This week will be the final one of the regular season for Texas high school football, and while every Longhorn commit from the state (plus the two from Louisiana) except one has already had their team clinch a playoff spot, most will have to wait for this week's results to find out who they'll play in the first round. After next week these posts should start to get a lot shorter, as I don't expect most of the commits' teams to advance further than the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs. Though there are rumors on the UT interwebs that a pending commitment will be announced this weekend, so the next report may have a new name added.
In my weekly non-Texas commit section, I'll mention some messy playoff scenarios involving potential three- or four-way ties in some districts of the state after this weekend, and I'll profile two accomplished athletes from small north Texas schools who will be finishing their season on Friday and playing against each other for the third and final time, but who both should have college football in their future.
QB Shane Buechele (Arlington Lamar)
Last week: Completed 16 of 24 passes for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns; and rushed 6 times for 17 yards in a 41-14 win over Weatherford
This week: Thursday, November 5 at 7:00, vs. Arlington Sam Houston
Notes: The win over Weatherford sewed up 2nd place in district 4-6A for Lamar. Who gets the district's final playoff spot will be determined this week, but it's most likely Lamar will be in the 6A Division II bracket and will face San Angelo Central if that team loses this week to a resurgent Odessa Permian (ranked 7th in the state in this week's poll), or Abilene if Central defeats Permian.
As for the Weatherford win, Buechele completed his first five passes and had great numbers on paper, but it wasn't the most dominating offensive performance he or Lamar has had this season. Lamar scored points on six of the nine possessions that Buechele led. Lamar went three-and-out and punted from their own 29-yard line on their third possession, punted from their own 31-yard line on their first drive of the 3rd quarter, and turned the ball over on downs on a 4th-and-8 incompletion from the Weatherford 31-yard line on the last play of the 3rd quarter. But each non-scoring possession was followed by one that ended in points, and Weatherford's offense only generated 287 total yards and never made the game close. Lamar led 24-0 at the half, and the last possession Buechele led resulted in a field goal that put Lamar ahead 34-7 with 6:38 left in the game.
WR Tren'Davian Dickson (Navasota)
Last week: Caught 1 TD pass and returned a punt 67 yards for a TD in a 73-0 win over Houston Wheatley
This week: Saturday, November 7 at 1:00, at Houston Washington
Notes: On senior night in Navasota, the Rattlers jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the 1st quarter, and went into halftime up 52-0. Full stats from the game haven't been reported in any of the usual sources I check, not that it matters. I'm sure even Baylor's coaches have looked at Navasota's district schedule and remarked on how ridiculously easy it is. Navasota has outscored its four district opponents 246-13, and their week 11 opponent, Washington, has had lopsided losses to three teams Navasota has already blown out.
Navasota is the state's top-ranked 4A team and has received over 2/3 of the first-place votes in every AP poll taken this year. They'll be the top playoff seed for district 11-4A Division I and will play the fourth-place team in district 12-4A Division I in the first round. That team is yet to be determined, as that district could potentially finish with a three-way tie for second or a three-way tie for third.
WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (Manvel)
Last week: Did not record a catch in a 65-10 win over Pasadena Memorial
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:00, vs. Manvel (Alvin Memorial Stadium)
Notes: For the second straight week Hemphill-Mapps did not appear on the post-game box score, though I have not seen any report explaining his absence and whether it was due to lack of targets, illness, injury, or what. In any case, he was hardly needed as Manvel outgained Memorial 526-169, led 45-3 at halftime, and didn't allow Memorial to reach the end zone until late in the 4th quarter with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
In what may be the state's best game this week, 6th-ranked Manvel will face undefeated and 10th-ranked Pearland on Friday for the championship of District 22-6A. Manvel's enrollment will put it in the 6A Division II bracket, but there are still several possibilities on who their first round opponent from district 21-6A could be. Depending on the results of this week, Manvel will open the playoffs next week against either Channelview,. La Porte, or Port Arthur Memorial
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.
