Steele's Brown, Memorial Duo Square Off

State semifinals playoffs are upon us and the Houston crew has made it a point to try and make its way throughout the state for some of the top games. For this week, Texas Prep Insider takes a preliminary look at some of the storylines for the week.

The weekend arrives with four area teams vying for a chance to earn a trip to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for a shot to hoist a state championship.

Houston Memorial's (9-5) remarkable run continues when the Mustangs take on Cibolo Steele (12-2). Coach Gary Koch's defense has come through during the postseason, but if Memorial plans on advancing to the state finals, they'll have to contain RB Malcolm Brown, the Texas commit who is regarded as the top back in the nation.

Brown has rushed for 2,334 yards and 26 touchdowns this season, but the Knights have also hurt opponents via the passing of QB Tommy Armstrong, who has a stellar 17-1 touchdown to interception margin. Steele's defense is sparked by the play of DT Marquis Anderson, who will be playing at Oklahoma next fall.

Memorial's two-headed attack of QB Wayne Taylor and RB Justin White (Boomer) has combined for 4,113 yards and 45 touchdowns on the ground while averaging more than eight yards per carry. The Mustangs have also used the passing game to shock defenses focused on the run, as wideout Tony Abiassi averages 19 yards per catch and has scored seven times.

Red-hot La Marque (10-3), which captured its tenth Region III crown (ninth in 4A) opens the action when the Cougars travel to San Antonio's Alamodome to take on Corpus Christi Calallen on Friday night. The game will mark the sixth time the schools have met in the postseason, the first since 1998, when the Cougars topped the Wildcats for a fifth straight season.

La Marque has rode the versatility of QB Emmanuell Williams and a physical offensive line that has helped the Coogs amass more than 500 yards on the ground in the last two weeks. RB Timothy Wright had a 101-yard afternoon in last week's win over Manvel, but coach Darrell Jordan has used a rotation of runners to help take pressure off the talented junior tailback.

DT Antonio Wright has taken his game to another level in the postseason, anchoring a defensive unit that has created 17 turnovers in their last five games. Junior LB Ken Butler has also emerged as a leader, which will have its hands full against a 13-1 Calallen team that has a productive trio in QB Tanner Sparks, RB Buddy Wright and RB Given McClure.

Friendswood (13-1) takes on 12-2 Austin Lake Travis in a rematch of a 2008 state semifinal in which the Cavaliers inflicted a 56-22 defeat on the Mustangs. Coach Steve Van Meter's squad is better prepared to confront a Lake Travis team in search of a fourth straight 4A, Division I title.

Mustangs QB Pete Matezold (Fordham commit) has elevated his game by becoming more of a runner, but the senior surpassed former Friendswood great Jacob Karam (Texas Tech) in the school's record books with 3,543 passing yards this season. RB Jonathan Johnson appears to be healthy, and the defense comes into the game with momentum after blanking Montgomery in the second half of last week's 49-28 regional final victory.

Injuries haven't slowed the Cavs down, as coach Hank Carter's high-scoring attack features a healthy Michael Brewer (Texas Tech commit) under center and a bevy of talented wideouts, including Tanner Gillette, Connor Boyd and Griffin Gilbert.

Fresh off a win over Katy, 5A, Division I regional champ Pearland (14-0) faces the challenge of San Antonio Stevens (11-3) on Saturday afternoon. While the Falcons hold something of a homefield edge at the Alamodome, they will have to brace for the force of Touchdown Club of Houston Offensive Player of the Year Dustin Garrison, the state's leading scorer.

While Garrison's 2,434 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground are the central focus of the Oilers' attack, Tony Heath (Coach of the Year) also has QB Trey Anderson (2,598 yards, 25 touchdowns) and WR Myles Knaipes (45 catches, 950 yards, 10 touchdowns) to help ignite the offense.

Pearland's defense will have to contend with QB Mykkele Thompson (Texas commit), while the Falcons sport a rugged defense anchored by LB Marcus Gayden.

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