in 2016, the Indians surged all the way back to go 5-5 and get into the mix.

Justin Northwest, Keller Timber Creek, which were in the 2016 playoffs, just missed this year. Mike Glaze and Hurst L.D. Bell will be continuing to try and move things forward this offseason.

So here we go picking these 12 playoff games.

Last week: 7-3

Season: 97-22 (.815)

Arlington Lamar (5-5) vs. Haltom (6-4); Class 6A Division I Region I bi-district; 7 p.m. Thursday, Gopher-Warrior Bowl, Grand Prairie: Have to like the approach that Haltom coach Jason Tucker took with this game. He could have played this at the FAAC but wanted his team to have a traditional playoff experience. Both of these offenses found some life late in the season. I’m going to give the Buffalos the chance to move on and win their first playoff game since 1997.

Prediction: Haltom 34, Arlington Lamar 30

Fort Worth Southwest (7-3) vs. Richland (8-2); Class 5A Division II Region I bi-district, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Rangers Stadium, Chisholm Trail High School, Saginaw: Few expected the Raiders to challenge South Hills for the 7-5A championship. But they did, two weeks ago. The Rebels are looking to parlay a 10-2 season from 2016 and go further this season. Linebacker DaShaun White will be busy.

Prediction: Richland 40, Fort Worth Southwest 20

Fort Worth YMLA (4-6) vs. Grapevine (8-2); Class 5A Division II Region bi-district; 7 p.m. Thursday Pennington Field, Bedford: YMLA is one of the great stories in Texas High School football. An enrollment of about 150 young men found a way to get to the postseason. Their reward is Grapevine four-year starting quarterback Alan Bowman and a very talented skill set of players.

Prediction: Grapevine 45, Fort Worth YMLA 7

Plano (7-3) at Euless Trinity (8-2); Class 6A Division I Region I bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Pennington Field, Bedford: After going 1-2 in non-district play, the Trojans rolled through District 5-6A. Their running game is as good as ever. Plano has been through and up and down season. The Wildcats started hot, slid in the middle of the season and then ended strong. If the Trojans can slow down Plano running back Kyron Cumbie, they should be OK. But he’s a really good player. Trinity has been excused from the first round of the playoffs the previous two seasons. It’s not looking for the hat trick.

Prediction: Euless Trinity 32, Plano 23

Keller (5-5) vs. Arlington Martin (9-1); Class 6A Division I Region I bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, UTA’s Maverick Stadium, Arlington: Credit the Indians for rebounding from a difficult start and winning the right games to advance to the playoffs. However, this matchup against the Warriors is trouble. Martin features a man of many talents in senior Brayden Willis, who has accumulated 1,488 yards through rushing, receiving and passing. Keller will make some plays to stay in it.

Prediction: Arlington Martin 38, Keller 26

Trophy Club Byron Nelson (4-6) vs. Denton Guyer (7-3); Class 6A Division II Region bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Collins Complex, Denton: On paper, you would think this should be a waltz for Guyer. But in all honesty, I have a feeling the Bobcats are going to make this tougher. The one thing we’ve learned about Travis Pride’s Nelson program is that he gets the maximum out of his players.

Prediction: Denton Guyer 34, Trophy Club Byron Nelson 27

Keller Central (6-4) vs. Mansfield (9-1); Class 6A Division II Region I bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Newsom Stadium, Mansfield: Maybe the Chargers didn’t have the incentive last week against Haltom because they knew their fate. But this program has made the postseason six out of the last seven years. What it’s still searching for is its first playoff win. The Tigers are a difficult draw because of the speed and feature one of the fastest players in the area in Baylor wide receiver commit Jackson Gleeson.

Prediction: Mansfield 37, Keller Central 21

Arlington (8-2) at Keller Fossil Ridge (10-0); Class 6A Division II Region I bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller: The Panthers made history by completing the first undefeated regular season in school history. However, they have been troubled by first-round fades in recent appearances. What this team has to do is cut out some of the penalties it draws. You can’t do that in the postseason. The Colts will push them.

Prediction: Keller Fossil Ridge 33, Arlington 29

McKinney (7-3) at Southlake Carroll (7-3); Class 6A Division II Region I bi-district; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dragon Stadium, Southlake: Carroll has a pretty good matchup against the Lions. The Dragons should expect to see the return of running back T.J. McDaniel. He’s missed the last two games with a thumb injury. Carroll’s defensive task is to make it difficult for McKinney’s 2,186-yard rusher, Matthew Gadek.

Prediction: Carroll 38, McKinney 30

Fort Worth South Hills (10-0) vs. Birdville (4-6); Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district 7:30 p.m. Friday, Ranger Stadium, Saginaw: Credit the Hawks for finding a way to overcome heartbreaker after heartbreaker to make the playoffs. They face the best the Fort Worth ISD has to offer in South Hills. The Scorpions have two dynamic backs in Trey Jones and Anthony Watkins. They have combined to rush for nearly 2,600 yards. The question for these FWISD teams is do they have the kind of talent to hang with their opponents. Usually, they don’t.

Prediction: Fort Worth South Hills 28, Birdville 24

Haslet V.R. Eaton (5-5) vs. Sherman (5-5); Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district 7:30 p.m. Friday, Wilson Stadium, Flower Mound: Eaton is making its postseason debut. Sherman, which has been playing high school football since 1902, is returning to the postseason since 2012. This game is pretty much a tossup. The Bearcats must account for Eaton’s dynamic playmaker Titus Swen.

Prediction: Haslet Eaton 35, Sherman 28

Fort Worth Arlington Heights (6-4) vs. Colleyville Heritage (9-1); Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Birdville FAAC, North Richland Hills: There are times when the Panthers can look disinterested in games. Take last week against Richland. They jumped out to a 31-0 lead before settling for a 31-21 win. They were in control, but you can imagine head coach Joe Willis has preached about the importance of finishing. Arlington Heights’ coach Phil Young is one of brighter minds in the industry.

Prediction: Colleyville Heritage 45, Fort Worth Arlington Heights 17 

Let’s win them all!