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Texas Longhorn commits: Week One preview

Storm damage and flooding has delayed the season for several Texas Longhorn commits. Here’s where the others will be playing this weekend.

Texas Longhorn commits Malcolm Epps (left) and Casey Thompson in a tweet posted in May 2017.
Malcolm Epps (@_EppsKid)

One of the most anticipated weekends of the Texas sports calendar is nigh upon us: the beginning of the Texas high school football season and the first weekend of games for most of the state’s college football programs.

The heavy rains and flooding brought to the Texas Gulf Coast in the past few days by Hurricane Harvey have put a literal damper on that though, as some areas have received 3-4 feet or more of rain, and the storm and its aftermath have caused many school districts within a hundred miles of the coast and in counties surrounding Houston to cancel classes for this entire week, and this weekend’s high school football games as well.

Another consequential effect that I wasn’t aware of until this morning is that SAT exams were held last Saturday, August 26, and testing sites in areas along Hurricane Harvey’s path were forced to cancel. So many students and student-athletes who probably hoped to take care of their SAT exams before the start of football season will have to pick a Saturday morning on which to take theirs later in the fall.

Football is a decidedly secondary concern for several thousands and probably millions of people this week, including some Longhorn recruits. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected by the storm, and the emergency personnel, aid workers, volunteers, and businesses that have worked and will continue to work in helping rescue flood victims, clearing damage and debris, and sheltering and tending to the needs of those who’ve had to evacuate their homes during this time.

If you’re reading this and thinking that getting excited about a high school football game this weekend feels vulgar, you’re far from alone in that sentiment. It’s going to take a long time for some of these cities and communities to get back to some semblance of normal, and it won’t be surprising if some schools’ games for next week are cancelled as well, given the present state of many gulf coast schools and athletic facilities.

But games will be played this weekend in other areas. I’ll give a rundown here of if, when and where each Texas Longhorn commit will play this weekend, and add a few notes on each one.

2018 commits

QB Cameron Rising (Newbury Park, California)

Last week: Completed 18 of 23 passes for 375 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 55-34 win over Oxnard Pacifica.

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:00, at Agoura, California

Notes: In season-opening wins over Pacifica in 2016 and 2017, Rising accounted for a combined 848 total yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s one of probably several schools that will be glad to not have to defend him ever again after this season. He compiled his stats last Friday night in a little over one half of playing time, then sat out the rest of the game with Newbury Park holding a commanding lead. This week his team faces Agoura, who they beat 62-21 last season.

You can watch some of Rising’s highlights from last week’s win over Pacifica in the video below.

QB Casey Thompson (Newcastle, Oklahoma)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:30, at Noble, Oklahoma

Notes: Friday’s game will not only be Thompson’s season-opener but also his first game at Newcastle, an Oklahoma City suburb that borders Norman. He previously attended Southmoore High in Moore, Oklahoma, but transferred to nearby (and much smaller) Newcastle in May. The two schools are 11 miles apart in terms of driving distance, and probably less than 6 miles apart as the crow flies. Thompson will look to turn around the fortunes of a Newcastle program that won ten games as recently as three years ago, but finished with identical records of 1-9 in each of the past two seasons and averaged just 12 points per game in its 2016 campaign. Thompson’s former school, Southmoore, competes in Class 6A Division I (Oklahoma’s highest classification) and had an enrollment (about 1,990) equivalent to that of a large Texas 5A school. His new school, Newcastle, is among the smaller schools in Oklahoma’s Class 4A and has an enrollment (about 520) that would make it one of the smaller schools in Texas’s Class 4A Division II.

Newcastle lost 47-10 to Noble in last year’s season-opener. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that Thompson’s presence makes this year’s game a lot closer than that.

RB Keaontay Ingram (Carthage)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:30, vs. Gladewater

Notes: Carthage will begin the defense of its 4A Division I state crown with a matchup against east Texas foe Gladewater. The two teams met in last year’s season-opener but the game was cancelled after a long weather delay in the 2nd quarter, at which point Carthage led 14-10. The Carthage weather forecast for this Friday: sunny with a high temperature of 88 and a 10% chance of rain.

WR Brennan Eagles (Alief Taylor)

This week: no game

Notes: Taylor’s game against Fort Bend Bush, which would have been played tonight, was among the many Houston area games cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Taylor High School is currently serving as a shelter for hurricane victims who have lost their homes. Like many other area school districts, Alief ISD is currently scheduled to resume classes on September 5, but that could definitely change.

