2017 OLB Baron Browning (Gabe Brooks / SCOUT)

TOC's ETx Regional Semifinals Playoff Picks

The Old Coach's East Texas expert gives his picks and breaks down each of the major games in the third round of the playoffs.

Twitter: @Joeyballgamejh

Carthage (9-2) vs. Henderson (11-1); 6 p.m., Friday; Lobo Stadium, Longview

Class 4A Division I Region III Semifinals

This marks the 77th meeting between these “District of Doom’’ rivals overall, and the second of this season. State-ranked Henderson won the first meeting this season 36-28 on Sept. 30. The Lions also lead the all-time series 40-32 and there have been 4 ties. … Carthage is 37-5 in the playoffs under Coach Scott Surratt. In his 10th season as the head coach, Surratt is 5-3 against the Lions. ... The Bulldogs are averaging 35.6 points and 380.8 yards per game. QB Kason Davis is 177 of 297 passing for 2,636 yards and 26 touchdowns with eight interceptions. His leading receivers have been Dee Bowens (47-752), Dewaylon Ingram (45-757) and Roderic Calloway (18-328). The go-to RB has been Keaontay Ingram, one of the premier rushers in East Texas, with 1,527 yards. In the earlier game this season against Henderson, Ingram gained 234 yards of offense (154 rushing) and scored three times. … LB Keaton Hand is the Lions’ leading tackler with 145 (6 TFL). Other top tacklers have been LBs Josh Mapps (126, 6 TLF, 3 SK) and Ty Blanton (120, 12 TFL, 4 SK, 10 PR). Henderson CB Tariq Gray has 24 tackles to go with 2 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR and 1 defensive touchdown. The Henderson defense has 18 takeaways (11 fumble recoveries and 7 interceptions). … The Lions’ offense is averaging 45.6 points and 434.4 yards a game. Henderson has a talented group of playmakers led by a couple of TCU verbal commits RB Lakendrick VanZandt and WR Trestan Ebner. VanZandt has rushed for 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns, and has 13 receptions for 228 yards and two other TDs. Ebner has 49 receptions for 966 yards and 16 touchdowns. QB Trae Hall is 118 of 167 passing for 1,894 yards with 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions. WR Matthew Childers has proven himself to be a capable receiver and complement to Ebner and VanZandt as well with 38 catches for 604 yards and six touchdowns. …  The Carthage defense is led by LB Mykel Gates (111 tackles, 14 TFL, 3 FF, 2 FR, 2 INT, 2 PBU), CB Mekhi Colbert (30 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 9 PBU and 2 FF) and DE Tre Gatlin (77 tackles 16 TFL, 3 SK, 17 QB PR, 2 FF, 1 FR and 4 PBU). … The winner advances to meet the winner of Stafford and Bridge City. 

JOE’S PICK: Henderson by 7

Gilmer (11-1) vs. Jasper (10-2); 6 p.m., Friday; Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, Tyler 

Class 4A, Division II Region II Semifinals

This marks the fifth time these two schools have played each other and the third time at CTMF Rose Stadium. Gilmer won its 2004 state championship, defeating Jasper 49-47 in a game played at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. The Buckeyes have won all four previous meetings against the Bulldogs. … State-ranked Gilmer stretched its current win streak to eight in a row with a victory a week ago in the Area playoffs.  Jasper, this week’s opponent in the regional semifinals, has won seven consecutive games, dating back to a 30-22 loss against Sour Lake Hardin-Jefferson on Sept. 30. The Bulldogs advanced to the regional semifinals for the third time in four years by beating Aubrey. Jasper is averaging 29.5 points per game in the playoffs and 34.8 for the season. Leading the way for the Bulldogs are RB Kelian Weathered, QB Leontay Sells and WR Lorenzo Thomas. In the area victory a week ago, Weathered rushed for 226 yards and scored four touchdowns, while Sells added a scoring completion to Thomas, covering 89 yards.  Another RB, who has enjoyed a good season for the 8-4A Division II champions, is Decorian Holmes. … Gilmer’s 596 points scored is the third-most in Class 4A Division II. Gilmer’s offense averages 537.2 ypg.  A 19 of 32 passing performance by Gilmer QB Poppy Brown moved his figures for the season to 290 of 433 for 4,045 and 38 touchdowns. Brown has a complement of talented receivers led by early Oklahoma State recruit LaMarcus Morton. Morton has 54 catches for 1,057 yards and 11 touchdowns. Five other Buckeye receivers have 20 or more catches. Those are RB Red Jones (52-793, 8), RB Quay Heath (42-569, 6), WR Dimitri Fort (30-443, 4), WR Desmond Jones (26-257, 4) and RB Kelton Collier (21-246, 1). Collier is the primary RB with 74 carries for 604 yards and 14 touchdowns. Following his rushing lead are RB Rashaad Ward (72-428, 6) and Kameryn Cuevas (66-440, 6). … Leading the way for the Buckeyes’ Black Flag defense are early Louisiana Tech commit S Kollin Hurt  and LB Jeremy Kelly. Hurt has 111 tackles, 2 TFL and 3 INT, while Kelly has 106 tackles, 14 TFL, 1 FF, 3 FR, 2 INT and 5 Sk.  The unit is allowing an average of 315 yards per game, and has 42 sacks. It has 21 turnovers (10 INT and 11 FR). … The winner advances to meet the winner of the Pleasant Grove and Celina game.                                                                                                                                                                 

JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 14

Texarkana Pleasant Grove vs. Celina; 2 p.m., Friday; Memorial Stadium , Mesquite

Class 4A, Division II Region II Semifinals

Pleasant Grove has won five games in a row, including last week’s victory over Wills Point in the Area playoffs to reach the Division II Region II semifinals, after starting the season 1-6. The Hawks have not won more than six games in a season since 2009. … Meanwhile, Celina has won eight state championships and played in 11 title games, including last year’s loss to West Orange-Stark. … PG is averaging 25.8 points and 287.3 yards per contest. The primary go-to players offensively for the Hawks have been RB Logan Wesley and QB T.J. Cole. Wesley has rushed for 844 yards and 12 touchdowns, and has 9 receptions for 114 yards and another score. Cole is 34 of 93 passing for 568 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He has rushed for 427 yards and eight other TDs. RBs Keshawn Jones and Josh Roberts, along with WR Xavier Benson, have also been key players in the team’s success. Jones and Roberts complement Wesley with more than 1,000 combined yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. Benson (6-3, 200) has nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. … Celina’s defense is anchored by LB Hayden Shortes. … The Bobcats are averaging 49.9 points and 407.9 yards per game. Celina is led offensively by QB Conner Pingleton and RB John Franklin. Pingleton is 62 of 137 passing the football for 1,323 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has suffered 11 interceptions, but has also run for 301 yards and four more scores. Franklin has accounted for almost 2,000 yards of offense, rushing for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also has 30 receptions for 602 yards and eight touchdowns. … Defensively, Benson is a key player as a LB for Pleasant Grove with 89 tackles, 5 TFL to go along with 3 SK, 4 FF and 3 FR. Other defensive leaders have been S Chauncey Martin (70 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR) and LB Bobby Cooks (61 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 SK, 1 FR). … Gladewater is the lone common opponent. Pleasant Grove defeated the Bears 40-23, while Celina won last week’s Area game 44-41. … The winner advances to meet the winner of the Gilmer-Jasper game.  

JOE’S PICK: Celina by 7

Paris (9-3) vs. Van (11-1); 1 p.m., Friday; Eagle Stadium, Allen

Class 4A, Division I Region II Semifinals

This is a rematch of the 2014 bi-district game in which Paris won 30-20. This will be Van’s first third-round playoff game since the 2008 season. Both of these teams won their respective districts. This also marks Van’s first-ever game at Allen’s Eagle Stadium. … The Wildcats are led by QB Ja’Kerian Brown and WR Jalon Pipkins along with defensive playmakers LBs Tyrel McCallister, Dre McKinney and Michael Goodwin. … Van QB Garrett Moseley has thrown for more than 2,114 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. He is also the team’s leading  rusher with more than 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns, proving himself to be a very capable leader. His favorite receiver Isaiah Allred surpassed the 1,000 receiving yards plateau for the season in last week’s win. … S Cooper Bledsoe anchors the Vandal’s defense with more than 80 tackles and eight interceptions. Other Van players to watch will be LB Sam Reeves and OL Caleb Young. … The winner advances to meet the winner of the Kennedale-Midlothian Heritage contest next week in a Division I Region II Finals. 

JOE’S PICK: Van by 10

4A Division I

Region II

Kennedale vs. Midlothian Heritage

Region III

Houston Stafford vs. Bridge City


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