SAN ANGELO, TX — There are only eight total teams remaining in the Class 1A DI and DII State Championship Playoffs, and three of them are from our neck of the woods. Blackwell, Rankin, and Richland Springs have survived through three rounds of the six-man gauntlet so far and only need two more wins to hoist the trophy in AT&T Stadium on December 18.
In the 1A Division I bracket, Rankin is playing a panhandle school in the state semifinals and would potentially play a school an hour south of Fort Worth or one an hour east of Waco, if the Red Devils win Saturday evening.
In the 1A Division II bracket, we could see a West Texas showdown between Blackwell and Richland Springs if they both knock off their opponents Friday.
All three teams have had phenomenal seasons and have a combined record of 37-1. They are all ranked in the top ten in their divisions by Dave Campbell's, but so are all their opponents.
Here is a rundown of this weekend's games.
Class 1A Division II
#8 Blackwell 14-0 vs. #6 Motley County 10-3 (Friday at 6:30, Knox City's Greyhound Field)
The Hornets biggest test of the season came in last weeks playoff game against the previously unbeaten and #1 ranked Jayton Jaybirds. The two teams put on a show for the right to play Motley County, but Blackwell outlasted their opponent by one possession 62-54. In the first two rounds, Blackwell beat 4-5 Sanderson 64-16 and 6-6 Throckmorton 46-0.
On the other side of this matchup, the Motley County Matadors' three losses came on the road against 9-3 Spur (Final 76-74), 7-3 Paducah (Final 88-46), and 8-3 Knox City (Final 116-94!). In the playoffs, the Matadors have had a similar path to Blackwell's. They ran by 5-4 Lefors and 7-5 Anton by an average point differential of 51.5 points setting up a meeting with the 10-2 Groom Tigers. Motley County won 56-62.
Blackwell and Motley County will meet each other in the middle and play at Knox City's Greyhound Field Friday.
#3 Richland Springs 11-0 at #5 Strawn 9-4 (Friday at 7:00, Abilene's Shotwell Stadium)
This top five matchup will surely be a good one. They Coyotes have already beaten two top ten teams in the playoffs this year, #7 Calvert and #10 Oakwood. The Calvert game was the tightest of the two. Richland Springs nudged by them 34-29 in round two but then crushed Oakwood 72-12 last week. They beat 9-1 Brookesmith 72-25 to start their playoff run.
Strawn is 2-4 against ranked teams this season with their two wins coming against now 7-4 Milford and in a playoff rematch from the regular season against 11-2 Gordon. Strawn lost to Gordon 27-26 in the final regular season game of the year and got revenge last week with their 64-40 win.
In the first two rounds, the Greyhounds beat 4-7 Forestburg 52-0 and 9-3 Cranfills Gap 62-14.
The winner of Friday's game will play the winner of the Blackwell/Motley County game in AT&T Stadium December 18 at 2:00 p.m.
Class 1A Division II
#2 Rankin 12-1 at #4 McLean 11-1 (Saturday at 6:00, Wolfforth's Peoples Bank Stadium)
In the other 1A bracket, the Red Devils will meet the McLean Tigers in Wolfforth just outside of Lubbock. Rankin's only loss of the season was against Sterling City in early October, but they met again in the first round of the playoffs and Rankin pulled away 86-60. After that win, Rankin went on to play 9-3 Ropes before handing #1 ranked Borden County their first loss of the season by a score of 78-32 last week.
Borden County is not their only impressive with this season, either. Rankin beat #7 Garden City 60-46 on September 27 and #3 Balmorhea 68-44 for the 7-1A DI district championship in week 11.
McLean's only loss so far this season was to Balmorhea in their third game of the season. The score was 48-35. Their run to 11 wins including two victories over their now 10-3 district rival White Deer.
The winner will play either 10-2 Blum or 12-1 Jonesboro in AT&T Stadium on December 18 at 11:00 a.m.