VS. NEW LONDON WEST RUSK (8-2)
SITE, TIME: Spring Hill's Panther Stadium, 7 p.m.
AT STAKE: Class 3A, Div. I bi-district title.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Jawan King, RB Caleb Hamilton, QB Andrew Samples, LB Connor Samples, OL/DL Caleb Coleman, WR/DB Kade Wood, OL/DL Shun Hunter.
COACH'S COMMENTS: Atlanta's Matt McClure—"We've just got to be better Friday night. We've won five out of our last six, so we feel like we're playing pretty well, pretty consistent. We're healthy and really confident going into this game.
"West Rusk is a good team; they've been ranked in the top 10 for 6 out of 10 weeks this season. They lost two out of their last three. We've seen them on film and were able to watch them on our open week. They're a good team, very physical and do a lot things offensively; we're going to have to play well.
"They've got a history of winning; they played three rounds (in the playoffs) last year. Going to the playoffs and playing for a while is not new to them.
"The big key is up front; you've got to win with the offensive and defensive lines and win the turnover battle."
NEXT ROUND: Winner plays Kemp or Lone Oak in the Class 3A, Div. I area round next week.
HUGHES SPRINGS (5-5)
VS. GLADEWATER (9-1)
SITE, TIME: Hallsville's Bobcat Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
AT STAKE: Class 3A, Div. I bi-district title.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Nakia Lee, FB Bryce Johnston, QB Andrew Gaul, RT Dylan Dunn, LT Jed Jones, C Jace Ratley, RG Skyler Henderson, LG Gustavo Soto.
COACH'S COMMENTS: Hughes Springs' Chris Edwards—"Gladewater is big, physical, and they are very well coached. They are about an 80 percent run and 20 percent pass team.
"We will need to slow down their running game. They have a good running back, and we want to put them in second-and-long or a third-and-long situation. If we do that, we have to not let their receiver make a big play. Offensively, we want to control the clock more than they do and be effective in doing that. We will have to get a big play here and there because they play good defense. We will have to take care of the football and not turn it over; anything can happen.
"I told the kids the other day that I am proud of them. We have played really well in our last three football games. Our offense has been clicking, and we have posted two consecutive shutouts. We have gotten better and learned from our past games. Our kids have persevered through it. I think we will give Gladewater a game. I am not sure how much of a game, and I never know exactly what it's going to be like. I like the position that we are in because we have been playing hard, are well coached and are playing physical."
NEXT ROUND: Winner plays Bonham or Eustace in the Class 3A, Div. I area round next week.
PAUL PEWITT (8-2)
VS. NEWTON (9-0)
SITE, TIME: Carthage's Bulldog Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
AT STAKE: Class 3A, Division II bi-district title.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Cross Holder, RB/LB La-Jathan Allen, RB/DB Kadrien Johnson, LB Keiuntray Hawkins, WR/LB Colby Frost, TB/DB DJ Turner.
COACH'S COMMENTS: Paul Pewitt's Triston Abron—"I want us to come out and compete and play loose. When you're playing a team the caliber of Newton (24-game win streak, defending state champion), you can get uptight real fast. I want our kids to enjoy the night. If we'll play loose, execute our scheme and take care of our business, then we give ourselves the best chance as a team.
"Newton has the tradition and the record to go with it. The statement I've made to our team all week is, 'teams say, I want to win state, I want to win state. Well in order to win state, you've got to beat the state champ. No one has beaten Newton since 2016.' Our goal is to win the state championship, and in order to do that the road to the title goes through Newton. Be it the bi-district game, are round or regional round, you're going to have to see them; why not see them, get it over with and move on.
"They are extremely talented; they've got recruits, speed and size all over the field. With all that being said, I really like the way we've been playing this season. If we'll come out and play the way we've played, I'll take this group of young men and play anybody in the state with them."
NEXT ROUND: The winner advances to the area round to play either Blue Ridge or Grand Saline.
JAMES BOWIE (6-4)
VS. ERA (6-4)
SITE, TIME: Prairiland High School's Patriot Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
AT STAKE: Class 2A, Division II bi-district championship.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: FB Ty Watts, RB Duncan Hammonds, QB/S Evan Barron, TE/DE Kutter Walker, OL/DL Whitt Rogers, OL/DL Lucas Stephenson.
COACH'S COMMENTS: James Bowie's Eddy May—"I don't think our kids have been in the playoffs for a couple of years. We won six games, and I looked at it and our sophomores and juniors had only won two in the past two years. Being in the playoffs, we get another week of practice, and that's good for our younger kids to understand that that's what we want to do every year.
"I break it down into seasons, and this is the start of season four. We've been talking about getting to season four all year. Now we've made it, and we'll focus in on one week at a time. We'll try to "survive and advance.' Era's a good football team. They remind me of us, as far as what they do with their wishbone set. If our kids come ready to play and execute, I think we'll have a chance to win.
"Defensively, we've got to stop their quarterback; he's a hard runner. If we play assignment football and be where we're supposed to be, I think we'll be OK. The key will be stopping that quarterback. Offensively, it will be the same for us as it has been the last 10 games; we need to control the line of scrimmage. If we can sustain long drives, protect the football and eliminate penalties, in the end I think we'll have a chance to come out with a win."
NEXT ROUND: The winner faces either Mart or West Hardin in next week's area round.