No. 3 La Vega (9-1) vs. Lake Worth (5-5)
Radio: 6:45 p.m., 94.5 FM, centexbeat.com
Round: Class 4A Div. I bi-district
Time/site: 7 p.m. Thursday at Joshua
Breakdown: La Vega has high standards. Winning regular-season games and district titles are nice, but the Pirates are ready to turn it up for the playoffs.
“Championship teams do what championship teams do — they go out and win,” La Vega coach Don Hyde said, following the Pirates’ 59-0 Week 11 blowout of Gatesville last week.
La Vega seems to have all the makings of another championship-caliber club. Defensively, the Pirates make you work for every inch. LaTravius Johnson (112 tackles, 3 sacks), DeMarrquese Hayes (83 tackles, 2 recoveries) and Jordan Rogers (83 tackles, 2 recoveries) are among the many La Vega defenders who will bring the wood.
Meanwhile, while they’re pounding on you on that side of the ball, the Pirates are fully capable of stretching out to a big lead behind a physical offensive line that opens holes for playmakers like Elisha Cummings and Landry Kinne.
Lake Worth will try to put the ball in the hands of its best player, receiver Kam Kimble, as often as possible. Kimble has 56 grabs for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season.
If the Pirates win, they’ll get either Ranchview or tradition-rich Celina in the area playoff round.
No. 2 Connally (10-0) vs. Canton (2-8)
Radio: 7 p.m., 99.3 FM, 104.9 FM (online stream)
Round: Class 4A Div. II bi-district
Time/site: 7 p.m. Thursday at Corsicana
Breakdown: On the heels of their first unbeaten regular season in 29 years, the Cadets hope their march is just getting started.
Connally went two rounds deep last year before falling to Pleasant Grove (which is ranked No. 1 in 2019 to Connally’s No. 2). But this Cadet squad looks to be built to last.
That’s partially due to the maturation of Kavian Gaither at quarterback. He’s one of the top dual-threat dynamos in the state, with 727 passing yards and another 1,278 rushing through Connally’s first 10 games. Plus, the ever-present threat of Jay’Veon Sunday (1,773 yards, 27 TDs) at tailback opens up additional creases for Gaither to work.
Canton figures to be little more than a speed bump for Connally. The Eagles dropped their final three regular-season games, including a 57-36 loss to Bullard last week.
Should Connally move on as expected, it would face either Caddo Mills or Spring Hill in the area playoffs next week.
No. 6 Troy (9-1) vs. Teague (4-6)
Radio: Web broadcast at schoolboysports.com
Round: Class 3A Division I bi-district
Time/site: 7:30 p.m. at Waco ISD Stadium
Breakdown: Troy has put together as impressive a season so far as anybody in its classification and division. Now the Trojans get a chance to back that up in the postseason.
RB Zach Hrbacek has rushed for 1,753 yards and 26 touchdowns entering the postseason. Teague coach Donnie Osborn knows it will be a chore to try and stop him.
“They get it to (Hrbacek) on the stretch and zone runs, a lot of different ways,” Osborn said. “They’re really good on the O-line. They’ve got some big ole rascals up there.”
Troy enters the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak, while Teague is on the opposite end of the momentum scale. Osborn said his team “laid an egg” in a 49-20 loss to West last week.
“You don’t anticipate that but sometimes it happens,” Osborn said. “They punched us in the mouth and we didn’t respond and the next thing you know it’s out of hand.”
So can Teague bounce back and make this fourth-seed-versus-district-champ matchup interesting? To do so, the Lions will likely need to counter Troy’s playmakers by getting the ball to WR Drew Satterwhite and RB Nemier Herod early and often.
The winner of this Central Texas matchup advances to play the Crockett versus Anahuac winner.
No. 2 Mart (7-3) vs. Saratoga West Hardin (4-6)
Radio: 6:30 p.m., web broadcast at mixlr.com/remo41869
Round: Class 2A Division II bi-district
Time/site: 7 p.m. in Crockett
Breakdown: When a team has won back-to-back state championships like Mart has done the last two seasons, they start to think long term when planning the playoffs.
Mart coach Kevin Hoffman said he likes playing on Thursday night in the first round because it gets his team familiar with that routine. If the Panthers make it back to the state title game, they’ll play the state final on Thursday, and would likely schedule the state semifinal for a Thursday as well.
But that’s not intended as a slight on first-round opponent West Hardin.
“We can’t overlook anybody,” Hoffman said. “Our message to the players is, ‘Go out and work hard every day in practice. Then, come game time, do what you do. Go out there and play.’”
Hoffman said the Panthers understand that they’re an overwhelming favorite to win this game. Mart defeated West Hardin, 80-0, in this same round a year ago.
If the Panthers cruise by West Hardin again, they will meet the Detroit vs. Tioga winner in the next round.
Crawford (7-3) vs. Bosqueville (5-5)
Round: Class 2A Division II bi-district
Time/Site: 7:30 p.m. at Clifton
Breakdown: Bosqueville coach Clint Zander remembers playing for Riesel against Crawford in the early 1990s, and hasn’t seen much change in the Pirates’ philosophy.
