During high school football season, the Star Local Media sports staff will predict the winners of 10 in-market games each week as part of its annual Pick-It Line.
Below are previews and predictions for the season's area playoff round of The Pick-It Line.
Celina vs. Kennedale
Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Pennington Stadium
Matt Welch: The Bobcats had an early battle on their hands against Nevada Community in the bi-district round, but a 14-0 second half allowed Celina to advance with a 35-13 victory.
The Bobcats' defense impressed in allowing just 218 yards, but Celina probably can't afford too many more games with three turnovers committed. Their ball security should be tested on Friday against a Kennedale team coming off a scintillating effort on defense in last week's bi-district win over perennial powerhouse Waco La Vega, 10-7.
It was a full-circle moment for Kennedale, which got hammered by La Vega in the opening week of the season, 34-7, after allowing 237 rushing yards and four touchdowns to running back Bryson Roland. Kennedale held Roland to just 37 rushing yards, and La Vega to 158 total yards, in the playoff rematch. Oklahoma State commit Poasa Utu is a name to watch at defensive end.
Celina looks to test that run defense behind Gabe Gayton. He was a workhorse in the bi-district win over Community, rushing 31 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
The Kennedale offense didn't particularly light it up against La Vega at just 215 total yards, but running back Cameron Lyles was a bright spot with 147 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Prior, Kennedale had shut out its previous four opponents, averaging 56.8 points per game in doing so.
Matt's Pick: Celina
Dallas Christian vs. Bullard Brook Hill
Friday, 7 p.m. at Royse City ISD Stadium
David Wolman: Dallas Christian and Bullard Brook Hill are certainly not strangers to one another on the football field.
It's a rivalry that has recently been dominated by the Chargers. Dallas Christian won last season's game, 47-12, on their way to capturing their ninth state title in program history.
Both teams have started the TAPPS Division III playoffs in convincing fashion.
Dallas Christian rode a 40-point first quarter, on their way to earning a 66-6 victory against Colleyville Covenant Christian last week. The Chargers held the Cougars to 161 yards and forced seven turnovers. Dallas Christian running back Zach Hernandez rushed for three touchdowns on 95 yards. Quarterback Luke Carney threw for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Brook Hill, meanwhile, cruised to a 42-21 victory against Lake Country Christian.
David's Pick: Dallas Christian
Frisco Lone Star vs. Longview
Friday, 7 p.m. at Kincaide Stadium
Devin Hasson: The Rangers were once 2-2 on the season, but are now one of the hottest teams in the state, having won seven consecutive games, including last week's 55-15 romp over Richland in the playoff opener.
Bennett Fryman threw three touchdown passes, Davian Groce rushed for three scores and Jaylon Braxton continued to have an impact in all three phases of the game.
But Lone Star faces its toughest test of the season in Longview, the No. 1 team in the Class 5A Division I state poll.
The undefeated Lobos (11-0) have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 528-92, including last week's 49-15 win over Crosby that saw Taylor Tatum rush for 193 yards and five touchdowns.
Devin's Pick: Longview
Frisco Reedy vs. Lancaster
Friday, 7 p.m. at Irving's Ellis Stadium
Devin Hasson: The Lions are riding a perfect 11-0 record into the area finals after last week's 50-14 rout of W.T. White.
Reedy has a stout defense that is giving up only 13 points per game and a balanced offense, with Caleb Deal, who has thrown for 2,120 yards and 21 touchdowns with only three interceptions, Dennis Moody, who has rushed for 1,384 yards and 20 scores, and the receiving tandem of Kaleb Smith and A.J. Jayroe, who have combined for 98 catches for 1,470 yards and 13 toucdowns.
But like Lone Star, the Lions will also likely face their toughest test to date against a Lancaster team that is stingy on defense and has a number of different playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
Devin's Pick: Lancaster
Frisco Wakeland vs. Port Arthur Memorial
Friday, 7 p.m. at Lufkin's Abe Martin Stadium
Devin Hasson: The Wolverines have had a roller coaster season of sorts, ranging from a thorough 38-10 win over Lone Star to a surprising 33-28 loss to Sherman late in the season.
