The most exciting six weeks of the year commence Thursday night as the bi-district round begins throughout a Region III loaded with quality contenders in both Class 5A and 4A.
No opening round matchup has more marquee value than the 5A, Division I clash between Clear Springs (8-2) and Fort Bend Hightower (8-2). Don’t expect a defensive struggle as both the Chargers and Hurricanes feature explosive game changers; Springs’ Howard Matthews (Texas A&M commit) has accounted for 23 touchdowns (11 rushing, six receiving and three returns to go along with three touchdown passes) while Hightower QB Bralon Addison had thrown for over 1,600 yards and 25 TDs while running for 948 yards and 13 scores.
The survivor of this shootout will get the winner of North Shore and Deer Park; whoever makes it out of the area round will likely meet defending state champion Katy in the regional quarterfinals.
Things are wide open in the Division II bracket, as 9-1 Alief Taylor is the only team in the field with a record better than 8-2. Coach J.D. Jordan’s squad has won eight straight since a Week One loss to Katy and has scored at least 35 points in each outing behind the throwing of QB Jordan Are (1,359 yards, 18 touchdowns) and the running of Derrick Lair and Treveon Taylor, who have combined for 1,886 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Alief Taylor will need to bring their offensive ‘A’ game to the fold against a Cy Ridge squad that is more dangerous than their 6-4 record would indicate. The Rams lost two straight to close out the regular season, but Cy Ridge has a quick-strike attack that is paced by QB Andrew Gonzales (13 TDs passing, six rushing) and RB Renderick Childs (909 yards, 13 scores).
High-flying Cy Woods (7-3) and QB Colton Huntsman meet 6-4 Eisenhower in an intriguing contest. The Eagles started 0-3 before rattling off a 5-1 mark in District 17-5A.
In perhaps the best matchup in Class 4A’s Division I bracket, defending regional champ Dawson (6-4) meets 7-3 Angleton as they battle for the right to take on either Houston Austin (8-2) or Houston Worthing (4-6) in the second round. The Eagles overcame an 0-2 start and a spate of injuries to grab a spot out of the rugged District 24-4A. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Dawson coach Eric Wells retooled behind a defense that allowed only Friendswood to score more than 20 points in league play.
The Wildcats have been erratic at times, but as long as coach Finis Vanover has QB Quandre Diggs (Texas commit) with the ball in his hands, Angleton will be a threat to make a deep run, especially with the emergence of junior RB Ryan Jackson (1,315 yards, 12 touchdowns) to provide a complement.
La Marque makes their first postseason trip in three years, but the Cougars (6-3) must stop a 9-0 El Campo team that has yet to defeat them in the playoffs. The Ricebirds are 0-4 against La Marque entering this Division II matchup, but coach Bob Gillis’ backfield duo of Devin Parks and D’Vonte Wells (2,136 yards, 29 touchdowns combined) could cause fits against a La Marque defense that struggled against the run for much of the season.
Cougars coach Darrell Jordan is hoping last week’s bye is the breather RB Tim Wright and his 1,630 yards needed. The explosive junior has been slowed down with injuries of late, putting the onus on junior QB Emmanuel Williams. Whoever wins will take on the winner of Houston Yates and Houston Kashmere, with a possible date against either Brenham or Dayton awaiting them in the regional quarterfinals.