In Week four of the Texas high school football season, Sam Ehlinger did more damage with his legs than his arm, Tope Imade's team got their first win of 2015, and a key 2016 commit who was injured in Week 3 announced that his season was over. Also, teams around the country (including your favorite college team) piled up loads of offensive yardage but were on the short end of the scoreboard.
Ehlinger gets a well-deserved bye this weekend, but every other commit who isn't injured has a game scheduled, so if you're in DFW, greater Houston, Abilene, Longview, Whitehouse, or New Orleans, you'll have a future Longhorn playing near you.
You know the drill: come for the UT football commit updates, stay for the random football commentary, which this week includes a look at an under-the-radar 2016 prospect I saw over the weekend.
QB Shane Buechele (Arlington Lamar)
Last week: Idle
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:30, vs. Arlington Martin
Notes: In last year's Martin-Lamar game, Martin scored the first 29 points of the contest and led 46-13 at halftime, eventually winning by a final score of 67-20. This year, Martin brought back a lot of experience at the skill positions and opened the season on a high note, upsetting nationally-ranked powerhouse DeSoto on national TV 46-26 in week one (the game wasn't that close; Martin led 32-0 at one point late in the 3rd quarter). Since then Martin has scored a grand total of two offensive touchdowns in losses to Dallas Skyline and South Grand Prairie.
In Buechele's two-and-a-half seasons on varsity (he essentially split time at QB as a sophomore and wasn't Lamar's full-time starter until his junior year), he has thrown for 52 TDs and 10 interceptions, and rushed for another 10 TDs.
WR Tren'Davian Dickson (Navasota)
Last week: Caught 7 passes for 175 yards and 4 TDs in a 65-21 win over New Orleans charter school Lake Area New Tech.
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:00, vs. Fort Worth Castleberry
Notes: Navasota has beaten its first four opponents by an average score of 60-15. This week they face Castleberry, a team from west Fort Worth that, A. they beat 56-3 a year ago, and B. has been outscored 113-25 in losing its first three games. Navasota can pretty much name their score in this one. Navasota is the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team in this week's AP poll, and they received 22 out of 25 first-place votes.
WR Reggie Hemphill-Mapps (Manvel)
Last week: Caught 2 passes for 33 yards in a 75-7 win over Pasadena Dobie
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:00, vs. Pasadena
Notes: Manvel scored early and often against Dobie last Thursday, taking a 48-7 lead into halftime and outgaining Dobie 557-94 in total yards. Their next opponent, Pasadena High, has been outscored by a total of 126-0 over its past two games. Manvel can probably name their score in this one.
WR Collin Johnson (Valley Christian - San Jose, CA)
Last week: Did not play in a 22-21 win over Milpitas.
This week: Injured, will not play.
Notes: Johnson suffered a shoulder injury in his team's previous game that was determined to be a torn labrum, and it will reportedly cost him the rest of his senior season. In the two games he played, he caught 8 passes for 156 yards and 3 TDs. Johnson plans to graduate early and enroll at UT for the spring semester. Hopefully he'll have a good recovery and rehab from this injury.
TE Peyton Aucoin (Brother Martin - New Orleans, LA)
Last week:Team defeated New Orleans Edna Karr 44-41 (see: highlights)
This week: Saturday, September 26 at 2:30 vs. River Ridge (LA) John Curtis (Tad Gormley Stadium)
Notes: Aucoin's blocking helped junior RB Bruce Jordan-Swilling rush 29 times for 259 yards and 5 TDs in the win over Edna Karr. Jordan-Swilling is reported to have offers from Florida, Miami, and Oklahoma. In this week's LSWA poll, Brother Martin is ranked 5th in Class 5A, while their opponent for this week, John Curtis, is ranked 3rd.
