2nd Round Game by Game Breakdowns

Leman Saunders

Six-man expert
An In-Depth Look at Every 2nd Round Playoff Game

I wanted to do this last week but time constraints and travel made it impossible to do. This is my attempt to try to aid those people who may be traveling to games and maybe seeing teams for the first time. This isn’t super in-depth, but I do try to highlight a few key players, the style of offenses ran and some team strengths and weaknesses…and pick who I think will win and highlight why that is. Admittedly I may not know absolutely everything about every team, and time and space does not allow for complete emersion into every single team and game…but do feel free to tell me how wrong I am by posting YOUR thoughts below!

PS: While this round is sometimes still referred to as the “Regional” round and is even labeled as such by the UIL, it is also commonly called the “Area” round as the real regional championship is technically the quarter-final round of the playoffs (3rd round of games).

Region 1:

Happy Cowboys v Ropes Eagles – Saturday, Nov. 25th 5pm @ Lockney
Happy has a slightly more balanced offensive attack while Ropes favors the pass more. The Eagles passing attack is led by Kaiston Terry who will be playing college ball next season at Concordia University. The Cowboy’s defense has given up some passing yardage this season and likely will in this game, However, McCarley and crew are too much to handle and their PAT kicking game is stellar which is huge in the playoffs.

Knox City Greyhounds v McLean Tigers – Saturday, Nov. 25th 6pm @ Chillicothe

This should be a good matchup. Knox City’s spreadback, Abraham Nevarez is very good and he has two great targets that seem to catch anything thrown their way in Brady Hawkins and Wesson Ham. McLean turned it on last week in the second half against Nazareth behind the herculean rushing effort of Ben Crockett, who might just be the best under the radar player in six-man. I think McLean’s grind it out style and tough defense proves too much for the Greyhounds who will seem rushed at times creating turnover opportunities for the Tigers. McLean wins a tight one.

Region 2:

Borden County Coyotes v Buena Vista Longhorns – Friday, Nov. 25th 6pm @ Rankin
The best defense in all of six-man belongs to the Borden County Coyotes. Buena Vista is known for their passing game which this year is led by Genaro Martinez, and one of his favorite targets is DJ Whaley. The Longhorns have done a great job this season at flying under the radar, but I just don’t see BV making it a very competitive game against BC this year…even though this matchup last season was arguably the greatest game of the season with Borden County winning 40-32 in overtime. Nick Proulx and Payton Merket handle a large chunk of the BC rushing duties with Trace Richey and Easton Edwards being considerable offensive weapons as well. Defensively Trace Richey, Ryan Willborn, Morgan Wilson, JW Nix and Ben Justice are major keys to why the Coyote defense is so good. Borden County wins this one in a less dramatic fashion this year.

Rankin Red Devils v Garden City Bearkats – Saturday, Nov. 25th 2pm @ Wink
This is a rematch of a week 5 game in which Garden City won 50-0. I think without question Rankin has improved in the seven weeks that have followed…but so has Garden City. The Bearkats do an excellent job of spreading the ball around and mixing up the running game (with backs Josue Gutierrez, JD Rodriguez and Amando Alegria) while setting up the passing game (QB'd by Trent McMillan). Some Rankin players to keep an eye on are RBs Kamren Shelton and Calen Fouts and their QB Titan Quigg had a solid game against GC the first time around. I think Garden City has too many options and a very good defense and special teams. All of this makes thing difficult for Rankin. This game might be a little closer than the first meeting, but I don’t think the outcome will be any different.

Region 3:

Zephyr Bulldogs v May Tigers – Friday, Nov. 24th 7:30pm @ Dublin
An epic game with local flare. May and Zephyr aren’t that far apart and they have played each other every year since 2010. The games between these two schools have fallen into a win two, lose two pattern with Zephyr having won the last two. May seems to have an endless supply of running backs that rotate in and out, Dalton Self, Preston Johnston, Jacob Brown and Daniel Salinas just to name a few, all of which can get the job done on the ground. Their QB Wyatt Mote is one of the most efficient field generals in six-man. On the flip side Zephyr has a great two back system with Nick Moody and Mason Rogers, as well as a great pass and catch tandem in QB Kason King and WR Devin Williams. The edge in this game may very well be the defense of May which is only giving up 10 points a game. A tough game to pick and I am going to go with the team that I think has the best defense and that is May.

Bryson Cowboys v Jonesboro Eagles – Friday, Nov. 24th @ Gorman
On paper this looks like a good matchup as both are highly ranked. Last week Bryson, which has a unique pass attack style offense, won their first playoff game since 2011. Jonesboro has a rich playoff history and are eager to get back to the state title game. The Eagles are led by Wyatt Young who is a great downhill runner and a force to be reckoned with on defense. The Cowboys QB Brayden Houser is one of the top passers in six-man and is great at making his reads and finding the open receivers. I think Jonesboro has to many pieces and too much pedigree and playoff experience for Bryson to contend with. Jonesboro should win this one comfortably but with Bryson putting up some points.

