2018 OLB Mykel Gates (Gabe Brooks / SCOUT)

4A State Semifinal Playoff Picks

The Old Coach contributor Joe Hale runs down the 4A list to provide some great insight and analysis on this weekend's big state semifinal games...

Twitter: @Joeyballgamejh

Sweetwater (12-1) vs. Gilmer (13-1); 7:30 p.m. Friday;  Baylor’s McLane Stadium, Waco

Class 4A Division II Semifinal

This marks the first meeting between Sweetwater and Gilmer and it comes in the 2016 Division II State Semifinals. This is also the Buckeyes’ first game at Baylor’s McLane Stadium in Waco. This marks Gilmer’s third appearance in the state semifinals in the last three years. The Buckeyes are 1-1 in their two previous semifinal appearances. … If averages are true to form this should be a high-scoring contest. The Mustangs enter the matchup, averaging a hefty 45.5 points per game for the season and 42.5 in four playoff games. They have scored as many as 80 in an 80-38 win over Pecos, and 60 against Big Spring, and as few as 16 in their only loss to Monahans (19-16) on Oct. 28. … The Mustangs have won five in a row since then. … Defensively, Sweetwater is allowing 16 ppg for the season and 15.7 for the playoffs. ... Meanwhile, Gilmer stretched its current win streak to 10, following a 55-37 loss to Carthage on Sept. 17 with last week’s victory. The Buckeyes are averaging 49.2 for the season and 49.5 in the postseason, while allowing 27.2 over the course of the season, but just 18.0 per playoff game. … Sweetwater QB Chris Thompson, a junior, and RB Jacoby Hunt have accounted for almost 5,000 yards (4,838). Thompson is 197 of 292 passing for 2,750 yards and 32 touchdowns. He has the ability to run and has rushed for 973 yards and 20 touchdowns, while Hunt leads all rushers with 1,115 yards and 11 TDs on 171 carries. Thompson’s primary receiver has been Kobe Clark, who has 64 receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns. Following close behind Clark is Jordan McGee with 55 catches for 836 yards and 13 touchdowns. … Gilmer’s defense is allowing an average of 129.6 passing yards and 188.5 rushing yards per game. The Buckeyes have 46 sacks and 24 takeaways (11 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries). S Kollin Hurt, a DI commit to Louisiana Tech, and LB Jeremy Kelly have been the Buckeyes’ leading tacklers. Hurt has 136 tackles, 2 TFL and 3 INT, while Kelly has 126 stops, 14 TFL, 1 FF, 4 FR, 2 INT and 5 Sk. … The Mustangs’ defense has the formidable task of slowing a potent Gilmer offense led by QB Aaron ‘Poppy’ Brown. Brown is coming off a 345-yard passing performance with four touchdowns against Celina a week ago. Brown, who set the school’s single-season record for passing yardage two weeks ago, added to it, completing 15 of 31 attempts against the Bobcats. For the season, Brown, a junior, is 327 of 494 passing for 4,659 yards with 46 touchdowns. He has thrown 10 interceptions, though. His primary receivers have been Oklahoma State verbal commit WR LaMarcus Morton, who has 63 catches for 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns, and WR Red Jones with 56 catches for 837 yards and nine touchdowns.


RB Qua Heath follows with 51 receptions for 697 yards and eight TDs. RB Kelton Collier is the leading rusher with 866 yards and 17 touchdowns. … The Mustangs’ leading   tacklers have been LBs Hunter Mobley with 142 tackles and 15 TFL, and Kiante McCoy with 110 tackles and 9 TFL, and Keenan Cox with 4 Sk and 5 hurries. The Sweetwater defense has 32 takeaways (19 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries). ... The winner faces either West Orange-Stark (14-0) or Geronimo Navarro (14-0) on Friday, Dec. 16 at noon in the Division II Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

JOE’S PICK: Gilmer by 7

Division II Semifinal:

