I’ve spent the better part of the past couple days talking to 15 area coaches about their playoff matchups. I could be very wrong about this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a whole lot of blowouts this week.
Of course, it’s always hard to tell when examining a team that hasn’t played anyone within a 100-mile radius of here. And a team may look fast on paper, but maybe the video lies if it’s against a really poor opponent.
You’ll always have one of those unbelievable upsets across the state that makes the playoffs so much fun (and makes every favored coach repeatedly preach to their kids about the importance of focusing on the task at hand).
But for every one of those huge upsets, there are about 25 games that go as planned, especially in the early rounds.
Here are my short playoff predictions with this week’s 11-man matchups:
4A DIVISION II
Rider-Dunbar – Dunbar has been able to run the ball against lesser opponents, but it hasn’t faced a defense like Rider’s. The Raiders are really starting to come into their own on the defensive end, and that should continue against a team competing with 3A numbers. Without J.T. Barrett, Rider’s offense isn’t as explosive but it can still score a lot of points against the Dunbars of the world.
3A DIVISION I
Burkburnett-Kennedale – If the Bulldogs can make this one look respectable, I think that’s a win in itself. Kennedale averages more than 400 rushing yards per game and they will be able to move the ball against the Bulldogs enough to score a lot of points. Kennedale would have been tough for any 5-3A team to beat. If Burkburnett can string together some long drives and not turn the ball over, maybe it’s not too bad. But these teams are in whole other leagues.
3A DIVISION II
Graham-Lake Worth – This game should get out of hand quickly in favor of our area team. The Bullfrogs allowed 112 points to Springtown and Kennedale, teams comparable to Graham. And Lake Worth, which has rotated quarterbacks because of injuries, doesn’t have the firepower to turn this one into a shootout. Graham has taken care of business in these types of games this year, and I think QB Ben Davis and company will have a field day.
Vernon-Springtown – Finally, a competitive matchup. This is the best area game we’ve got, and it will be played out at Memorial Stadium. It’s a contrast of styles as Vernon will run the ball with the Wing-T and Springtown will be fast-paced and throwing it a ton. I bet the Lions move the ball well enough to score a bunch of points. I’m just not sure if they can outscore Springtown. Vernon’s defense allowed more points to Hirschi and Burkburnett than they probably should have. Suffice it to say, Springtown is more dangerous compared to those two. Either the Lions will win a close one or lose a tight one. But I’m siding with the Porcupines, knowing I could very well be wrong.
2A DIVISION II
Jacksboro-Blooming Grove – I feel real good about Rider and Graham rolling to blowouts. Add Jacksboro to that list. Why? Because Blooming Grove has size but won’t be able to handle Jacksboro’s speed up front. And because while it has a pretty good QB, Blooming Grove’s defense doesn’t make me think it can slow down QB Kirk Weldon and company at all. The Lions gave up 40 points to 1-9 Dallas Life Oak. Another 30 to 4-6 Rio Vista. In all, Blooming Grove averaged 36 points allowed in district. Expect the Tigers to put up a big number.
Holliday-Tolar – This is a game the Eagles can lose. Holliday coach Cody Patton said so himself. But I think they’d have to not play very well. The Eagles are more battle-tested not only in recent playoffs, but also this year. Plus, although it lost, Holliday has been in a playoff-type atmosphere, and I’m sure the Eagles have been stewing over the OT loss to Jacksboro all week. This is also a good matchup up front for Holliday, which I think will be able to bottle up Cory Solomon (1,473 yards, 22 TDs). Holliday by 10-14.
A DIVISION I
Anson-Windthorst – Maybe if I had seen last week’s narrow loss to Quanah and not blowouts at the hands of Munday and Seymour, I’d pick the Trojans. And Windthorst has proven to be a tough postseason out during these type of seasons (beating Gorman/Goldthwaite in 2007, almost upsetting Albany in 2008). But I think Anson has too many offensive weapons for Windthorst to stop. If the Trojans can shorten the game and finish off drives without turning the ball over, then they very well could see another week.
Quanah-Forsan – Hard for me to think this one won’t be a Quanah rout. Forsan is only averaging 16 points per game and lost to Sundown (comparable to Quanah) 43-0. In fact, the Buffaloes weren’t competitive in any of their four losses. The Indians are starting to run the ball well, and if they can limit turnovers, I think they can go a couple rounds.
A DIVISION II
Electra-Hamlin – I’m going with Hamlin (Electra won 61-41 in last year’s playoffs) because when things have gone wrong for the Tigers, games get away quickly. They have been outscored 192-7 in their three losses. This game should stay close with Hamlin RB Darius Lee and Electra’s Michael Bishop/Tyler Nelson swapping big plays on the ground. But the Pied Pipers have been more consistent this year.