OL Tope Imade (Arlington Bowie)
Last week: Team defeated Colleyville Heritage 42-27 (see: highlights)
This week: Thursday, September 24 at 7:00, at Arlington Sam Houston
Notes: Bowie rushed for 311 yards as a team in the win over Colleyville Heritage. Meanwhile, the team's two wide receivers currently committed to FBS schools (Anthony Hawkins and Jesse Ebozue) have combined for 9 receptions through three games, and Bowie has completed only 16 passes for the season.
DT Gerald Wilbon (Destrehan, LA)
Last week: Team defeated Ehret 38-18 (see: highlights)
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:00, at Hahnville
Notes: Despite getting a convincing win, Destrehan dropped one spot from 8th to 9th among Class 5A teams in this week's LSWA poll.
LB DeMarco Boyd (Gilmer)
Last week: Had 1 carry for 6 yards, caught 1 pass for a 36-yard TD, returned an intercepted 17 yards for a TD, and was credited with 4 total tackles in a 43-27 win over Daingerfield.
This week: Saturday, September 26 at 7:00, vs. Carthage (at Lobo Stadium in Longview)
Notes: Gilmer is ranked 2nd in Class 4A in the latest AP poll, one spot behind Tren'Davian Dickson's Navasota team.
DB Obi Eboh (Southlake Carroll)
Last week: Idle
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:30, at Abilene
Notes: Carroll defeated Abilene 63-28 when the teams met in 2014. That game was actually tied at 21 early in the 2nd quarter, then Carroll scored the game's next six TDs to run away with it.
QB Sam Ehlinger (Austin Westlake)
Last week: Completed 7 of 16 passes for 166 yards and 2 TDs, and rushed 12 times for 255 yards and 5 TDs in a 56-12 win over Austin High.
This week: Idle
Notes: Ehlinger didn't complete his passes at a high rate against city rival Austin High, but he dominated the game with his legs, running for touchdowns of 66, 1, 2, 77, and 5 yards. He added his two passing TDs later. Through the season's first four games, Ehlinger has produced 1,386 yards of total offense (346 yards per game) and 19 touchdowns (10 passing, 9 rushing).
WR Damion Miller (Tyler John Tyler)
Last week: Idle
This week: Friday, September 25 at 7:30, vs. Whitehouse
Notes: John Tyler opens district play this week after going winless against its three non-district foes, 6A teams Plano and Tyler Lee, and fellow east Texas 5A team Longview. Miller has yet to really make an impact on the box scores, as he has only 7 catches for 101 yards and one TD to his name so far. He started slowly during his sophomore season as well, but finished with 26 catches for 614 yards and a team-leading 8 TDs.
Defenses take a bye week
In last week's post I mentioned a few teams that put up big offensive numbers but came up short on the final scoreboard, in the spirit of Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column and its "500/600/700 Club" inductees. Two days later, your Texas Longhorns gained 650 total yards, at home, and lost to Cal 45-44. Other teams suffered similar fates over the weekend.
Tulsa gained 603 total yards against Oklahoma, and lost by 14.
Hosting Memphis, Bowling Green gained 579 total yards and did not commit a turnover, but lost 44-41.
Western Kentucky gained 568 yards at Indiana, and lost 38-35.
Sam Houston State, then ranked #3 in the FCS Coaches Poll, hosted unranked Lamar for its home opener. The Bearkats gained 560 yards and did not commit a turnover, but lost 49-46. Lamar's star of the game was junior running back Kade Harrington, who shredded an experienced SHSU defense for 230 rushing yards, 83 receiving yards (including a 77-yard TD reception), and 3 total TDs. As it happens, Harrington was one of several unheralded players I wrote about on this site during and after the 2012 high school football season.
In the high school ranks, Frisco Heritage - one week removed from gaining 530 yards in a 70-43 loss to The Colony - gained 595 yards, made 28 first downs, and only punted twice against city rival Frisco Centennial, and lost 54-33.
