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Texas football commits in action, Oct. 18-20

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The Texas high school football season is past its mid-way point and the teams of several #fUTure19 members are solidly in playoff contention.

2019 LB David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch) on the sidelines during a game in October 2018.
Joe Hamilton

In last week’s post I pointed out some interesting story lines at play in that weekend’s games involving Texas Longhorn commits. When the games were actually played there ended up being very little drama, however. Hudson Card and his Lake Travis teammates suffered their first loss of the season in blowout fashion, and the same fate befell Tyler Owens and his Plano East teammates. Roschon Johnson had some last minute heroics to beat a previously unbeaten team, though, and the second most-notable performance of the weekend belonged to wide receiver Jordan Whittington, who had three touchdowns in his first game action of the season after missing his team’s first five games due to injury.

Five of the team’s 19 commits have a bye this week, and there aren’t many compelling matchups to be found among the ones who do have a game. But every game in mid-to-late October is critical for teams trying to qualify for the playoffs. Below I have some detailed notes on what the playoff picture looks like for the teams of some current commits, as well as the customary schedules for each commit’s game this week. The game times listed are the local times for each particular game site.

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2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)

Last week: Completed 15 of 30 passes for 139 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, and had 13 carries for 61 yards in a 44-14 loss to Austin Westlake.
This week: Bye
Notes: After experiencing very little adversity (aside from a weather-related game cancellation in Week Two) in his first six starts as Lake Travis’s new quarterback, Hudson Card and the nationally-ranked Cavaliers were brought crashing down to earth in a humbling 44-14 defeat to their arch-rival Westlake last week. After not throwing a single interception through his first five official games, Card was picked off twice by Westlake’s defense, and reportedly threw two other interceptions that were wiped out by Westlake penalties.

Westlake led 20-7 at halftime, then returned an interception of Card for a pick-six on Lake Travis’s opening possession of the 3rd quarter to push its lead to 27-7. Ohio State wide receiver commit and longtime Texas target Garrett Wilson, who had sat out Lake Travis’s previous game while nursing an injury, had a team-high 6 receptions for 67 yards and scored both of the Cavaliers’ TDs on the night: a 1st quarter scoring reception and a 3rd quarter kickoff return TD. But they were held in check for most of the night by Westlake’s defense and gained just 221 total yards.

The loss dropped Lake Travis to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in district play. They dropped from the #2 ranking in Class 6A all the way down to #9, one spot behind Westlake. Seems like a team that just lost by 30 points should be more than one spot behind the team that beat them, but whatevs. The Cavaliers get a bye this week before resuming their district schedule on October 26 against Del Valle, which currently sports a 2-3 district record, and against whom the Cavaliers have won by a combined score of 197-13 in their four most recent meetings.

Westlake was the first legitimate state championship contender that Lake Travis has faced this season and that matchup obviously ended badly. The Arlington Martin team that hung tough with Lake Travis for a little over one half in the season’s opening week was one of the more highly-regarded teams in north Texas at the time, but Martin has gotten off to its worst start in several years and is currently 2-4.

Looking ahead to the playoffs, Lake Travis will most likely end up in the 6A Division I bracket, and to make it out of Region 4 and into the state semifinals they probably would have to beat an athletic Converse Judson squad, which is currently ranked third in Class 6A. Then to reach the state championship they would have to win a semifinal matchup against whichever Greater Houston power wins Region 3, with the leading candidates there being second-ranked Galena Park North Shore and seventh-ranked Katy. Westlake will almost certainly be in the 6A Division II bracket so Lake Travis will not have a postseason rematch with them.

QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)

Last week: Completed 14 of 24 passes for 163 yards, 2 TDs and one interception, and had 24 carries for 147 yards and 3 TDs in a 48-45 win over Crosby.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:30, at Dayton
Notes: Crosby’s coaches have had their fill of Roschon Johnson over the past two years. When Crosby and Port Neches-Groves faced each other in the first round of the 5A Division II playoffs last season, Johnson accounted for ten total TDs, including the game-winner, as PN-G won 72-69. Last Friday’s game wasn’t quite as high scoring, but it was another back-and-forth affair in which the team that got the ball last with significant time on the clock came away with the win.

