By Travis M. Smith | KBEC Sports
Seven Ellis County programs triumphed in the bi-district round of the Texas high school football playoffs this past week. Scroll below to see predictions for the area round, recaps from the first week of the postseason and background on each of the seven opposing teams in round two.
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.
(10-1) Rockwall, (9-2, 5-2) WAXAHACHIE — 7:30 p.m. Friday at Globe Life Field in Arlington
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).
The backfield tandem of Jayden Becks (18-89) and Iverson Young (11-86, TD) paced the Indian rushing attack that finished with 228 rushing yards (5.1 YPC).
Temple quarterback Reese Rumfield (14-34, 188yds) was picked off three times by the Indian defense.
Up Next: Rockwall advanced to the 6A DI area round with a 50-24 victory against Sachse. The Yellowjackets’ lone loss to date on the season came in non-district play against Prosper (19-11). The lone common opponent between Rockwall and Waxahachie was Cedar Hill (both won – Waxahachie 51-21, Rockwall 34-12).
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favors Rockwall by 6. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Rockwall by 8, citing the Waxahachie defense needing to force multiple turnovers to pull the upset.
This marks the first postseason for Waxahachie to participate in the largest classification in the state. The Indians’ 30-21 road victory against Temple this past Friday marked the first 6A postseason win for the program. It also avenged the two previous (and consecutive) playoff losses against Temple — all three were played in Temple.
(6-5) Amarillo, (11-0) No. 6 MIDLOTHIAN — at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls
Midlothian ran away — literally — from Justin Northwest behind nearly 400 rushing yards in the 5A Division I bi-district championship this past Friday.
The Panthers carried the football 56 times for 386 yards for a whopping 6.89 yards per carry during the 51-34 win. The score is certainly closer than the game played out, as Midlothian took a 39-13 lead into the half and led 51-20 after three quarters.
De’ago Benson led the way for the Panthers with 16 carries for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Chad Ragle added 15 rushes for 150 yards and two scores. He also completed 3-of-his-5 passes for 25 yards.
Neither team committed a turnover and the Panthers were flagged just three times for 25 yards.
Up Next: Amarillo advanced to the 5A Division I area round by defeating Parkland 38-20. The Sandies finished third in district play and have a +20 point differential (Midlothian is +295).
The Panthers finished unbeaten in the regular season for the first time since 1984. Their 10-0 mark in the regular season was the first in program history. Midlothian has never started a season 12-0.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favors Midlothian by 16. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Midlothian by 17.
(9-2) RED OAK, (5-6) Abilene — 7 p.m. Friday at Vernon Newsom Stadium in Mansfield
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.
The Raiders possessed the football first in OT and scored for a 28-21 lead. The touchdown was the first since midway through the second quarter for Ryan.
Red Oak found the end zone on a Jaylon Robinson (9-of-18, 3 TDs) to Warren Roberson touchdown pass. Senior quarterback Robinson took the ensuing snap, rolled to his right, fired across his body and reconnected with Roberson for the game-winning two-point conversion.
Red Oak was ultimately outgained 369 total yards to 262. The Hawk defense did, however, force 3 second-half turnovers.
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.
Up Next: Abilene snuck into the 5A postseason as the fourth seed in District 2-5A (won by Tascosa, followed by Abilene Cooper and Amarillo) and with just a +4 point differential.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favors Abilene by 3. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Red Oak by 13.
(9-2) Crandall, (10-1) No. 6 MIDLOTHIAN HERITAGE — at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl in Grand Prairie.
Midlothian Heritage made quick work of Dallas Kimball in the 5A Division II bi-district round, 42-14.
The Jaguars carried a 35-0 lead into the halftime locker room. Led again by senior quarterback Kaden Brown, Heritage outpaced Kimball 337 yards to 183 and 19 first downs to 8.
Brown completed 13-of-his-16 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Xavier Moten (3-49) caught two of those scores and TJ Pride (4-45) added the third.
Jason Barela (7-28), Tae Jackson (4-25) and Brown (6-9) each scored a rushing touchdown, while Mason O’Neal led the Jaguars with 8 carries for 69 yards.
Up Next: Heritage will face Crandall in the 5A Division II area championship.
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 favors Midlothian Heritage by 11. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Heritage by 10.
(6-5) ENNIS, (9-2) Melissa — at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wildcat-Ram Stadium on the campus of Lake Highlands in Dallas.
Senior quarterback Jackson Gilkey and the Ennis Lion offense put on an absolute showcase in Friday’s 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.
Sophomore wide receiver Gracen Harris had 7 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns, while Ma’Qua Smtih added 21 carries for 137 yards and one rushing touchdown.
Up Next: 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 favors Melissa by 10. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Melissa by 9.
(5-6) FERRIS, (8-3) Monahans — 7 p.m. Friday at Plowboy Field in Roscoe
Nathan Greek connected with fellow senior Tommy Dixson for three touchdowns in Friday’s 4A Division II bi-district championship win against Snyder.
Greek, a senior, finished the game 23-of-28 for 237 yards and three touchdowns. He has now thrown for 3,610 yards and 39 touchdowns to 8 interceptions on 279-of-422 passing (66.1%) on the season.
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.
Up Next: 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.
(2-7, 0-4) LIFE WAXAHACHIE — Eliminated, no postseason berth
(7-4) Callisburg, (10-0) No. 8 PALMER — at 7 p.m. Friday at Birdville ISD Complex
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.
Senior running back Bralen Lopez led the Palmer rushing attack with 13 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman quarterback Eric Cisneros completed 6-of-his-13 passes for 83 yards and three touchdowns — all three to Cisneros (4-55).
Cutter Brown recovered a pair of Howe fumbles and Caden Langthorn intercepted a pass for the Bulldogs.
Up Next: Callisburg finished second in District 6-3A DII play. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents 345-289 on the season. They advanced to round two with a 40-20 victory against Millsay in the 3A DII bi-district round.
The Bulldogs entered the postseason having outscored their opponents 36.3PPG to 10.6PPG, which amounted to just 96 total points allowed through nine games. The Palmer defense allowed a season-high 23 points in a 36-23 Homecoming win against then-state-ranked Rogers.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favors Palmer by 10. DCTF’s Matt Stepp picked Palmer by 7.
Some History: For a little history, head coach Don Waddle and the Bulldogs are 38-7 overall and 23-1 in district play since 2019. Their last district loss, 29-28, came against Rice — with multiple Palmer starters out — on Sept. 25, 2020.
The Bulldogs’ past four seasons are as follows:
• 2022: 10-0 (5-0 District)
• 2021: 8-4 (6-0 District)
• 2020: 9-2 (5-1 District)
• 2019: 12-1 (7-0 District)
MAYPEARL — Eliminated, no postseason berth
ITALY — Eliminated, no postseason berth
(3-1, 5-3) MILFORD — Eliminated by Abbott 56-10 in bi-district
Milford fell to Abbott in mercy-rule fashion in the Class 1A Division I bi-district championship, 56-10. The Bulldogs had secured one of two District 11-1A Division I playoff berths to reach the postseason.