— Springtown vs. Wichita Falls Hirschi
Time: 7 p.m., Thursday
Site: Memorial Stadium
4709 Barnett Rd, Wichita Falls
Type: Class 3A, Division I, Region I, Bi-district match
Last year: Did not play
WF Hirschi Huskies (7-3)
Season: Finished third in District 5-3A (2-2)
Last week: Lost to Graham, 71-39
Players to watch: QB Terrance Cooper (5-9, 175, 4.6); LB Rico Shumpert (6-3, 215, 4.7); CB Torrance Cooper (5-9, 175, 4.6); RB Cedric Battle (5-9, 175, 4.6); DL Reggie Hickman (6-2, 295, 5.3).
Springtown Porcupines (5-5)
Season: Finished second in District 6-3A (4-1)
Last week: Beat FW Diamond Hill-Jarvis, 74-0
Players to watch: LB Kolyn Waldrop (6-1, 225, 4.7), WR Ryan Hester (6-0, 190, 4.8), DB Collin Rector (5-7, 160, 4.7), RB Ryan Snow (6-1, 170, 4.6), WR Dillon Springfield (6-1, 160, 4.4), QB Landry Turner (5-10, 165), WR Dylan Ray (5-11, 160, 4.8).
Game notes: An irony of the one-off division splits this year (next year, the divisions for this classification will be pre-ordained before districts are divvied up) is that Springtown hoped, and expected, to go to the “small-school” playoffs. But Mineral Wells’ woeful season of missing the playoffs pushed Pojo into Division I. Had the Porcupines gone to DII, their opponent would have been fourth-ranked Graham. So as it turns out, Springtown catches a team likely preferred for a bi-district contest.
The Hirschi passing game represents less than 30 percent of its total yardage, but with a 55 percent completion rate and a TD-to-INT ration of 15-5 by quarterback Terrance Cooper results in a nice compliment to a rushing game that has thus far topped 2,800 yards.
But Cooper (Terrance anyway) is not the only QB Springtown is likely to see in the backfield, as there have been no less than a half dozen players taking snaps to run and/or throw, including Torrance Cooper, whose full-time gig in on the other side of the ball at DB.
Regardless of Hirschi’s modus operandi in trying to advance the pigskin, Springtown’s success will hinge on its defense ... as it has for the past couple of years. The Pojo offense, barring a turnover bug, will put enough points on the board to win a game, but the defenders will need to create the stops, either by takeaways or halting drives.
SHS sophomore quarterback Landry Turner has a handful of receivers at his disposal who are legitimate threats to sustain a drive or take it to the house. Early success throwing to enable the run, coupled with early stops can assure Springtown a postseason win to end its seven-year drought.
Aledo vs. Burleson
Time: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Site: Chisholm Trail Stadium
2576 Northwest College Drive, Fort Worth
Type: Class 4A, Division II, Region I, Bi-district match
Last year: Did not play
Burleson Elks (6-4)
Season: Tied for second in District 8-4A (5-2)
Last week: Beat Burleson Centennial, 28-25
Players to watch: QB Isaiah Hall (6-2, 205, 4.6); Austin Murrell (6-3, 210, 4.7); DL Gerald Hatch (5-11, 250, 4.9); OLB Trey Gloecker (6-1, 195, 4.6); Ayinde Alaajiy.
Aledo Bearcats (10-0)
Season: Winner of District 7-4A (7-0)
Last week: Beat FW Trimble Tech, 66-10
Players to watch: LB Jordan Mittie (6-2, 210, 4.8), OT Cory Stitle (6-2, 265, 5.0), QB Luke Bishop (5-10, 170, 4.7), ATH Ryan Newsome (5-8, 168, 4.5), FB Daythan Davis (6-2. 218, 4.7), WR Taco Anderson.
Game notes: The Burleson Elks have staged a dramatic turnaround in their football fortunes just a year after suffering through 0-10 doldrums. After a similar start to 2013 through five games (1-4), including their first two district contests, the Elks ran the table on the rest of the district, including eventual District 8-4A champ Crowley, and shared the runner-up title with two other league mates.
Quarterback Isaiah Hall is the offensive catalyst for the Elks, taking good care of the ball when throwing (1,700 yards, 19 TDs, 3 INTs), and reeling off nearly 900 yards running the ball, with 11 rushing touchdowns. His supporting cast of running backs, Ayinde Alaajiy and Preston Paden, have combined to double Hall’s run total.
Aside from Joshua, the Elks’ defense has failed to shut down opposing offenses, which will be their downfall against Aledo.
It is awesome enough just to look at the Bearcats’ total offensive numbers (3,100 yards rushing, 2,300 passing, 540 total per game), but the breakdown of the individual numbers is an in-your-face illustration of the depth of this 2013 version of the Bearcats: All of Aledo’s top five rushers have 300 yards or better. The same can be pointed out for its top five receivers — 300 yards or better.
Leading receiver Taco Anderson was held out of the district finale on Saturday, and was spelled nicely by fellow wideout Quanel Williams, who caught five passes for more than 100 yards.
Starting quarterback Luke Bishop, a junior, spreads his passing around with impressive generosity, and to his receivers, not the defenders. Bishop has 25 touchdown strikes on the season, with just a lone interception.