Bi-district playoff previews

From left Bullard's Christian Johnson (13) gets set to tackle Rusk's Jaylon Hall (14) during a district game between the two schools earlier this season. Bullard and Rusk will be involved in Bi-district playoff games on Friday night.

Rusk Eagles (3-7) vs. Salado Eagles (7-3)

Class 4A, Division II, Region III

7:30 p.m. Friday at Corsicana's Tiger Stadium

Analysis — Rusk is the District 7-4A-II runner-up, while Salado came in third place (behind undefeated Waco Connelly and Mexia) in District 8-4A-II. Salado. Salado will be a tough match up for Rusk. Rusk must find a way to slow down Salado's vaunted ground attack. Reid Vincent (21-215) and Hunter Turk (24-133) cut through the Fairfield defense like a hot knife through butter in last week's 42-21 victory. Rusk struggled to stop Wills Point's ground attack last week when the Red and Black fell in a 46-18 upset at home. Salado is returning to the playoffs after finishing 4-6 last year and missing post season play. This will be Rusk's third-consecutive trip to the playoffs under head coach Jowell Hancock. The Rusk-Salado winner will play either Texarkana Pleasant Grove or Nevada Community in the Area round next week.


Bullard Panthers (3-7) vs. Mexia Blackcats (6-3)

Class 4A, Division II, Region III

7:30 p.m. Friday at Cedar Hill's Longhorn Stadium

Analysis — Mexia's only district loss was to 10-0 Waco Connally. The Blackcats feature an abundance of size on the lines and plenty of team speed. The Blackcats have outscored their foes by an average score of 31-22 this season. Head coach Scott Callaway's Panther are the third place team out of District 7-4A-II. Bullard finished behind Wills Point and Rusk. Bullard played .500 football for the last month of the season and could benefit from the momentum that has created. Quarterback Tristen Shewmake is the centerpiece of the Panther offense. Lately the senior signal caller has been doing more with his feet than his arm. Receiver Nick Hooley and running back Bryson Luscombe compliment Shewmake well. Bullard has been allowing 36 points against a game. That number will have to come down for the Panthers to have a decent chance at winning this week. The Bullard-Mexia winner will face Sunnyvale or Pittsburg in the next round.


Troup Tigers (6-4) vs. Leonard Tigers (6-4)

Class 3A, Division II, Region II

7:30 p.m. Friday at City Bank Stadium in Forney

Analysis — This game is shaping up to be a real nail biter as these clubs appear to be evenly matched on paper. Troup is the third place team out of District 10-3A-II, while Leonard came in second in District 9-3A-II. Troup quarterback Jordan Elliott has given several opposing defenses grief this fall. He has passed for 1,677 yards (98-175, 56-percent) and has hurled 21 touchdown strikes against nine interceptions while rushing for 1,010 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. Desmond Deason (42-637, 15.2 yards per catch and eight touchdowns) is Troup's leading receiver. Look for Leonard to counter with running backs D.J. Brown (226-2,156 yards, 9.5 yards per carry, 23 touchdowns) and Riley Ferson (135-866, 6.4 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns). This could be a high scoring affair. Awaiting the Troup-Leonard winner will be either Newton or New Diana.


Alto Yellowjackets (10-0) vs. Cayuga Wildcats (4-6)

Class 2A, Division I, Region III

7:00 p.m. Thursday at Jacksonville's Historic Tomato Bowl

Analysis — Simply stated, Alto has been unstoppable this season. The Mean Sting are ranked No. 8 in the state and have won their games by an average score of 48-10 this year. The Wildcats are the fourth place team from District 9-2A-I. Cayuga has given up 236 points while scoring 220 points. Look for Alto to cruise to victory. The Jackets lead the all-time series 8-2. Theses teams last meet in 2015 when Alto won, 55-14. The Alto-Cayuga winner will face off against either Joaquin or Shelbyville in the Area round late next week.


Brook Hill Guard (7-3) at Frisco Legacy Christian Eagles (9-2)

TAPPS Division II Bi-district

7:30 p.m. Friday at Frisco's Comstock Field

Analysis — A good match up that could go either way. The Guard wound up in third in District II-2, while the Eagles were the runner-up in District II-1. Legacy Christian is a run-oriented squad, with A.J. Yasilli (5'-11”, 190 lbs.) being the workhorse. Yasilli has rushed for 1,013 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns. Legacy Christian lost to Pope John Paul II, 41-14, while the Guard fell to Pope John Paul II 42-10. The teams mirror one another in several ways. The team that can best protect the football could be the one to advance. If it comes down to a field goal, the nod goes to Brook Hill and Jake Shaffer. The victor between the Eagles and the Guardsmen will move on to play either Fort Worth SW Christian or Cedar Hill-Trinity Christian late next week.

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