Johnson scored all three of his rushing TDs in the first half and led his Indians to a 27-24 halftime lead. Midway through the 3rd quarter, Johnson’s first TD pass extended PN-G’s lead to 33-24. Crosby scored the game’s next two TDs to take its second lead of the game at 39-33 with 11:29 left in the 4th quarter. The final quarter would feature four lead changes, as Crosby answered a PN-G touchdown run with a 6-yard TD run of its own to take a 45-40 lead with just 2:30 left in regulation. Johnson led the Indians down the field and won the game with a 13 yard TD pass to Peyton Proenza with just three seconds left on the clock. The TD gave PN-G a one-point lead, and Johnson ran in the two-point conversion attempt to make the lead three points.

PN-G improved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in district play, tying them atop District 12-5A Division II with 3-0 Nederland, who they will face in the regular season finale on November 9. This week, PN-G will travel to face a winless Dayton team that was beaten 56-41 by Crosby two weeks ago. Dayton has won just one of its last 12 games going back to early in the 2017 season. The last three times Dayton and PN-G have played were all first round playoff games, with PN-G winning the most recent of those 42-41 in 2015.

Though at this point we’re far from having settled postseason brackets, we can safely surmise that PN-G will have one of the tougher roads to AT&T Stadium of any potential 5A Division II playoff team. Despite the win over state-ranked Crosby, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football did not include PN-G in its ranking this week of the top ten teams in Class 5A Division II, and of the teams it did include, six of them were in Region 3 along with PN-G, including district-mates Crosby and Nederland.

Were the Port Neches-Groves Indians to reach the 5A Division II state championship they would most likely face Class 5A’s top-ranked team, Aledo. But before they could get to that point they would have to beat one or more of a group of teams from their own region that includes fourth-ranked Fort Bend Marshall, A&M Consolidated, Crosby (again), Huntsville, Manvel, and Nederland.

RB Derrian Brown (Buford, Georgia)

Last week: Rushed for two TDs in a 43-0 win over Loganville.
This week: Bye
Notes: Derrian Brown got into the end zone multiple times once again in last week’s easy win over Loganville. His one-yard scoring run gave Buford a 27-0 lead with 1:52 left in the 1st quarter, and his 12-yard TD run in the 3rd quarter closed out the scoring for the game.

Buford scored on its first two drives to take a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. Loganville started its next drive in the red zone courtesy of a long kickoff return, and advanced the ball to the Buford 4-yard line. But Buford returned a fumble 96 yards the other way for a TD to put the Wolves ahead 20-0 with 5:55 left in the opening quarter, and Loganville never threatened again.

Buford improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in regional play. The Wolves have outscored their three regional foes by a combined score of 147-6. They get a bye this week before continuing their regional schedule on October 26.

WR De’Mariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood)

Last week: Team beat Lexington 80-21.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, at Star-Spencer
Notes: Against 3-3 Lexington last week, Oklahoma’s top-ranked 2A team Millwood gave up 21 first half points, more than it allowed in any full game during its 2017 state championship season. Millwood led 30-21 in the 2nd quarter following Lexington’s last score, then proceeded to put 50 unanswered points on the scoreboard before the end of the game.

No individual or team stats were mentioned in the one recap of the game that I’ve found. Millwood leads District 7-2A with a 4-0 record, followed by three schools that are all 3-1 in district play and have only lost to Millwood. The Falcons’ last three district games will be against teams that are each currently 1-3 in district. The first of those will be this Friday against Star-Spencer, a team that is 2-5 overall and which lost to Lexington 17-0 three weeks ago.

WR Jake Smith (Notre Dame Prep - Scottsdale, Arizona)

Last week: Caught 3 passes for 70 yards and one TD, had 3 carries for 15 yards, and punted once for 46 yards in a 42-0 win over Phoenix North Canyon.
This week: Bye
Notes: Jake Smith gained 85 yards from scrimmage and scored once on six offensive touches, but he didn’t need to have a big night for his team to dispatch North Canyon, which came into the contest with a 2-6 overall record and had been outscored 145-19 by its three prior sectional opponents. Notre Dame scored all 42 of its points in the first half and kept North Canyon off the scoreboard entirely, sending the Rattlers to their second 42-0 loss in as many weeks.

Jake Smith had a receiving TD to give him 32 overall for the season, which is four more than he had in his 14-game junior season. Phoenix’s local NBC affiliate, KPNX-12, produced a short “Under the Helmet” feature on Smith that aired last Friday, which can be viewed here.

Notre Dame remains perfect at 9-0 for the season and leads the Northwest Valley Section with a 5-0 record with one game to play. The Saints have a bye this week and will play their final regular season and section game on October 26 vs. Paradise Valley, which is currently 3-1 in section play. They will win their section outright with a victory in that game, or if Paradise Valley loses this week to Horizon, who Notre Dame has already beaten.

