Written by SportsDayDFW.com
UIL football semis: How do Dallas-area teams stack up in the final four?
ALLEN VS. DESOTO
CLASS 5A DIVISION I STATE SEMIFINAL
Allen (14-0) vs. DeSoto (14-0)
2 p.m. Saturday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium
Best wins: Southlake Carroll, Coppell, Cedar Hill, Spring Westfield
Last loss: To Coppell, 27-24, in Sept. 27, 2012 nondistrict game
Playoff road: def. Lake Highlands, 63-6; Mesquite Horn, 42-14; The Woodlands, 56-21; Spring Westfield, 48-13.
Last semifinal appearance: 2012 (won 5A Division I state title)
Players to watch: Junior QB Kyler Murray, who a week ago was named the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year, has passed for 3,161 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for 927 yards and 17 scores. Senior WR Cole Carter has 47 catches for 821 yards and four of his 15 TD receptions were in the last two games. Senior Mayomi Olootu (orally committed to Northern Illinois) is a standout DB and also a dangerous kick returner.
Notable: Despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, Allen has won every game by at least 19 points. … Allen’s defensive front is strong and deep and includes a pair of star LBs: Tay Evans (orally committed to Oklahoma) and Christian Sam (Arizona State). Evans suffered an ankle injury early in last week’s game and didn’t return, but Allen didn’t need him. … Allen’s offensive line is another strength, led by center Tejan Koroma (BYU).
Best wins: Cedar Hill, Euless Trinity twice, Arlington Martin twice, Coppell
Last loss: To Allen, 51-36, in 2012 5A Division I semifinal
Playoff road: def. Copperas Cove, 67-21; Coppell, 34-30; Arlington Martin, 56-34; Euless Trinity, 48-41.
Last semifinal appearance: 2012
Players to watch: Senior QB Desmon White (orally committed to TCU as a receiver) has been a star all season, and especially in crunch time. He’s thrown for 3,736 yards and 38 touchdowns and run for 1,609 yards and15 scores. Senior WR Chris Lacy (Oklahoma State) has 62 receptions, averages nearly 19 yards per catch, and has 16 TD receptions. Senior DL Bryce English (Texas) is tough to move at 5-11 and 310 pounds and had seven fumble recoveries in the regular season.
Notable: DeSoto fell behind 21-0 to Allen in last year’s semifinal and never got closer than a touchdown after that. It was the only loss for DeSoto in the last two seasons. … Senior DL Shaquel Jackson (UNT) and senior LB Jalen Dawson give DeSoto more strength up front. … DeSoto’s speedy LBs and secondary will be tested by Kyler Murray’s scrambling ability. … DeSoto has three RBs that have run for at least 500 yards and 10 TDs apiece.
CEDAR HILL VS. LAKE TRAVIS
CLASS 5A DIVISION II STATE SEMIFINAL
Cedar Hill (12-2) vs. Lake Travis (12-1)
1:30 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco
Playoff road: d. Temple 39-35, d. Hebron 42-21, d. Abilene Cooper 28-23, d. Denton Ryan 52-29.
Best win: In a key District 7-5A showdown, Cedar Hill held one-loss Mansfield Timberview to 93 total yards of offense in a convincing 44-6 victory. Cedar Hill’s offense was just as good, gaining 441 yards and 29 first downs.
Last loss: 47-20 to DeSoto in a District 7-5A meeting on Sept. 20. DeSoto faces Allen in a 5A Division I semifinal Saturday.
Players to watch: Junior WR DaMarkus Lodge has 1,213 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 66 yards and two touchdowns against Denton Ryan in the Region I final. Senior RB Larry Hill has rushed for 1,025 yards and 20 touchdowns. Senior DE Xavier Washington has 60 tackles and 20 sacks.
Notable: Cedar Hill is seeking its second consecutive trip to the Division II championship. It lost to Katy in last year’s title game, 35-24. … Cedar Hill is one of the most balanced teams in the Dallas area, ranking eighth in total offense (424.6 yards per game) and sixth in total defense (257.4 ypg).
Playoff road: d. Round Rock Westwood 52-7, d. Atascocita 41-16, d. Jesuit 55-30, d. A&M Consolidated 21-7.
Best win: Lake Travis limited A&M Consolidated to 43 rushing yards and 150 total yards en route to a 21-7 victory in the Region II final. A&M Consolidated had beaten Longview, the District 12-5A champion, one week earlier.
Last loss: 25-19 to Converse Judson in the season opener.