But Wakeland has come through when it has needed with its season on the line. First, in a 31-6 win over Frisco in the district finale, and then last week, in a 42-28 victory against Birdville in the bi-district round.
In that game, Brennan Myer threw for 338 yards and five touchdowns, with Ashdyn Kahouch and Tripp Riordan each hauling in a pair of scoring grabs.
Wakeland will square off with a Port Arthur Memorial team that is 10-1 on the season but was pushed to the limit in a 48-41 win over McKinney North last week.
Devin's Pick: Frisco Wakeland
Lewisville vs. Arlington Martin
Friday, 7 p.m. at SMU's Ford Stadium
David Wolman: The Farmers and Warriors will meet in the playoffs for the third straight season -- Martin won in 2020 and Lewisville was victorious in 2021.
Lewisville defeated Martin 35-18 last season to advance to the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 1996. Lewisville alum Damien Martinez rushed for 230 yards and three touchdowns.
Martinez's performance was similar to the one that that Lewisville's rushing attack had in last week's 43-18 rout of Allen. Junior quarterback Ethan Terrell rushed for 164 yards with five total touchdowns, while junior running back Viron Ellison had 155 rushing yards and one touchdown. The Farmers rushed for 316 yards in earning their ninth straight victory.
Martin is coming off an impressive performance of its own, cruising to a 62-3 rout of Richardson Berkner. And just like the Farmers, the Warriors used a solid rushing attack to earn a bi-district playoff win. Martin accounted for six rushing scores -- two each by Konye Frazier (130 rushing yards) and Tristan Bittle. Bittle also had a passing touchdown on 159 yards through the air.
David's Pick: Lewisville
Lovejoy vs. South Oak Cliff
Saturday, 3 p.m. at Globe Life Field
Matt Welch: At the start of the season, a prospective regional finals rematch between Lovejoy and South Oak Cliff seemed very much in play.
But a late-season upset loss to Melissa means the Leopards now have to battle the defending Class 5A Division II state champions in the second round. Odds are Lovejoy's path to state was going to have to go through SOC at some point, so why not rip the Band-Aid off a few rounds earlier than expected?
For all the firepower that scours these two rosters, both teams had their hands full in the bi-district round. Lovejoy needed a late touchdown run from LSU commit Kyle Parker to overtake a game Whitehouse squad, 38-34, while SOC outlasted Mansfield Summit in a defensive struggle, 12-7.
The Golden Bears' offense endured some hardships early in the season, averaging only 12 points per game in losses to a powerhouse slate of Duncanville, Lancaster and DeSoto, but they enter Saturday's ballgame riding an eight-game win streak.
SOC allowed just 10 points during all of district play, which is befitting given the talent within that unit. That includes a secondary that will make for some must-see matchups against Lovejoy's cadre of blue-chip pass-catchers.
The Leopards' receiving corps includes Parker, Jaxson Lavender (SMU), Parker Livinstone (four-star prospect) and Daylan McCutcheon opposite the SOC secondary of Malik Muhammad (Texas), Jayvon Thomas (Texas A&M), David Spruiells (Northern Arizona), Taylor Starling (Colorado) and Jamarion Clark (Rice).
Matt's Pick: South Oak Cliff
McKinney vs. Jesuit
Friday, 7 p.m. at Children's Health Stadium
Matt Welch: The Lions made short work of Coppell in the bi-district round, piling up 477 yards of offense en route to a 44-26 victory.
It marked just McKinney's second playoff win since 1993, a year that stands as the last time the Lions advanced three rounds deep in the playoffs. Almost 30 years later, McKinney has a chance to do just that when it takes on an always formidable Jesuit bunch.
The Rangers overcame a sluggish start against Arlington, trailing 14-3 before firing off a run of 38 consecutive points in a 41-14 blowout. Jesuit scored on six of seven drives between the second and third quarters, anchored by a sensational effort from dual-threat quarterback Charlie Schmidt. He passed for 163 yards, ran for 153 yards and totaled five touchdowns in the win.
