> Picks: Trib staff predictions for week 4 of the playoffs

Midway (13-0) vs. Southlake Carroll (10-3)

Round: Class 6A Div. II regional final

Time/site: 6 p.m. Saturday, McLane Stadium

Players to watch: Midway: Tanner Mordecai, James Fullbright, Trevius Hodges; Southlake Carroll: Will Bowers, Cade Bell, Ryan Thompson

Breakdown: Midway in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012. Behind an offense that averages 508 yards per game, the Panthers gear up to take on Southlake Carroll Saturday evening at McLane Stadium.

“The guys have just been having a lot of fun,” Midway coach Jeff Hulme said. “They don’t look tired even though its Game 14. They’re enthusiastic to be out there, but they’ve still been pretty focused.”

A week ago, Midway lit up McLane Stadium in a 48-17win over Mansfield behind strong defensive play while putting on an offensive display. The Panthers forced three fumbles, including a pair by junior defensive back Trevius Hodges.

“Trevius started out with a bang the first game of the season with an interception,” Hulme said. “He’s gotten better and better since. His tackling has gotten better. He’s an enforcer from the safety position. When you’ve got somebody like that who makes plays, it’s a real benefit.”

Senior quarterback Tanner Mordecai continued to slice up opposing defenses as he finished with 256 passing yards and 90 rushing yards for a total of six touchdowns through the air and on the ground.

Now the Panthers turn their attention to Southlake Carroll. The Dragons are led by quarterback Will Bowers who has 2,217 pass yards and 27 touchdowns along with 131 carries for 828 yards and 7 touchdowns. His top target is Cade Bell who has 47 catches for 764 yards and 3 touchdowns.

On the ground, TJ McDaniel has been the guy for Southlake Carroll with more than 1,800 rush yards on the season. However, he sustained an injury in last week’s game.

“Southlake Carroll is a good team,” Hulme said. “They’re in the quarterfinals for a reason. They don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Temple (10-3) vs. Manvel (12-0)

Round: Class 5A Div. I regional final

Time/site: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Prairie View A&M

Players to watch: Temple QB TJ Rumfield

Breakdown: The Wildcats are facing undefeated Manvel squad directly on the heels of a thrilling last-second win over Port Arthur Memorial last week. Quarterback T.J. Rumfield found Xavier Johnson on a 43-yard scoring strike with only 22 seconds to play to advance Temple to the regional finals.

The Wildcats will need that and more against a Manvel team that can score at an alarming pace.

The Mavericks haven’t been tested thus far in the playoffs, dropping 49, 51 and 56 points on their way to far too easy double-digit wins. Manvel quarterback Kason Martin has thrown for 2,131 yards and 31 touchdowns, while Deneric Prince, Garrison Johnson and Ladarius Owens have combined for nearly 1,800 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns.

A high-scoring affair should be on display this weekend and it could come down to whichever defense can stay off the field the longest.

La Vega (13-0) vs. Liberty Hill (10-2)

Round: Class 4A Div. I quarterfinals

Time/site: 7:30 p.m., Leo Buckley Stadium in Killeen

Players to watch: La Vega: RB John Richards, RB Kemoche Hobbs, QB Jamal Williams; Liberty Hill: RB Kyle Harrison, RB Reid Sanders, RB-LB Hunter Oncken

Key matchup: La Vega running backs vs. Liberty Hill defensive line

Breakdown: This Class 4A Division I quarterfinals matchup proves how powerful District 13-4A was this season.

The Pirates opened district play with a 33-18 road win over Liberty Hill on Oct. 13. La Vega played outstanding defense that night, but coach Willie Williams knows how difficult the Cougars’ slot-T offense can be to get off the field.

“They’re going to grind it out and they’re comfortable getting three yards a pop,” Williams said. “We only had eight first-half plays against them, but defensively we played well and forced some turnovers.”

Leading 12-3 at halftime, the Pirates won comfortably as Kemoche Hobbs ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns and also returned a fumble for a 97-yard touchdown. John Richards added 92 yards and two scores.

Kyle Harrison enjoyed a big night for Liberty Hill as he rushed for 204 yards while Reid Sanders added 79 yards rushing and Hunter Oncken added 70 against the Pirates. In last week’s 33-28 win over China Spring, Harrison and Oncken combined for more than 200 yards rushing.

Teague (11-2) vs. Rockdale (10-3)

Round: Class 3A Div. I regional final

Time/site: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Waco ISD Stadium

Players to watch: Teague: Tayvis Coleman, Zack Satterwhite, Antonio Heard; Rockdale: Torry Locklin, Jaquayln Crawford, Tyler Lehmkuhl

Breakdown: They’re excited in Teague. Donnie Osborn said the community is excited about the Lions advancing to the state quarterfinals. But they all — players, coaches and community included — want to go further. Teague advanced to the state quarterfinals two years ago and to the regional semifinals last year.

