# – denotes current San Antonio South Side Sports area ranking
#5 Southwest (5-5) vs. O’Connor (7-2) at Gustafson Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Southwest needs to bounce back from a difficult home 24-14 loss to Corpus Christi Carroll last Friday that cost it a share of the District 28-6A title.
The Dragons are making their ninth-consecutive postseason appearance, which is impressive enough. But it’s not likely to intimidate an O’Connor team that is making its 11th-straight appearance and is two years removed from reaching the state semifinals.
The Panthers defeated Reagan 28-23 in their opening game and only lost 10-3 to Steele – No. 6 in the Associated Press 6A rankings – in Week 3. O’Connor is coming off its second shutout of the season, blitzing Warren 34-0 last Friday.
Although No. 18 Brandeis put up 42 points on the Panthers, it’s that defense which concerns Southwest coach Peter Wagner most.
Like Southwest, O’Connor wants to control the ball offensively.
The Panthers have a tailback-by-committee arrangement (not unlike Southwest earlier in the season). Josiah Velasquez ran for 106 yards against Warren and has 314 for the season. Brandin Bradford has run for 332 yards and Jorge Gonzalez has added 288.
O’Connor can throw when it needs to. Kolby Lunsford (419 reception yards) is an outstanding receiver. Jonathan McEntire has passed for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and just one interception.
Southwest is coming off a solid 352 total-yard performance against a determined Carroll defense.
Dragons back Jon Cruz continued an outstanding senior season with 236 yards on 35 carries against Carroll. Although Cruz is capable of handling the load, Southwest’s chances are likely to improve if explosive sophomore back Tyrone Middleton is able to combat turf toe to make double-digit carries.
Southwest also will need a strong passing game from senior quarterback Bowen Crisp, a playoff veteran. Crisp came through against Carroll, throwing for 102 yards. In theory, he’ll need to hit triple digits again.
The Dragons will need to avoid the penalties that derailed it last Friday and stay turnover-free.
Area round opponent: Churchill (8-2)-Judson (6-4) winner. Favorite: O’Connor.
Corpus Christi Flour Bluff (10-0) at #3 Southside (8-2), 7:30 p.m.
The bi-district draw didn’t deal Southside an easy opponent but, if the area’s most-surprising team of 2014 can pull off an eye-opening win, the area round should be considerably easier.
Of course, none of Corpus Christi Flour Bluff’s first 10 opponents have found the Hornets’ Achilles heel.
The Hornets are No. 6 in the Associated Press 5A state rankings.
Their closest game was a 51-50 loss to Kilgore in Week 2, but the score is deceiving. A week later, Flour Bluff blanked Moody 34-0. Although the Hornets are capable of winning in a shootout, they also can pitch a shutout.
The same is true of Southside, but the Cardinals won’t want to get into a scoringfest with Flour Bluff. They’ll need to control the ball and limit big plays, as best they can.
It will help if the Cardinals can do what they achieved against Laredo Cigarroa last week. Specifically, we’re referring to getting the lead an taking the air out of the ball.
Do-it-all back Matthew Collier is Southside’s trump card in that regard. Collier has rushed for 1,655 yards and 15 touchdowns. Against Cigarroa and in some earlier games, he added passing to his list of dutires, but the sophomore threw two interceptions.
Nonetheless, Collier did what he did best. He ran for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Brandon Herrera has done an admirable job of filling in for injured starter Jonny Trevino. He ran for 146 yards against Cigarroa and his running is a key element in Southside’s misdirection-oriented offense. However, he absolutely must get back to throwing the ball effectively against the Hornets to give the Cardinals a chance to spring the upset.
Look for defensive standout and tight end Diego Avila to get involved in the passing game.
Flour Bluff has averaged 39.9 points a game and held opponents to 20.9 and 254.1 yards a game. The Hornets have a relatively balanced offense, running for 1,716 yards and passing for 2,391.
Quarterback Cody Brewer has accounted for all but 19 of the passing yards. Brewer has 25 touchdowns and just nine interceptions to his credit. Aaron Dilworth (716 reception yards) and Kevin DeWitt (953) each have more than 50 receptions to their credit and average more than 12 yards a catch.
The Hornets’ Reidel Clayton has run for 654 yards and Jonathan Winfrey has chipped in 537. They’ve combined for 19 rushing touchdowns.
