Since last week's post, the Texas Longhorns' 2016 class added two new members, and every commit whose team qualified for the postseason advanced to the second round, save two. Regular season Sam Ehlinger gave way to Playoff Sam Ehlinger (though he was picked off for the first time in over a year), DeMarco Boyd had a monster stat line and made big plays on both sides of the ball (nothing new for him), and Lagaryonn Carson was a general menace to opposing offensive lines.
Several of those still in the playoffs will have a tough job extending their season past Thanksgiving. Shane Buechele's Arlington Lamar team will face the most prolific offense it has played this season. New commit Davion Curtis and his Temple teammates have a re-match with a state-ranked opponent who they played in last year's playoffs. Andrew Fitzgerald and Flower Mound Marcus have a re-match with a team they beat earlier this season, and will have to contend with one of the state's top junior running backs. Damion Miller will try to get open against a secondary that includes a future Big 12 cornerback. And both DeMarco Boyd and Obi Eboh face teams with junior QBs who will be suiting up for D1 schools in two years.
QB Shane Buechele (Arlington Lamar)
Last week: Completed 19 of 29 passes for 186 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, and rushed 13 times for 90 yards and 1 TD in a 39-33 win over Abilene in the bi-district round of the 6A Division II playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:00, vs. El Paso Eastwood (Odessa's Ratliff Stadium)
Notes: When Abilene kicked a field goal to take a 33-32 lead with just 16 seconds left in regulation, it appeared that Lamar would have its playoff run end at the hands of an Abilene ISD for a seventh consecutive year, but the ensuing kickoff was returned 93 yards for an improbable game-winning touchdown by senior receiver Draven Cantly. It was Cantly's second TD of the game; he also scored on a 11-yard pass from Buechele with 1:57 left in the 3rd quarter that made the score 32-23 in favor of Lamar at the time.
Abilene led 14-0 going into the 2nd quarter, but three scoring drives by Lamar - two of them ending in TD passes from Buechele to Arkansas commit Kofi Boateng, who now holds the Arlington city record for career TD receptions with 26 - allowed them to take a 18-17 lead at halftime. The Lamar offense didn't have a very good first half though. It wasn't until their seventh possession of the game that Lamar finally put together a sustained drive for a score, but they took advantage of a few Abilene turnovers that led to quick scores.
After receiving the second half kickoff, Lamar advanced 44 yards in eight plays before facing a 4th-and-2 from the Abilene 30-yard line. Buechele ran for a 30-yard TD to finish the drive and extend Lamar's lead to 25-17. Abilene junior running back Abram Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a TD, but Abilene was unsuccessful on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game. On Lamar's next possession, they put together a long 17-play, 77-yard drive in which they converted on three 3rd downs and one 4th down on the way to Cantly's aforementioned first TD reception. Abilene went on a long drive of their own and scored to pull within 32-30 with 7:58 left in the 4th quarter. Lamar had a chance to widen their lead, but Buechele was stopped short on a 4th-and-2 play from the Abilene 27-yard line to keep Abilene's hopes alive. Abilene faced a 4th-and-15 from their own 36-yard line, but a 42-yard pass gave them a first down at Lamar's 22-yard line, and four plays later they kicked what looked like the game-winning field goal with 16 seconds left.
This week in the area (2nd) round of the playoffs, Lamar will face El Paso Eastwood, which last week defeated Wolfforth Frenship 47-40. Eastwood has a 9-2 overall record and has averaged 42 points per game. They are led on offense by senior QB Mark Torrez and senior wide receiver Richie Rodriguez, a UTEP commit. Torrez has produced nearly 400 yards per game and 53 total touchdowns this season, while Rodriguez, who was named the MVP of district 1-6A after the 2014 season, has caught 82 passes for just under 1,600 yards and scored 23 total TDs. Eastwood's will be the most high-flying offense Lamar has faced so far this year. With a win tonight, Lamar will advance to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since its 2003 team went five rounds deep and came one game short of getting to play for the 5A Division I state championship.