“There was a point early in the season that had people questioning how good we would be,” the Teague coach said. “As a team, we knew we had potential. We weren’t living up to our potential out there. We’ve been playing better and better. We’ve won nine in a row. We beat Cameron Yoe, Franklin and Malakoff in the same year. That makes a great year because they’re three of our biggest nemesis.”

Now, Teague is facing its toughest opponent yet in Rockdale. The Tigers are led by quarterback Torry Locklin who has thrown for over 2,100 yards and run for more than 1,700 yards. Add to that dual threat a quick running back in Jaquayln Crawford and a solid tight end in Tyler Lekmkuhl.

“Their quarterback is a phenomenal player,” Osborn said. “He’s a big, athletic kid. They also have a wide receiver who is excellent. He’s committed to play at Oklahoma which tells you how good he is. Then they have a tight end, a big kid who is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. They’ve got three really, really good weapons on offense. Their defense compares as close to ours as anybody that we’ve seen.”

Throughout the playoffs, Teague running back Tayvis Coleman has stepped up his game. He’s right under 2,000 yards for the year currently after racking up 700 yards through the first three rounds of the playoffs.

But while Teague is run first, pass second, the Lions are great at keeping opposing defenses on their toes.

“Our offensive coordinator has done a great job of keeping the defense off balance,” Osborn said. “He’s good at changing it up and hitting people with the pass at the right time and the great time. That’s been a big part of our success. People can’t just load the box and stop the run because the minute they do that, we’ll hit them over the top with a pass. It helps a lot.”

Jonesboro (12-1) vs. Tioga (11-1)

Round: Class 1A Division I State Semifinal

Time/site: 5 p.m. Saturday at Springtown

Players to watch: Jonesboro RB/LB Wyatt Young; Jonesboro RB/DE Andy Sarmiento; Tioga RB/FS Cade Kimbrell; Tioga C/DT Logan Scott

Breakdown: There are always surprises in the postseason, but this much is a given: Jonesboro won’t sound the panic alarm.

The Eagles’ four seniors have played 13 playoff games each in their careers. That kind of experience is invaluable, Jonesboro coach Eddie Gallegos said, and it showed in last week’s 57-50 win over May. In that one, the Eagles fell behind 20-0 in the first half, yet didn’t hang their heads.

“There was never any panic,” Gallegos said. “Maybe I started to panic, but the guys didn’t. There was a little frustration, but they knew that if we just stick to what we know and execute, it would all work out.”

Jonesboro stormed back to score the winning touchdown on an Ethan Lilljedahl run with less than two minutes to play. That has pushed the team to the brink of a second straight trip to AT&T Stadium and a chance to win the program’s first state title.

One goal for the Eagles will be to put the ball in the hands of Wyatt Young as often as possible. The senior running back/linebacker has turned in one of the top seasons in all of six-man football, accounting for 2,992 all-purpose yards and 46 touchdowns, plus 160 tackles on defense.

“Wyatt, he’s just a gamer,” Gallegos said. “He’s probably one of the hardest-working, most selfless kids we’ve had come through our program. He and the Sarmiento brothers (Andy and Alex) have played a lot of downs for us.”

Gallegos said that Jonesboro hasn’t played Tioga in the past, but figures the main key to the game, like most in the playoffs, will hinge on the turnover battle. The Eagles have been solid in that department all season, throwing just three interceptions and losing seven fumbles in 13 games while producing 34 takeaways.

Live Oak (7-6) vs. Bulverde Bracken Christian (10-3)

Round: TAPPS Six-Man Division II state final

When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday at Midway

Players to watch: Live Oak QB Matthew Bailey; Live Oak RB Chase Hill; Bracken QB Travis Wolf; Bracken RB Presley Day

Breakdown: Live Oak coach Jordan Barker knows that for his team to have a chance at the program’s fourth state title over the past seven years, the right team has to show up.

“If we revert back to the Live Oak that was 1-6, we could be in trouble,” Barker said. “But if we show up as the Live Oak team that came out the past six weeks, we’ve got a shot. I know our seniors will work hard.”

Bracken Christian boasts a multi-pronged attack, led by quarterback Travis Wolf, who has thrown for 27 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. The Warriors also run the ball effectively behind the duo of Presley Day (1,567 yards, 29 TDs) and Hunter Stirm (1,170 yards, 19 TDs).

Live Oak quarterback Matthew Bailey has passed with precision in the playoffs. He fired six touchdown tosses in last week’s state semifinal win over Plainview Christian.

And of course the Falcons always want to get the ball to Chase Hill as much as possible. The senior all-purpose back has accounted for more than 60 touchdowns this year – passing, rushing and receiving.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever played with,” Live Oak senior Cole Jahrmarkt said. “He’s been the best player for the past two years in six-man. It’s awesome to not have to play against him, to not have to tackle the best guy in six-man.”

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