Friday night lights shine brightest during the playoffs

SAN ANTONIO – The weather is turning cooler, it's getting dark outside earlier in the day and Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. 

That can mean only one thing in Texas: It's time to kick off the high school football playoffs. 

Called the "third season" by coaches because they follow the preseason or non-district games and district play, the playoffs are a Texas tradition that galvanizes communities in every corner of the state.

The color and pageantry culminate with the state championships, scheduled Dec. 14-17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. 

The playoffs in San Antonio begin with two games Thursday night. 

Churchill plays Cedar Park Vista Ridge in a 6A Division II matchup, and Highlands takes on Rosenberg Terry in a 5A Division I game at Alamo Stadium. Both start at 7.

Region IV Bi-District Playoff Pairings, Area Capsules

(Matchups are listed in order of playoff bracket)

Class 6A / Division I

Madison (4-6) at Austin Lake Travis (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Madison’s last playoff appearance: 2013, lost to Pearland 38-34 in 5A Division I state semifinals
Lake Travis’ last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Katy 34-7 in 6A Division II state final
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Madison lost its last two games to Reagan (31-0) and Johnson (37-7), but made the playoffs on positive points after finishing in a three-way tie with MacArthur and Roosevelt for fourth place in 26-6A. The Mavericks’ reward is a first-round matchup against Lake Travis, which finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Class 6A state poll.
Winner meets: Warren-Smithson Valley winner

Warren (5-5) at Smithson Valley (7-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Warren’s last playoff appearance: 2013, lost to Judson 50-15 in 6A Division I second round
Smithson Valley’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Judson 38-24 in 6A Division I state quarterfinals
Playoff series record: First postseason meeting
The skinny: Smithson Valley, which heads into the playoffs with a six-game winning streak after starting the season 1-2, is a heavy favorite to meet Judson in the state quarterfinals for the second year in a row.

La Joya Juarez-Lincoln (4-6) at Southwest (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Juarez-Lincoln’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Laredo United 63-13 in 6A Division I first round
Southwest’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to O’Connor 24-21 in 6A Division I first round
Playoff series record: First postseason meeting
The skinny: Southwest favored after losing six consecutive first-round round games, the last four to O’Connor. The Dragons haven’t won a postseason game since 2009 when it beat Rio Grande City in the first round.
Winner meets: Edinburg North-Los Fresnos winner

Los Fresnos (6-4) vs. Edinburg North (4-6), 7 p.m., Thursday, Edinburg

Austin Westlake (8-2) vs. Reagan (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Heroes Stadium
Westlake’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Galena Park North Shore 21-14, in overtime, in 6A Division I state final.
Reagan’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Smithson Valley 17-7 in 6A Division I first round
Playoff series record: Tied 1-1
The skinny: Reagan lost in the first round last year after reaching the state quarterfinals in 2014. The Rattlers go into the postseason brimming with confidence after sweeping their district for the fourth in a row, but they will have to raise their game a few levels to get past Westlake, one of the state’s traditional powers.
Winner meets: Judson-O’Connor winner

Judson (8-2) vs. O’Connor (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Farris Stadium
Judson’s last playoff appearance:
2015, lost to Galena Park North Shore 23-17 in 6A Division I state semifinals
O’Connor’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Judson 56-28 in 6A Division I second round
Playoff series record: Judson leads 3-1
The skinny: Judson has eliminated O’Connor in the second round the past two years, but the Panthers may not be as easy to dispatch this season. O’Connor went unbeaten in 28-6A play to win its first district title since 2007 and has looked stronger than the 2012 team that advanced to the state semifinals. But no school has the championship pedigree of Judson, which is coached by David Malesky, a linebacker on the Rockets’ first title team in 1983.

Laredo United (7-3) vs. McAllen Memorial (8-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., McAllen
Winner meets: Edinburg Economedes-Harlingen winner

Edinburg Economedes (7-3) vs. Harlingen (8-2), Thursday, 7 p.m., Harlingen

Class 6A / Division II

Johnson (7-3) at Austin Vandegrift (5-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Johnson’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Clemens 54-51 in 6A Division II first round
Vandegrift’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Cedar Park Vista Ridge 24-17 in 5A Division I state quarterfinals
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: This is a matchup between two schools that are less than 10 years old and opened a year apart. Vandegrift is in the playoffs for the fifth time since its first season in 2009. The Vipers went 12-3 and 11-3 in the 5A ranks in 2014 and 2015, respectively, before moving up to 6A this year. Johnson started the season 3-0 before losing to 28-6A champion, O’Connor. The Jaguars’ two losses in 26-6A play were to runner-up Churchill (17-7) and champ Reagan (7-0). Johnson is making its fifth playoff appearance since opening in 2008.
Winner meets: Brandeis-Steele winner

Brandeis (7-3) vs. Steele (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Lehnhoff Stadium
Brandeis’ last playoff appearance:
2015, lost to Clemens 35-31 in 6A Division II second round
Steele’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Katy 38-0 in 6A Division II state semifinals
Playoff series record: Steele leads 4-0
The skinny: This is another matchup between relatively new schools that established winning traditions quickly. Brandeis is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season since opening in 2008. Steele played a JV schedule when it opened in 2005 and began its current run of 10 playoff seasons in 2007. The Knights won the 5A Division II state title in 2010, and have captured seven consecutive district titles since sharing the crown in 2009. Brandeis has reached the state quarterfinals three times, including 2009, its second season.

