Division II appears to truly be the land of opportunity in this year’s Class 5A football playoffs.
It's light on state-ranked teams and unbeaten records, perhaps, but stocked with some of the area’s best passers.
From the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone, the Division II bracket can boast five quarterbacks averaging over 200 passing yards per game:
Paul Millard of Flower Mound, 4,188 passing yards and 45 touchdowns.
Driphus Jackson of Cedar Hill, 2,524 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Mike Savage of Dallas Jesuit, 2,478 yards and 25 touchdowns.
J.W. Walsh of Denton Guyer, 2,107 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Collin Strahan of Mesquite Horn, 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns.
In the playoffs, beware the quarterback with a hot hand.
The big question: Can Flower Mound win with a defense that allows 46.3 points per game?
Somewhere along the line, the Jaguars missed the passage in the coaching manual that points to a running game and strong defense as pillars of success.
Refreshingly, Flower Mound flings it (438 passing yards per game) and is comfortable outscoring, rather than shutting out, opponents. And if it takes 50 points to win, that’s fine. The Jags average 51 points per game.
Hunter Lee (33 touchdowns) and Josh Brake (16 touchdowns) have each gone over 1,000 receiving yards for the season. No team has held the Jaguars (7-3) to fewer than 37 points this season.
But only once did the Jaguars hold an opponent under 28 points.
Flower Mound will get an early test against Southlake Carroll in a bi-district game 7:30 p.m. Friday at Justin Northwest.
Which TD producer will celebrate a bi-district victory: Jeff Calvert or Damon Bullock?
These two seniors do it differently but know the way to the end zone. Calvert, the Colleyville Heritage quarterback, has thrown for 1,828 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 665 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Bullock, Mansfield’s running back, has rushed for 1,507 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.
The bi-district game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pennington Field in Bedford.
Dark horse: Mesquite Horn
A 6-4 record allows the Jaguars the opportunity to fly under the radar. But on closer inspection, Horn appears a lot better than its record. All four losses were to playoff teams: Coppell (13-0), Denton Guyer (34-31), Longview (13-8) and DeSoto (61-47.)
Collin Strahan to Jakeem Grant is one of area’s best passer-receiver connections.
Horn has a difficult first-round draw against a top-flight Central Texas program, 9-1 Copperas Cove, but the game will be played Friday in Stephenville, where Horn won it final non-district game in September.
Battle of runners: Desmond Roland vs. John Lacour
Saturday’s bi-district game matching a pair of 7-3 teams, Dallas Lake Highlands and South Garland, could be decided by the 1,000-yard running back that has the best day at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
Roland, a 6-2, 195-pound Lake Highlands senior, rushed for 1,255 yards and 21 touchdowns in the regular season.
Lacour, a 5-10, 176-pound senior, has gained 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns for South Garland.
Best potential second-round matchup: Cedar Hill vs. Denton Guyer
A rematch of one of the best games of the season is a possibility, contingent on a Cedar Hill bi-district win over Hurst L.D. Bell and a Guyer victory over Flower Mound Marcus.
Cedar Hill defeated Guyer in overtime, 42-41, on Labor Day in the Herbstreit Classic at Cowboys Stadium. Guyer quarterback J.W. Walsh rushed for 202 yards and five touchdowns that day. Cedar Hill quarterback Driphus Jackson threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
Around the state in Division II
Defending Class 5A Division II state champion Abilene (7-3,) led by the Sims cousins, quarterback Ronnell and running back Herschel, will attempt to defend its title.
Top challengers include:
From Region I, Abilene Cooper (9-1,) which defeated Abilene, 45-28, in a district game.
Region II power Lufkin (9-1) has been on a roll since the return of running back Jamarcus Walker from injury.
Region III favorite Alief Taylor (9-1) suffered its only defeat at the hands of powerhouse Katy in Week 1.
San Antonio’s best, MacArthur (9-1,) could prove the team to beat in Region IV with running back Darik Dillard (1,467 yards) leading the way.