Players to watch: Senior RB Varshaun Nixon, a Texas A&M pledge, has 229 carries for 1,680 yards and 23 touchdowns. Junior QB Dominic De Lira has 2,187 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. Senior DLs Zach Davies and Michael Islava have combined for 24 sacks.
Notable: Lake Travis won three state championships at Floyd Casey Stadium from 2007-09. … The team averages 203 rushing yards. Lake Travis eclipsed 300 rushing yards in playoffs wins against Westwood and Jesuit. … Lake Travis has gone on to win a state championship in each of its last five trips to the state semifinals.
PREDICTION: Cedar Hill 34, Lake Travis 28
HIGHLAND PARK VS. DENTON GUYER
CLASS 4A DIVISION I STATE SEMIFINAL
Denton Guyer (12-2) vs. Highland Park (13-1)
1 p.m. Saturday at Allen Eagle Stadium
Best win: Guyer’s best win was also its second loss. Behind two touchdown passes from quarterback Jerrod Heard and two rushing scores from D.J. Breedlove, Guyer dispatched 6-5A runner-up Colleyville Heritage, 35-14. The win was forfeited 11 days later, when Guyer self-reported that it used an ineligible player – a second-year foreign exchange student – for the first two games of the season.
Last loss: 38-28, at Cedar Hill in Week Zero
Playoff road: d. Saginaw, 69-7; d. Waco, 42-13; d. Amarillo, 63-21; d. Birdville, 53-28.
Last semifinal appearance: 2012 (won 4A Division I state title)
Players to watch: Senior QB Jerrod Heard, a Texas pledge and the 2012 4A Division I final offensive MVP, has passed for 1,891 yards and 21 scores and rushed for 1,859 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Senior RB D.J. Breedlove has a team-high 26 touchdowns: 20 rushing, four receiving, and a punt- and kickoff-return score. Senior DT Thomas Ferguson has leads the team in sacks (9) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (42).
Notable: It’s not a surprise that Guyer has reached this point. In fact, under coach John Walsh, the school has made it a habit. Guyer has reached the state semifinals in 4A Division I or 5A Division II in four of the past five seasons. Apart from the season-opening loss to Cedar Hill (who’s still alive in the 5A Division II playoffs), Guyer hasn’t really been challenged. Over its last 13 games, Guyer has not trailed in the second half, with only Wichita Falls Rider getting within a single score in the fourth quarter.
Best win: With a 77-game home winning streak on the line, Brooks Burgin passed for 345 yards and accounted for five scores in a 41-26 win over 10-4A foe Mesquite Poteet, an eventual Division II Region II finalist.
Last loss: 44-3 to Aledo (in Allen) in Week Zero
Playoff road: d. The Colony, 38-17; d. Kimball, 58-21; d. Mansfield Legacy, 48-0; d. Wylie, 27-14.
Last semifinal appearance: 2007 (runner-up to Lake Travis in 4A-D2)
Players to watch: Junior QB Brooks Burgin revitalized HP’s offense, passing for 3,307 yards and 31 scores while rushing for 19 touchdowns. Seven WRs have 20 or more catches, including junior Andrew Frost (team highs in yards  and touchdown catches ). Will Sanders hasn’t missed a kick all season, going 10 for 10 on field goals and 77 for 80 on extra points (with three PATs blocked).
Notable: Highland Park found its stride after getting rocked by Aledo in the season opener, winning its last 13 games by an average of 31.6 points. HP’s defense has been stout among its front seven, but will see a significant challenge in Guyer’s powerful offensive line. Senior DL Andrew Clyde had eight sacks and 40 solo tackles during the regular season. Junior LB Mitchell Kaufman had 82 tackles, two defensive touchdowns, three interceptions and seven sacks in the first 10 games.
ENNIS VS. ALEDO
CLASS 4A DIVISION II STATE SEMIFINAL
Ennis (14-0) vs. Aledo (14-0)
3:30 p.m. Saturday at Midlothian’s Multi-Purpose Stadium
Playoff road: d. Burleson 76-6, d. Fort Worth Boswell 75-14, d. Canyon 54-14, d. Wichita Falls 69-14.
Best win: In the season opener, senior FB Daythan Davis ran for 90 yards and three touchdowns and Aledo’s defense allowed only 175 total yards in a 44-3 win over Highland Park. That is the only loss for Highland Park, which is now in the 4A Division I state semifinals.
Last loss: 42-30 to eventual 4A Division I state champion Denton Guyer in the second round of the playoffs last season. That ended Aledo’s run of three consecutive state championships.