Region 4:

Blum Bobcats v Tioga Bulldogs – Friday, Nov. 24th 6pm @ Azle
Blum won a big game last week against Aquilla and Tioga survived a salty High Island team. I will be honest I don’t know a whole lot about these two teams. I do know Tioga likes to grind the game out on the ground and is very good at clock management. The Bulldogs running game is anchored by Cade Kimbrell and Kaleb Scott and the secret to their success is their offensive line that has size and excellent footwork making them capable of opening up big holes for them. Blum relies on a strong running game as well behind Logan Bellinger. Tioga seems to have a more rounded team that executes extremely well and for that reason I’m going with Tioga in this game.

Union Hill Bulldogs v Coolidge Yellowjackets – Friday, Nov. 24th 7:30pm @ Mineola
This should be an exciting game! Both teams feature young explosive running backs; Union Hill’s Gabe Nelson and Coolidge’s Torrey Hoover, and both have excellent support in their backfield with Colt Mallory for Union Hill and Jordan Brown for Coolidge. I expect this game to be back and forth and be very tight for the first half. Union Hill’s kicking game is excellent behind the leg of Omar Aguillon and those extra points will add up fast if Coolidge can’t keep pace in that department. I see the Bulldogs pulling away late and Gabe Nelson having a huge game as Union Hill advances on. For sure if you are out East this is the game to go to on Friday night!

Region 1:

Follett Panthers v Petersburg Buffaloes – Friday, Nov. 24th 5pm @ White Deer
Follett cruised to a mercy rule victory last week in their bi-district game against Silverton, while Petersburg came out strong beating Amherst by 31 points. The Panthers Christian Barber is the player to watch out for, while Tristan Garza is the main attraction for the Buffalos. Petersburg is a very good team, but Follett seems to be playing at a slightly higher level and if Petersburg plays a perfect game they would still need some help in the turnover department to pull off the upset. Follett seem to always be on a collision course with Valley for the Regional title every year and I think this year is no different. I’m taking Follett.

Whitharral Panthers v Valley Patriots – Friday, Nov. 24th 7pm @ Lockney
Whitharral pulled off the biggest upset of the 1st round last week topping Motley County 70-38. The Panthers are hitting their stride at just the right time. Valley had no trouble with Lefors and will be big favorites going into this game. The question will be if the Panthers can catch lightning in a bottle twice? QB Chris Albus has started to gain confidence and RB Kody Gonzales does an excellent job relieving pressure with the run game. Brock Martin is a do it all for the Panthers, their leading receiver and tackler who can also be a solid run option if need be. Valley’s QB Parker Carson is arguably the best in the region and Dax Allen and Jayton Smith can run and catch with the best in six-man. Everyone loves the underdog story, but I just don’t see lightning striking twice here. Valley advances.

Region 2:

Balmorhea Bears v Blackwell Hornets – Friday, Nov. 24th @ Garden City
A battle of undefeated teams here as Blackwell will look to shock the world as they take on top ranked Balmorhea. The biggest contrast in this game is the fact that Balmorhea has many upper classmen that all play key roles and Blackwell is a relatively young team with underclassmen playing huge roles for the Hornets. This is the best start for Blackwell since 1968 when that team went 11-0 before losing to Marathon in the Regional Championship (2nd round). Incidentally Balmorhea head coach Vance Jones is a Marathon grad who graduated only a few years before that 68 season. He also coached the 1976 Marathon team that knocked the last undefeated Blackwell team out of the playoffs in the quarter-final round in 1976. For the Hornets QB Brandon Brinkman has a good arm and can also scramble and make big gains with his legs. Hunter Clark is one of his main targets and Cameron Coldiron is another play marker. Balmorhea is stacked! Kyle Garcia is their leading rusher, Macro Martinez is their play caller, Marcos Mendoza is their big bruiser back who opens up the holes, gets the hard yardage and is the hard hitter on defense. Danny Vasquez and Josiah Garcia are also big defensive players for the Bears…incidentally all five of these players were 1st team All-State last year and lineman Avery Mendoz was 2nd team! Balmorhea has just too much fire power for this young scrappy Blackwell team, the Bears win and continue their chase for the title trophy.

Jayton Jaybirds v Sands Mustangs – Friday, Nov 24th 3pm @ Hermleigh
An underrated matchup here as Jayton tries their luck once again in the underdog role against Sands. Both teams pulled off big wins last week; Sands blowing out Grandfalls-Royalty 83-41 and Jayton upsetting Highland 54-30. Both teams feature explosive playmakers out of the backfield that six-man football is known for. The Jayton Jaybirds have Tye Scogin, while Sands has Hunter Reese. Defensively Kade Awe for the Jaybirds will play a key role in stopping the Mustangs running game. Sands QB Landon Morrow may be the x-factor in this game. Jayton has the smallest roster of the teams left in the playoffs and that depth may prove to be a problem this week against the speedy Sands. I think this game will be a good one, but think Sands will live to fight another day.