WR Jordan Whittington (Cuero)

Last week: Had 6 catches for 138 yards and 3 TDs, had one carry for 6 yards, scored on a two-point conversion run, and made two tackles in a 64-7 win over Bandera.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:30, vs. Llano
Notes: Welcome back, Jordan Whittington! The highly-rated athlete (#48 overall in the current 247Sports composite national rankings) had previously been sidelined due to the lingering effects of a groin injury that had kept him from playing at 100% for a full year and which resulted in him missing Cuero’s first five games this season. He had reportedly dressed out for a game a few weeks ago but continued to be held out of game action, likely to give him more recovery time, or to avoid the risk of aggravating his injury before the start of Cuero’s district schedule, which began last week.

Against Bandera last Friday, Whittington got Cuero on the board first with a 66-yard TD reception just over five minutes into the 1st quarter. The Gobblers led 23-7 at the end of the opening quarter and 43-7 at halftime. Whittington scored early in the 3rd quarter to widen the lead to 50-7. Cuero outgained Bandera 569-57 in total yardage.

The win got Cuero off to a 1-0 start in district play and improved its overall record to 5-1, and the team is ranked fifth in Class 4A in this week’s AP poll. The Gobblers are scoring 43 points per game and have not lost a district game since 2015. Both of those stats will be tested on Friday night when they host Llano, which is 4-2 overall and has allowed only one opponent to score more than 21 points. Llano lost its district opener last week to Geronimo Navarro, 14-10. Cuero and Llano are 170 miles apart and this may be the first time they have been aligned in the same district. The last time the two schools faced each other in football was in the area round of the 2005 playoffs in a game Cuero won 49-7.

TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)

Last week: Caught 5 passes for 59 yards in a 62-14 win over Chandler Basha.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, vs. Tucson High Magnet School
Notes: #1 Chandler made short work of #9 Basha last week in a “battle” of state-ranked 6A teams, winning by 48 points. Brayden Liebrock had his fifth straight game of four or more receptions, and he has made 26 catches for 373 yards and 3 TDs during that stretch.

Chandler is now 7-1 overall and 3-0 in 6A Premier Section play. The Wolves retain the #1 ranking in 6A and have one remaining sectional game next week against Hamilton (3-5 overall, 0-2 in section), but first will play a non-section game on Friday against Tucson High Magnet School, which is essentially Tucson High and is in fact the oldest currently operating high school in Arizona. Tucson (5-3 overall this season) has four football state championships to its name, but the most recent of those trophies was won during the Nixon administration. Chandler and Tucson have not played each other since 2006.

TE Jared Wiley (Temple)

Last week: Completed 20 of 28 passes for 242 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT in a 35-13 win over Killeen.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:30, vs. Killeen Ellison
Notes: Temple remained undefeated with a fairly dominant win over nearby Killeen last week. Jared Wiley passed for four TDs on the night, and for the first time this season none of his scoring passes went to the hands of junior Quentin Johnston, who had 12 TDs in Temple’s first five games and received an offer from Oklahoma last week.

The first three of Wiley’s TDs came in the first half and helped stake Temple to a 21-7 halftime lead. Wiley tossed his fourth TD in the opening minute of the 3rd quarter to push Temple’s lead to 28-7. Killeen scored later in the quarter to cut the deficit to 28-13, but that was as close as it got.

At 4-0 in District 12-6A play, Temple is tied for the district lead with Waco Midway, who they play in two weeks. Before that, they will face Killeen Ellison on Friday night. Ellison is 3-4 overall but 3-2 in district play. Having already beaten Killeen High, Shoemaker, and Harker Heights this season, Temple will attempt to complete a quadfecta of wins against Killeen ISD’s high schools when they take on Ellison, an achievement that might or might not earn the whole team coupons from Billy Bob’s Burgers.

With four weeks left in the regular season the final standings of District 12-6A aren’t close to being determined, but a win on Friday will all but sew up a playoff spot for the Temple Wildcats, and because their school is tied for having the second-smallest enrollment in the nine-team district they are assured of being in the 6A Division II bracket. They have yet to crack 6A’s top ten in an AP poll this season, but the Wildcats can absolutely be considered state championship contenders.

Unlike the other classifications, 6A is not split into separate divisions before the season. The top four teams in each 6A district qualify for the playoffs, and the two qualifiers with the largest enrollments (regardless of whether they’re the two best teams or the third- and fourth-best teams) are slotted in the Division I bracket, while each district’s two smaller playoff qualifiers go to Division II.