WR Davion Curtis (Temple)
Last week: Caught 6 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD in a 62-6 win over Willis in the bi-district round of the 5A Division I playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:30, vs. Houston Stratford (at Bryan's Merrill Green Stadium)
Notes: Curtis committed to Georgia in early August, but flipped to UT yesterday. I've seen Curtis play in person once, during last year's 5A Division I state championship game, which Temple narrowly lost to Aledo. He had 3 catches for 74 yards and opened the scoring that day with a 48-yard TD reception on which he used his speed to beat current Kansas State freshman DB Johnathan Durham down the field. Speed is Curtis's biggest asset. He ran a 10.72-second 100 meter dash last spring, and perhaps more impressively he was a member of Temple's 4x200 meter relay team in both his sophomore and junior year, seasons in which Temple had top-ten times in the nation for that event.
In last week's round one laugher against Willis, Curtis caught a 50-yard TD early in the 3rd quarter to give Temple a 41-0 lead, and the game was really never a close one. Tonight, Temple, which was 5A's fifth-ranked team in the final AP poll plays ninth-ranked Houston Stratford in one of the weekend's marquee playoff matches. The two teams previously met in the playoffs last year, with Temple coming away with a 47-35 win despite Stratford running back Rakeem Boyd rushing for over 400 yards and 5 TDs. Boyd, now a senior, is committed to Texas A&M. Other key players for Stratford include senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks (a Texas Tech commit), senior defensive tackle Alex Miller (a Northwestern commit), junior defensive end(who already holds a handful of offers), and senior tight end Jordan Work, who has been a vital blocker in Stratford's running game but as a receiver is among the more under-utilized tight ends in the state. Work, whose father Chris Work played football at Texas A&M in the late 80s (he lettered in 1988), has D1 size but gets very few targets in the passing game, and last I heard his strongest interest was coming from the FCS and DII levels. He'll probably be a steal for whoever he signs with in February.
WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (Manvel)
Last week: Caught one pass for a 37-yard TD in a 71-31 win over Channelview in the bi-district round of the 6A Division II playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:00, vs. League City Clear Creek (Pasadena's Veterans Stadium)
Notes: Hemphill-Mapps's one catch in Manvel's bi-district win over Channelview was a 37-yard touchdown grab mid-way through the 1st quarter that gave Manvel a 14-0 lead. Manvel steamrolled Channelview,taking a 40-0 lead into halftime that became a 54-0 lead before Channelview put its first points on the board with 4:16 left in the 3rd quarter. Manvel's defense twice intercepted Alabama commit Jalen Hurts, who had been intercepted only twice in 203 pass attempts during the regular season.
Manvel moves on to the area round and will face undefeated League City Clear Creek, which is 11-0 and was ranked 13th in Class 6A in Dave Campbell's Texas Football's final regular season rankings, with the same publication slotting Manvel 9th. Clear Creek beat Fort Bend Travis 63-10 in round one and has won most of its games in convincing fashion. Only four of its games have been decided by less than 10 points, including a 31-27 win over Dickinson in week 10 that gave Dickinson its only loss of the season thus far.
WR(Valley Christian - San Jose, CA)
Notes: Johnson suffered a shoulder injury in his team's Week 3 game and he will miss the rest of the season. In Johnson's absence Valley Christian finished their regular season 7-3, with losses in their last two games, and will play their first playoff game this Saturday vs. Los Gatos.
TE Peyton Aucoin (Brother Martin - New Orleans, LA)
Last week: bye
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:00, vs. Catholic-B.R. (at New Orleans's Tad Gormley Stadium)
Notes: Brother Martin is the third seed in Louisiana's (private school) Division I playoff bracket and got a bye in round one. In round two they face off against sixth seed Catholic-B.R. of Baton Rouge. Catholic-B.R. is 7-3 on the season and did not have any common opponents with Brother Martin.
OL Tope Imade (Arlington Bowie)
Last week: Team gained 263 yards on 59 offensive plays in a 49-12 loss to Odessa Permian in the bi-district round of the 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Bowie fell behind 21-0 in the 2nd quarter and never recovered. They scored twice before halftime but went into the 3rd quarter trailing 35-12, and didn't managed to score again. As usual, senior running back DeAndre Cook got his yards on the ground (108 on 17 carries) but Bowie's passing game either didn't effectively utilize or failed to get big plays from its two senior receivers committed to FBS schools: Anthony Hawkins (Colorado St. commit; 4 catches for 45 yards) and Jesse Ebozue (UT-San Antonio commit; 3 catches for 25 yards and 1 TD). Bowie finished the 2015 season with a 6-5 overall record.
