It's semifinal week in TAPPS playoff football and a trio of Houston-area teams are two wins away from hoisting the hardware.
St. Thomas has quietly gone about their business under the direction of coach Rich McGuire, while Second Baptist School has run the table with a star QB. TWCA is also unblemished and has the offense to win the whole thing.
So, here's the story.
St. Thomas High School vs Parish Episcopal of Dallas
St. Thomas has quietly put together a great season and finds themselves playing Parish Episcopal and their four-star QB Preston Stone in the TAPPS DI semis at The Star in Dallas on Saturday.
David vs Goliath, right? The Eagles have no shot against the Dallas power.
Consider this… St. Thomas has played UIL's Strake Jesuit, Needville, Stafford and China Springs – who all made or are still playing in the postseason. The Eagles beat two of the four of those teams.
"We learned a lot against China Springs," coach Rich McGuire said. "We went up on a three-hour bus ride for their homecoming. They had beaten us the year before. It was a special win.
"But it was a 50-0 loss to Trinity Christian when we learned the most," he laughed. "It was only 14-0 at the half and our defense played really well. We just couldn't do anything offensively and that's when we figured out our offensive line. From there we knew we would be okay. If we protect our QB, we will be just fine."
Maddox Kopp has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year. The name sound familiar? Brothers Braden (Vandy football), Miller (Northwestern basketball) and Anderson (Lamar basketball) are all DI athletes. The 6-foot-5 junior signal-caller will likely play QB at the DI level.
John Fontenot is the leading rusher, while Kopp has a trio of WRs in Cameron Bonner, Spencer Kryger and Josh Crissmon.
"We are going to need to score with them a little bit," he said. "Their QB is a stud but Maddox is playing really well. Defensively, we are going to need kids to have big nights, but these are two evenly-matched teams doing battle. We live under the radar, but because of who we have played, we aren't intimidated by anybody."
Second Baptist School vs Regents School of Austin
The Eagles and coach Terry Pirtle have it going inside the DII program on Woodway Drive. QB Josh Johnson is a beast as a two-way signal-caller. They have a potent defense led by Nate Dyman. Regents has only one loss, but the Eagles are just dominating their opponents and will advance.
The Woodlands Christian Academy vs Geneva School of Boerne
The Warriors are on the war path. TWCA has an explosive offense with QB Aaron Monsivaiz leading the way. He doesn't make many mistakes. Caleb Chappelle and Caedmon Parker are the leading WRs, who can stretch the field.
RB Dane Jackson had over 1,300 yards on the ground before going down with a knee injury in Week 9. Forrest Winton has stepped in nicely.
So, what are the keys to this weekend's semifinals?
"This is the best defense we've ever had here," coach Randy Hollas said. "It's a system that has been in place for three years and now they know it, line up and communicate well with it. We are going to have to play well on defense to stop their dual-threat QB, a big offensive line and a group of talented WRs.
"We are also going to have to find a way to run the football," he said. "They have the best linebacking group we've faced all season."
On a recruiting note, Chappelle has picked up offers from Furman and Samford and a preferred walk-on spot to SMU. Monsivaiz has a preferred to Abilene Christian.
THE GALLERY BY BRADLEY COLLIER