Third-round playoff predictions

We’re two weeks into the playoffs and we’ve had a lot of good performances and a couple upsets.

What we haven’t had is one of those memorable classics.

Like a Munday-Windthorst from last season. Or Graham-Snyder in OT two years ago.

The 2009 playoffs might have been the most exciting in recent memory as far as amazing games go.

Just off the top of my head, there were Holliday-Cisco (Eagles come back, lose in OT), Henrietta-Comanche (Comanche wouldn’t die), Munday-Bronte (Kenyin Thompson scored from 45 yards out on game’s last play) and Graham-Carthage in the 3A title game (missed 2-point conversion at end).

Some of these matchups this week on paper at least don’t look as competitive as you’d think a third-round playoff game would be. Wake me up when an El Paso team plays Rider close. Quanah-Stamford and Munday-Hamlin probably won’t go down to the wire.

If we’re going to have a classic this week, I think it’ll come from Denton’s Collins Stadium. Nocona-Gunter has the makings of being a real slugfest.

These teams are a lot alike. They’re both going to line up and overpower you. Nocona had lots of success pushing Edgewood around, but Gunter will be different. Indians coach Brad Keck said Gunter’s offensive line is at least as good as Nocona’s if not better.

But Nocona’s defense is stout and has fared well against power teams like Holliday. Expect a lot of running and whoever runs the ball most effectively will win.

Obviously, turnovers could come into play and make this game not as competitive as I think it should be.

I just can’t pick against Nocona after seeing how impressive the Indians were last week. They make enough plays to come out ahead, 21-20. In a classic.

Here are the area’s other playoff games going on this week:

Rider vs. El Paso Burges: Rider is coming off a pretty good win over FW Southwest in which it didn’t probably play its best game but powered through.

I don’t expect the Raiders to face as much opposition this week. Rider’s defense is playing really well for the most part and Chase London being healthy has helped the passing game.

Rider has too much speed with guys like Domanic Thrasher and Davon Allison. Raiders win by 20.

Graham vs. Midland Greenwood: Obviously Graham will have to play well this week to win. But I expect the Steers to do just that.

Greenwood has a quarterback named Kam Williams who does about everything – he has passed for 2,554 yards and 1,271 yards. Combine his rushing and passing TDs and you get 46.

But I think to beat Graham, you’ve got to have a lot of weapons like Graham does. Make the defense worry about many guys.

And as far as the offense goes, the Steers are executing about as well as they have at any point this year. To its credit, Greenwood is one of those rare third-place teams still alive right now. Graham wins by at least 10.

Quanah vs. Stamford: This game will get a lot of attention because it’s the only Thursday game in the state this week.

I think if Quanah plays its best game of the year, it has the potential to make this one competitive going into the fourth quarter. That hasn’t been done much against the Bulldogs this year.

The Indians run the same offense and have some playmakers like Stamford does. But I give the edge on defense to the Bulldogs and they have the best player in the game in QB Hagen Hutchinson.

I think when it’s all said and done, Stamford wins by at least 20-25. Just too much experience on a veteran bunch that I feel will win the Class A Division I state title. But Quanah can do some things to hang in the game for a long while if it plays well.

Munday vs. Hamlin: Can’t see the Pied Pipers keeping this close. I saw Hamlin beat Electra in the playoffs a couple weeks ago, and they do some good things. Munday hasn’t seen a team that throws it 20 times a game since Holliday.

But to me, all that means is the Moguls have a chance to unleash a dominant defensive line on the QB. I think we’ll see a couple INTs and a few sacks. And also a lot of big plays from an offense that should score a lot of points again. My pick is Munday by 35 (and probably more unless Hamlin scores some late on backups like Wink did last week).

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