3-4A well-represented in the postseason

PHIL RIDDLE phil.riddle@empiretribune.com Twitter @ETSports
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham talks with teammates while the SHS defense was on the field Friday against Estacado. Stidham, injured in the Yellow Jackets' regular season matchup against Big Spring, returned last week and will attempt to help SHS avenge a 64-57 loss versus the Steers on Friday.

It’s been an impressive run through the playoffs for teams from District 3-4A.

As with all 4A districts, four teams made the postseason tournament but unlike most leagues within the University Interscholastic League, three of them are still alive in the chase for a state title.

That will change this weekend as two of the remaining three will face each other. Stephenville, 8-3, and Big Spring, 9-2, square off in a rematch of the regular season meeting.

The winner of that game will take on the winner of the highly anticipated matchup of Abilene Wylie, the 3-4A champion, and Graham, the winner of District 4. That means there’s a possibility that two of the four District 3 teams that made the playoffs will face each other in the regional round.

Last week’s results saw Stephenville outlast Lubbock Estacado 69-60, marking the triumphant, and surprising, return of starting QB Jarrett Stidham; Big Spring avenged a regular season loss to Andrews by knocking off the Mustangs, 48-34, and Wyle had little trouble with Levelland, exploding for a 75-21 victory.

Stephenville (8-3) vs. Big Spring (9-2)

The Yellow Jackets’s offense has been afire all through the playoffs, but the return of injured senior quarterback Jarrett Stidham marked a return to Stephenville’s variable-threat offense, that featured rushing, passing and receiving aspects that were virtually unstoppable by the Matadors.

Add to that, the opportunity for some revenge of their own for the Steers’ 64-57 regular season win and the ‘Jackets’ motivation shouldn’t be lacking. Plus, it will be the first time Big Spring has faced the SHS starting quarterback for a whole game.

Stidham, knocked out of the Big Spring game in the opening offensive possession, passed for 341 yards and six touchdowns last week and ran for touchdowns of 17, 21 and 50 yards.

The Steers’ quarterback was also effective in different aspects of the win over Andrews.

Steers’ QB Tobyn Tannehill ran for 149 yards and a score, while completing 10 of 17 passes for 162 yards and a pick.

But as was the case against Stephenville earlier this season, the Big Spring running attack was the impetus for the win.

Preston Alexander racked up more than 100 yards on the ground and scored four times.

Abilene Wylie (10-2) vs. Graham (10-2)

Both teams sport identical records.

Both teams have stifling defenses.

And both teams have offenses that can either grind out wins or explode for lots of yards and points.

The Bulldogs have won nine straight since losing to the Steers in the season’s third week. The 18-7 loss to Graham marked the lowest offensive of the year for Wylie, which, since then has erupted for 347 points.

The harmless 21 points put up by Levelland last week was the most the WHS defense has allowed since Argyle beat the ‘Dogs 34-28 in the season opener.

Graham, which eliminated District 3-4A’s fourth playoff team in Brownwood in the bi-district round, has been almost as stingy on defense. Decatur surprised the Steers with a 48-point effort in the last week of the regular season, but other than that, Argyle ‘s 35 in Week 4 was the most GHS allowed.

Offensively, Graham has been a juggernaut, topping 40 points seven times, including both previous playoff games.