Mansfield Legacy beat Waxahachie 73-66 (in regulation) in a game that featured two different five-minute stretches with 5 or 6 combined touchdowns, as well as two 8+ minute scoreless periods. Waxahachie took an early 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter, then 8:08 of game time passed before anyone scored again. In the final 5:12 of the 2nd quarter, the teams combined to score on 5 TDs and 2 field goals. Between the 9:04 mark and the 4:46 mark in the 3rd quarter, the teams reached the end zone six times. Three TDs were scored in the first 3:02 of the 4th quarter, but after Legacy scored a go-ahead TD to take a 73-66 lead with 8:58 left in the game, nobody scored again. I doubt there have been many football games in which 139 points were scored in regulation despite nobody putting points on the board for the game's first 2:50 or last 8:58.
Hosting Sachse, Tyler Lee gained 514 yards and lost by 25 points. Sachse's 839 total yards had something to do with that. Sachse's sophomore QB Jalen Mayden attempted 33 passes on the night, which resulted in: 540 yards, 6 touchdowns, only 5 incompletions and no interceptions. Mayden averaged a pretty astounding 16 yards per pass attempt.
Also, Sachse is getting into a pattern where the end of their 2nd quarters resembles the last minute of a typical episode of 24. In week 3, Sachse and Dallas Bishop Lynch combined to score 4 TDs and a safety in the last 3:14 of the first half. In week 4, Sachse and Tyler Lee combined to score 4 TDs in the last 3:28 of the first half.
How not to upset a three-time defending state champion
Last Friday, 2-1 Plano played a district 6-6A tilt versus Allen, which went into the contest on a 46-game winning streak and winner of the last three 5A/6A Division I state championships. Plano, boasting one of the highest enrollments of any school in the state and having Stanford commit Brandon Stephens at running back, had possessions resulting in: a punt, lost fumble, punt, interception, punt, interception, punt, end of half, interception, punt (for -12 yards!), lost fumble, punt, lost fumble, lost fumble, lost fumble, and punt. Allen won 65-0.
An offense Bret Bielema would love
In the present era of pass-happy spread offenses, Kennedale High -- a 4A school east of Fort Worth and southwest of Arlington- - has been a notable and successful holdout in recent years, employing a punishing Wing-T offense that rarely uses pass plays. In 2015, the Wildcats have more wins (4) than completed passes (3). As a team Kennedale has completed 84 passes since the start of the 2011 season. A handful of DFW-area quarterbacks have more completions already just this season. Box scores from their games regularly show them rushing for 400-500 yards while attempting one or two passes, if that many. Even in their rare lopsided defeats they choose to move the ball on the ground and still largely eschew the pass. In 2013 losses to Argyle (by 35 points) and Texarkana Texas High (by 20 points) they put the ball in the air a combined 5 times, and in their 55-35 playoff loss to Burnet that same year, they attempted only 5 passes (completing 1, which was thrown by their running back).
In their first three games this season (two of which were against 5A teams), Kennedale outscored their opponents 170-36, and for the season they are averaging over 430 rushing yards per game. Last season they won their first 12 games before falling 52-48 in the 4A Division I regional semifinal round to eventual state runner-up Argyle, a game in which Kennedale rushed for 591 yards and completed one pass. Kennedale is 4-0 and ranked 6th in Class 4A in the current AP poll.
Under the radar prospect I like: Juanya Pyburn
Last Friday night I took in a little over half of a game pitting 3A Division II public school Blooming Grove against TAPPS Division II private school Grapevine Faith Christian. My motivation for skipping the touted games involving big schools that night and attending this contest between a small public school and a private school - neither of which is known for producing D1 talent - was to see Blooming Grove senior Juanya Pyburn in person.
Pyburn (whose first name kinda rhymes with Kanye) plays running back, despite being all of 6'3" and around 220 pounds. He has uncommon quickness for a guy his size, which allows him to frequently break or spin away from tackles even in close quarters. Speed-wise, he's probably a 4.7-4.8 forty guy and doesn't shoot up the field like a missile as soon as he gets the ball, but he's more than decently fast when he has space to run and gets a head of steam, and he can be a fearsome sight to behold for would-be tacklers in his path at that point. Because of his size, he'll almost certainly be an H-back, tight end, or linebacker at the next level. His coach says he's still very much under the radar, so what level he plays at next is yet to be determined.
