HS football playoffs: Games to watch in regional semifinals

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Games to watch in the third round of high school football playoffs:

Manvel (12-0) vs. Barbers Hill (11-1), noon Friday, NRG Stadium

Apparently, there’s more than enough room in Alvin ISD for both its high schools to excel. Shadow Creek, now two years into its varsity existence, is 20-0 in regular-season games, and both teams went 10-0 this season and take 12-0 records into the regional semifinals – well after Manvel was supposed to start fading. The Mavericks ousted Nederland in the first round of the 5A Division 2 playoffs, and last week overwhelmed Lamar Consolidated 62-34 to advance to the Region III semifinals. RBs Donovan Eaglin and Jordon Vaughn combined for 396 yards and seven TDs on 37 rushes in the victory. The Barbers Hill Eagles have one loss, but that came way back in its season opener against Magnolia, which exited the playoffs last week. They went on to claim their first undefeated district championship in 13 years, and now are suiting up in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Eagles edged Whitehouse 47-24 in the area round, but their last playoff meeting with Manvel didn’t go so well. The Mavericks prevailed 64-42 in bi-district last year.

BROADCAST SCHEDULE: Texan Live’s broadcast schedule for regional semifinals

Shadow Creek (12-0) vs. Foster (8-4), 2 p.m. Friday, Challenger Columbia Stadium

Based on Shadow Creek’s mind-blowing varsity résumé, which now shows 27 wins to one loss across two full seasons, the Sharks are unlikely to lose to a team they already defeated this year, and they beat District 10-5A-1 opponent Foster 24-17 on Oct. 24. Foster led 7-0 and 10-7 before Shadow Creek took control with three straight scores but finished with only 222 total yards. Shadow Creek WR Jared Jackson had six receptions for 107 yards and two TDs; QB Kyron Drones threw for 166 yards and two TDs, with two INTs, and ran for 78 yards and a score; and QB Ryan Stubblefield provided both the Falcons’ touchdowns with his feet. But this Falcons team already proved they can’t be counted out, rolling into the third round despite losing three times in district. Their 5A Division 1 path includes an impressive 31-21 win over previously undefeated New Caney in bi-district.

Katy (12-0) vs. North Shore (11-1), 4 p.m. Friday, NRG Stadium

This is the 6A Division 1 game we’ve all anticipated since Katy edged North Shore 24-21 in Week 1. Katy is No. 1 in the area and North Shore is No. 2, and both are among the top five in the state. In other words, either is capable of winning a state championship, but only one will even have the opportunity to play for a regional title. The two powerhouses, with a combined 11 state championships, are colliding in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, with North Shore winning in 2016 and last year, and Katy winning in 2017. They also played twice in 2018, with North Shore winning both, and in 2010, with Katy winning both. Katy leads the all-time series 6-4, going back to their first regular-season matchup in 2008, but North Shore has won three of the last five. They’re 2-2 head-to-head in the playoffs. The Tigers eliminated 2017 state champ Cy-Fair last week without start running back Ron Hoff by leaning on a stifling defense, and North Shore is rolling offensively behind RB Zach Evans, who rushed for 354 yards and two TDs on 20 carries last year, and also had two long TD runs called back on penalties. North Shore WR Shadrach Banks, who missed the first Katy game, will miss this one, too, after suffering another leg injury in the bi-district playoffs.

Needville (10-2) vs. Lampasas (11-1), noon Saturday, Alamodome, San Antonio

Needville RB Ashton Stredick continues to amaze. While most Texas high school running backs struggle to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a full season, the Princeton pledge is at 927 rushing yards in two playoff games. He put the state on notice with 508 yards and five TDs on 33 carries against Canyon Lake, and followed that effort with 419 yards and four TDs on 34 rushes in a 62-24 win over Boerne in the 4A Division 1 area playoffs. Now Stredick, a 5-9 senior, can surpass the 3,000-yard mark this week. He has 2,883 yards and 34 TDs on 250 carries in 12 games, giving him an average of 11.5 yards per carry. Lampasas, like Needville, is one of the top 4A teams in the state. It’s in the third round for the first time since 1993 after ousting Brazosport and Gonzales in the first two rounds. Needville and Lampasas last met in the playoffs in 1989, when Needville won 34-12 en route to the state semifinals.

