Only John Tyler and three other schools still entertain Class 4A Division I state championships hopes.
JT captured its second straight regional championship last week to join the four-team show, which includes 5A dropdowns Denton Guyer and Georgetown, and the new school on the block, Leander Rouse.
JT (13-1) and Guyer (12-2) meet in one semifinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Midlothian. Georgetown (14-0) and Leander Rouse (10-4) clash in the second semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cedar Park's Gupton Stadium.
Tickets for the JT-Guyer game go on sale Wednesday at the Tyler ISD athletic office (807 W. Glenwood).
Tickets cost $4 for students, $8 for adults and $10 at the gate. JT will be the visiting team at the Midlothian Multi-Purpose Stadium, an 8,000-seat complex which opened in 2006.
Tradition-rich JT leads the field with three state titles. The Lions, on a 12-game winning streak, are the highest-ranked team still playing, and the highest-scoring during the playoffs.
The winners square off for all the marbles at noon on Saturday, Dec. 22, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
A snapshot of the four teams who remain in the title picture:
Class 4A Division I State Semifinalists
Playoff appearances: 5
Points For-Against (Playoffs) - 632-311 (174-116).
Road to semifinals: The Region I champs knocked off Saginaw (42-14, bi-district), Aledo (42-30, area), Amarillo (38-30, regionals), North Richland Hills Birdville (52-42, quarterfinals) to reach the next-to-last stop.
Notable: Guyer's schedule includes a loss in its opener to 5A Division I semifinalist Cedar Hill, and wins over 4A Division II semifinalist Wichita Falls Rider and defending champion Aledo. Guyer, which opened the season ranked No. 1, advanced to the 4A Division I state semifinals in 2008 and 2009, and the Class 5A Division II championship game in 2010. Guyer, a fairly new program in only its seventh year of competition, sports a 58-14 over last five seasons (JT is 54-15 during the same period).
Playoff appearances: 32
Points For-Against (Playoffs) - 582-235 (198-82)
Road to semifinals: The Region II champs tripped up Waxahachie (77-20, bi-district), Wylie (38-10, area), Frisco (45-28, regionals), Frisco Centennial (38-24, quarterfinals) on its way to the final four.
Notable: JT qualified for the state semifinals for the eighth time, and fifth in an 18-year span. The Lions are 48-9 over the past four seasons, with 14 playoff wins during the span. The Lions' resume includes wins over four teams with at least nine victories (Lufkin, Whitehouse, Frisco, Centennial), and a five-point loss to Class 4A Division II semifinalist Lancaster. JT's playoff offense tops the field, with the Lions averaging 49.5 points in the postseason.
Playoff appearances: 19
Points For-Against (Playoffs) 648-182 (169-84)
Road to semifinals: The Region III champs chopped down Magnolia West (44-18), Summer Creek (38-21), Angleton (49-39) and Nederland (38-6) to get one game from the championship.
Notable: The former 5A program, in the playoffs for just the third time this century, posted the latest in a long line of impressive wins, with a 32-point victory over a Nederland team fresh off an upset of top-ranked Pearland Dawson. Georgetown, the lone unbeaten team left, won their first 14 games all by 10-plus points. Georgetown held nine of its first nine opponents to single digits. Georgetown's average margin of victory (33.2) tops all remaining semifinalists.
Playoff appearances: 1
Points For-Against (Playoffs): 407-222 (172-48)
Road to semifinals: The Region IV champs eliminated Austin McCallum (59-27, bi-district), San Antonio Brackenridge (35-14, area), Gregory-Portland (44-7, regionals) and Corpus Christ Flour Bluff (34-0, quarterfinals) to extend its season.
Notable: Rouse reached this point by playing championship-level defense. Rouse blanked previously-undefeated Corpus Christi Flour Bluff in an impressive performance last week. Rouse, which started football in 2010, flew under the radar behind more-heralded Cedar Park and cross-town rival Leander during district before hitting its groove for the playoffs. Rouse paces the field in scoring margin (31.0) and scoring defense (12.0) in the playoffs.