OL Denzel Okafor (Lewisville)
Last week: did not play; team did not qualify for the 6A playoffs
Notes: Okafor committed to Texas last weekend. His Lewisville team finished 4-6 in the regular season and did not advance to the playoffs, so this will probably be the last real note involving him for the remainder of these posts. During the season he played against fellow Texas commit Andrew Fitzgerald in early September when Lewisville was defeated by Flower Mound Marcus 40-26. With Okafor playing offensive tackle and Fitzgerald lining up at defensive end, It's quite possible the two future Longhorns had at least a few reps against each other, but neither player's Hudl page includes clips from the Lewisville-Marcus game.
DT Gerald Wilbon (Destrehan, LA)
Last week: Team defeated Denham Springs 44-23 in the first round of the LHSSA Class 5A playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:00, vs. Barbe (at Destrehan)
Notes: Destrehan's defense held Denham Springs to 8 first downs and 248 total yards last Friday. Still, they trailed 17-14 a few minutes into the 2nd quarter, but led 31-17 going into halftime and never trailed again. Destrehan scored points on a safety, a blocked punt returned for a TD, and a pick six.
Destrehan, the 3rd seed in the Class 5A bracket, moves on to face 14th seed Barbe. Barbe lost three of its first five games but has since reeled off six straight wins, including a 33-27 win over 19th seed Haughton in the first round. Destrehan and Barbe have not played any common opponents.
DE Andrew Fitzgerald (Flower Mound Marcus)
Last week: Team defense forced three turnovers and allowed 334 total yards in a 57-14 win over Keller Fossil Ridge in the bi-district round of the 6A Division II playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:30, vs. Mansfield (at Birdville Fine Arts/Athletic Complex)
Notes: Marcus led 22-7 at the half, then outscored Fossil Ridge 28-0 in the 3rd quarter to put the game away. To extend their season, Marcus will have to defeat Mansfield for a second time. Marcus came away with a 27-17 win over Mansfield in week one, a game in which offense was in short supply; the teams gained a combined 414 total yards and converted only 19 first downs, and Marcus's defense held Mansfield's star junior running back Kennedy Brooks to just 25 yards on 20 carries. Brooks has averaged 227 rushing yards since that game, and Mansfield rebounded to defeat perennial playoff team Waco Midway before running the table on district 8-6A, an impressive feat considering that it required wins over recent Division I prospect factory DeSoto, two-time defending 5A/6A Division II state champion Cedar Hill, and South Grand Prairie (a team that last week upset nationally-ranked Euless Trinity).
If you're looking for a playoff game to attend in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this weekend, Marcus vs. Mansfield should be one of the best ones. The winner of that game will face the winner of the aforementioned Arlington Lamar/El Paso Eastwood game in the (third) regional semifinal round, meaning there's a legitimate chance Fitzgerald will be trying to sack his future collegiate QB teammate a week from now.
DE Malcolm Roach (Madison Prep Academy - Baton Rouge, LA)
Last week: Team defense allowed 222 total yards in a 59-10 win over Archbishop Hannan in the first round of the LHSSA Division III playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:00, vs. LaPlace (LA) St. Charles Catholic (at Baton Rouge's Doug Williams Stadium)
Notes: Madison Prep went into the Division III playoff bracket as the 4th seed and won handily but messily in the first round over 13th seed Archbishop Hannan. Madison reportedly was assessed 19 penalties for 190 yards in the win, and had four touchdowns and a two-point conversion attempt nullified by penalties. That didn't matter in round one but the further they go in the playoffs the less they'll be able to afford such mistakes, beginning with their round two opponent, 5th seed St. Charles Catholic. SCC defeated 12th seed Opelousas Catholic 14-0 in the first round and has an overall record of 9-2, with their two losses being a 3-point loss to an eventual Class 5A playoff team (like Madison, St. Charles Catholic is classified as a 2A school), and a 35-3 loss to the top seed in the Division III bracket, Reserve Riverside Academy, who will most likely await the winner of the Madison-St. Charles Catholic game in round three. Madison and SCC did not have any common opponents this season.
LB DeMarco Boyd (Gilmer)
Last week: Had 6 carries for 77 yards and 1 TD, caught 1 pass for 2 yards, made 10 tackles, recorded 1 sack, forced a fumble, and blocked two kicks in a 40-36 win over Texarkana Pleasant Grove in the bi-district round of the 4A Division II playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:30, vs. Mexia (Mesquite's Memorial Stadium)
Notes: Gilmer played had a lot of trouble taking care of the football last week, committing seven turnovers against upstart Pleasant Grove (a team they defeated 50-7 in the bi-district round a year ago) and falling behind 36-21 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. DeMarco Boyd's 8-yard TD run with 3:00 left in the 3rd quarter cut the deficit to 36-28, and Gilmer scored twice more in the 4th quarter while keeping Pleasant Grove from adding to their side of the scoreboard to eke out a narrow 40-36 win.
