East Texas football is alive and well with five teams from the Piney Woods advancing Friday to state semifinals.
It starts with the Arp Tigers, who upset No. 2 Newton 13-6 on Friday at Dragon Stadium in Nacogdoches. This puts Arp (12-2) into the Class 3A Division II semifinals for the first time since 1977.
Arp had reached the quarterfinals six times (1966, 2001, 2007, '08, '09, '11), but finally have broken through and will face Boling (12-2) for a place in the state final. Boling defeated Lexington 34-29 in its quarterfinal.
The 3A Division II semifinal between Arp and Boling is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Texan Drive Stadium in New Caney.
Staying in Class 3A, the Mineola Yellowjackets will be making their third consecutive appearance in the state semifinals after punishing Pottsboro 46-3 Friday in their quarterfinal at Royse City ISD Stadium.
Mineola (12-2) reached the championship game in 2014 and was stopped in last year's semifinal by eventual champion Brock. The Yellowjackets will not have a chance to avenge the loss to Brock thanks to Wall (11-3) upsetting last year's state champ in their quarterfinal, 28-17.
The Class 3A Division I semifinal between Mineola and Wall will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at Waco ISD Stadium.
Also in the 3A Division I semifinals are the Malakoff Tigers, who prevented Cameron Yoe from reaching a fifth-straight state final thanks to an overtime field goal by Everado Garcia to win 37-34 at Waco ISD Stadium and keep Malakoff (14-0) unbeaten.
Malakoff, which is already enjoying its best season in school history, now faces Yoakum (10-4), which defeated Hallettsville in its quarterfinal. Their Class 3A Division I semifinal is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at UT's Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin.
In Class 4A, the usual suspects are once again eyeing state championships.
The Gilmer Buckeyes made easy work of Celina 43-17 on Friday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium to reach their fourth state semifinal in five years. Gilmer (13-1) is seeking the program's sixth trip to the state finals and fourth state championship in 12 years.
Gilmer now meets Sweetwater (12-1), which defeated Seminole 38-14 in its quarterfinal. The Class 4A Division II semifinal is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor's McLane Stadium in Waco.
The Carthage Bulldogs are also eyeing another state title for the trophy case after Carthage escaped past Stafford 27-26 in its 4A Division I quarterfinal at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin, thanks to a blocked field goal in the final seconds.
Carthage (11-2) will be making its ninth appearance in the state semifinals and is in contention for the program's fifth state title since 2008.
Carthage will face China Spring (13-1), which defeated Waco La Vega 21-10 in their quarterfinal, in the state semifinals next week.