State Semifinal Football Outlooks

Rockdale (11-3) Vs. Yoakum (13-1) - Friday - 7:00 - Cypress’ Cy Fair FCU Stadium

You simply could not have asked for a better performance from the Rockdale Tigers in what was a dominating win over the Teague Lions in the state quarterfinals, 42-20. I had originally picked Teague in this game, but I felt there were two things in particular that the Tigers were going to have to do in order to pull out the win. They accomplished both with flying colors. The first was to hit big plays in the passing game to Crawford and Lehmkuhl. They did so early with back-to-back explosive plays to the duo to put Rockdale up 14-0. The other was to force Teague into 3rd and long situations and get them into a predictable passing mode. Rockdale did that early and often, and Teague simply could not answer the bell with their passing game. The Tigers actually led 35-7 in the third quarter of this game, and the only reason it wasn’t 35-0 was because of a fluke play which involved a blocked punt landing in a Teague’s players hands as he proceeded to run for a first down. Teague did make a change at quarterback late to spark a little momentum with more mobility in the pocket, but Rockdale stayed composed and did what was needed to put the game away down the stretch.


Next up is a Yoakum team which had just as an impressive win over Goliad in the region IV final, 40-7. Based on what we saw from Yoakum at state last season and their 467 rushing yards in their most recent win, Rockdale is going to have a very similar challenge this week. Rockdale must force Yoakum into predictable passing situations. In total, Yoakum has over 4,200 rushing yards this season compared to just 1,300 through the air.


The reason I had Yoakum as my preseason number one was pretty simple. A. They played in the state championship game a year ago. B. They had more returning than most of the top end teams. C. They collectively have the best talent in the state. If you attend this game, keep an eye on receivers/defensive backs Joshua and Jordan Moore, as they are both included in the top 70 of high school recruits in Texas.


I will say that I like the way Rockdale is playing right now. They are being very physical and are playing with a purpose. Those teams are hard to stop once they get rolling.


Josh’s Pick: Yoakum by 3.


Carthage (14-0) vs. La Vega (14-0) - Friday 7:30 - Frisco’s Ford Center

The games simply do not get any better than this. Carthage is known as one of the best, if not the best football program in East Texas, while La Vega is starting to get used to playing this deep in December. These two last played in this very games in 2015, which saw the Pirates end up with a blowout 39-3 win. I would not expect things to be so lopsided this go around. The Bulldogs are currently 14-0, which is already one game better than their 13-2 state championship season in 2016. Both teams seem to have solid defenses, so I could see this one ending up in the 20s for both sides.

Josh’s Pick: Carthage by 3.


Stratford (13-1) vs. Mart (13-1) Thursday - 7:00 - Snyder’s Tiger Stadium

Despite having one loss to Lexington in non-district, there may not be a more dominating football team than the Mart Panthers. Since that loss, Mart has outscored its opponents, 778 to 91. That includes blowouts in the first four rounds of the playoffs over Goldthwaite (62-3), Windthorst (58-6), DeLeon (47-7) and Crawford (47-6). Can Stratford slow them down? It’s a long-shot, but they have had a similar path as Mart with an early season loss to Canadian before reeling off 11 straight wins while also cruising in all of their playoff games.

Josh’s Pick: Mart by 21.