It’s a short drive from Fort Bend County to NRG Stadium, but six Star-area know it will take a lot of work to qualify for the state championships, from Dec. 17-19, at the home of the Houston Texans.
Fort Bend Christian, returning to the playoffs for the second straight season, hopes to play for a TAPPS Division II Championship on the first weekend of December in Bastrop.
Two area teams — Hightower and Stafford — enter the postseason with perfect 10-0 records.
There will be three first-round rematches from last season — Hightower vs. Friendswood (Hall Stadium), Travis at Clear Creek, and Fort Bend Christian at Dallas Christian.
FRIENDSWOOD MUSTANGS (6-4) at HIGHTOWER HURRICANES (10-0)
7 p.m., Hall Stadium, Missouri City
Class 6A, Division II Bi-District
A quick look: Hightower will host Friendswood in a rematch of last season’s first round overtime loss to the Mustangs, whom they led by double digits in the second half. This Hightower’s team is undefeated and had a week of rest to prepare for the Mustangs. Hightower senior quarterback Neiko Hollins has 26 touchdowns this season, and receiver Kaelin Jackson has caught eight of his 16 touchdown passes.
Rankings: Hightower is No. 21 in Texas Football’s 6A Top 25
Deciding Factor: Hightower is clearly the favorite, but they can’t take the Mustangs lightly. Three of the Mustangs’ losses came by a total of 11 points, including a 3-point setback against undefeated Clear Creek and a 7-point loss to Dickinson.
The winner will face: La Porte or Pearland Dawson.
RIDGE POINT (7-3) vs. PORT LAVACA CALHOUN SANDCRABS (7-3)
7 p.m., Hopper Stadium, Freeport
Class 5A, Division II Bi-District
A quick look: Few expected Ridge Point to repeat as Class 5A-District 23 Champions after graduating most of its seniors from last season’s 12-1 team. The Panthers have won seven of their last eight since an 0-2 start against a pair of undefeated district champions (Clear Creek and Hightower). The Panthers’ reward for a district title? A game against a Sandcrabs squad that lost to undefeated George Ranch by one point.
Deciding Factor: Ridge Point has proven that it can play well on the road, earning victories at Galveston Ball and Texas City, respectively. The Panthers will need a big game from B.J. Rainford, who has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards this season.
The winner will play: Crosby or Lumberton
HOUSTON STERLING RAIDERS (5-5) at STAFFORD SPARTANS (10-0)
7:30 p.m. Spartan Stadium, Stafford
Class 4A, Division I Bi-District
A quick look: Stafford is enjoying its best season in school history, and its 4A-I District 12 Championship has earned the Spartans a home playoff game against a Houston Sterling team that finished fourth in its district. Stafford scored a season-high 64 points last week as quarterback Curtis Robinson and running back James Brown scored four and three touchdowns, respectively.
Rankings: Stafford is No. 8 in Texas Football’s 4A-I Top 10.
Deciding Factor: Stafford shouldn’t have any trouble winning its first round game, but they should get a quick start and rest their starters for next week’s game.
The winner will face: Carthage or Bridge City.
TRAVIS TIGERS (6-4) at CLEAR CREEK WILDCATS (10-0)
7 p.m. CCISD Veteran’s Stadium, League City
Class 6A, Division II Bi-District
A quick look: Travis scored a school-record 71 points in last week’s win-or-go-home regular season finale against Dulles. Now, the Tigers — under first-year head coach Trey Sissom, face an undefeated Clear Creek team it upset 34-29 in last season’s first round. The Wildcats are averaging 40 points per game to Travis’ 30 points per game.
Rankings: Clear Creek is No. 13 in Texas Football’s 6A Top 25.
Deciding Factor: Travis has a young team that should be a contender in future years. Sophomore quarterback Amryn Jeffrey has 21 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. The Tigers will need a quick start to have a chance at scoring an upset on the road.
The winner will face: Manvel or Channelview
ELKINS KNIGHTS (8-2) at FOSTER FALCONS (8-2)
7 p.m., Traylor Stadium, Rosenberg
Class 5A, Division I Bi-District
A quick look: This is probably the first round matchup of the weekend. Elkins managed to avoid undefeated George Ranch, but the Knights will face cross-county rival, Foster. The Falcons have won four straight since a 35-28 loss to George Ranch. Elkins bounced back from a 13-9 upset loss to Bush, to rout Santa Fe, 37-2, in its season finale.
Rankings: Elkins is No. 20 in Texas Football’s 5A Top 25, Foster is No. 21.
Deciding Factor: Last season, Foster came close to upsetting undefeated Ridge Point. Playing a road game to open the playoffs will be a challenge for the Knights, but the combination of twins, Romanon (quarterback) and Romellus (running back) Skinner could keep Elkins in contention.
The winner will face: C.E. King or Beaumont Central
GEORGE RANCH LONGHORNS (10-0) at BUSH BRONCOS (5-5)
7 p.m. Mercer Stadium, Sugar Land
Class 5A, Division I Bi-District
A quick look: Few expected Bush to make the playoffs after a 1-4 start, but the Broncos have won four of their last five, including a shocking upset of state-ranked Elkins. In a must-win game, they went on the road last week to defeat Galveston Ball. But they’ll face their toughest test of the season when undefeated George Ranch comes to Sugar Land on Friday.
Rankings: George Ranch is No. 3 in Texas Football’s 5A Top 25
Deciding Factor: If Bush can keep the game low-scoring into the fourth quarter, they’ll have a chance at an upset. They should also closely study the game film from the Longhorns’ 27-26 near-upset loss against Port Lavaca Calhoun.
The winner will face: Nederland or New Caney
FORT BEND CHRISTIAN EAGLES (7-3) at DALLAS CHRISTIAN CHARGERS (9-1)
7 p.m., Dallas Christian Stadium, Mesquite
TAPPS, Division II First-Round
A quick look: The Eagles have the longest first round playoff trip of any Star area team. FBCA has lost its last three after starting the season at 7-0. The Chargers have won nine straight since a season-opening loss to Dallas Bishop Dunne. Last season, Dallas Christian defeated FBCA, 49-14, in the first round en route to the state title game, where the Chargers lost, 56-14, to Dallas Parish Episcopal.
Rankings: Dallas Christian is No. 4 in Texas Football’s Top 5 private schools.
Deciding Factor: Fort Bend Christian can play with confidence and the idea that they have nothing to lose. All of the pressure is on Dallas Christian, a highly-ranked team that’s playing at home. The Chargers have won all of their victories by 24 points or more with the exception of a 16-14 win over Tyler Grace Community on Oct. 2.
The winner will face: Lutheran South or Tyler Gorman.