“I played against them in 1992, and they haven’t changed much since then,” Zander said. “They’re going to do what they do and wear on you for four quarters. They will pound you with the running game, throw passes here and there, and try to take over the game late. It’s old school football but it works.”
Bosqueville improved as the season progressed and is confident behind quarterback Luke Bradshaw, who has passed for 1,349 yards and 12 touchdowns and running back Blaine Reynolds, who has rushed for 841 yards and 11 scores.
“We’re relatively healthy and our kids are playing well,” Zander said. “We’ve progressed pretty well and our quarterback has grown into the system and the kids are getting used to it.”
Playoffs Week 1: Trib staff high school football picks
|CLASS 6A DIV. II|
|Tyler Lee (6-4) at Midway (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium||Midway||Midway||Midway|
|Temple (8-2) at Longview (10-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lobo Stadium||Longview||Longview||Longview|
|CLASS 4A DIV. I|
|China Spring (3-7) vs. Kennedale (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Glen Rose|
|La Vega (9-1) vs. Lake Worth (5-5), 7 p.m. Thursday at Joshua||La Vega||La Vega||La Vega|
|CLASS 4A DIV. II||Kennedale||Kennedale||Kennedale|
|Mexia (6-3) vs. Bullard (3-7), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Cedar Hill||Mexia||Mexia||Mexia|
|Fairfield (6-4) vs. Wills Point (6-4), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Athens||Fairfield||Fairfield||Fairfield|
|Connally (10-0) vs. Canton (2-8), 7 p.m. Thursday at Corsicana||Connally||Connally||Connally|
|Hillsboro (4-6) vs. Graham (6-4), 7 p.m. Thursday at Fort Worth Brewer||Graham||Graham||Hillsboro|
|CLASS 3A DIV. I|
|Whitney (9-1) vs. Lago Vista (6-4), 7:30 p.m. Friday at UMHB, Belton||Whitney||Whitney||Whitney|
|Cameron Yoe (9-1) vs. West (4-6), 7:30 p.m. Fri. at Waco ISD Stadium||Yoe||Yoe||Yoe|
|Troy (9-1) vs. Teague (4-6), 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium||Troy||Troy||Troy|
|CLASS 3A DIV. II|
|Clifton (7-3) vs. Edgewood (7-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Waxahachie||Clifton||Clifton||Clifton|
|Hamilton (6-4) vs. Palmer (10-0), 7 p.m. Thursday at Whitney||Palmer||Palmer||Palmer|
|CLASS 2A DIV. I|
|Bruceville-Eddy (9-1) vs. De Leon (3-7), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Whitney||B-Eddy||B-Eddy||B-Eddy|
|Valley Mills (6-4) vs. Italy (7-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at McGregor||Italy||Valley Mills||Italy|
|Crawford (7-3) vs. Bosqueville (5-5), 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Clifton||Crawford||Crawford||Crawford|
|Riesel (4-6) vs. San Saba (10-0), 7 p.m. Thursday at McGregor||San Saba||San Saba||San Saba|
|CLASS 2A DIV. II|
|Dawson (8-2) vs. Evadale (5-4), 7 p.m. Friday at Crockett||Dawson||Dawson||Dawson|
|Mart (7-3) vs. Saratoga West Hardin (4-6), 7 p.m. Thursday at Crockett||Mart||Mart||Mart|
|Wortham (7-3) vs. Lovelady (5-4), 7 p.m. Thursday at Centerville||Wortham||Lovelady||Wortham|
|Frost (4-6) vs. Grapeland (8-2), 7 p.m. Thursday at Groesbeck||Grapeland||Grapeland||Grapeland|
|Bremond (9-1) vs. Louise (1-9), 7 p.m. Thursday at Brenham||Bremond||Bremond||Bremond|
|Chilton (6-4) vs. Burton (6-4), 7 p.m. Thursday at Taylor||Burton||Burton||Chilton|
|TAPPS DIV. III|
|Reicher (4-6) at League City Bay Area Christian (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday||Bay Area||Bay Area||Reicher|
|CLASS 1A DIV. I|
|Aquilla (4-6) vs. Saint Jo (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Scurry-Rosser||Saint Jo||Saint Jo||Saint Jo|
|Blum (8-2) vs. Perrin-Whitt (8-2), 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Aledo JHS||Blum||Blum||Perrin-Whitt|
|Jonesboro (9-1) vs. Leakey (9-1), 7 p.m. Thursday at Brady||Leakey||Leakey||Jonesboro|
|CLASS 1A DIV. II|
|Cranfills Gap (8-2) vs. Morgan (3-7), 7 p.m. Friday at Hico||Gap||Gap||Gap|
|Walnut Springs (3-7) vs. Bynum (6-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Itasca||Bynum||Bynum||Bynum|
|TAPPS DIV. I SIX-MAN|
|Sugar Land Logos Prep (2-7) at Vanguard (6-4), 7 p.m. Friday at Paul Tyson Field||Vanguard||Vanguard||Vanguard|
|TAPPS DIV. II SIX-MAN|
|Live Oak (2-8) at Plano Coram Deo (4-6), 7:30 p.m. Friday||PCD||PCD||PCD|
|Season to date||366-107||364-109||330-143|