Here are five thoughts from the regional semifinal round of the high school football playoffs:
Three sets of Dallas-area teams squared off in rematches this week, and the first game’s winner successfully completed the sweep in all three. Anna beat Celina, 27-24, to advance to the 4A Division I Region II finals for the first time in school history where it will face reigning state champion China Spring.
Two of the area’s top rushing offenses played again as well, and Argyle defeated Grapevine 44-27, managing to keep star Grapevine running back Parker Polk out of the end zone yet again.
Finally, Terrell had the chance to get revenge over its district opponent Melissa but came up short once again.
Next week’s slate features a rematch between Aledo and Burleson Centennial, who both competed in District 3-5A Div. I. Aledo won the first matchup.
State powers put to the test
Two of the state’s top 5A teams faced arguably their toughest tests of the season. Ten-time state champion Aledo escaped with 27-21 a narrow victory over Midlothian after trailing 21-14 in the third quarter. Midlothian, which had its best season since the 1980s, rushed for 300 yards, but key defensive stops handed Doug Wendel’s program its first loss of the season to bring an end to their storybook year.
A similar situation unfolded for Mansfield Timberview, the state’s No. 2 team, where it nearly blew a 21-0 lead to Frisco Reedy but pulled out the 28-26 win after breaking up a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime. Timberview will challenge the state’s top team, Longview, in the regional final.
Just as expected
Though many games were close and some of the area and state’s top teams were challenged, the Dallas area didn’t see many upsets in the regional semifinals, as the higher-ranked team won in almost every case, despite upset bids from McKinney over Southlake Carroll and Midlothian Heritage over South Oak Cliff.
McKinney led Carroll by two touchdowns in the third, but Carroll running back Owen Allen rushed for four scores in the comeback win. Midlothian Heritage pushed reigning 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff to overtime, but SOC managed to escape another close one thanks to Danny Green’s overtime rushing touchdown.
Non-area teams get upper hand
In the five 4A, 5A and 6A matchups between area and non-area opponents, the teams outside of the Dallas area had the advantage. Texarkana Pleasant Grove eliminated Aubrey, the final Dallas-area team in the Class 4A Division II playoffs. Aledo knocked out Midlothian. And Spring Westfield defeated Waxahachie, 10-7, despite a 0-0 halftime score.
Two Dallas-area teams were able to eliminate opponents from different regions — DeSoto, which beat Tomball, and Duncanville, which beat The Woodlands. Just 11 Dallas-area UIL teams remain in the state’s three largest classifications and are set to face some of the top teams from around the state in the final three rounds.
TAPPS championships set
The four-peat is still very much alive. Parish Episcopal defeated Houston St. Thomas, 42-7, in the state semifinals on Saturday to earn a spot in the TAPPS Division I state title game and a chance to clinch its fourth consecutive state title. If it can win next week, it would become the 12th team ever in the state to win four consecutive state titles — across both UIL and private schools.
It’s opponent: Prestonwood Christian, whom it faced in the final week of the regular season and beat, 42-14.
Prestonwood defeated Fort Worth Nolan, who found a spark in the postseason despite finishing the regular season 2-8, to advance to the title game. It will look to capture its first state title since 2015.
As for other Dallas-area teams, Fort Worth All-Saints will compete for the Division II title, and Dallas Christian will play for the Division III title.
On Twitter: @Lassimak