Boyd was all over the field, scoring an 8-yard TD when Gilmer badly needed a score to start their comeback, and also had runs to 17 yards and 35 yards to help set up Gilmer's last two scores. He blocked a PAT attempt in the 2nd quarter, and the ETSN's recap of the game said he blocked another kick as well, though it wasn't specific on whether it was another PAT or a field goal attempt. Basically, Boyd is one of those players about whom most coaches would say they'd love to have ten more just like him. You can watch some of his work in the win over Pleasant Grove in the video below.
This week, GIlmer faces a 7-4 Mexia team led by 2017 quarterback Jaylen Gipson, who was offered by Texas Tech in May.
DB Obi Eboh (Southlake Carroll)
Last week: Team defense allowed 386 yards and forced no turnovers in a 37-33 win over Cedar Hill in the 6A Division II playoffs
This week: Friday, November 20 at 7:30, vs. Denton Guyer (in Allen)
Notes: Carroll led Cedar Hill 35-21 at the half and held on to win despite their only second half points coming with less than a minute left in the game on a safety caused by a bad snap near the end zone. After beating the two-time defending 5A/6A Division II state champs in round one, Carroll gets a second round date with Denton Guyer, which won Class 4A Division I state title in 2012 and 2013 before moving up to 6A in 2014 (the 2014 U.I.L. realignment renamed Class 5A as 6A, so Guyer really only moved up one classification, not two).
Guyer is led by 2017 QB Shawn Robinson, a TCU commit. Robinson, the #2 dual-threat QB in 247Sports's composite rankings for the 2017 class and a consensus top-50 national recruit, had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2014, completing 60% of his passes for just shy of 2,800 yards, 33 TDs, and 5 INTs, while adding 1,400 yards and 17 TDs on the ground. Now a year older and facing the same schedule he played against as a sophomore (if anything, most of those opponents were weaker in 2015 than they had been in 2014), Robinson has had a notable statistical regression as a junior, for whatever reason. He has completed only 45% of his passes and has produced 1,326 yards, 10 TDs, and 7 INTs through the air, though he has shown he is just as capable of making a spectacular run, rushing for 1,210 yards and 13 TDs.
Guyer is 8-3 for the season, with a lopsided season-opening loss to Allen (very understandable), a defeat in their regular season-finale against unbeaten cross-town rival Denton Ryan, and a WTF? 24-21 loss to Keller Central, which finished 4-6 and somehow beat Guyer one week after becoming the only team to lose to Justin Northwest in 2015.
QB Sam Ehlinger (Austin Westlake)
Last week: Completed 16 of 22 passes for 287 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT, and rushed 19 times for 90 yards and 1 TD in a 35-14 win over Round Rock in the bi-district round of the 6A Division I playoffs
This week: Saturday, November 21 at 3:00, vs. The Woodlands (at Bryan's Merrill Green Stadium)
Notes: Ehlinger had a hand in all five of Westlake's TDs last Friday, passing for four of them and rushing for another, although he was also intercepted for the first time in 2015. Westlake had a 21-7 lead at halftime that was cut to 21-14 in the 3rd quarter, but they scored two unanswered 4th quarter TDs to seal the victory.
Westlake's area round opponent is 10-1 The Woodlands, who beat Klein Oak in the bi-district round 16-7. The lone loss this season for The Woodlands was a 14-7 defeat in week 3 to nationally ranked juggernaut Katy, against whom only one other opponent this season has come within 32 points. (Seriously, just look at Katy's results this season. They have beaten all opponents not named The Woodlands by an average of 52 points.) Among the players in The Woodlands's secondary who will attempt to stop Ehlinger and the Westlake passing game is 2016 cornerback Antoine Winfield, Jr., the son of former NFL All-Pro cornerback Antoine Winfield.