Atascocita (11-1) vs. Tompkins (11-1), 2 p.m. Saturday, NRG Stadium

Who really wants to take on the challenge of facing Katy or North Shore in the regional finals? We’ll find out Saturday. The Atascocita Eagles ejected Dickinson from the playoffs for the second time in three years last week, rolling 46-27 behind a ball-hawking defense led by DB D.J. Murchison, who supplied four INTs, one of which he returned for a score. The Eagles also blocked two punts and recovered a fumble. The Tompkins Falcons already boast two impressive wins in the playoffs, so a third certainly isn’t out of the question. They handed Travis its only loss in bi-district, then edged Cypress Falls 30-27 in two overtimes in the area round, sending them back to the third round for the second straight season after they made their playoff debut last year. This is the first meeting between the two teams – whose only setbacks this season are against Katy. Atascocita lost 56-14 in Week 2 and Tompkins lost 35-30 in Week 6.

Dallas Jesuit (8-4) vs. Klein Collins (11-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium

It’ll be a match of talented running backs in this one with Dallas Jesuit sporting EJ Smith and Klein Collins being led by Braelon Bridges. EJ, the son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith, checks all the boxes as one of the country’s top prospects. Bridges has been outstanding this postseason, rushing for 450 yards in the last two playoff games in addition to the 1,492 he rushed for during the regular season.

Cypress Creek (8-4) vs. Strake Jesuit (10-2), 8 p.m. Friday at NRG Stadium

It’s two programs on two impressive stretches in the last few seasons. Cypress Creek made a regional semifinal last year and is one win away from repeating that. It’s never been done before in program history. It’s Strake Jesuit’s third trip to this round since 2015 and it’s never been to a UIL regional final. Strake Jesuit is the one coming off a big win over last year’s Class 6A Division II state finalist Beaumont West Brook. Running back Dylan Campbell had seven touchdowns in that game. Cypress Creek’s defense will be prepared.

Prosper (10-2) vs. The Woodlands (8-4), 7 p.m., Saturday at Baylor University’s McLane Stadium

The Woodlands, a program that’s seen many double-digit win seasons, is 8-4 and in the regional semifinals once again. This team has taken its lumps during the regular season but it speaks to the program’s consistency during this time of year. Even if it seems like The Woodlands is having a down year, the Highlanders find a way. Prosper is a tough match. It’s won its two playoff games by an average of 25 points. Meanwhile, The Woodlands is fresh off a three-overtime win over Cypress Woods.

Rockwall (10-2) vs. Klein Oak (10-2), 1 p.m., Saturday at McLane Stadium

Rockwall is all the rage as the team that just knocked off Allen in the area round. This game is tantilizing because of tow of the most heralded recruits around in Rockwall’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Klein Oak’s Dwight McGlothern. Smith-Njigba is an all-world talent at receiver and McGlothern, at least on the prep level, does a little bit of everything for Klein Oak. That includes defensive back duty. It’s a huge opportunity for Klein Oak to make a statement across the state with a win.

Waco Midway (10-3) vs. Westfield (11-1), 2 p.m. Saturday at Bryan’s Merrill Green Stadium

Remember, Westfield’s only loss is a three-point defeat from North Shore in non-district play. The Mustangs haven’t really slowed down since, back in the regional semifinals with a stout defense and playmakers like Kendal Taylor on offense. Westfield, which may not get mentioned enough with Katy and North Shore as far as consistency is concerned, can make it a sixth regional final since 2011 with a win. Midway has had run-ins with the Houston area before, too, falling to Cy-Fair in the 2017 Class 6A Division II title game.

Humble (11-2) vs. Katy Taylor (7-5), 6 p.m. Saturday at NRG Stadium

Here are another pair of teams seeing playoff success for the first time in a long time. Katy Taylor has just seven wins but is in the third round for the third time since 2008. It’s never been to a regional final. Humble hasn’t has an 11-win season since 2010 and before that, 2002. A win puts Humble in the regional final for the first time since 1995. A lot of history and continued positive vibes around these programs is on the line Saturday.

Fort Bend Marshall (11-1) vs. Huntsville (9-3), 2 p.m. Saturday at Woodforest Stadium

Last year’s 47-43 playoff thriller should be reason enough to consider this one of the best games on the schedule. Quarterback Matthew Southern’s steady hand leads the Hornets against a Marshall team still full of uber-athletes like Devon Achane. It’s a Marshall team that showed resolves during last year’s playoff run to the Class 5A Division II title game and has done so again by way of last week’s 32-27 win over A&M Consolidated. Expect another competitive game here.

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