The 2003 Road to the Texas Bowl begins this weekend as the state playoffs games begin. Several contests will kick off the weekend on Thursday evening, but this is the time of year where football fans can camp out at one of the big stadiums in the state to watch multiple games on Friday and Saturday.
Texas Stadium in Irving, the Houston Astrodome, the San Antonio Alamodome will host double and triple-headers with a growing number of school districts that have installed artificial grass fields, also benefiting from the playoffs. Following is a run down of how the brackets shake out:
Class 5A-Division I:
Unbeaten Arlington Lamar is the top team in Region I and will open up against a very physical Euless Trinity team, which has run off nine wins in a row since a season-opening loss to Desoto.
Region II features the states top team The Woodlands, which faces a fast improving Jersey Village eleven on Saturday night at Galena Park. Region II also features a good game at Tyler between the host Tyler Lee Rebels and Garland Naamon Forest.
In Region III, North Shore is the lone unbeaten and the Mustangs take on Clear Lake, ahead of a possible second round match up with Aldine Eisenhower, which faces Humble. Region IV features San Antonio Madison on the road against Austin Westlake.
Class 5ADivision II:
Region Is favorite is defending champion Southlake Carroll, which will put their undefeated record on the line against Irving MacArthur at Texas Stadium on Saturday. Newcomer Mansfield Summit is the top team in the lower bracket, but must get by Abilene on the road at Shotwell Stadium.
In Region II most fans anticipate a regional final between East Texas heavyweights Lufkin and Longview in four weeks, but the Panthers must first dispose of Garland this week, while the Lobos face South Garland, which has strong armed QB Jordan Reever healthy again.
In Region III the top half of the bracket looks awful strong with Katy, Booker T. Washington, Aldine, and Pearland, while pass-happy Baytown Lee could sneak out of the lower half.
In Region IV this weekends winner between San Marcos and Schertz Clemens should march to the regional championship game against San Antonio Roosevelt, which faces Hays Consolidated this weekend.
Class 4ADivision I:
This weekends clash between Amarillo Palo Duro and Wolfforth Frenship should be the favorite in Region I, although Fort Worth Arlington Heights is the only unbeaten.
In Region II Texarkana is the only unbeaten, but looming down the road is Corsicana, which has lost only to #1 Ennis, which is playing in Division II.
Bay City is the top ranked team in Region III, but Dayton and Waltrip have only one loss. Look out for Conroe Oak Ridge, which made it to the state semi-finals a year ago and has unleashed jumbo back Marcus Smith to wreak havoc on defenses the last month.
Region IVs favorite is Calallen, while faces South San Antonio in its opener.
Class 4ADivision II:
Brownwood is the favorite in Region I and has a rematch with FW Dunbar, which they crushed earlier this season. The Plainview-Andrews winner is expected to provide the best opposition.
Ennis looks to come out of Region II with fans hoping to see the Lions in a shoot out next week against super back Adrian Peterson, if Palestine can get by Hallsville Friday night in Tyler.
LaMarque looks to be the class of Region III, although the Cougar administration is involved in a court battle to get Domonique Johnson on the field, and could be distracted with a short practice week before Thursday nights contest with Brazosport.
Region IV looks wide open, with Alamo Heights, Pleasanton, and Sharyland all sporting 9-1 records.
Class 3A-Division I:
Defending Champion Everman will look to repeat out of Region I, while Gainesville is the favorite to come out of Region II.
Jasper is the top team in Region III, while unbeaten Burnet will hope to emerge out of Region IV to face Everman again for the title.
Class 3ADivision II:
Kennedale, which owns a district victory over Everman, is the favorite in Region I.
Region II is loaded with Celina, Gilmer, and Daingerfield all in the top half of the bracket. The top game in the state in 3A is likely to be #4 Gilmer vs. #6 Daingerfield, Friday night in Mt. Pleasant.
Region III is also loaded with #2 Bellville the favorite, but a number of teams who have been state-ranked at one time also placed in this bracket. Diboll faces Crockett, Marlin takes on Waco La Vega, Newton plays Fairfield, and perennial state title contenders Sealy and La Grange face off against each other.
Look for Liberty Hill, with only a loss to Burnet, to have a chance to advance from Region IV.
Class 2ADivision I:
The Shallowater-Colorado City winner this Friday in Lubbock, looks to be the favorite in Region I.
Jim Ned and junior QB Colt McCoy are the favorites in Region II.
McGregor faces defending champion Corrigan Camden in Region III, and Comfort faces Lexington in Region IV.
Class 2ADivision II:
Region I has a lot of good teams. Second-ranked Panhandle faces Olton at Amarillo on Friday, with the winner getting defending state champion Cisco, if they get by Electra. Crane looks to emerge from the top half of the bracket, but must first get by Idalou, which has made the playoffs without star QB Shae Reagan, out with a knee injury.
The Buddy Hanson express out of Tom Bean is expected to rule Region III, while #1 Garrison must escape the Region IV tournament, which features a possible second round match up with defending champion Rosebud-Lott.
Junction and Brackett are the unbeatens in Region IV, but the top game this weekend pits Hitchcock against Ganado, Friday night in Angleton.
Class A only has one division with a number of teams getting byes this weekend. Unbeaten Anton doesnt have a bye and faces Sundown on Thursday night in Lubbock.
The top game in Region II finds Petrolia and Windthorst hooking up in Wichita Falls on Saturday.
Chilton launches their title bid out of Region III with a Friday night game against Oakwood in Bremond, while state leader West Sabine did draw a bye, but could face former #2 Shiner next week.