On Friday night, it was clear that Grapevine Faith's defensive game plan was centered around keeping Pyburn contained. When Blooming Grove lined up in a shotgun spread look with Pyburn at RB, the box was stacked and he rarely had much room to run when he got the ball. A few times he flared out at the snap either to receive a swing pass or serve as a decoy to draw the defense away from a pass going the other direction. On a 3rd-and-8 play he caught a screen pass with a defender right on him and still managed to break away and force his way past the 1st down marker. On another play he lined up out wide and his QB attempted to hit him on a fade route, but Faith had him covered with a safety over the top, and the ball was batted away.
He lined up as one of two deep men on the kickoff return team, and Faith's kicker (junior Cole Lewis, who had a pretty strong leg and sent most of his kickoffs into the end zone) seemed to intentionally kick the ball away from Pyburn. Even when Pyburn was on the field as a blocker with the punt team, Faith's players on the punt return unit could be heard calling out his number to make sure somebody was accounting for him.
Pyburn wasn't able to do much damage in the first half as Faith led 28-0 at the break, but he broke free for two long runs in the 3rd quarter that made the trip worth the price of admission. On their first drive of the second half, Blooming Grove went away from the spread look they'd shown earlier and came out in a heavy set with extra tight ends, a fullback, and an H-back. Pyburn took a toss sweep around the right side and outran the defense to the end zone for a 63-yard score (see: play beginning at 2:12 in below video). On their next possession, they ran the same play from the same look, and this time Pyburn went around the right end, broke a couple of tackles, cut back and ran to the left side of the field and almost had a 62-yard scoring run before a Faith defender tripped him up inside the 5-yard line. He would score two plays later. In the 4th quarter he added a 13-yard touchdown reception, but the game was out of hand by that point, as Faith won 56-26. You can watch his highlights from the game below.
Pyburn finished the game with 19 carries for 167 yards and 2 TDs, along with 3 catches for 35 yards and another score. In his team's first four games this season, he has totaled about 540 yards and 9 TDs rushing, along with at least two receiving scores. He has played at linebacker at times in his career but I did not see him on defense last Friday. I wish I could have seen him at linebacker, because that's one of his likely college positions. For scouting purposes I wish I'd seen more than one snap of him lining up out wide, as TE is another possible position he could end up playing. Were he attending a much larger school, I think he'd still be a fairly big producer and one of his team's best athletes, if not the best, but most likely he'd line up somewhere other than in the backfield.
I really don't know where or how to project him at the next level even after seeing him in person, but he has good size and above-average quickness for his size. He may look like just a big guy overpowering smaller guys at the 3A high school level, but I think he has some skills that will translate to the college level and help him get onto the field at one position or another. Also, he may still have some upside from a physical development standpoint, as he's very young for his grade and only turned 17 earlier this month, so at least some of the juniors he's playing against are older than him.
He comes from an athletic family as well, the most notable member of which is his uncle Bethel Johnson, who starred at wide receiver for Texas A&M in the early 2000s and played four years in the NFL after being picked in the 2nd round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Besides being Blooming Grove's best athlete in football, Pyburn also stars on the basketball court. As a sophomore he averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game and was named to the all-region team, and he made first team all-district in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He was also a member of Blooming Grove's track & field team last spring, running on its sprint relay teams and competing in triple jump. He finished 5th at the 19/20-3A area meet in the triple jump with a top jump of 41'7", a distance that won't win many meets but is nonetheless impressive because of his size.
I'm not necessarily ready to say he's an obvious FBS-level athlete, but he's talented enough to play somewhere in college, and I hope coaches at the D1 and D2 level schools in the state at least give him an honest look.