The playoffs are here, and four teams from the Golden Circle will play in first-round bi-district games this week.
Corsicana’s Tigers, who finished third in the District 8-5A DII race, have a tough draw in the first round and will play Braswell, which tied for first in District 7A-DII with Frisco with a 7-1 record but has the No. 2 seed because of a 33-28 loss to Frisco in the first district game of the season.
The Bengals (8-2) have won seven in a row and enter the playoffs with one of the most prolific offenses in Class 5A.
Braswell rolled up more than 5,000 yards on offense, throwing for 2,802 yards and rushing for 2,365 yards this season.
The Bengals scored 458 points and will be playing a home game at Collins Stadium in Denton, where the two teams have a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night.
The Tigers have improved all year and have made leaps of progress since the spring under coach Hal Wasson, who took over the program this year and led a Tigers team that lost 92 percent of its offense to graduation a year ago, to the postseason.
The Tigers (7-3) have made the postseason four years in a row and senior players such as linebacker Tyler Farmer and receiver/defensive back Drew Denbow have been leaders for the team for the last three seasons.
The Tigers have had a solid and balanced offense all year, rushing for 1,900 yards and passing for 1,790 yards with an offense that has an all-sophomore backfield of QB Solomon James, Damarius Daniels and Anthony Young, who is expected to play Friday after missing the season finale against Ennis with an injury.
Rice is making its fourth consecutive trip to the Class 3A playoffs and the Bulldogs will play at 7 p.m. Thursday at Waco Robinson High School, where they face Lexington, the No. 1 seed from District 8-3A DII.
Lexington tied for first in the district with Clifton and Rogers at 3-1 but won the tiebreaker based on points against the other two teams.
Lexington has a losing record for the season at 3-7 but won the big games that counted.
Rice is the No. 4 seed from District 7-3A DII but won a coin flip and will be the home team Thursday.
The Bulldogs (6-4) beat Mildred, which went into Friday’s final game of the season with a chance to grab the fourth playoff spot with a win over Edgewood, and Rice beat Blooming Grove in overtime.
Those two wins over their Golden Circle rivals were two key games for Rice’s Bulldogs, who went 4-3 in the district race and won when it counted most with a tough defense and explosive offense.
Frost is also playing on Thursday. The Polar Bears are the fourth seed from a very tight race in District 11-2A DII.
The Bears will be underdogs when they face Grapeland at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Groesbeck in the 2A bi-district round of the playoffs.
Grapeland is loaded again and comes into the postseason as the top seed from District 12-2A DII, where the Sandies went unbeaten (5-0).
Grapeland (8-2) has rolled up more than 4,000 yards of offense this year and has not lost to a 2A team this year.
Frost (4-6) has an explosive offense led by QB Tony Alvarez and junior running back Ramon “Tito” Manrriquez.
Dawson is coming off its best season in years and the Bulldogs enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed from District 11-2A DII behind only defending state champion Mart. They went 4-1 in the district race, losing only to Mart.
The Bulldogs are 8-2 and will face Evadale at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Crockett in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
Coach Ronnie Striplin has done a remarkable job since taking over three years ago at Dawson, where he has turned the program around.
The 2019 Bulldogs are the first team from Dawson to win eight games in 10 years. The last Dawson team to win nine was the 2005 Bulldog team that went to the state quarterfinals.
Evadale (5-4) is the No. 3 seed from District 12-2A DII and is coming off a 48-16 loss to Lovelady.
Rice vs. Lexington at Waco Robinson, 7 p.m
Frost vs. Grapeland at Groesbeck, 7:30 p.m.
Corsicana vs. Braswell at Collins Stadium
in Denton, 7 p.m.
Dawson vs. Evadale at Crockett, 7:30 p.m