By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Four Ellis County programs won area championships in the second round of the Texas high school football playoffs. The week started with seven schools.
Regional quarterfinal details are still pending at this time.
Stats, quotes and links to photo galleries will be added throughout the weekend. Tune in to “The Press Box” on KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM at 6 p.m. Monday for additional insight and interviews with local coaches and players.
(10-2) Rockwall 25, (10-2) WAXAHACHIE 31— FINAL
Anxiety crept in late, but the Waxahachie Indian defense continued to prove its worth in a thrilling 31-25 6A Region II area championship victory against Rockwall on Friday at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
Waxahachie led 31-18 with 6:40 to play in the fourth quarter and even benefitted from a Calvin Simpson-Hunt interception a little later. But the Yellowjackets refused to buzz off.
Rockwall quarterback Lake Bennett scored from 3 yards out with 2:35 to play to cut the Indian lead to 31-25. Beck Sullivan recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt and the Indian faithful exhaled.
Rockwall outgained the Tribe 469 total yards to 337. The Indians, however, made the most of their game-high 243 rushing yards and saw their defense force four turnovers.
Jayden Becks (8-95) and quarterback Roderick Hartsfield (11-54) each rushed for a touchdown. Hartsfield also completed 6-of-his-10 passes for 94 yards and two scores — one each to Keith Abney II (3-53) and Becks (1-22).
Rockwall advanced to the 6A DI area round with a 50-24 victory against Sachse.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Rockwall by 6. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Rockwall by 8, citing the Waxahachie defense needing to force multiple turnovers to pull the upset.
Last Time Out: The Waxahachie defense forced five Temple turnovers to secure the program’s first Class 6A playoff victory.
The Indians led 16-9 by halftime and matched the Wildcats in the second half for the 30-21 6A bi-district championship. Waxahachie had previously fallen to Temple in each of the past two 6A bi-district matchups (2020,’ 21).
Up Next: Waxahachie will face (11-1) Spring Westfield at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hutto.
The Mustangs’ lone loss on the season came against perennial power Galena Park North Shore, 55-25, on Sept. 9. They’ve outscored their opposition 660-195 on the season, albeit in a district that does not even appear in the same book, let alone chapter or page, that the Indians battled through.
This marks the first postseason for Waxahachie to participate in the largest classification in the state.
(6-6) Amarillo 28, (12-0) No. 6 MIDLOTHIAN 56 — FINAL – at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls
Midlothian quarterback Chad Ragle accounted for six total touchdowns to power the Panthers into round three of the Texas high school football playoffs.
After entering halftime clinging to a 20-14 advantage, Midlothian outscored Amarillo 36-14 in the second half for the easy 56-28 win at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls.
Ragle completed 9-of-his-10 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns — both junior Bryant Wesco (6-166). The quarterback also rushed 20 times for a game-high 182 yards and four more touchdowns.
Deago Benson (9-125) and fullback Michael Garber (14-68) also added rushing touchdowns in the win.
The victory gave the Panthers their first 12-0 start in program history.
Midlothian finished unbeaten in the regular season for the first time since 1984. The 10-0 mark in the regular season was the first in program history.
Amarillo advanced to the 5A Division I area round by defeating Parkland 38-20. The Sandies finished third in district play and had a +20 point differential prior to Friday’s loss (Midlothian is now +323).
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Midlothian by 16. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Midlothian by 17.
Last Time Out: Midlothian ran away — literally — from Justin Northwest behind nearly 400 rushing yards in the 5A Division I bi-district championship.
The Panthers carried the football 56 times for 386 yards for a whopping 6.89 yards per carry during the 51-34 win.
Up Next: TBD — Midlothian and Aledo flipped for home-or-home on Saturday in a gas station parking lot in Fort Worth. Head coach Doug Wendel won the toss, affording the Panthers a second playoff home game. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Friday at Midlothian ISD Multipurpose Stadium.
(9-3) RED OAK 0, (6-6) Abilene 35— FINAL at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield
Abilene snuck into the 5A postseason as the fourth seed in District 2-5A, which was won by Tascosa and followed by Abilene Cooper and Amarillo. The Eagles also entered the postseason with just a +4 point differential.
None of that mattered Friday in the area round championship against Red Oak, as Abilene completely dominated the Hawks in all facets, 35-0.
The Eagles outgained the Hawks 495 total yards to 84 and 23 first downs to 4.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Abilene by 3. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Red Oak by 13.
Last Time Out: Red Oak fell behind 21-0 in the first half Friday at home against Denton Ryan. The Hawks then soared back with three second-half touchdowns to force overtime and an eventual upset.
Red Oak picked up, arguably, the most significant win in program history, 29-28, at Billy Goodloe Stadium for a 5A Division I bi-district championship.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Denton Ryan had reached the state quarterfinals or further in seven consecutive seasons prior to Friday’s loss. The Raiders won a state championship in 2020 and finished as state runner-up in 2019.
(9-3) Crandall 37, (11-1) No. 6 MIDLOTHIAN HERITAGE 45 — at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl in Grand Prairie.
Midlothian Heritage defeated Crandall in the 5A Division II area championship, 45-37, behind a furious fourth-quarter comeback.
Heritage entered the fourth quarter trailing 28-19. The Jaguars used a pair of interceptions and three offensive scores to outpace the Pirates 26-9 in the final frame for the 45-37 round two victory.
Tae Jackson returned one of those fourth-quarter interceptions for a 39-yard touchdown with 2:35 to play to essentially seal the win.
Heritage used a balanced offensive attack to outgain Crandall 521 total yards to 491.
Senior quarterback Caden Brown completed 16-of-his-21 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns — one each to Jackson (7-98), Xavier Moten (4-91) and Stetson Sarratt (3-42).
Mason O’Neal rushed for 149 yards on a game-high 26 carries.
Crandall advanced to round two with a 57-14 victory against Princeton. The Pirates finished third in district play after suffering losses to Melissa (50-22) and Lucas Lovejoy (49-35).
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Midlothian Heritage by 11. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Heritage by 10.
Last Time Out: Midlothian Heritage made quick work of Dallas Kimball in the 5A Division II bi-district round, 42-14.
Up Next: Midlothian Heritage will face defending 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff in the regional semifinals. Kickoff between the Jaguars and Golden Bears is slated for 3 p.m. Friday at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield.
(6-6) ENNIS 38, No. 4 (10-2) Melissa 42 — FINAL at Wildcat-Ram Stadium on the campus of Lake Highlands in Dallas.
Ennis rallied with a four-touchdown third quarter but could not find one final stop or score in the fourth in a 42-38 loss to Melissa.
After trailing 21-10 at the half, the Lions returned a pair of Cardinal fumbles and used two offensive touchdowns to take a 38-35 lead in the final quarter.
Melissa scored from 16 yards out with 8:32 to play in the fourth for the 42-38 win. Ennis’ final two drives ended on downs at or beyond midfield.
The Cardinals outgained the Lions 515 total yards to 313 and 23 first downs to 17.
Senior quarterback Jackson Gilkey finished his stellar Ennis career by completing 12-of-his-28 passes for 142 yards. His lone touchdown pass went to sophomore Gracen Harris (4-76).
Jeremy Brown Jr. led the Ennis rushing attack with 18 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Melissa went undefeated in district play, having lost two non-district games to Argyle (37-18) and China Spring (42-41).
The Lions finished third in District 5-5A Division II. They have now won four consecutive games and outscored their opposition 352-286 on the season — which includes 42-2 and 28-10 losses (negative-58) against 6A Waxahachie and 5A DI No. 6 Midlothian in weeks one and two, respectively. Ennis’ three losses since have been by a combined 8 points.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Melissa by 10. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Melissa by 9.
Last Time Out: Senior quarterback Jackson Gilkey and the Ennis Lion offense put on an absolute showcase in the Lions’ 5A Division II bi-district win against Dallas Woodrow Wilson.
Gilkey completed 18-of-his-24 passes for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns in the 55-23 victory. Ennis outgained Woodrow Wilson 607 total yards to 254 and 27 first downs to 14 in the win.
(5-7) FERRIS 21, (9-3) Monahans 35— FINAL at Plowboy Field in Roscoe
Monahans lost its first three games of the season (Shallowater, Andrews and Big Spring) but has now won 8 consecutive games.
The lone common opponent between Ferris and Monahans has been Synder, which both defeated (Ferris 31-21; Monahans 48-21).
Ferris finished second behind state-ranked Glen Rose in District 4-2A Division II.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favors Monahans by 17. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Monahans by 3.
Last Time Out: Nathan Greek connected with fellow senior Tommy Dixson for three touchdowns in Ferris’ 4A Division II bi-district championship win against Snyder.
The victory marked the first playoff win in 22 years for the Ferris Yellowjackets. It also accounted for “the first playoff win of the century” for Ferris, according to Chad Hicks, KBEC Sports.
(2-7, 0-4) LIFE WAXAHACHIE — Eliminated, no postseason berth
(7-5) Callisburg 13, (11-0) No. 8 PALMER 49 — FINAL (Thurs)
Palmer continued its perfect season with a thrashing of Callisburg, 49-13, in a 3A Division II area championship matchup on Thursday.
The win at Birdville ISD Complex marked the first-ever area championship win in program history for the Bulldogs.
Callisburg finished second in District 6-3A DII play, having outscored their opponents 345-289 through the first 11 games. They advanced to round two with a 40-20 victory against Millsay in the 3A DII bi-district round.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favored Palmer by 10. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Palmer by 7.
Last Time Out: No. 8 Palmer shut out Howe in the first half for an easy 39-12 victory in the Bulldogs’ 3A Division II bi-district championship.
The Bulldogs ran out to a 22-0 first-half lead. They ultimately used 328 total rushing yards to outpace Howe.
Up Next: Palmer faces No. 1 (12-0) Gunter at 1 p.m. Friday at Royse City Stadium.