Bi-district playoff impressions

Did the postseason ever end abruptly and cruelly for several of our area teams this week.

For the first time ever, we had all six schools in the city limits qualify for the playoffs in the same year. In a span of three days, WFHS is the lone team standing.

On a broader scale, we have almost half of the 608 teams that made the Texas high school football playoffs already getting ready for basketball. It can end cruelly, that’s for sure.

Our area teams, including six-man and the Oklahoma schools we cover – went a combined 9-16 in the opening round. Maybe the most heartbreaking loss was a 60-58 setback TAPPS No. 1 Notre Dame suffered to Fredericksburg Heritage, 60-58.

There are still a few area teams who survived the weekend, but the matchups only get tougher from here on out. More weekend thoughts:

* Nobody has done a better job this year than WFHS first-year coach Danny Russell. How he’s turned around the Coyotes – who finished 2-8 last year and winless in district – is impressive.

And I’ve seen the Coyotes’ defense three times. Rider was able to push them around up front and ran for a bunch of yards, but on the other two occasions, I saw them hold Lake Dallas and FW Dunbar – two pretty decent offensive teams – to 7 points each.

They aren’t real flashy on offense, but they can rip off long drives every so often. And it seems like three touchdowns will be enough with Old High’s defense digging in.

* If you had told me two weeks ago that WFHS would be playing longer than Rider, I honestly wouldn’t have been that surprised, mainly because of the bracket setup.

I obviously thought Rider would beat Boswell (more on that in a bit), but the Raiders weren’t getting past Aledo. I picked Dunbar to beat WFHS, but was not surprised the Coyotes won. And with Everman and the Canyon Randall-Canutillo winner awaiting, those are definitely winnable games for Old High. Not saying they’ll win both, but they can.

* Canutillo, by the way, is right next to El Paso. So if you’re a WFHS fan who wants to stay decently close for a neutral playoff game Thanksgiving weekend, root for Randall.

* Rider was an entertaining football team that was hard to gauge sometimes during the season. It had some nice wins but also a couple baffling games, like its 17-14 victory over Azle. And the defense had surrendered 40 points four times during the regular season, albeit against a really tough schedule.

Still, I didn’t see Boswell pushing Rider around up front in a dominant performance. It just proves that you’ve got to bring your best game in the playoffs.

* I’ve been saying all along that 5-2A Div. II was down and I wouldn’t have been too surprised it went 1-3 in the first round. However, it’s still pretty surprising Jacksboro lost to fourth-place Blooming Grove, 38-35. It was only one of two 2A district winners that lost.

I’ve seen the Tigers twice in the past month, against Henrietta in awful weather and in a blowout versus Nocona. In that win, I thought the Indians moved the ball pretty well and that Jacksboro’s defense would need to step it up in the playoffs.

Well, Blooming Grove rushed for 493 yards on 46 carries. Even though Jacksboro’s offense was pretty explosive, it couldn’t make up a 28-7 halftime deficit.

* The best win of the weekend was Henrietta’s 25-21 decision over Mildred. It continues to win close games and has made strides with a lot of talented sophomores.

The Bearcats have won their past four games by a total of 20 points, making a goal-line stand in the closing minutes against Mildred. Henrietta is my early pick for the area 2A district winner in 2014.

* Kennedale’s Juwan Washington was fun to watch rush for 340 yards Friday night. And he’s only a junior. Seeing a team only attempt one pass all game is pretty bizarre, too.

* Glad to see Vernon’s Orlando Haymon back. He rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries in a win against Lake Worth.

* Example for there not to be four teams in the playoffs: Graham 68, FW Castleberry 0. Ugh.

* It’s going to be weird not covering Throckmorton deep into the playoffs. Ira was obviously a tough first-round matchup, but the Hounds had their chances. A great run by those seniors.

* I felt like Dunbar-WFHS and Henrietta-Mildred were going to be the best two games last week. And they didn’t disappoint.

My picks for the two best area games this week? I like Liberty Hill-Vernon in a matchup of two heavy running teams and Seymour-New Deal.

* You’re not going to win a lot of playoff games with 19 penalties. It sounded like Hirschi let that game slip away from them against Springtown.  

* Congrats to Hirschi and City View for making the playoffs for the first time in a while. Hopefully, both city schools will use their playoff losses as fuel for next year.