Vanguard (8-2) vs. Austin Veritas (8-3)
Round: TAPPS Six-Man Division I Quarterfinals
Time/Site: 6 p.m. Friday at Georgetown East View
Players to watch: Vanguard RB Kaden Herbert; Vanguard DL Jackson Davis; Vanguard DE Andy Cox; Veritas RB Hanan Jones
Breakdown: No need for introductions in this one. Vanguard not only used to share a district with Austin Veritas, but the Vikings still have fresh memories of a 48-0 loss to the Defenders in last year’s TAPPS state semifinals.
“We’ve played them quite regularly,” Vanguard coach Zach Seifert said. “They have several good running backs that can take it all the way, a quarterback who throws well. Defensively, they do some different things that make it tough on you to move the ball.”
Fortunately for Seifert, his team is clicking. The Vikings had no trouble in a 58-6 win over Giddings State School last week.
“I think we played our best overall game. Offensively and defensively, we put it all together,” Seifert said. “And it’s the best time of year to put it together.”
Seifert said that several Viking players who were on the roster last year didn’t play against Veritas due to injuries, and they’re highly motivated for a shot at the Defenders.
Live Oak (5-6) vs. Lubbock All Saints (7-3)
Round: TAPPS Six-Man Division II Quarterfinals
Time/Site: 2 p.m. Saturday at Santa Anna
Players to watch: Live Oak QB Matthew Bailey; Live Oak RB Chase Hill; All Saints RB Luke Stuart
Breakdown: In terms of program development, Live Oak and All Saints are on different sides of the spectrum. Live Oak is in its ninth full year of football and boasts three state championships to its credit, while All Saints is in its first year of six-man football after years of operating as primarily a basketball school athletically.
That basketball ability does help them when the ball is in the air, Live Oak coach Jordan Barker said.
“They like to spread you out, but they’re big,” Barker said. “They’ve got some 6-4 and 6-5 receivers, guys who will stand head and shoulders taller than our guys. When you’re going up against a 5-10 guy, it’s like going up to grab a rebound.”
For the Falcons, the key will be personifying “gritty football players,” Barker said. Live Oak has needed its share of grit this year, as the Falcons uncharacteristically won just once in their first eight games as they tried to overcome several injuries.
They’ve gotten both tougher and healthier in the past few weeks, and seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. In last week’s 72-23 win over Greenville Christian, quarterback Matthew Bailey launched eight touchdown passes.
Methodist Home (8-4) vs. Wylie Prep (9-2)
Round: TCAF Six-Man Division I State Championship
Time/Site: 3 p.m. Friday at Springtown
Players to watch: MCH LB Julio Muero-Delgado; MCH WR Xavier Biggs; Wylie RB Aaron Minton; Wylie WR Dylan Boyd
Breakdown: The Bulldogs have three players who played on MCH’s 9-4 team in 2015 that lost in the state final. “So I’m glad those guys are getting a chance to go back, maybe get a little redemption,” MCH coach Matt Rodgers said.
Methodist Home pulled out a captivating 44-40 win over Westlake Academy in the TCAF state semifinals last week. The state final will present a rematch with district foe Wylie Prep, which handed MCH a 66-40 home loss on Oct. 27.
However, the Bulldogs came out of that one feeling like they beat themselves as much as the Patriots did.
“We gave up three onside kicks in a row,” Rodgers said. “We go from up four, and then we don’t touch the ball again until we’re down 20. … We also were missing a few guys with injuries, some of our better athletes, so we think we can play better. We’re certainly familiar with each other.”
MCH does not lack for playmakers, and will look to QB Sir Dautrel Bible Jr., RB Damont’e Walker and WR Xavier Diggs to keep the ball rolling.
Parkview (8-3) vs. Corpus Christi Annapolis (7-2)
Round: TCAL Six-Man Division II State Championship
Time/Site: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Houston Baptist University
Players to watch: Parkview QB Ian Guerrero; Parkview Braeden Arp; Parkview RB Jeremiah Thomas; Annapolis RB Travis Brown
Breakdown: If it’s about putting it together at just the right time, the Pacers are setting the pace.
In Parkview’s 63-13 win over Lockhart Gospel Lighthouse in the TCAL state semis, the Pacers put together one of their most complete performances of the year, said second-year coach Bryce Frazier, a Parkview alum.
“Last Saturday was the best we’ve blocked all year, and we were able to do some things in the running game that we’ve been waiting to come to fruition,” Frazier said. “And defensively we changed up the game plan, too, moved some guys around. We gave up 26 points in district when we played (Lockhart Gospel), and then we gave up only 13 on Saturday. That’s the best our defense has looked all year.”
If Parkview wants to capture the school’s first state title since winning the second of two 11-man titles in 1996, the defense can’t give up any creases to an Annapolis Christian team that doesn’t try to fool anyone with what it likes to do.
“They’re a ground-and-pound team. They keep it tight under center, and do some different things, try to overload you. They’re very physical,” Frazier said. “So we’re going to have to disrupt the running game, try to make them throw.”
Parkview, on the flip side, loves to air it out, as quarterback Ian Guerrero and receiver Braeden Arp rank among the most prolific six-man pass-catch combination in the country this year, having hooked up for more than 20 touchdowns in 11 games.