So the overall competition level in each 6A division depends entirely on which schools reach the playoffs and how big they happen to be compared with their district’s other playoff teams in a given season, and luck definitely plays a part for some teams getting their most favorable shot at a title.

For example, south Dallas 6A powerhouse DeSoto lost in the Division I playoffs to Allen in four straight seasons (2012-2015), and Allen went on to win state championships in three of those years. Then in 2016 DeSoto was re-aligned into a district that had some larger schools, and when two of those schools earned playoff spots in 2016, that sent DeSoto to the 6A Division II bracket where the Allen Eagles did not stand in their way, and DeSoto’s playoff run that year culminated in it winning the 6A Division II state championship, that school’s first football state title.

Of the top ten teams in the current AP poll for Class 6A, six are assuredly going to be in Division I, and two others have a high likelihood of doing so. #4 Longview and #8 Austin Westlake are the only ranked teams that are all but certain to be in Division II. There will be some very good teams that Temple will have to get by in order to reach its third state championship game in five seasons (not the least of which is district-mate Waco Midway, the defending 6A Division II state runner-up), but the depth of the Division II bracket or of Region 2 in particular won’t be quite so murderous as Division I and some of its regions are likely to be.

OL Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge)

Last week: Credited with 8 pancake blocks in a 23-21 loss to The Woodlands College Park.
This week: Saturday, October 20 at 2:00, at Klein Oak
Notes: Oak Ridge and College Park both had two district losses going into their game last week and were both trying to avoid a third loss that would hurt their chances of getting one of District 15-6A’s four playoff spots. The game was mostly a defensive struggle in which the teams combined for barely 500 total yards and their special teams units played a big role in the game’s outcome.

Oak Ridge scored first on a four-yard TD run in the final minute of the 1st quarter, but the PAT was blocked and the War Eagles led 6-0. College Park returned the ensuing kickoff for a 92-yard TD and made the PAT to take a 7-6 lead. A few minutes into the 2nd quarter, a 40-yard punt return gave College Park a short field to start a drive that was finished off with a 2-yard TD run by its quarterback, and College Park led 14-6 at halftime.

Oak Ridge scored twice in the second half and took back the lead at 21-14 with 6:11 left in regulation. College Park answered with another short TD run by its QB with 4:45 left on the clock, but a missed PAT left Oak Ridge up by one point 21-20. College Park would get the ball last, however, and ended the game with a 20-yard field goal as time expired.

The loss dropped Oak Ridge to 1-3 in district play and 2-4 overall, essentially giving each of its last four district games “must-win” status. On Saturday the War Eagles face Klein Oak, which is 3-2 in district, has only lost to district co-leaders The Woodlands and Klein Collins, and seems a fairly safe bet to come away with the district’s third-best record. Oak Ridge and Klein Oak have not played since the bi-district round of the 2008 playoffs, a game Klein Oak won 28-21. Klein Oak is 5-2 overall this season under first-year head coach Jason Glenn, the former Texas A&M and NFL linebacker.

OL Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest)

Last week: Team lost to Houston Furr 27-20.
This week: Bye
Notes: North Forest dropped its fourth straight game last Thursday and fell to 0-3 in district play, putting the Bulldogs at the bottom of District 12-4A Division I with three games left in its season. A loss in any of those three games likely means they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. North Forest has a bye this week before hosting Houston Worthing (currently 1-2 in district) on October 26.

DE Peter Mpagi (Richmond George Ranch)

Last week: Team beat Alief Taylor 18-14.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, at Pearland Dawson
Notes: George Ranch came out on top last week in a low-scoring district bout with Alief Taylor in which the teams combined for 469 yards of total offense. The win evened George Ranch’s overall record at 3-3 and gave it a 2-1 district record.

On Friday, the Longhorns play a Pearland Dawson team that lost three straight games before beating Brazoswood 50-14 last week for its first district win. George Ranch beat Brazoswood 44-7 three weeks ago. George Ranch’s last three games after Dawson are against winless Alief Elsik and currently unbeaten teams Pearland and Houston Strake Jesuit, so a win over Dawson Friday night would put them in a great position to eventually grab, at worse, the third or fourth playoff spot in District 23-6A.