Region 3:

Crowell Wildcats v Strawn Greyhounds – Thursday, Nov. 23th 7pm @ Strawn
This game seems like a great matchup. Both highly ranked, both coached by state title winning coaches and this is a rematch of last year’s 2nd round game which Crowell easily defeated Strawn. This year Strawn, basically the same team, is a year older and Crowell a younger less experienced squad with the loss of several key players to graduation. Add to the mix that this game is being played on Thanksgiving Day in Strawn. The computer has Strawn winning a close game…I just don’t see it…I think the Greyhounds, who have dominated defensively in every game they played this season, wins easily with a great possibility of ending the game early.

Moran Bulldogs v Aspermont Hornets – Friday, Nov. 24th 7pm @ Newcastle
Another question mark kind of game is this one. Moran has played a tough schedule and pulled off what many considered an upset over Panther Creek last week. Aspermont has quietly had a great season, winning a very competitive district and fairly tough non-district schedule. Rowdy Bradley for the Hornets will be the player to watch in this game on both sides of the ball for the Hornets. Blake Riley and Luis Chavez can provide offensive support in the passing game and Karter Morris is another top defender for Aspermont. The fact that Aspermont has played six different playoff teams this year helps them out this late in the year and I’m going to go with the Hornets in this game.

Region 4:

Richland Springs Coyotes v Milford Bulldogs – Friday, Nov. 24th @ Hamilton
THE BIG GAME this week is obviously this one. We all know both sides have been talking about and thinking about this game all season. Milford has struggled against Richland Springs in the Burkhart era. In fact, these two have squared off against each other only seven times with Milford winning the first two meetings in 1994 (playoff game) and 1996. Richland Springs has won the last five with the closest game coming in the regular season back in 2010 which they won 58-56. Last year’s game was just as hyped as this year and the Coyotes easily won that game by 35 points. There seems to be questions around just how healthy the Coyotes are while Milford seems to be at full strength. Taron Smith will be the best player on the field Friday night for the Bulldogs and Hutton Lusty is the do it all hardnosed back and linebacker for the Coyotes. To me Milford has more depth and more explosive play makers on defense and that is why I’m picking the Bulldogs…but like everyone else I wouldn’t be shocked if Richland Springs wins after all they are the 8 time champions.

Oakwood Panthers v Iredell Dragons – Friday, Nov. 24th 6:30pm @ Itasca
Oakwood looks to keep the momentum going after their big win over Calvert last week. Iredell dominated Cherokee last week and will need all hands on deck and all guns firing if they want to beat this fast, athletic Oakwood squad. The Dragons Morgan Whitfield is their offensive playmaker and leading defensive player. For Panthers Ethan Edgemon is your classic six-man duel threat back and Oakwood has several defensive studs looking to make the big play on the defensive side of the ball, namely Key’Undre Davis, Bastion Pickens and Jerimiah Sargent. I believe Oakwood has the perfect mix of talent and momentum and that will carry them to victory Friday night.

Man vs Machine:
As an added bonus I will do something I have done privately for almost 20 years now (wow Granger has been doing this for a long time) and that is look at how the beloved, infamous “Toy” picked point spreads and try to pick out games I think it will be way wrong on. Since there aren’t many games I will just pick three.

Blum a 5-point favorite over Tioga – I will take Tioga and the points
Iredell a 13-point favorite over Oakwood – I will take Oakwood and the points
Strawn a 14-point favorite over Crowell – I will take Strawn to cover and cover big time

Mascot Breakdown:
Of the 32 teams left here is a breakdown of all the mascots remaining:
5 – Bulldogs (Milford, Moran, Tioga, Union Hill, Zephyr)
3 – Panthers (Follett, Oakwood, Whitharral)
2 – Cowboys (Bryson, Happy)
2 – Coyotes (Borden County, Richland Springs)
2 – Eagles (Jonesboro, Ropes)
2 – Greyhounds (Knox City, Strawn)
2 – Hornets (Aspermont, Blackwell)
2 – Tigers (May, McLean)
1 – Bear (Balmorhea)
1 – Bearkat (Garden City)
1 – Bobcat (Blum)
1 – Buffalo (Petersburg)
1 – Dragon (Iredell)
1 – Jaybird (Jayton)
1 – Longhorn (Buena Vista)
1 – Mustang (Sands)
1 – Patriot (Valley)
1 – Red Devil (Rankin)
1 – Wlidcat (Crowell)
1 – Yellowjacket (Coolidge)
Mary’s only closes 2days a year. Thanksgiving day and Christmas Day. How come those are the days I crave a CFS so much. Lol
Well Leman you were more than right on one game. I hoped that Strawn would win, maybe big. But I didn't expect what happened. Based on the rest of the game I believe they could have scored a time or two more if they had pursued it.