Players to watch: Junior RB Jess Anders has run for 1,146 yards and 32 touchdowns and averaged 9.4 yards per carry. Junior WR Ryan Newsome, a transfer from Hurst L.D. Bell who holds several FBS offers, has eight touchdown catches, four TD runs, seven touchdowns on punt returns and one kickoff return for a score. Senior LB Jordan Mittie, who was honorable mention all-state last year, has a team-high 131 tackles (15 for loss) and five sacks.
Notable: Aledo has scored 956 points, breaking the national record for points in a season. And while it has averaged 68.3 points per game, Aledo has allowed just 9.4 points per game. … Junior QB Luke Bishop has thrown 32 touchdown passes and only one interception.
Playoff road: d. Lindale 62-17, d. Lovejoy 64-13, d. Frisco 46-25, d. Mesquite Poteet 43-21.
Best win: Trailing 14-7 in the regional final, Ennis scored 36 consecutive points — with the help of three interception returns for touchdowns — to beat a Mesquite Poteet team that finished 12-2.
Last loss: 42-32 to Whitehouse in the first round of the playoffs last season.
Players to watch: An Ennis offense that averages 44.2 points and 303.5 rushing yards per game is led by senior running backs Terence Williams and Nick Gabriel. Williams, who has committed to Baylor, has run for 1,696 yards and 25 touchdowns. Gabriel has rushed for 1,222 yards and 23 touchdowns. Senior DB Jah’shawn Johnson, who has committed to Texas Tech, has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving, on a punt return and on a kickoff return. He has also intercepted six passes.
Notable: Junior QB Devin Smith has accounted for 25 touchdowns (19 passing, six rushing). That included a game-winning 4-yard TD run with 35 seconds left in a 30-23 regular-season victory over Red Oak. … Ennis has outscored its four playoff opponents 94-21 in the second half.
PREDICTION: Aledo 42, Ennis 21
ARGYLE VS. GRAHAM
CLASS 3A DIVISION II STATE SEMIFINAL
Graham (14-0) vs. Argyle (14-0)
6 p.m. Saturday at Justin Northwest
Playoff road: d. Fort Worth Castleberry 68-0, d. Glen Rose 34-0, d. Lubbock Estacado 42-6, d. Shallowater 45-14.
Best win: In the regional final, senior QB Ben Davis threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns and senior RB Dillon Gonzales ran for 169 yards and accounted for three TDs (two rushing) in a rout of a Shallowater team that had been 13-0.
Last loss: 50-7 to Gilmer in a state semifinal last season.
Players to watch: Davis has thrown for 3,707 yards and 41 touchdowns and is second on the team in rushing with 824 yards and 14 TDs. Gonzales has run for 1,601 yards and 28 touchdowns and has 53 catches for 846 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior WR/DB Bryce Reeves has 75 catches for 1,338 yards and 14 TDs, and he has intercepted five passes.
Notable: Graham is trying to reach a state championship game for the first time since 2009, when it lost 13-12 to Carthage in the 3A Division II final. … Graham’s closest win this season was 35-14 over Abilene Wylie in the third game of the season. … The defense is led by linebackers Spur Hearne (107 tackles, five sacks) and Hunter Hughes (90 tackles) and CB Hagan Hughes (six interceptions).
Playoff road: d. Krum 57-12, d. Melissa 55-27, d. Gilmer 45-38, d. Gladewater 42-8.
Best win: In a regional semifinal, Texas Tech pledge Ian Sadler ran for 182 yards and four touchdowns and also caught a TD pass in a seven-point win over Gilmer, last season’s 3A Division II state runner-up.
Last loss: 42-21 to Gilmer in a regional semifinal last season.
Players to watch: Sadler has a combined 139 touches running and receiving and has scored touchdowns on 32 of those (20 rushing, 12 receiving). Junior RB Nick Ralston has rushed for 1,583 yards, including a school-record 365 in a second-round playoff win over Melissa, and has scored 28 touchdowns. Arkansas pledge Cole Hedlund has made 22 field goals this season – three short of the national season record he set in 2011 – and owns the national record with 54 career made field goals.
Notable: Argyle is trying to reach a state championship game for the third time in nine years. … Argyle lost LB Sam Sizelove, a Kansas State pledge, to a season-ending knee injury in the next-to-last game of the regular season. But LB Colton Hinnrichs has played “great” in Sizelove’s absence, coach Todd Rodgers said.