Southside already has set a school record for victories, topping the 2011 season, which included their last playoff appearance. If the Cardinals can add one more tonight, it will be the sweetest so far.
Area round opponent: Donna(6-3)-Mission Memorial (7-3) winner. Favorite: Corpus Christi Flour Bluff.
#8 Harlandale (6-4) at Alamo Heights (8-2), 7:30 p.m.
It wasn’t really a surprise to those who’ve followed Harlandale football over the years that, when the Indians’ backs were to the wall, they did what they needed to do to return to the playoffs.
Harlandale coach Isaac Martinez and his staff have a knack for bringing out the best in their teams.
The formula the Indians need to follow if they are to upset powerhouse Alamo Heights involves keeping pressure on Mules quarterback Dalton Banks and getting enough push out of their offensive line for senior back John Aguirre to keep the chains moving.
Defensively, Harlandale will need an effort much like it had in last Friday’s 7-6 win over McCollum. The Indians’ only touchdown was the product of an interception from Hunter Orozco.
Harlandale quarterback Jacob Delgado needs to find ways to get the ball to playmaking receiver Ian Martinez without forcing it into coverage and risking interceptions.
Banks is the linchpin of Alamo Heights’ offense. The senior has run for a team-best 596 rushing yards while throwing for a whopping 2,439. He has 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions to his credit.
Greer Shetler (836 receiving yards) is Banks’ favorite target, but Colten Courtney and Zach Ford both have more than 500 yards in receptions. Shetler averages about 19 yards a catch.
Deryl Reynolds is the complement to Banks as a run threat. The sophomore has gained 503 yards on the ground.
Expect Harlandale’s coach to have a few unexpected surprises for the Mules.
Area round opponent: Cedar Park Vista Ridge (8-2)-Austin LBJ (8-2) winner. Favorite: Alamo Heights.
#9 Edison (5-5) vs. Boerne Champion (10-0) at Heroes Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Edison has a tendency to do its best work in the second half. It’s a testament to the Golden Bears’ never-say-die spirit.
However, they’ll need to score points early and often to defeat a Boerne Champion team that is ranked 11th in the AP 5A poll.
The main priority will be to establish the run early with sophomore back Matthew Garcia and senior quarterback Jonathan Hernandez. Garcia has been steady with 523 yards to his credit in about ¾ of a season. Hernandez, though, has been more of a big-play guy on the ground – and big plays are likely to be very important tonight.
Hernandez has thrown for 882 yards with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. His ability to avoid turnovers against the Chargers’ pressure will be key. The senior seems to know when to stay with his receivers and when to scramble.
Bryan Bolton (606 yards, 33 receptions) and emerging Michael Benavidez will need to be on their games, so Edison can produce those long gains that have come in handy throughout the year.
The biggest challenge will be to the Golden Bears’ bend-but-not-break defense. For an example, Boerne Champion put up more than 600 total yards last Friday in a 65-43 win over Seguin.
Chargers quarterback Alex Flores has thrown for 1,300 yards with a 17-4 interception ratio (three Oct. 3 against Kerrville Tivy).
Standout back Travis Pospisil (1,541 yards, 21 touchdowns) frequently tops the 200-yard mark and is a receiving threat. Flores also is a capable runner.
Cort Cowart and Dillon Manz each are over 500 reception yards.
Edison is making its first playoff appearance since 2010.
Area round opponent: Cedar Park (8-3). Favorite: Boerne Champion.
#2 Sam Houston (8-2) vs. Kerrville Tivy (7-3) at Alamo Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Sam Houston, as it has pointed out, was chosen to finish fifth in District 28-5A. Since embarking on the district schedule, though, the undefeated champions have conquered every challenge placed in front of them.
It’s worth wondering how high the ceiling might be for a Hurricanes team that’s still fairly young.
Whether on offense, defense or special teams, Sam Houston has shown few weaknesses. It hasn’t, however, been tested week after week, as Kerrville Tivy has in 27-5A.
Quarterback Raymonte Prime has improved greatly in his second season at the helm. The junior’s numbers are impressive, although he hasn’t generated the same degree of hype as his Tivy counterpart Cade Dyal.
Prime has thrown for 1,778 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also can be effective if forced to scramble.
Devin Harris may be the key Sam Houston player tonight. The junior back has rushed for 810 yards and might also be called upon to pick up tough yardage on screen passes.