WR Rondale Moore (Trinity - Louisville, Kentucky)

Last week: Caught 8 passes for 127 yards and rushed 4 times for 37 yards in a 42-41 win over Indianapolis (Indiana) Warren Central

This week: Saturday, September 2 at 1:00, vs. Cincinnati (Ohio) Archbishop Moeller

Notes: In case you missed last week’s post, Moore and his Trinity teammates began their season a couple weeks earlier than most of the rest of the country. Last Friday, Trinity beat its second highly-ranked Indiana 6A opponent in as many weeks, winning a closely-fought contest against 2nd ranked Warren Central. Moore did not reach the end zone but had a productive night, compiling 164 total offensive yards on 12 touches. In a high-scoring 4th quarter, Trinity took a late 42-35 lead, after which Warren Central responded with a 65-yard TD pass, but their attempted 2-point conversion was stopped short, preserving Trinity’s one-point lead. Trinity is ranked #23 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 poll.

Hurricane Harvey, it turns out, has affected schedules even for schools far from the gulf coast. The remnants of Harvey are expected to move northeast of Louisiana and into parts of Appalachia over the next few days and cause rains in several more states, including Kentucky. Over a dozen Louisville-area games scheduled for this Friday night were either moved up to Thursday or back to Saturday. In Trinity’s case, their Friday night game against Ohio power Archbishop Moeller was moved to Saturday afternoon.

WR Al’Vonte Woodard (Houston Lamar)

This week: no game

Notes: Lamar’s Friday night game at Spring Westfield, which would have pitted Woodard against his future Longhorn teammate Keondre Coburn, has been cancelled.

TE Malcolm Epps (Spring Dekaney)

This week: no game

Notes: See previous note. Dekaney’s game tonight at Galena Park North Shore has been cancelled. North Shore’s website says they “anticipate resuming classes” on Tuesday September 5.

TE Dominick Wood-Anderson (Arizona Western C.C. - Yuma, Arizona)

This week: Saturday, September 2 at 7:00, at Eastern Arizona

Notes: Arizona Western will play Eastern Arizona twice in the span of four weekends. Wood-Anderson, the top-rated Juco tight end recruit in this class, is simply named Dominick Anderson on Arizona Western’s roster, and his size is listed at 6’6” and 255 pounds.

OL Rafiti Ghirmai (Frisco Wakeland)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:00, vs. Frisco Liberty (at Frisco’s Memorial Stadium)

Notes: Wakeland beat Liberty 42-13 to begin the 2016 season, and went on to go 8-5 overall and reach the third round of the playoffs. Ghirmai is one of just three returning Wakeland players to earn all-district honors last season in the very competitive District 13-5A, which is comprised of eight Frisco ISD schools.

OL Reese Moore (Seminole)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:30, at Lubbock

Notes: After finishing 1-9 in 2015, Seminole got its 2016 season off to a great start by beating Lubbock 44-9. In one of the best turnarounds by any team in the state last year, the Seminole Indians went on to win 9 games and reach the third round of the playoffs. Moore has played almost exclusively as a tight end during his high school career and may stick at that position this year, though the 6’6” all-state basketball player is projected to switch to offensive tackle once he gets to college.

DT Keondre Coburn (Spring Westfield)

This week: no game

Notes: See the entry for Al’Vonte Woodard. Coburn posted a video on Sunday of him and other family members being rescued from their home by a boat, as flood waters covered the ground nearby. He told media that others on his team, including coaches, also had their homes flooded. He was interviewed about his Hurricane Harvey experience on ESPN’s SportsCenter Wednesday morning.

LB Ayodele Adeoye (IMG Academy - Bradenton, Florida)

Last week: Team defeated Chandler (Arizona) 27-14.

This week: Saturday, September 2 at 7:30 (Pacific), at Corona (California) Centennial (at San Diego Central Catholic)

Notes: According to a short post at the Los Angeles Times that mentions the IMG-Centennial game, IMG’s roster includes players who hail from 29 states and 12 countries. IMG was undefeated in 2016 but Centennial gave them their closest scare in a game in which IMG eked out a 50-49 win. IMG is ranked 2nd and Centennial is 9th in USA Today’s current Super 25 rankings. Under center for Centennial will be a potential future Longhorn teammate for Adeoye: highly-rated 2018 QB Tanner McKee (#29 overall in 247Sports National Composite rankings), a Texas target who plans to go on a Mormon mission after high school and won’t enroll in college until at least 2020. UT is one of five schools McKee reportedly plans to take an official visit to this fall.