McAllen Rowe (7-3) vs. Del Rio (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Del Rio
Winner meets: Weslaco East-Edinburg Vela winner

Weslaco East (6-4) vs. Edinburg Vela (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Edinburg

Cedar Park Vista Ridge (3-7) vs. Churchill (8-2), Thursday, 7 p.m., Heroes Stadium
Vista Ridge’s last playoff appearance:
2015, lost to Richmond George Ranch 42-23 in 5A Division I state semifinals
Churchill’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Judson 40-13 in 6A Division I first round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Churchill has lost four consecutive first-round games, all to Judson, since beating Wagner in its 2011 postseason opener. The Chargers finished runners-up to Reagan in 26-6A this season, winning eight games for only the third time since 2006. Vista Ridge won a total of 20 games in the previous two seasons before dropping off this year.
Winner meets: New Braunfels-Brennan winner

New Braunfels (6-4) vs. Brennan (6-4), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Gustafson Stadium
New Braunfels’ last playoff appearance:
2013, lost to Madison 63-10 in 5A Division I first round
Brennan’s last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Steele 38-7 in 6A Division II second round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Both teams are coming off losses in their regular-season finale. Smithson Valley rolled to a 50-14 win over New Braunfels and O’Connor cruised by Brennan 38-7 in the 28-6A title game. Brennan is just three years removed from its march to the Class 4A Division state final. The 2013 season was the Bears’ last in the UIL’s second-largest classification. The Unicorns are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. N.B.’s 6-4 record this year is its best since a 6-5 finish in 2010.

Laredo United South (8-2) vs. La Joya Palmview (5-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m., La Joya
Winner meets: Edinburg-San Benito winner

Edinburg (7-3) vs. San Benito (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., San Benito

Class 5A / Division I

Austin LBJ (9-1) vs. Alamo Heights (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Orem Stadium, Alamo Heights

LBJ's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Cedar Park Vista Ridge 44-27 in 5A Division I first round
Alamo Heights' last playoff appearance: 2014, lost to Austin LBJ 20-13 in 5A Division I second round
Playoff series record: LBJ leads 1-0
The skinny: Alamo Heights shared the 26-5A title with Boerne Champion and Dripping Springs.The Mules missed the playoffs last year after advancing to the postseason each of the previous 12 years. Heights won the 4A Division I state championship in 2006. This is the 12th consecutive playoff season for the Jaguars, who reached the state quarterfinals in 2015.
Winner meets: Richmond Foster-Brackenridge winner

Brackenridge (6-4) vs. Richmond Foster (10-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rosenberg
Brackenridge's last playoff appearance: 2014, lost to Lockhart 42-21 in 5A Division I first round
Foster's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Temple 27-7 in 5A Division I third round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: The Eagles' loss to Highlands last week cost them a share of the 28-5A title, and landed them in a first-round matchup against one of the best 5A teams in the state. Foster finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press 5A state poll. The Falcons are in the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. Brack made the postseason for eight consecutive seasons (2007-14) before missing the cut last year. 

Eagle Pass Winn (8-2) vs. Corpus Christi Carroll (5-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rutledge Stadium, Judson H.S.
Winner meets: Laredo Nixon-Brownsville Lopez winner 

Laredo Nixon (9-1) vs. Brownsville Lopez (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Roma

Dripping Springs (9-1) vs. Austin SFA (5-5), Thursday, 7:30 p.m., House Park, Austin
Winner meets: Lanier-Angleton winner

Lanier (7-3) vs. Angleton (8-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Angleton
Lanier's last playoff appearance: 2013, lost to Alamo Heights 28-7 in Class 4A Division I first round
Angleton's last playoff appearance: 2013, lost to Fort Bend Ridge Point 36-35 (OT) in 5A Division I state quarterfinals
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Lanier shared the 28-5A championship with Highlands. The Voks haven't won a playoff game since 2006 when they beat Kerrville Tivy in the first round. They fell to Clemens the next week, and have lost three consecutive first-round games since then. Angleton has finished third in its district in each of the past two years, but reached the third round in 2014 and lost in the state quarterfinals last season. 

