Above Photo Credit: Diaz Design and Photography
5A Division II Region 2 Semifinals
Lone Star (11-1) VS Waxahachie (8-4)—The Ford Center at The Star, Sat., 12/2 @ 1:00 PM
Some teams are at their best when their opposition is even better. Sounds weird, but with the Indians of Waxahachie, they’ve made it this far by dethroning the top dogs of other districts. In fact, the Indians have made their 2017 dip into the playoff seas a relative breeze thus far. Especially compared to their tough regular season.
Waxahachie had an uphill climb just to make it this far. The fourth seed of District 10-5A, the Indians had the unenviable task of contending with three powerhouse Mansfield schools during district play. Having a tough district does have its advantages, as it does make for a nice playoff primer. And to that extent, so far so good for Waxahachie.
Averaging just over 51 points per playoff game, while surrendering just 18 points over that same span, the Indians easily dispatched of Everman, 58-21 in the bi-district round, followed by an erstwhile dismantling of South Oak Cliff in the area round, 45-15.
Waxahachie uses an offensive approach highlighted by the precision passing of QB Byrse Salik (2,951 yds, 32 TDs, 9 INTs) whose key playmakers are both hybrid WR/RBs—Demani Richardson (778 combined yards, 11 TDs) and Jerreth Sterns (1,370 total yards, 13 TDs).
Sterns is the team’s leading pass-catcher, with 869 yards and eight receiving scores, while averaging a stellar 16.1 yards per reception. Richardson, on the other hand, is not quite as adept at pass-catching as the aforementioned Sterns, but his explosivity and playmaking ability make him a true weapon as his 13.3 yards per carry and 23.8 yards per catch can attest.
So it’s not as if Waxahachie is taking down top teams by chance, they’ve got a solid, top-to-bottom team that is reminiscent of last week’s Lovejoy squad, with greater depth combined with an edgy, battle-tested composure. That’s no knock on the Leopards, but 10-5A’s playoff entrants are currently all still in the playoffs, and that’s due to no other reason but pure talent.
Although the Indians have all the makings of a team hitting its stride at just the right time, they have yet to face a team as talented and diverse as the Lone Star Rangers.
The Indians will be looking to establish the same early dominance they’ve shown thus far in the postseason—as Waxahachie has averaged an impressive 21 points per first quarter.
On the flip-side, the Lone Star Rangers have started off rather slow in their two wins, getting help from the defense last week, last week while putting together a crushing second-half against The Colony.
But defense doesn’t slump, so they say, so I’d look for yet another dominant defensive effort by the Rangers, and I get the feeling M.J. Rivers, Kirby Bennett III, Marvin Mims and the rest of their electric offense are due for some first-half fireworks.
Last week, the Leopards of Lovejoy were over-matched more times than not but they put together an excellent game plan in terms of stopping the Rangers‘ rushing attack. Waxahachie will look to employ a similar strategy, no doubt, but as Lovejoy discovered, stopping Lone Star’s ample ground attack isn’t enough, as that’s just one bullet in their multi-faceted chamber.
The winner of this Regional Semifinal matchup will square off against the winner of 10-5A’s Mansfield Legacy (10-2) and North Forney (10-2) of 15-5A.
For more about this week’s Lone Star VS Waxahachie matchup, check out the HS Football Rundown Podcast (audio).