TE Peyton Aucoin (Brother Martin - New Orleans, LA)
Last week: Team defeated Archbishop Shaw 42-21
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:00, at New Orleans Jesuit
Notes: Brother Martin rebounded from a resounding and lopsided loss to Louisiana's #1 ranked team in week 9 to defeat a pretty good Archbishop Shaw team, and they remain the #9 team in Class 5A in this week's LSWA poll. In Louisiana's somewhat complicated playoff system, Brother Martin plays against both public and private schools in its regular season, but competes in the all-private school Division I bracket for the playoffs, rather than against Class 5A public schools. Their last regular season opponent is New Orleans Jesuit, which went into the 2014 playoffs as the sixth-seeded team out of the twelve in the Division I bracket, and upset the #3, 2, and 1 seeds to win the Division I state title. This year, Jesuit is 5-6 overall. If the playoffs began right now, I believe Brother Martin would be the 3rd seed in the Division I bracket.
OL Tope Imade (Arlington Bowie)
Last week: Team gained 524 yards on 63 plays in a 50-16 win over Fort Worth Paschal
This week: Thursday, November 5 at 7:00, vs. Weatherford
Notes: Against Paschal last week, Bowie ran out to a 30-8 halftime lead, then scored 20 unanswered points in the 4th quarter for an emphatic win. Their running game led the way as it has all season, with senior DeAndre Cook rushing for 285 yards and 2 TDs, and wide receiver Anthony Hawkins (a Colorado State commit) had 2 TDs receiving and 2 more rushing. With a win tonight Bowie can secure a spot in the playoffs and deny one to Weatherford, as Weatherford can only make the playoffs with a win over Bowie and a Paschal upset win against Arlington High, in which case there would be a three-way tie between Bowie, Arlington, and Weatherford, and the district's last two playoff spots would be decided by point differentials. Assuming Bowie doesn't suffer what would be a humiliating defeat, they will be in the 6A Division I bracket along with district champion Arlington Martin, and their first round opponent next week will likely be Odessa Permian.
DT Gerald Wilbon (Destrehan, LA)
Last week: Team defeated Thibodaux 51-40
This week: idle
Notes: Destrehan finished their regular season with a 9-0 record and is ranked 3rd again in this week's LSWA Class 5A poll. They do not have a game scheduled for this week so they'll get an off week to rest before preparing for their first playoff opponent. When the 32-team Class 5A playoff bracket is set after this week, expect to see Destrehan as the third seed.
LB DeMarco Boyd (Gilmer)
Last week: Had 2 carries for 19 yards, 2 receptions for 21 yards and 1 TD, 4 tackles, and 1 sack in a 61-13 win over Nevada Community
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, vs. Emory Rains
Notes: Similarly to Manvel when facing a far less-talented opponent, Gilmer spreads the ball and the offensive load around. In their lopsided win over Community last Thursday, nine different players had at least one carry, eleven players combined to catch 18 passes, and seven different players scored TDs.
The playoff teams are set for district 5-4A Division II; regardless of what happens Friday, Gilmer will be the district champion and Rains will be the 4th place finisher. Gilmer's first round opponent will be the fourth-place team from district 6-4A Division II, and technically the bottom three teams in that district all have a shot at it, but realistically I expect Texarkana Pleasant Grove to come away with it, then provide Gilmer as good of a test as they'd get from any 4th-place team in that classification.
DB Obi Eboh (Southlake Carroll)
Last week: Team defeated Haltom 59-0
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, vs. Hurst L.D. Bell
Notes: Carroll led Haltom 42-0 four minutes into the 2nd quarter, and for the game their defense limited Haltom to just 120 total yards while forcing three turnovers. Carroll closes out its season against 1-8 L.D. Bell, whose only win was a three-point victory over Haltom two weeks ago. I'd be very surprised if Carroll's starters played a single snap in the second half. Their first round opponent when the playoffs begin next week will be the two-time defending 5A/6A Division II state champions, Cedar Hill, which is ranked 8th in this week's AP poll for Class 6A and was ranked 3rd a week ago before losing to district foe Mansfield. If Texas used a seeding system for its playoffs like Louisiana, there's no way a match-up like that between powerhouses would happen before the 2nd or 3rd round, but with the state being as geographically enormous as it is, there's no way that kind of system would work.