LB Byron Hobbs (Fort Worth Eastern Hills)

This week: Saturday, September 2 at 10:00 am, vs. Dallas Pinkston (at Fort Worth’s Handley Field)

Notes: Eastern Hills beat Pinkston 32-0 to begin the 2016 season. EHHS last reached the playoffs in 2009, and the Highlanders experienced their last playoff win in 1999, before most of their current senior class was born.

DB Jalen Green (Houston Heights)

This week: no game

Notes: Heights’s opening game against Fort Bend Travis, originally scheduled for tonight, was cancelled. Heights is currently scheduled to host Crosby on Saturday, September 9, but there’s a chance that game won’t be played either. A chemical plant in northeast Crosby exploded early this morning. That plant, owned by French chemical company Arkema, is roughly four miles northeast of Crosby High School’s campus. It remains to be seen what effect that plant’s explosions will have on the local environment, public safety operations, or on Crosby ISD’s time frame for resuming classes and school activities. On Tuesday, the district tweeted that all of its schools and departments would be closed until “at least” September 5.

DB B.J. Foster (Angleton)

This week: no game

Notes: Angleton’s Friday night game at Galveston Ball has been cancelled. Angleton is scheduled to host El Campo on Friday, September 8. El Campo was supposed to begin their season against Gregory-Portland tomorrow night, and while that game wasn’t cancelled altogether, the schools decided to play it as a scrimmage rather than an official game. Angleton, which is about 45 miles south of downtown Houston and less than 20 miles from the gulf coast, was not among the hardest hit areas but it still got plenty of rain; over 18 inches of precipitation were recorded between August 25 and August 29 at the weather station for Angleton’s Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport.

Justin Wells of Inside Texas has reported (and B.J. Foster himself re-tweeted) that Foster will take an unofficial visit to Austin for the Texas Longhorns season-opener versus Maryland on Saturday.

DB DeMarvion Overshown (Arp)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:30, vs. Tatum

Notes: Arp, which competes in Class 3A Division II, began the 2016 season with a 24-14 loss to Tatum, a 4A Division II team. Arp then proceeded to win 8 of its final 9 regular season games and carried that momentum into the playoffs, where they reached the state semifinal round before losing 19-18 to eventual 3A DII state runner-up Boling.

DB Caden Sterns (Cibolo Steele)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 7:30, vs. San Antonio Madison

Notes: In a somewhat unusual move, Steele will have “Senior Night” in their season opening home tilt against local rival Madison. Steele won last year’s matchup handily, 37-7, then went on to finish 14-2 on the season, ending with a 38-29 loss to DeSoto in the 6A Division II state championship. Sterns is joined in Steele’s very talented secondary by Oklahoma State commit JayVeon Cardwell and Baylor football/track commit J.T. Woods, both of whom are consensus three-star recruits and ranked among the state’s top 105 prospects in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

K Cameron Dicker (Lake Travis)

This week: Friday, September 1 at 8:35, at Converse Judson

Notes: Friday night’s game between Lake Travis and Judson will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Southwest. Judson upset Lake Travis 35-28 to open the 2016 season. Lake Travis beat Cibolo Steele 59-56 in overtime the following week, then proceeded to beat all of their other opponents by at least 19 points en route to winning the 6A Division I state championship. According to Lake Travis’s MaxPreps page, Dicker converted on 91 of 92 PAT attempts and 10 of 14 field goal attempts in 2016.

2019 commit

QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)

This week: no game

Notes: Port Neches-Groves’s game against Silsbee, which had been scheduled for Saturday, was among the many in the Golden Triangle area that were cancelled. Port Neches is in far southeast Texas, a short distance southeast of Beaumont along the Neches River near that river’s mouth on Sabine Lake. That area was as hard hit by Hurricane Harvey-caused flooding as any coastal area was. Facilities in nearby Port Arthur that had been used as shelters for flood victims had to be evacuated Wednesday after they began flooding themselves. I don’t have a rainfall total for Roschon Johnson’s hometown, but Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Beaumont, which is about 4 miles southwest of Port Neches-Groves High School, recorded receiving over 34 inches of rain between August 26 and August 30, with a full 12 inches of rain falling on Tuesday, August 29.

A statement on the website for Port Neches-Groves ISD posted on Tuesday announced the cancellation of all school activities until September 5, with officials hedging that they were “hopeful that access to our community will be re-established and that employees who live outside the area will be able to return to work safely by September 5.”

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Hopefully next week’s post brings better reports on the gulf coast area and the UT commits who hail from there. There will not be a featured Unheralded Athlere of the Week this time around, that feature may make its 2017 debut next week.