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What is so fun about Texas high school football is that it is so unpredictable. Just when fans and prognosticators have it figured out, teams shock you. Lamar and North Shore were on a collision course for a regional final rematch and Pearland and Cy-Fair steal the headlines. How about George Ranch in its second year reaching the finals? And the Stratford Spartans?
CLASS 5A, DI
Pearland vs Cy-Fair:
The Pearland Oilers won state in 2010 and are back in the conversation just a short three years later. The VYPE Preseason No. 9 team has done it with a balanced offense led by JaColbie Butler carrying the ball and Connor Heath at QB taking over for Kalen Johnson. The defense is led by Oklahoma State-commit Justin Phillips, which has an ability to make teams turn the ball over. The defensive line is stout as well getting pressure on the QB and stopping the run.
The Cy-Fair Bobcats (VYPE’s Preseason No. 11) shocked North Shore 9-7 in a defensive battle last weekend. We have been promoting the Cy-Fair D-Line led by Ross Donelly, Ross Tuzin and Brady Wright all season and they did it again. The offensive is not sexy but is just good enough. Dillon Birden has rushed for over 1,500 yards, while Clayton Kopecky is sneaky good at the QB position. He is accurate and likes to hit Drew Tobler. But Pearland gets the edge over the Bobcats with a more explosive offense.
PREDICTON: Pearland 21-17
Pearland vs Lamar picture gallery
Westfield vs Allen
The Westfield Mustangs (VYPE’s Preseason No. 3) are right back in the regional finals this season and have an unblemished 13-0 season. The only thing standing in their way of a state semifinal appearance are the Allen Eagles – the state’s top team. Westfield won in a double-overtime thriller to Dallas Skyline, who were plagued by penalities and mistakes. The Mustangs jumped out early, but game up some big plays through the air. QBs Courtland Greenwood and William Dedon combined for nearly 300 yards passing, while Latevious Downs have 120 yards on the ground.
The concern, however, is that the Westfield defense gave up nearly 300 yards and 6 passing touchdowns to Sederian Copeland. Allen has an even better passing attack with Kyler Murray shredding The Woodlands defense for 272 yards and five TDs by HALFTIME. Allen is averaging a 40-point margin in the playoffs. Westfield will have to ball control and keep the ball out of Allen’s hands as much as possible. It would be a sizeable upset for Westfield to advance.
PREDICTION: Allen 35-14
CLASS 5A, DII
Katy vs Manvel
The stars will be out in the headline game in H-Town. Katy and the state rings blinging vs the athletic Manvel Mavs, looking to knock off the champs. Make no bones about it, Manvel wants Katy. They wanted to play them last season in the regional finals but were tripped up by Cypress Ranch. The Mavs get their chance this weekend and leading the charge is super QB D’Eriq King, who has exploded on the scene for 3,600 yards and 51 tds. He’s elusive and has an accurate arm, but will it be good enough to outscore Katy’s tough defense.
Katy has been Katy and has been solid on defense. The Tigers must slow down the fast-paced Mav offense that gets up to line quickly. Containing King is like containing Johnny Manziel, but coach Gary Joseph will have a plan. Here’s the difference. Manvel’s defense cannot slow down Katy’s run-oriented offense. Katy can ball-control, eating up clock and methodically getting down the field. Forcing King to the middle of the field is imperative, while Manvel must not make any silly mistakes. It’s gonna be a good one.
PREDICTION: Katy 35-28
Katy vs Elkins picture gallery
Memorial vs Manvel picture gallery
CLASS 4A DI
Dawson vs Stratford
The Spartan D has been impressive on defense this postseason getting the ball in a cluster. The defense is satly and the offense has not given the ball up with bad turnovers. Terrence Peters is the workhorse at running back and Freddy Price is solid at the QB. Dawson is explosive on offense with Brett Winnegan, who has over 2,100 yards rushing, while WR Tony Upchurch can catch and run. Ross Wicklund at QB has been steady and the defense has made some tremendous strides this season.
PREDICTION: Dawson 17-10
CLASS 4A, DII
George Ranch vs Brenham
It’s a magical season at George Ranch, which is only in its second campaign in school history. The Longhorns strengthened their legacy by knocking on Elgin in a shootout. It will be a shootout with Brenham this weekend, who shocked Texas City. If the stage is not too big for George Ranch, they win this. But they have to guard against playoff shock. Collins Kwabena and Tim Nolan have over 1,000 yards a piece rushing, while Xavian Marks and Torin Marks are playmakers at WR and DB. They will face equal athletes in Brenham, but momentum is on their side. They are the Auburn Tigers of Houston high school football.
PREDICTION: George Ranch 24-21
George Ranch vs Elgin picture gallery