By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
For the first time since 2009, Willowridge High School is in the football playoffs.
The Eagles join six other Fort Bend ISD schools as the district placed seven teams in the 2016 football playoffs, the maximum available to them in the current alignment. The teams were placed in both divisions of 6A and 5A, which gives FBISD a shot at four state championships.
In District 20-6A, Ridge Point (7-0 district, 10-0 overall) finished first and Travis (5-2, 7-3) second, and being the schools with the largest enrollments among the playoff qualifiers, they were placed in the 6A Division 1 bracket. Ridge Point will play Morton Ranch (5-5) at Hall Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Travis will play Katy (8-2) at Rhodes Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
“Katy has a great run game with a stout defense as always,” Travis coach Trey Sissom said. “We are going to have to play up to our potential and match their intensity and execution to have a chance to advance to the second round.”
Kempner (4-3, 7-3) and Bush (4-3, 6-4) tied for third in District 20-6A, and they will compete in the 6A Division 2 bracket. Kempner plays Katy Taylor (8-2) at Rhodes Stadium on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“Katy Taylor is a pretty good team,” Kempner running back Billy Reagins Jr. said. “But I don’t think they can stop our veer offense. For both teams, it’s win or go home.”
“Just knowing that all the hard work we put in has paid off and given us the opportunity to go to the playoffs is a great feeling,” offensive lineman Dalton Perez said. “We will have to be perfect to beat Taylor.”
Bush will play Cinco Ranch at a location and time to be determined.
In District 23-5A, Manvel (7-0, 10-0) finished first, Elkins (5-2, 5-5) and Marshall (5-2, 8-2) tied for second, and Willowridge (4-3, 6-4) finished fourth. Based on enrollment, Manville and Elkins will compete in 5A Division 1. Manville will play Austin at Alvin Memorial Stadium on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Elkins will play Madison (8-2) at Butler Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
In 5A Division 2, Marshall will play Sterling (5-5) at Barnett Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Coach McGhee has done a tremendous job at Sterling,” Marshall coach James Williams said. “We look forward to the match up. One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs. We are happy and grateful to be able to continue our season.”
Willowridge will play Waltrip (7-3) at Hall Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. “When we got here four years ago, people told us this couldn’t happen. That Willowridge couldn’t make the playoffs. We have some great coaches here and some great young men who do what the coaches ask them to do, and that’s all you ask for as a coach. This is a big-time blessing,” Willowridge coach Richard Lazarou said. “It’s been a long time since Willowridge was in the playoffs. The last time was 2009, and the last playoff win was 2004.”
“The playoffs mean a lot to us. It’s time to work harder. We need to work harder if we want to keep playing,” Willowridge linebacker David Greenwood said.