WR Damion Miller (Tyler John Tyler)
Last week: Caught 5 passes for 72 yards and 1 TD in a 48-21 win over Texarkana Texas in the bi-district round of the 5A Division I playoffs
This week: Saturday, November 21 at 2:00, vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge (at Forney's Jackrabbit Stadium)
Notes: Miller's touchdown catch was a 19-yarder with 4:42 left in the 1st quarter that gave John Tyler a 7-0 lead. John Tyler and Texas High traded scores in the first two quarters went into halftime tied at 14. John Tyler QB Bryson Smith rushed for 3 TDs and passed for another in the second half, as John Tyler outscored Texas 34-7 in the 3rd and 4th quarters to win in a rout.
Having won eight straight games after losing their first three, John Tyler faces arguably its stiffest test of the season this week in the form of unbeaten Mansfield Lake Ridge. In Dave Campbell's Texas Football's final regular season rankings for Class 5A, it ranked Lake Ridge 7th and John Tyler 13th. Lake Ridge has averaged 51 points per game during its 2015 run, during which they defeated eventual Class 6A playoff team Keller Fossil Ridge and gave Mansfield Summit the only blemish on its record so far. Lake Ridge is led on offense by senior QB Jett Duffey (a Texas Tech commit) and senior running back Duke Carter (a Louisiana-Monroe commit), and trying to stop Damion Miller and the John Tyler offense will be most notably 2017 linebacker Loren Mondy (an Arizona St. commit), senior cornerback Arnold Azunna (an Iowa State commit), and senior cornerback Austin McCarther (who reportedly has a Stephen F. Austin offer). In the bi-district round, Lake Ridge demolished Dallas Samuell 63-12.
TE Major Tennison (Bullard)
Last week: Caught 3 passes for 62 yards and 1 TD in a 44-22 loss to Atlanta in the bi-district round of the 4A Division II playoffs
Notes: Tennison's touchdown catch covered 40 yards and came with 4:33 left in the 3rd quarter with Bullard trailing 28-8, a score that became 30-14 when Atlanta blocked the PAT following Tennison's TD and returned it for two points. The TD was Tennison's first catch of the game. I'll go out on a limb and say that if it takes your team over 31 minutes of game time to get the ball to your future Big 12 tight end, in a playoff game, that might explain why you're behind by three touchdowns. Bullard finished the 2015 season with an overall record of 7-4, and Tennison finished his junior season with 27 catches for 603 yards and 8 TDs. Along with Tennison, Bullard's starting quarterback and running back, and top receiver will return in 2016, and that continuity, plus another spring and summer of physical development, could lead to Tennison producing even bigger numbers as a senior.
DE Lagaryonn Carson (Texarkana Liberty-Eylau)
Last week: Made three tackles for loss and one sack in a 48-41 win over Van in the bi-district round of the 4A Division I playoffs.
This week: Had two sacks and three other tackles for loss in a 48-9 win over Sanger in the area round of the 4A Division I playoffs
Notes: I had several delays in getting this week's post up and didn't have it finished by Wednesday or Thursday (the two days I've been posting it), and since Lagaryonn Carson's team played its second round game last night, for him you get two re-caps for the price of one! (Somewhere, Steve Patterson approves.)
Against Van last week, Liberty-Eylau dominated through most of the first three quarters and went into 4th with a 48-21 lead, but in a very wild finish, Van scored three unanswered TDs in the game's final eight minutes to cut the deficit to 48-41. Van's last score came with 1:56 left in regulation, and their attempted onside kick was recovered by L-E. Van called its last timeout after L-E's first play, then two plays later L-E converted what should have been a game-clinching first down, but the game wasn't over yet. From ETSN's recap: "But instead of taking a knee with less than a minute left, [running back Lamont] Byrd broke loose for a 39-yard gain and fumbled right at the goal line." Van recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback with 45 seconds left. Van advanced as far as the L-E 36-yard line, but their final play ended with a sack with no time left.
L-E had a much easier time last night in the area round vs. Sanger, which went into the game at 10-1. L-E won by nearly 40 points in a game that probably shouldn't have been that close. L-E took an early 7-0 lead but turned the ball over inside the Sanger 30-yard line on both of its next two drives. Ultimately it didn't matter, as L-E shook off those miscues to lead 21-3 at halftime, then scored 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter, and their starters were pulled early in the 4th. Per the ETSN recap of the game, Sanger rushed for just two yards in the first half and all but avoided running toward Carson in the second half. L-E's defense held Sanger to 224 total yards and forced two turnovers. In next week's regional semifinal round they will face the winner of tonight's Kaufman-Alvarado area round game.