Stafford (10-3) vs. Carthage (10-2); 7:30 p.m., Friday; Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
Class 4A Division I Region III Finals (State Quarterfinals)
This marks the second year in a row Stafford and Carthage have met in the playoffs and only the second time the schools have ever met. The Bulldogs have won seven in a row since back-to-back district losses to Henderson and Kilgore (Sept. 30 and Oct. 7) during the regular season. Coach Scott Surratt is in his 10th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs and Carthage is 38-5 in the playoffs with four state championships. … Two of Stafford’s three losses (Port Lavaca, Bellville) were by forfeit; the other was against El Campo. The Spartans have averaged 41.5 points per game with an offense which has been balanced, gaining 2,157 yards passing and 2,735 yards rushing. Stafford’s jr. QB Walter White is 119 of 213 passing for 2,010 yards with 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His favorite receivers are Texas A&M commit Hezekiah Jones, a WR, and RB/SB James Brown. Jones leads with 34 receptions for 641 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Brown has 26 catches for 394 yards and seven TDs. … Brown is not only the leading rusher with 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns, but follows Jones in the number of catches with 26. RB Cameron Montgomery and White follow Brown’s lead in rushing yards with Montgomery gaining 765 and scoring seven touchdowns, and White adding 587 and 11, respectively. … The Carthage defense, led by LB Mykel Gates, CB Mekhi Colbert and DE Tre Gatlin, is allowing an average of 308.6 yards per game ( 181.0 rushing and 112.5 passing). Gates has 125 tackles to go with 15 TFL, 3 CF, 2 FR and 2 INT. Colbert has 35 tackles, 2 TFL, 10 PBU, 2 CF and 2 INT, while Gatlin has 82 tackles, 13 TFL, 18 pressures, 4 PBU, 2 CF, 1 FR and 3 Sk. The defense has 28 turnovers. … Offensively, the Bulldogs have gained 2,100 yards rushing and 2,899 through the air. QB Kason Davis is 190 of 317 passing for 2,782 yards and 28 touchdowns. His favorite receivers have been WRs Dee Bowens (50-776) and Dewaylon Ingram (47-789), and RB Keaontay Ingram (34-391). … Keaontay enjoyed a career night on a number of levels in the win over Henderson (carries, yards per game rushing, rushing TDs) with 35 for 259 and four. He is the leading rusher for the ’Dawgs with 1,786 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in 11 of Carthage’s 12 games. … The Spartans defense is anchored by FS Jalen Pitre, CB David Allison and MLB Noah Nelson. Pitre has 83 tackles, Allison 77 and Nelson 71. DT Joseph Mayfield leads in TFL with 11 and shares the team-lead in number of sacks with DE Kameron Hill. Both have five. Pitre leads in interceptions with six and shares the lead in fumble recoveries (four) with Allison. … The winner faces either Waco La Vega or China Spring in the Division I state semifinals next week.
JOE’S PICK: Carthage by 7
Division I Region IV
Waco La Vega vs. China Spring
Kennedale (10-3) vs. Van (12-1); 7:30 p.m. Friday; Ford Center at The Star, Frisco
Class 4A Division I Region II Finals (State Quarterfinals)
This is a matchup of two teams that have already won 10 or more games this season. Kennedale has won eight in a row and Van three since its 19-14 loss to Terrell. … Van QB Garrett Moseley flexed his muscles in last week’s regional semifinal victory to ensure a Division I Finals (state quarterfinals) appearance against Kennedale. The Vandals dual-threat QB threw for 228 yards and rushed for 201 of Van’s almost 600 yards of total offense. For the season, Moseley is 158 of 251 passing for 2,565 yards and 38 touchdowns with only four picks. He has run for 1,674 and 20 other TDs. His favorite targets have been a couple of seniors, Isaiah Allred and Connor Houston. Allred has 59 catches for 1,124 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Houston follows with 56 receptions for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. Cooper Bledsoe enjoyed a big day as well, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown and was on the receiving end of two Moseley completions for 11 yards. The Vandals are averaging 44 points per game and allowing just 14.7. … The Wildcats’ defense is anchored by Division I FBS recruit LB Baron Browning (6-4, 230), who has 71 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 Sk and 4 FF. … Kennedale has outscored three playoff opponents (Wilmer-Hutchins, Terrell and Midlothian Heritage) 127 to 54. The Wildcats’ offense is based around the run-oriented Wing-T. QB Evan Jowers, a soph., is 23 of 52 passing for 331 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception. As a runner, Jowers has 617 yards and nine touchdowns. Soph. RB De’shaun Kirven and junior Jaden Knowles have combined to account for more than 3,000 yards and 33 touchdowns rushing. Kirven has 1,745 yards and 22 scores, while Knowles follows with 1,395 and 11, respectively. … The winner faces either Abilene Wylie or Levelland next week in the Division I state semifinals.
JOE’S PICK: Van by 3
Division I Region I
Levelland vs. Abilene Wylie
Celina (11-2) vs. Gilmer (12-1); 7:30 p.m. Friday; Memorial Stadium, Mesquite
Class 4A Division II Region II Finals (State Quarterfinals)
Celina snapped Gilmer’s 30-game win streak 49-44 in the Division II Region II finals (state quarterfinals) last year at Mesquite Memorial Stadium. The teams have split their last two meetings. The Buckeyes defeated the Bobcats 67-14 in the 2014 state semifinals. … The Bobcats have already eliminated two of Gilmer’s brethren from 7-4A Division II (Gladewater in Area and Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the Regional Semifinals). … Celina won its regional semifinal last week without its leading rusher RB John Franklin, who was injured in the fourth quarter and did not return. Franklin has 1,398 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns to go with 609 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. RB Ismael Ortiz follows with 720 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns to go with 231 receiving yards and three scores. Christian Rivas follows Franklin in receiving yards with 400 and four touchdowns. QB Connor Pingleton has thrown for 1,415 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 318 and four, respectively. …The Buckeye defense is anchored by LBs Jeremy Kelly and Myles Chumley, and Louisiana Tech verbal commit S Kollin Hurt. Kelly has 90 tackles, 14 TFL, 1 FF, 4 FR, 2 INT and 5 Sk. Chumley has 77 tackles, 17 TFL, while Hurt has 71 stops, 2 TFL and 3 INT. Kelton Collier leads the Black Flag unit in sacks with nine to go with 13 TFL. The Buckeye defense has 22 takeaways (10 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries) and 42 sacks. … Gilmer has almost 7,000 yards of total offense (4,377 passing and 2,617 rushing). QB Aaron ’Poppy’ Brown is 312 of 463 passing for 4,314 yards with 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His favorite receivers are Oklahoma State verbal commit WR LaMarcus Morton, RBs Red Jones and Qua Heath. Morton has 59 receptions for 1,118 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jones follows with 54 catches for 816 yards and nine scores, while Heath is next with 48 receptions for 641 yards and seven touchdowns. Kelton Collier, coming off a 195-yard rushing performance last week against Jasper, is the Bux leading rusher with 799 yards on 91 carries with 15 touchdowns. … The winner faces either Seminole or Sweetwater next week in the Division II state semifinals.
JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 7
Division II Region I
Seminole vs. Sweetwater
Division II Region III
Giddings vs. West Orange-Stark
Division II Region IV
Geronimo Navarro vs. Cuero