This is the best time of the entire high school football season.

Sure, some might argue the highlight of the season comes during the opening round of the playoffs, when hope springs eternal for all the qualified teams, and others could say the postseason’s pinnacle comes next week, when state champions are crowned.

But the semifinals are special.

Teams are so close to the ultimate goal, yet still so far away, making for some of the most passionate environments of the season.

Although all local teams are already eliminated, I encourage football fans to travel this weekend and attend one of the multiple contests across the state.

In fact, attendance at one of the most anticipated games might not even require fans to fill their gas tanks.

Just a short drive away, undefeated Allen will play Round Rock Cedar Ridge at Waco’s McLane Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the winner advancing to play the winner between Katy and Austin Lake Travis for the Class 6A, Division I championship. The Katy-Lake Travis game will be at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Fans can take a trip to Allen’s $60 million Eagles Stadium to watch District 8-6A champion Waco Midway face off against Longview on Saturday at 6 p.m., or they could head to Houston’s NRG Stadium to scout the Panthers’ potential Class 6A, Division II title-game opponents. Cy-Fair and Austin Westlake each put their undefeated seasons on the line on the Houston Texans’ home field at 3 p.m. Saturday.

And that’s just Class 6A.

The Texas landscape will be dotted from border to border with massive matchups.

Denton Ryan will face Highland Park tonight at 9 p.m. inside Arlington’s AT&T Stadium in a Class 5A, Division I semifinal, following a 5 p.m. encounter between Stephenville and Kennedale for a spot in the Class 4A, Division I finals.

In the other Class 5A, Division I contest, Manvel and Angleton will also play at NRG Stadium today, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. before College Station and Austin McCallum collide Saturday at 7 p.m. for a spot in the Class 5A, Division II championship game.

Additionally, Class 5A, Division II undefeated Aledo will play Mansfield Legacy on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. inside North Richland Hills’ Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletic Complex. Carthage and Waco La Vega fight for the other spot in the Class 4A, Division I title game tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Frisco’s Ford Center, and West Orange-Stark faces Wimberley in a Class 4A, Division II semifinal at Katy’s Legacy Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Regardless of location, the point is this weekend brings together elite teams, emotional fan bases and incredible venues for some of the biggest games of the season, and a lot of the action is within driving distance.

So, don’t miss out, because this is the best time of the entire football season.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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