Southside (5-5) vs. Corpus Christi Flour Bluff (5-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Flour Bluff
Southside's last playoff appearance: 2014, lost to Flour Bluff 42-21 in 5A Division I first round
Flour Bluff's last playoff appearance: 2014, lost to Austin Vandegrift 49-27 in 5A Division I third round
Playoff series record: Flour Bluff leads 1-0
The skinny: Flour Bluff made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons (2004-2014) before missing the cut last year. The Hornets finished in a two-way tie for second this season in highly competitive District 30-5A, which includes longtime state powerhouse Corpus Christi Calallen, Gregory-Portland, and Alice. The Bluff, as it is called in the Coastal Bend, is just four years removed from a run to the state quarterfinals. The seniors on this year's Southside team were sophomores when the Cardinals lost to Flour Bluff in the first round of the 5A Division I playoffs. 
Winner meets: Mission Memorial-Brownsville Memorial winner

Mission Memorial (6-4) vs Brownsville Memorial (8-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Brownsville

Class 5A / Division II

Kerrville Tivy (4-6) vs. Austin McCallum (9-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., House Park, Austin

Tivy's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Cedar Park 49-14 in 5A Division II second round
McCallum's last playoff appearance: 2014, lost to Austin Vandegrift 63-42 in 5A Division I first round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: The alma mater of 2012 Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel, Tivy is in the playoffs for the 20th consecutive season. The Antlers reached the state semifinals in 2008 and 2009 when Manziel was a sophomore and senior. McCallum made the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons (2002-2014) before missing the cut last year.
Winner meets: Victoria East-Sam Houston winner 

Victoria East (7-3) vs. Sam Houston (6-4), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Alamo Stadium
East's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Cedar Park Vista Ridge 35-14 in 5A Division I third round
Sam Houston's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Boerne Champion 52-22 in 5A Division II first round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Victoria East finished third in highly competitive 27-5A, behind champion Richmond Foster and runner-up Angleton. The Titans have advanced to the playoffs five times since East opened in 2010, and reached the third round in its first season. .Sam Houston is in the playoffs for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. After going unbeaten in district play in 2014 and 2015, the Hurricanes went 5-3 this season and finished in a two-way tie for fourth.   

Floresville (5-5) vs. Corpus Christi King (6-4), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Buc Stadium, Corpus Christi
Floresville's last playoff appearance: 2013, lost to Port Lavaca Calhoun 36-34 in 4A Division II first round
King's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Brennan 44-17 in 6A Division II first round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Floresville hasn't been in the postseason since 2013 when it lost its fourth consecutive first-round game to Port Lavaca Calhoun. The streak was preceded by back-to-back losses to powerhouse Corpus Christi Calallen in 2000 and 2002. The Tigers haven't won a playoff game since 2000 when they beat Lanier in the first round. King reached the third round in 2003 but has lost five consecutive bi-district games since then. 
Winner meets: Sharyland Pioneer-Edcouch-Elsa winner 

Sharyland Pioneer (8-2) vs. Edcouch-Elsa (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Donna

Austin Reagan (3-7) vs. Boerne Champion (8-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Boerne ISD Stadium
Reagan's last playoff appearance:
2015, lost to Georgetown 44-17 in 5A Division II first round
Champion's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Corpus Christi Calallen 60-39 in 5A Division II third round 
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Once a state power, Reagan hasn't won a playoff game since beating Fredericksburg in a 2002 second-round game. The Raiders have advanced to the playoffs only three other times since then, losing in the first round each time. Champion is in the playoffs for the sixth time since its first season in 2008. The Chargers advanced to the state quarterfinals in their first playoff season (2010) and reached the third round last year. 
Winner meets: Rosenberg Terry-Highlands winner 

Rosenberg Terry (6-4) vs. Highlands (7-3), Thursday, 7 p.m., Alamo Stadium
Terry's last playoff appearance:
2013, lost to Texas City 41-19 in 4A Division II first round
Highlands' last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Lockhart 34-16 in 5A Division I first round
Playoff series record: First meeting
The skinny: Terry has made the playoffs seven times in the last nine seasons. The Rangers have reached the third round three times, the last in 2012. Highlands hasn't won a playoff game since 1984 when it beat Corpus Christi Miller in the second round. The Owls lost to Madison the next week, and have dropped five consecutive bi-district games since then.

Corpus Christi Calallen (9-1) vs. Uvalde (7-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Comalander Stadium
Calallen's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Cedar Park 35-21 in 5A Division II state quarterfinals
Uvalde's last playoff appearance: 2015, lost to Victoria East 63-14 in 5A Division I first round
Playoff series record: Series tied 1-1
The skinny: The Wildcats and Coyotes will meet in the postseason for the first time since 1994 when Calallen took a 35-7 victory in bi-district. Calallen coach Phil Danaher made history when the Wildcats beat Flour Bluff for the 30-5A crown last week, becoming the state's all-time leader in victories with 427. Calallen missed the playoffs in Danaher's first season (1984) but has advanced every year since then. That's a streak of 33 playoff seasons. Uvalde has lost eight consecutive first-round games since edging Kerrville Tivy in its playoff opener in 2001.  
Winner meets: Sharyland-Mercedes winner

Sharyland (7-3) vs. Mercedes (6-4), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Mercedes


Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/dfwvarsity/prep-football/article112780833.html#storylink

(© 2016 KENS)


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