— Aledo vs. Wichita Falls High
Time: 6 p.m., Thursday
Site: Northwest ISD Stadium — 18501 Hwy 114, Justin
Type: Class 4A, Division II, Quarterfinal (Region I final)
Last year: Did not play
Wichita Falls (Old High) Coyotes (8-5)
Season: Fourth seed from District 5-4A (4-3)
Last week: Beat Canutillo, 19-10
Players to watch: DE Devon Bazile (6-2, 211, 4.9); OL Aaron Gonzales (6-3, 250, 5.1); CB O.J. Clark (5-9, 150, 4.6); RB Robert Williams III (5-10, 180, 4.7); QB Eric Butler.
Aledo Bearcats (13-0)
Season: Winner of District 7-4A (7-0)
Last week: Beat Canyon, 54-14
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: Aledo fans (and sports coverage types, alike) should at least have a mild appreciation for the over-achieving WF Coyotes coming into the quarterfinal matchup on Thursday. After all, Old High’s victory over Canutillo last Saturday saved locals from a tedious Highway I-20 trip, not to mention at least one tankful of gasoline, as Midland would have likely been the quarterfinal site if the Eagles would have won the contest.
But the good will only goes so far for the Bearcats, with Wichita Falls being the next obstacle in the state playoff brackets. On paper, this matchup appears to be (another) one-sided meeting, but there is ready evidence that the Coyotes are definitely on a run.
The Falls’ defense, with the exception of the Area match against Everman (31-28 final), has been very unyielding, giving up just 17 points in their other two playoff contests and totalling a handful of takeaways.
Offensively, the Coyotes prefer to run the ball, as the ground game comprises more than 60 percent of its total yardage output. Running back Robert Williams III is the primary rusher, with junior QB Eric Butler a bit of a dual threat, having tossed for more than a thousand yards.
The cold blast predicted to begin in Thursday’s evening hours has prompted a slew of playoff reschedules nearly across the board, including the Region II final (whose winner will face the Region I champ), which will pit Ennis against Mesquite Poteet at Dallas ISD’s Kincaide Stadium.
Aledo has had little trouble staying in “take care of business” mode, even before the postseason began. That head coach Tim Buchanan and his staff will let the healthy Bearcats start reading their headlines now is an unlikely scenario. Barring ice crystals on the ball, as well as the Northwest Stadium playing surface, look for another high-scoring affair (at least for the visitor’s side) and an Aledo “D” domination.