QB Sam Ehlinger (Austin Westlake)
Last week: Completed 15 of 24 passes for 180 yards and 5 TDs, and rushed 3 times for 37 yards and 1 TD in a 48-3 win over Del Valle
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, vs. Kyle Lehman
Notes: All six of Ehlinger's TDs came in the first half, as Westlake built a 41-0 halftime lead. Through nine games, Ehlinger has produced 2,924 total yards and 44 touchdowns and has yet to throw his first interception of 2015. Westlake finishes its season this week versus a winless Lehman team, so more than likely Ehlinger and all or most of the starters won't play beyond halftime.
When the playoffs begin next week, Westlake will be district 14-6A's top seed in the 6A Division I bracket, and their bi-district opponent from 13-6A will be either Round Rock or Round Rock Cedar Ridge. Those two teams are tied with Pflugerville Hendrickson for the lead in 13-6A, with each having a 5-1 district record heading into week 11, and there's a very real chance that the district will finish with a headache-inducing three-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fourth, at which point tiebreakers would determine the order of the top three teams and which of the next three gets the district's fourth and final playoff spot.
WR Damion Miller (Tyler John Tyler)
Last week: Caught 3 passes for 102 yards and 1 TD, made 1 tackle, and forced a fumble in a 57-21 win over Jacksonville
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, at Nacogdoches
Notes: On an afternoon in which John Tyler's 13 team receptions were shared among seven different players, Miller did the most with his, going over the century mark on yardage and reaching the end zone once. For the season, Miller has caught 29 passes for 652 yards and 6 TDs.
John Tyler finishes their season against a Nacogdoches team that needs to win and get some help from other teams in order to claim the district's final playoff spot. Nacogdoches has not beaten John Tyler since 1989. Regardless of the outcome, John Tyler will be the champion of district 16-5A and the district's top seed in the 5A Division I playoff bracket. Their bi-district round opponent from district 15-5A will be either Longview or Texarkana Texas, depending on how things shake out in week 11. Longview, Texas High, and Marshall are all tied for the district lead with 5-1 records. If they remain tied after week 11 and the district's seeding comes down to point differentials, I believe Longview would be the district's champion and top Division I seed, and Texas High would face John Tyler in the bi-district round next week.
Below, you can watch two of Miller's three catches in last week's win over Jacksonville.
TE Major Tennison (Bullard)
Last week: Caught TD passes from 45 and 65 yards out in a 47-9 win over Melissa
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, at Canton
Notes: The Bullard-Canton game on Friday will decide who gets the second and third playoff seeds from district 5-4A Division II, and depending on the outcome, Bullard will likely face Gladewater or Atlanta in the bi-district round of the playoffs next week. According to the ETSN's preview of the game, Tennison has 23 catches for 493 yards and 6 TDs for the season.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2017 Longhorn tight end commit:
DE Lagaryonn Carson (Texarkana Liberty-Eylau)
Last week: Team defeated Paris North Lamar 47-29
This week: Friday, November 6 at 7:30, vs. Princeton
Notes: Liberty-Eylau is 4-0 in district play and can clinch the championship of district 7-4A Division I outright with a win over Princeton on Friday, while a loss could set up a three-way tie for first between those two and Pittsburg, which earlier lost to L-E but beat Princeton. Who they will play to begin the playoffs is very much up in the air, as district 8-4A Division I has its top seed established but could potentially see a three-way tie for 2nd or a three-way tie for third, depending on the outcome of its week 11 games. Barring any upsets, if L-E beats Princeton their first round opponent will likely be Van.
If you think the College Football Playoff rankings are a mess...
You should see just how crazy the standings could potentially look for some high school football districts in the state. In the notes on Sam Ehlinger I mentioned the "headache-inducing" possibility that district 13-6A could finish with a three-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fourth. If you want to read on some real doozies of a migraine-inducing playoff spot mess, check out DCTF's playoff scenarios for Classes 6A through 4A.
In district 28-6A, one team has clinched a playoff spot, none have been eliminated, and the other five are all fighting for the last three spots. Yes, we're in week 11. In district 30-6A, there are still six teams that have a shot at getting one of the district's final three playoff spots, and there are two scenarios in which four teams would finish with a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot. Their summary of district 1-5A's scenarios - which involve five teams still alive for that district's last two playoff spots - begins with, "Bear with us, because this is messy." And up in the panhandle there's district 1-4A Division II, which has only five teams, and if one scenario plays out all five teams would finish with district records of 2-2. Makes me want to take an Advil just thinking about it.