WEST ORANGE-STARK vs. Geronimo Navarro

Carthage (11-2) vs. China Spring (13-1); 4 p.m. Saturday; Ford Center at The Star, Frisco

Class 4A Division I Semifinal

Carthage has won eight in a row since back-to-back district losses to Henderson (Sept. 30) and Kilgore (Oct. 7). Coach Scott Surratt is in his 10th season as the head coach of the Bulldogs, and Carthage is 39-5 in the playoffs with four state championships. … China Spring won the 1978 state championship and finished as the 1979 and 2007 state runners up. Like Carthage, the Cougars have won eight in a row since a 17-10 loss to defending state champion Waco La Vega on Oct. 14. China Spring avenged that loss with a 21-10 victory over La Vega in last week’s Regional Final (state quarterfinal). The win snapped La Vega’s 29-game winning streak. … The Cougars are averaging 40.0 ppg in the playoffs and allowing just 12. For the season those numbers are 45.6 and 14.0. … The Carthage defense should take a bow for last week’s victory over Stafford. Why? The ’Dawgs shut the Spartans out in the second half, enabling the Carthage offense to rally from a 26-14 halftime deficit to secure the victory. To accomplish what the Bulldogs did, recover a couple of fumbles and come away with two interceptions was significant in limiting the Spartans to 316 yards of total offense (32-144 rushing; 9 of 28 for 172 passing). Leading the way were DE Montario Wilson with 13 tackles, MLB Mykel Gates with 11 and LB Jase Dixon with 10 tackles. For the season, Gates leads with 136 tackles. He also has 16 TFL, 3 CF, 2 FR and 2 INT. Dixon is next in line with 133 tackles, 14 TFL, 4 CF, 3 FR, 1 Sk and 2 scores.


Other leaders on the stop unit are Wilson and DE Trey Gatlin. Wilson has 87 tackles, 14 TFL to go along with 11 pressures, 1 CF, 1 FR and 3 Sk, while Gatlin has 88 tackles, 14 TFL, 21 pressures, 3 CF, 1 FR and 3 Sk. ... Scoring points has not been a problem  for China Spring. The Cougars have scored as many as 70 against Troy, and 63 a week earlier against Cameron Yoe. They have scored 50 or more points in two of their four playoff games thus far. … QB Cutter Haigood was a wide receiver last season. He led last week’s win with 133 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. WR Cayden Johnson and RB Keaton Dudik also scored in the game.  Haigood and Dudik have provided the Cougars a potent 1-2 rushing attack. Dudik has rushed for more than 654 yards in four playoff games. TE Tyrick James. OL Tre Harris. … Carthage enters this showdown against China Spring, averaging 32.2 points per game for the season, and 24.2 in the playoffs. Carthage QB Kason Davis was 19 of 39 against Stafford for 200 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, Davis, a senior, is 209 of 355 passing the football for 2,986 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Once again, Keaontay Ingram proved himself invaluable as the go-to back in the Bulldogs’ offense, rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown on a 39-yard run in the third quarter. Ingram also caught nine passes for 84 yards. The Bulldogs’ leading receivers are WRs Dee Bowens (52-796) and Dewaylon Ingram (51-825), along with Keaontay Ingram with 43 receptions for 475 yards. … Ten China Spring opponents have scored two touchdowns or less on the Cougars defense. OLB Kody Fulp is a verbal commit to the University of North Texas. OLB, Traveler Surley, had an interception in last week’s victory over La Vega. LBs Brayden Mathis and Shannon Beaman along with Fulp and Surley make a formidable linebacking crew. Mathis was the Waco Tribune’s SuperCentex Defensive Newcomer of the Year last season as a sophomore with 173 tackles. … The winner faces either Abilene Wylie (11-1) or Kennedale (11-3) on Friday in the Division I Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

JOE’S PICK: Carthage by 4

Division I Semifinal:

ABILENE WYLIE vs. Kennedale                                                                                           

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