Receivers Jawon Anderson and Dewayne Brown, who also is a solid ballcarrier, can deliver big plays and yards after the catch. Travon Vaughns and Trenton Jones also are solid receivers.
Dyal has amassed 2,875 yards and 30 touchdowns. The junior also has thrown nine interceptions. Sam Houston has the ability to keep pressure on him and its speed in the secondary could produce turnovers.
The Hurricanes may not be quite as prolific offensively as Tivy, but that could be the big equalizer.
Kerrville Tivy has three receivers who’ve caught at least 490 yards worth of passes. Hutch White is a veteran with 968 reception yards and 13 touchdowns. Carson McCoy and Parker Brown are other receivers Sam Houston will need to check in the Antlers’ spread offense.
Back Redmond Carson (893 rushing yards) can keep the Hurricanes defense honest, if he’s healthy. Carson only logged six carries in Tivy’s season finale against Alamo Heights, a 51-44 loss.
Tivy’s defense has allowed 34 or more points six times. The Hurricanes surrendered 41 points in its last four games.
Sam Houston is making its second-consecutive playoff appearance, and the experience gained seems to have helped fuel the Hurricanes this year.
The postseason seems like a birthright in Kerrville (this is their 18th trip in a row). The Antlers will feel like they have something to prove against the 28-5A top seed, but the chip on its shoulder has served the Hurricanes well all season.
Area round opponent: Bastrop (7-3)-Georgetown East View (8-2) winner. Favorite: Sam Houston.
TAPPS DIVISION I
Midland Christian (6-4) at #7 Central Catholic (6-4), 7:30 p.m.
Central Catholic will feel like it has something to prove tonight after essentially letting Austin St. Michael’s off the hook on the same field last Friday.
The Buttons scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead in the TAPPS 2-I second-place showdown. However, St. Michael’s scored the tying touchdown with 2:43 left and won on a 17-yard pass in overtime.
Central Catholic has recovered well from its previous setbacks and should again.
Having an experienced senior quarterback in Joseph Nava should serve the Buttons well. Nava threw for 146 yards and ran for 131 a week ago.
Jimin Suh and steadily improving sophomore Thomas Palomera should relieve him of some of the ballcarrying presure, if need be.
Troy Lozano had his best game of the season against St. Michael’s with 104 yards on seven catches. William Prouse and Joe Barrera also are capable of being the go-to guy.
Central Catholic outgained Austin St. Michael’s 439-314 in total yards. Expect a strong effort from the Buttons’ defense tonight.
Midland Christian quarterback Gerry Powell has thrown for 1,750 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s given up 12 interceptions, so the Buttons should bring a lot of pressure his way.
The Mustangs have a fairly balanced offense behind a large offensive line, with Justin Fender racking up 1,100 rushing yards. Reagan Brown has 32 catches for 512 receiving yards.
State quarterfinal opponent: Dallas Bishop Dunne (9-1). Favorite: Central Catholic.
TAPPS DIVISION II
Arlington Pantego Christian (6-4) at #1 Holy Cross (7-1), 7 p.m.
It may be a bit of an exaggeration to say that Holy Cross rolled through the TAPPS District 3-II schedule without much turbulence. It is fair, though, to say that the Knights distinguished themselves in the second half in their challenges against Austin Hyde Park Baptist and Austin Regents.
The Knights have a strong defense and an experienced offensive line to go with senior standout back Greg Scott. That should be enough to get Holy Cross past this bi-district matchup against Arlington Pantego Christian.
Pantego Christian’s offense features 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback Hill Alexander. Alexander is a run-pass threat for the Panthers. He has run for 1,445 yards and thrown for 1,317 with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. The senior has produced 20 touchdowns, 19 on the ground.
Will Boyd is Alexander’s favorite target with 37 catches for 528 yards. Boyd is second on the team with six receiving touchdowns.
While Holy Cross wants to control the ball and take advantage of mismatches in the passing game, Pantego Christian’s results indicate that it wants to win shootouts. The Panthers gave up more than 500 yards to Trinity Valley early in the season.
A key for Holy Cross will be the performance of its quarterback tandem of sophomore Steven Gutierrez and freshman Nazario Coleman in their first playoff action. They’ll need to keep their poise and be effective in play action.
State quarterfinal opponent: Fort Worth Christian (8-2)-Austin Hyde Park Baptist (5-4) winner. Favorite: Holy Cross.