Following a wild weekend in which several of the area’s top teams (Brenham, Clear Springs, Angleton, El Campo) met premature endings, the area round goes into full tilt.
No Region III bracket has as much uncertainty than 4A, Division II. With Brenham falling in a shocking 29-24 upset to Kingwood Park, the chase for the title has become wide open as each of the remaining eight teams can make valid claims as to why they can be the last team standing.
Dayton (8-3) becomes the early favorite, as the Broncos have ripped off eight straight wins despite a rash of injuries. Coach Jerry Stewart’s squad, however, much avoid the same fate as Brenham when they take upstart Kingwood Park (8-3) on Saturday afternoon.
The Broncos survived a 28-24 challenge from Livingston in the bi-district round when Armando Reyes’ 21-yard TD reception from Andres Herrera with :08 left allowed them to move closer to a third regional title in four years. In order to advance, they’ll have to do a better job of holding on to the ball than Brenham, which committed four turnovers to Kingwood Park despite allowing just 138 total yards.
The door may have swung open for resurgent La Marque (7-3), which plays Yates (9-2) on Saturday. A 28-21 win over El Campo was the first postseason victory since 2007 for the Cougars, who should have RB Timothy Wright (172 total yards, two touchdowns last week) near 100 percent. For the Lions, the game presents a chance to make amends for the previous meeting between the longtime gridiron powers; Yates fell 46-0 to La Marque in the regional semifinals in 2006 as the Coogs went on to their fifth state title.
LM will have to contain Lions RB Tadarius Limbrick, who punished Kashmere for 230 yards and a score on just 15 carries in a 35-14 win last week. The junior has emerged as an underrated performer in a season where the region has been loaded with quality runners
Along with La Marque, District 24-4A could have all four its teams intact for a second week, as Friendswood (vs. Wheatley on Friday night), Dawson (vs. Worthing on Friday night) and Manvel (vs. Washington on Friday night) are considered huge favorites in their area round matchups
The spotlight game in 5A comes on Friday, when Fort Bend Hightower (9-2) meets North Shore (10-1) at Pasadena Memorial Stadium. The Hurricanes advanced after outlasting Clear Springs in a 41-35 overtime thriller as QB Bralon Addison totaled 253 yards and accounted for three touchdowns while also blocking the potential game-winning field goal.
North Shore outgained Deer Park by a 376-140 margin, but had to hold off a potential rally in order to finish off a 17-10 win over the Deer. The Mustangs’ top-tier defense could have their hands full with the playmaking skills of Addison, but coach David Aymond also has a dual-threat under center with Keenon Gibson, who seeks to rebound after being held to just 51 yards on the ground last week.
Cy-Fair’s seven-game win streak will face its biggest challenge as the 9-2 Bobcats face defending state champion Katy (11-0). Cy-Fair RB John Jacob led the way in last week’s 24-14 win over Elsik, carrying 24 times for 109 yards and a score. However, the Bobcats were out gained, 376-229, and production like that won’t cut it against a Tigers team that shook off a slow start en route to a 41-6 win over Bellaire.
RBs Donovonn Young and Adam Taylor combined for 226 yards and a pair of scores, while QB Brook Haack completed seven passes for 138 yards and two more touchdowns. The Cy-Fair/Katy winner will take on the winner of the North Shore-Hightower game, which could set the stage for one of the state’s biggest third-round clashes.