DE T’Vondre Sweat (Huntsville)

Last week: Team beat Montgomery 42-0.
This week: Thursday, October 18 at 6:00, at Rosenberg Lamar Consolidated
Notes: Since their 20-7 loss to defending 5A Division II state champion College Station on September 14, the Huntsville Hornets have beaten their three subsequent opponents by a combined score of 153-7. Last week the Hornets thrashed a Montgomery team that they had not beaten since 2008, limiting the Bears to just 185 total yards and no points on the night.

The Hornets are 5-1 overall and lead District 10-5A Division II with a 3-0 record. Tonight they will face Lamar Consolidated, which won its first five games of the season before losing 34-28 last week to A&M Consolidated. The two schools have no recent history of playing each other, have never faced each other in the playoffs, and have likely never previously shared a district. Geographically unusual district groupings can happen when classifications are split into different divisions before the season, as Class 5A was for the first time at the last UIL realignment. Huntsville is about 70 miles north of Houston off I-45, while Lamar Consolidated is over 100 miles away in Rosenberg, southwest of Houston.

LB De’Gabriel Floyd (Westlake - Westlake Village, California)

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, vs. Newbury Park
Notes: Westlake had its bye last week and has the last two games of its Marmonte League schedule left to play. Westlake is the seventh-ranked Division 2 team in the CIF Southern Section and goes into Friday night’s game against Newbury Park with a 6-2 overall record and a 1-1 Marmonte League record. Newbury Park, which is a Division 3 team and had current Texas Longhorn freshman Cameron Rising as its starting QB at this time last year, is 0-3 in league play and 3-5 overall.

Westlake closes out its regular season next week against currently undefeated Oaks Christian, the nation’s 13th-ranked team in this week’s USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings. This native Texan is used to the UIL’s layers of classifications, regions, and districts that produce a rather easily-defined but bloated playoff system; and to me California’s comparatively haphazard and intermingling layers of sections, divisions, and leagues make only slightly more sense than the physics on Bubble Guppies. That said, I’m pretty sure Westlake will make the CIF’s Southern Section’s Division 2 playoffs regardless of how they finish the regular season.

LB David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch)

Last week: Made 9 total tackles (1 for loss) in a 33-17 loss to Katy Taylor.
This week: Bye
Notes: In last week’s post I noted that Katy Cinco Ranch had beaten Katy Taylor in nine of their previous ten matchups and had not allowed Taylor to score more than 20 points in at least 15 years. So naturally, Cinco Ranch surrendered 33 points to Taylor in a loss that dropped them to 2-5 overall, giving the Cougars the most losses they’ve had in a season since 2007.

David Gbenda and company are still 2-1 in district play, so it’s too early to say Cinco Ranch’s 12-year postseason streak is in jeopardy, though the three remaining teams on their schedule currently are 15-4 overall. The Cougars have a bye this week before resuming their district schedule on October 26 against 6A’s seventh-ranked team, Katy, who Cinco Ranch hasn’t beaten since 2008.

LB Marcus Tillman (Jones - Orlando, Florida)

Last week: Team beat Tampa Carrollwood Day 34-0.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, vs Eustis
Notes: The Jones Fightin’ Tigers of Class 5A dominated Carrollwood Day of Class 2A in a non-district game last week. Jones’s defense limited Carrollwood Day to 67 offensive yards. Jones led 27-0 at halftime and scored three minutes into the 3rd quarter to push their lead to 34-0. The Orlando Sentinel’s recap of the game said that Carrollwood Day ran off the final 9:05 of clock time in the 3rd quarter and the first 7:22 of the 4th, which suggests that most, if not all, of the second half was played with a running clock. In Florida a running clock is automatically triggered once a game’s point differential reaches 35 or more after halftime, but since Jones led by only 34, going to a running clock probably required the agreement of the two head coaches.

Jones is 6-1 overall and has won its only district game. Jones is ranked sixth in Class 5A in this week’s AP poll and will play Eustis (4-3 overall, 1-0 in district) Friday night in the first of its two remaining district games. Jones beat Eustis 59-0 when the teams played a year ago.

DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)

Last week: Team beat Norwalk 27-0.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, at La Mirada
Notes: In last week’s Suburban League game between longtime rivals Mayfair and Norwalk, Mayfair took a 27-0 halftime lead and the game was halted at that point due to lightning. Chris Adimora scored a TD in the game after recovering a ball in the end zone that his team’s running back had fumbled while being tackled just outside the ten-yard line.

