REGIONAL SEMIFINAL PLAYOFF PREVIEW CAPSULE: Rogers (7-5) vs. Buffalo (11-1)
FLYING HIGH AGAIN: After Rogers got off to a 1-4 start this season, senior defensive lineman Ty Sebek (left) and senior linebacker/running back John Hill have helped power coach Charlie Roten's resurgent Eagles (7-5) to a berth in the Class 3A Division II Region IV semifinals against district rival Buffalo (11-1) at 7:30 tonight at Waco ISD Stadium. Rogers edged third-ranked and previously unbeaten Poth 21-20 a week ago. The Eagles seek to avenge their 46-28 road loss to Buffalo's Bison in District 13-3A D-II play Sept. 25. Last year Rogers rallied late to beat Buffalo 36-33 in a bi-district playoff game. (File photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
CLASS 3A DIVISION II
REGION IV SEMIFINAL
ROGERS EAGLES (7-5) vs.
BUFFALO BISON (11-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Waco ISD Stadium
Last week's area-round results: Rogers 21, No. 3-ranked Poth 20; Buffalo 52, George West 35
Last meeting: Sept. 25 – Buffalo 46, Rogers 28
Winner plays: Franklin (9-2) or Lexington (8-3) in Region IV final next week
Game notes: Rogers and Buffalo are clashing in the playoffs for the second straight season. They met in bi-district action last year, with the Eagles rallying for a 36-33 win on Heath Schiller's 8-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Minor with 31 seconds remaining. . . . Rogers lost four of its first five games this season and got off to a 1-2 start in District 13-3A Division II play, but coach Charlie Roten's Eagles jump-started their season with a 33-27 win over Lexington and have compiled a five-game winning streak that's pushed them into a regional semifinal for the second straight year. Rogers' reward in the third round is a rematch with district rival Buffalo, which defeated the Eagles by 18 points two months ago. . . . After coming back from a 27-9 deficit to beat El Maton Tidehaven 41-34 in bi-district play, Rogers raced out to a 14-0 halftime lead against previously unbeaten Poth on junior standout Christian Riley's 53-yard punt return for a touchdown and his 24-yard TD run. The Pirates scored 20 consecutive points after halftime to seize a 20-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles came back with Riley's 8-yard TD run followed by Julian Lashbrook's extra point to regain the lead at 21-10 with 5:23 left. The lead held up when Poth missed a long field goal try in the final minute. . . . The versatile Riley has scored 20 touchdowns overall and has rushed for 1,179 yards while averaging 9.5 yards per carry for Rogers, whose rushing attack averages 298.7 yards per game and gets key contributions from quarterback Riley Dolgener and running backs John Hill, RJ Cook and Christian Watkins. . . . District runner-up Buffalo has won four straight games since its only defeat, 69-38 at league champion Franklin on Oct. 23. . . . Coach Brandon Houston's Bison have an outstanding dual-threat quarterback in 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior Brett Hoffman. He's passed for 2,669 yards and 32 touchdowns against nine interceptions and has rushed for 1,107 yards and 15 TDs. Against George West last week he threw six TD passes and ran for 184 yards and a TD. . . . Buffalo has two excellent receivers who will test the Rogers defense: sophomore Kyle Harrison (45 receptions, 840 yards, 14 TDs) and senior Jordan Rogers (28 catches, 783 yards, eight TDs). . . . Riley has a team-best four interceptions for the Eagles' defense, which has allowed 360.8 yards per game. Its leading players include linebacker Hill, linemen Ty Sebek and Jayce Jones and defensive back Lashbrook. . . . Catch Thompson paces Buffalo with 121 tackles, while Ethan Williams has five interceptions and Jordan Rogers has 75 tackles plus three interceptions. . . . Buffalo has allowed 62 points in its two playoff games after permitting 37 in a one-point win over Lexington in the Bison's final regular-season game. . . . The Franklin-Lexington battle in the other Region III semifinal guarantees that District 13-3A D-II will have two teams in next week's Region IV final, with the victor reaching the state semifinals.