Texas High School Football Postseason Round 4: Abbott stands as lone Heart of Texas playoff representative with perennial powerhouses May, Strawn & Richland Springs looking to return to state title game
With only one Heart of Texas six-man football team still standing, the Texas high school football Class 1A playoffs move to the state semifinal rounds with some familiar programs seeking yet another trip to the state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Making their first appearance in the state semifinals since winning the state championship in 2015, the Class 1A, Division I’s third-ranked Abbott Panthers (13-0) advance to take on the top-ranked and undefeated May Tigers. Hungry for a state title, the Tigers (13-0) will be looking to return to Arlington after losing in the state title game in 2020.
In Class 1A, Division II, perennial powerhouses Richland Springs (10-1) and Strawn (13-0) will once again clash in a state semifinal matchup.
Class 1A, DI State Quarterfinals: No. 3 ABBOTT 74, COOLIDGE 27
In a rematch of District 12-1A, DI rivals, the third-ranked Abbott Panthers remained undefeated in dominate fashion by once again disposing of the Coolidge Yellow Jackets, 74-27, by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule Region III championship game last Friday night at Mexia’s Blackcat Stadium.
Despite surrendering a season-high 27 points to Coolidge, Abbott (13-0) advances on to the state semifinals to take on the top-ranked and undefeated May Tigers (13-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Dublin.
Senior Robert Munoz ran for 271 yards and three touchdowns while junior Isaiah Singleton scored twice to lead the Abbott offensive onslaught as Coolidge (8-5) could not find a way to slow down the Panther running game. The Panthers knocked off Coolidge, 53-8, in the regular season to claim the district title.
Class 1A, DI State Quarterfinals: No. 1 MAY 70, No. 2 WATER VALLEY 49
Despite having their backs up against the wall early, the Class 1A, Division I’s top-ranked May Tigers rose to the occasion to snatch momentum and run away with a 70-49 victory over second-ranked Water Valley in the Region IV championship game last Saturday night in Robert Lee.
While the May offensive attack sputtered in the first quarter, the Tiger defense took control of the game with dramatic goal line stand before May (13-0) went on a scoring spree of 22 unanswered points to grab a lead the Tigers would never relinquish.
Once the offense got rolling, the Tigers were unstoppable while piling up 424 yards and controlling the game with 368 yards on the ground as Blake Harrell ran for three touchdowns and threw for another, while Kaden Halk rushed for three scores.
“It was a huge win this week against Water Valley,” May head coach Craig Steele said. “We had some kids get banged up, but we had kids step up and play well who weren’t expected to play a lot. I felt like the win this last week was a program win because of our next man up mentality.”
Advancing to the state semifinals after losing in the state title game last season, May will take on third-ranked Abbott (13-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Dublin’s Bob & Norma Cervetto Stadium.
“Abbott presents a major challenge to us as did Water Valley and Jonesboro before them,” Steel said. “I feel like the road we’ve had to travel in these playoffs has prepared us for this challenge.”
Class 1A, DII State Quarterfinals: No. 3 RICHLAND SPRINGS 86, OAKWOOD 41
Winning for the 10th straight time on their way to seeking their six-man record 10th state championship, the Class 1A, DII’s third-ranked Richland Springs Coyotes continued their impressive run with a dominating 86-41 victory over the Oakwood Panthers in the Region IV championship game last Friday night at Hico’s historic Tiger Stadium.
Senior Jadeyn Bryant scored seven touchdowns and rushed for 345 yards while senior Zane Capps scored four times as the Coyotes (10-1) eliminated Oakwood (8-3) by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart said. “They come out, and they play, and they get after it. Most of all, we give God the glory. Every week is not given, you have to earn it and take advantage of the opportunity. Jadeyn hits the hole so quick, and so does Zane. But it was a team effort tonight. It was all kids, all hands on deck, being a family and playing hard.”
In a rematch of the last two state semifinal games, Richland Springs will once again face the second-ranked and undefeated Strawn Greyhounds (13-0) at at 7 p.m. Friday in Dublin’s Bob & Norma Cervetto Stadium. In a game that came down to the final play, the Coyotes held on to knock off Strawn, 59-56, in 2020 after defeating the Greyhounds in the 2019 state semifinal, 62-14, on their way to a state record ninth six-man state championship.
“It’s going to be tough any time you play Strawn,” Burkhart said. “Coach (Dewaine) Lee does a great job with them. It’s going to be a battle. We have to prepare this week and practice really hard this week and get things ready to go. It’s all going to come down to blocking and tackling. Every year it’s always a tough game with them, it’s like playing a state championship game when you play them.”
Class 1A, DII State Quarterfinals: No. 2 STRAWN 66, GORDON 16
When it came down to a rematch between District 11-1A, Division II rivals Strawn and Gordon, the song remained the same. In a grudge match between neighboring towns, the second-ranked and undefeated Strawn Greyhounds took care of business against the Gordon Longhorns, 66-16, in the Region III championship game last Friday night at Breckenridge.
Wrapping the win up early by virtue of the 45-point mercy rule with three minutes left in the third quarter, Strawn (13-0) advances to the state semifinals to face third-ranked Richland Springs in a rematch of the 2020 state semifinal. Last season, the Coyotes stopped Strawn inside the five-yard line as time expired to preserve a 59-56 victory before losing in the state championship game to Balmorhea, 74-38.
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Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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