Just five teams from the El Paso are left in the Texas high school football playoffs as they enter the area round of the playoffs.
The five, which include Andress, Parkland, Del Valle, Eastlake and Montwood, will take on a plethora of talented out of town teams this weekend.
Here are five things you need to know about the five matchups:
1. Parkland wants to avenge last year’s loss to Lubbock Cooper
First up is the Parkland matchup against Lubbock Cooper on Friday night. Last year Parkland fell to Lubbock Cooper 48-28, as they started off slow and couldn’t catch up for the remainder of the game.
Parkland enters the game with a 9-4 record, similar to Lubbock Coronado, who is 7-4.
If the Matadors want to avenge last year’s loss, quarterback A.J. Briggs will have to have a strong night. Briggs enters the game with 3,452 yards and uses his mobility to his advantage as a gunslinger.
His favorite target, De’Quan Henderson, has 1,272 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
If these two can connect several times early and utilize Deon Hankins on the run game, Parkland can keep it close and try to emerge for a win.
The game will be held in Midland.
2. Eastlake’s RB Ezekiel Jones needs a big game against Abilene Cooper
Since their loss to the top team in district 2-5A of Del Valle, Eastlake has been rolling on all cylinders, winning four games in a row by a combined score of 198-34.
They are coming off a bi-district title win after stomping over Jefferson, 56-13. Now they will take on a Abilene Cooper team who also likes to score a lot of points, as they are coming off a 63-14 win over Plainview.
The key to Eastlake’s game is balancing running back Ezekiel Jones in the run and passing game. Through the past two games, Jones has amassed over 100 yards on the ground, and he has scored one or more touchdowns in each game this season.
If Eastlake’s defense can hold some of Cooper’s heavy offensive attacks and sustain some drives, it might open up some opportunities for Jones to score points in the game.
3. Eagles need to shake off a slow start in the playoffs and need to score early
Last week’s back-and-forth battle against fourth-seeded Bel Air was not predicted to happen for a tough Andress team in the bi-district round of the playoffs. Nonetheless, the Eagles squeezed by Bel Air and now will face a well-rounded Lubbock Monterey team on Friday night in Midland.
Andress is riding a eight-game win streak after being humbled against Bel Air last week. If head coach Jeff Woodruff can coach his team to shake off early struggles last week and start an early lead this week, the Eagles might be in control of their own destiny.
However, Lubbock Monterey (7-4) will come in after a big 54-31 win over Amarillo. If they keep their hot streak of four wins in a row, they might halt the Eagles early on.
4. Conquistadores need to slow down the red-hot Mustangs
When you’re coming into an area round playoff game not having lost since Sept. 8, there’s not a lot you’re afraid of after being on a nine-game win streak, as Del Valle has been.
But there is one thing to be afraid of—Lubbock Coronado and their 11-0 record on the year so far. Having won four of their last six games by 30 or more points, the Mustangs want to win and want to do it in a big fashion.
They bring to the table their standout quarterback Qua Gray who has amassed 3,598 passing yards, 47 passing touchdowns and just five interceptions all season.
Del Valle needs to slow Gray down, and they have the power to do so. Last week, Del Valle’s defense forced four turnovers in their 48-21 victory over Chapin for the bi-district title game.
Del Valle and Lubbock Coronado will play on Friday in Roswell, N.M.
5. Andrew Fernandez needs to lift the offense over Arlington High
Arlington High (9-2) comes into Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Montwood with hopes to build off a huge bi-district win over previously undefeated Fossil Ridge.
Now it is up to Montwood, the city’s best team by record and stature, to fend off the high-powered Arlington High squad.
Standout quarterback Andrew Fernandez has recorded four or better total touchdowns in the last five games for the Rams, so if he is able to continue that stride and help his team score points, the Rams have a shot against a challenging Arlington High team.
Brought to you by: