While we pay attention to all things Longhorn, the overriding truth is we're steeped in Texas football and all it's lore. This starts early and begins in high school and remains accessible to us long after we've left those fields of play.
Right now the Texas high school playoffs have progressed to the semi-finals and, in the case of 3A Division I, the finals. There is a richness to these games that replenishes the well-spring of our love for football - our football. Texas football. With more schools and more teams than any other state, it is no wonder that there is a world of talent and innovation saturated and fired by great competition in whatever class you may choose. Late in the season, new talent emerges, seniors that were missed in early recruiting who matured in their final season, junior and sophomores just making their mark, occasionally the remarkable freshman...these are the games where reputations are created and transferred into the lore we call Texas football.
This is the week of dreams, where the perspiration of summer and aspirations to greatness finally pay off for a select few teams. Are they the very best? Maybe not, but they've earned it in the time-honored Texas tradition - on the field of play. These are the hot shot gunslingers of our day, just as fast, just as quick and sleek, and just as sneaky, as anyone who ever set a boot in the Texas dust. No more talk. This is for forever.
Austin teams continue to drive toward state titles. At the top of the list in 5A Division I is Round Rock Stony Point, a whopping 72-48 winner over DeSoto last week and now making a bid for true power program status. To get it, they have to face the team that beat them last year at this stage, one acclaimed by four polls as the Number 1 team in the state at this moment, Euless Trinity. Trinity has won three out of the last five titles but barely slipped by Coppell last week, 41-40. Two weeks earlier, they edged Allen, 37-35. College coaches and scouts will be flocking to Waco's Floyd Casey Stadium to eyeball the great talent at 4 tomorrow.
On the other side of the bracket, Longview beat Mesquite Horn, 28-14, over in Louisiana to earn the right to face Denton Guyer, who beat Southlake Carrol, 24-14. Even if Stony Point wins, there will be tough, tough competition in the finals.
Lake Travis found the means to beat Cedar Park, 21-20, last Saturday. Cedar Park was minus its starting quarterback due to injury, but still put up better numbers than Lake Travis. But, as DKR said, the punt return will kill you quicker than anything else and the Cavs got one to help out their cause. Now they face Friendswood Saturday at 2 at Kyle Field. The winner will face the winner of Denton Ryan and Wylie.
Bastrop was the lone CenTex team that didn't make the cut, closely losing to Poteet, 42-35, in 4A Division II. Damn close but no cigar. Poteet now faces the reigning champion Aledo in Mansfield Newsom Stadium Friday at 7:30. In the other bracket, long-time coastal powers LaMarque and Calallen clash in the Alamodome Friday at 7:30.
Brownwood just keeps rolling as Bob Shipley chases the Gordon Wood mystique. Wood took Brownwood to five state championships and won all of them. You don't get any better than that. I know some Brownwood people living here now and they're all slobbering like rabid cats. They beat an old rival in Monahans last week, 44-14. Three of those five Gordon Wood teams had to face Monahans as well and in one it came out a 10-10 tie, with Brownwood advancing. That's four great Monahans teams that went down to the Lions, the kind of bad karma that will probably even out one day.
There was an earlier playoff Brownwood game that is worth noting, in bi-district against Iowa Park. Some of you may have seen the score, 88-24, and wondered what the hell. Well, there was some very brutal play involved in the first half of that game. One game replay noted 17 illegal - and possibly injurious - hits in the first half. Twelve of those were by Iowa Park and five by Brownwood. Several of those were on Texas commit Jaxon Shipley. And boy did Bob, his dad/coach, go ballistic.
Reports said that Bob Shipley and IP Coach Scott Palmer had to be separated by security at the end of the first half. Palmer really didn't get what Shipley's point was, which we'll reconcile in a moment. Shipley essentially told him, to paraphrase without the spit and drool, 'if you don't stop the dirty play, we're not gonna stop scoring.' It was 55-24 at the half. Apparently Palmer didn't get the full message and thus the final, 88-24. Brownwood averages 57.5 a game, so they have the weaponry to do pretty much as they please.
In a follow-up interview Monday morning, North Texas journalist Nick Gholson watched the film with Palmer and they counted up the bad hits - IP got seven personal foul penalties as well as an ejection - and when Palmer saw the hits on Jaxon, then he understood...he has boys playing football and could empathize with the situation. That story is here.
Jaxon scored on three long receptions and had another TD on a 39 yard run. By my best calculation (I can't find his exact stats; anyone?), he has about 75 receptions for 1,500 yards and 28 TDs. What is the amazing statistic is that, minus one pick 6, Brownwood scored 12 touchdowns in just 45 offensive plays. That's a hell of an output. Here's the Iowa Park game story from the Abilene Reporter-News. Next Brownwood faces East Texas powerhouse Carthage at Dallas' Kincaid Stadium at 7:30 p.m. If you're in the Metroplex, that's where the fireworks will be.
Wimberley has a shot in the other 3A bracket. The Texans pounded Geronimo-Navarro, 40-14, and will face Coldspring, another near East Texas school south of Livingston. This will be at Floyd Casey in Waco Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The one game that will be played in Austin, the upstart 2A Lago Vista Vikings will visit the big time environs of DKR Memorial Stadium to host the traditionally powerful Cameron Yoe in Austin Saturday at 7 p.m. Lago slipped by Rice Consolidated, 20-17, and they are loving the Cinderella dream in their first-time adventure. Both towns couldn't fill up a quarter of the stadium, so if you're interested, there will be plenty of great seats for all.
All in all, last week was a hell of a show for local teams and I didn't even include Lexington, relatively nearby. If you're hungering for football, your menu is loaded this evening and tomorrow.
The UIL website for all the brackets is here.
Earlier this week lnghrn53 did a fan post regarding the 6-man finals this weekend at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene, with the games at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., a great two-fer.
If have have favorites, are going to the games or just have some of your own memories from those past days, let 'em fly in the comments. Gotta go for the short term but will return early evening.