Schmidt is Jesuit's leading passer (2,395 yards, 20 touchdowns) and rusher (683 yards, 18 TDs) for the season, and he has a reliable target at receiver in Jake Musso (67 catches, 944 yards, nine TDs).
The Rangers averaged 38.1 points per game while allowing just 22 on average, and McKinney figures to test those figures plenty. The Lions are averaging 444.6 yards and 38.5 points per game on the strength of one of the area's top rushing attacks. Running back Bryan Jackson and quarterback Keldric Luster both averaged more than 7 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns apiece against Coppell, with Jackson leading the way with 149 rushing yards in the win.
Matt's Pick: McKinney
Prestonwood Christian vs. Houston St. Pius X
Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Groesbeck Stadium
Matt Welch: Prestonwood and St. Pius have waged some memorable battles over the years, highlighted by the 2017 TAPPS Division I state championship game where the Lions rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to win, 42-41.
Prestonwood enters the 2022 edition of this rivalry sporting a 7-2 record under first-year head coach Donnie Yantis, anxious to bounce back from a 42-14 loss to reigning state champion Parish Episcopal to close out the regular season.
The Lions played Parish tough in the first half before the strength of the champs' run game blew the contest open over the final two quarters. Prestonwood had won its previous seven games and thanks in large part to the play of a punishing run led by AJ Sibley. Even in defeat against Parish, Sibley produced at least 200 rushing yards for the fifth time this season.
St. Pius has hovered around .500 for the past few seasons and carries a 5-5 mark into Friday's ballgame. Three of the Panthers' wins have come by seven points or less, including in a 24-17 win over Central Catholic on Nov. 4, which halted a run of back-to-back losses with more than 40 points allowed in each game.
Matt's Pick: Prestonwood Christian
Prosper vs. South Grand Prairie
Friday, 7 p.m. at Choctaw Stadium
David Wolman: A rematch of a Week One game from last season -- a contest that Prosper won, 34-19 -- the Eagles and Warriors will meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Choctaw Stadium.
This season has been a contrast of two teams. Prosper has only had one hiccup this season, while South Grand Prairie has won six straight after an 0-5 start.
Prosper (10-1) needs one more win to tie for the second-most victories in a season in school history. The school record was set in 2008, when the Eagles were 14-1 and won the Class 3A state championship.
Prosper started the postseason in dominant fashion, cruising to a 28-3 bi-district victory against Plano. The Eagles held the Wildcats without a first down in the second half and 122 total yards for the contest. Trevor Montayne rushed for 99 yards and also had a receiving touchdown in the victory.
South Grand Prairie, meanwhile, overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit last week to rally for a 31-27 win against Lake Highlands. AJ Newberry rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns, while Jaden Stanley also had 99 rushing yards to accompany two touchdowns.
David's Pick: Prosper
|The Pick-It Line|
|WEEK 13||Matt Welch||Devin Hasson||David Wolman|
|Celina vs. Kennedale||Celina||Celina||Celina|
|Dallas Christian vs. Bullard Brook Hill||Dallas Christian||Dallas Christian||Dallas Christian|
|Frisco Lone Star vs. Longview||Longview||Longview||Longview|
|Frisco Reedy vs. Lancaster||Lancaster||Lancaster||Lancaster|
|Frisco Wakeland vs. Port Arthur Memorial||PA Memorial||Frisco Wakeland||PA Memorial|
|Lewisville vs. Arlington Martin||Lewisville||Arlington Martin||Lewisville|
|Lovejoy vs. South Oak Cliff||South Oak Cliff||Lovejoy||South Oak Cliff|
|McKinney vs. Jesuit||McKinney||McKinney||McKinney|
|Prestonwood Christian vs. Houston St. Pius X||Prestonwood||Prestonwood||Prestonwood|
|Prosper vs. South Grand Prairie||Prosper||Prosper||Prosper|