High school game of the week with no playoff implications
When district 5-3A Division I opponents Pilot Point and Farmersville meet on Friday night at the latter's home field, the only things on the line will be pride and two schools trying to finish their disappointing season on a high note. Pilot Point began their season 5-0 before dropping three of their first four district games by a combined 13 points, and they won't be able to make the playoffs even with a win Friday (the best they can hope for is a tie for fourth place, but the team they'd be tied with beat them earlier in the year, so they'd lose the first tiebreaker). Farmersville also began the season promisingly with a 4-1 record, but has lost its four district contests by an average of 38 points. Both squads will be turning in their equipment after this week, but the game will still be worth watching for anyone who wants to see two of the best small-school players in north central Texas: Pilot Point's senior running back/wide receiver DaCoven Bailey, and Farmersville junior Caleb Twyford.
As a junior in 2014, Bailey showed himself to be a game-breaker both as a runner and receiver as he totaled nearly 1,200 yards on the ground, 800 yards receiving, scored 35 TDs and made honorable mention All-State. As a senior he hasn't been as productive overall but has still compiled nearly 1,600 yards from scrimmage and scored 20 TDs. He began the year by producing some 300 offensive yards and 3 TDs in a win over Krum, and last week, with Pilot Point's postseason hopes on the line, he rushed for 212 yards and a touchdown in a heartbreaking 23-21 loss to Pottsboro, the district's leader and the 8th ranked team in Class 3A. In the latter game, Bailey had a 68-yard TD run that gave Pilot Point a 21-3 lead early in the 3rd quarter before Pottsboro stormed back to score 20 unanswered points.
Bailey is typically listed at 6-feet and 190 pounds, and he combines a good frame with good hands and very good speed. At last spring's state track meet he finished 4th in the Class 3A 200 meter final, clocking a wind-aided 21.85. For two years he's been one of the best players in the region that few people talk about, and where he plays his next football game after this Friday remains to be seen.
Rivals is the only recruiting site with a profile on him, but it lists no offers and has no stories mentioning him, and I've read nothing elsewhere about his recruitment, though for what it's worth his Twitter followers include a SMU assistant coach and a player personnel assistant at Oklahoma State. His frame, speed, hands, and aggressive style (he's a mean blocker when lined up in the slot) should get him onto a college football roster at some level next year.
Below, you can see some highlights from Bailey's 300-yard, 4-touchdown game early this season versus Aubrey.
Like Bailey, Caleb Twyford is a threat both on the ground and through the air. The Farmersville junior leads his team in both rushing (1,247) and receiving (342) yardage, and he has scored 23 total TDs this season. He has also made his presence felt on defense, intercepting four passes and being credited with 42 total tackles (31 solo). He has produced 100 or more total yards in every game save a 59-0 blowout loss to state-ranked Pottsboro.
As a freshman and sophomore, he was his team's leading receiver and also spent time on defense. In 2014, he had over 1,000 yards and 12 TDs receiving and was named Utility Player of the Year for District 5-3A Division I, and also earned honorable mention all-state honors in Class 3A as a wide receiver. With the graduation of all-state running back Darrin Pennington (now at Southeastern Oklahoma State), Twyford moved from receiver to the backfield in 2015.
Friday night will be the third time for Twyford to take the field against Pilot Point, and PPHS fans and players are probably already tired of having to face him. In 2013 the teams met in the first round of the playoffs, and Twyford, then a freshman, picked off two passes and had two long scoring receptions to help Farmersville to a 35-27 win. The two schools were aligned into the same district in 2014, and when they played a year ago this week, Twyford again played a starring role, catching 10 passes for 215 yards and 2 TDs in a 42-28 Farmersville win.
Twyford and his teammates won't be suiting up for a playoff game next week but with another good performance on Friday night he can add to an already impressive junior highlight tape (see below). Online rosters list him at 6'-6'1" and 175 pounds and though he may not really be that tall he does appear to have grown since his sophomore year. He is very elusive with the ball in his hands and shows good change of direction, and he'll deal out some hard hits while on defense. When I watch his clips I see a future cornerback. SMU, Purdue and Navy have expressed early interest in him, and I expect several others will be watching his junior year film and/or coming to Farmersville to see him work out in the coming months.