That abbreviated win improved Mayfair’s overall record to 6-2 and gave them a 1-0 start to Suburban League play. This Friday’s game against La Mirada is being billed as the likely championship game of the Suburban League, as La Mirada, which had begun the season 0-7, beat the league’s other member, Bellflower, 42-18 last week. Mayfair is ranked sixth among the Division 6 teams in the CIF Southern Section, while La Mirada is a Division 3 team and may need to win only one more game to ensure its spot in the Southern Section’s Division 3 playoffs. As I said earlier, California’s system is confusing as all get-out.

DB Marques Caldwell (Alvin)

Last week: Did not play in a 69-14 loss to League City Clear Creek.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, vs. League City Clear Falls
Notes: It’s become a very rough season for the Allen Yellowjackets, and adding to that misery is Marques Caldwell suffering a torn labrum and having to miss games. Caldwell sat out last week’s 69-14 bludgeoning at the hands of Clear Creek, the fourth straight game Alvin has allowed 63 or more points. Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas was in attendance and stated on this week’s The Eyes of Texas Are Upodcast that Alvin might have the worst team he’s seen at the 5A level or above.

The Yellowjackets are 0-6 and their opponents have averaged 56 points per game. According to records compiled by Joe Lee Smith at Texashighschoolfootballhistory.com, Alvin’s worst point differential over the course of an entire season was in 1998, when the Yellowjackets finished 1-9 and were outscored by 265 points. Their point differential so far in 2018 is -252, and with four games left to play that figure could get a lot worse.

On Friday Alvin will play Clear Falls, the only other team in District 24-6A that has yet to record a district win. The two teams were district opponents in the previous two seasons and Alvin won both matchups.

DB Tyler Owens (Plano East)

Last week: Team lost to Allen 74-36.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:00, vs. Plano
Notes: When Plano East beat previously undefeated Prosper three weeks ago to push its own record to 5-0, its fans reportedly chanted, “We want Allen!”, referring to the nationally-ranked Eagles that were next on their schedule. Well, they got all they wanted of Allen when the teams finally played last week.

Plano East’s unbeaten run to begin the 2018 season came to a decisive end at the hands of the state’s top-ranked team and defending 6A Division I state champion. Against a juggernaut like Allen, a team has to minimize mistakes on offense and get stops on defense to have any hope of a win, and Plano East didn’t do either very well.

The Panthers put 36 points on the board, the most the Allen Eagles have allowed in a game since their 36-28 loss to The Woodlands in the 6A Division I state semifinals in 2016. But they also punted seven times, lost two fumbles, and had an interception returned for six points. Their defense forced Allen to punt only two times, and they muffed the return on one of those punts to give the ball right back. Allen outgained Plano East 611-399 in total yardage, converted ten more first downs, and had two fewer turnovers.

The game was tied at 14 at the end of the 1st quarter, but Allen outscored Plano East 27-7 in the 2nd quarter, aided by two Panther turnovers that were returned for TDs, and the outcome was never in doubt in the second half. The loss dropped Plano East to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in district play, putting the Panthers in a three-way tie for second place in District 9-6A. On Friday they will play cross-town rival Plano, against whom their last two matchups were decided by a combined four points. Plano is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in district, and it was defeated by Allen four weeks ago by a score of 49-14,

DB Kenyatta Watson (Grayson - Loganville, Georgia)

Last week: Made 3 tackles in a 41-14 win over Lawrenceville (Georgia) Archer.
This week: Friday, October 19 at 7:30, vs. Covington (Georgia) Newton
Notes: Watson and his Grayson teammates scored a convincing 41-14 win over Archer last week in a game between top-5 Georgia 7A teams that was televised on ESPN2. [Note: Georgia stylizes its classifications with all letters, e.g. “AAAAAAA” instead of “7A”. For entries on Watson and Derrian Brown, I’m using the numerical version so readers won’t have to count out the number of letters every time a classification is mentioned.]

Grayson and Archer went into the game ranked fourth and fifth, respectively. Grayson scored on its very first offensive play to take a 7-0 lead. Archer blocked two Grayson field goal attempts in the first half, one of which set up Archer’s only score of the half. An unsuccessful fake punt by Archer gave Grayson the ball deep in Archer territory late in the 2nd quarter, and the resulting TD gave Grayson a 21-7 halftime lead.

Grayson got the ball first in the 3rd quarter but was intercepted by Archer, who scored on their possession to cut the deficit to 21-14. Grayson answered with a score of its own to bring the lead up to 27-14, and it became 34-14 shortly afterwards when Grayson got a pick-six on Archer’s ensuing drive. In the 4th quarter, Grayson’s defense got another interception and two other Archer possessions ended with a turnover on downs.

Grayson improved its season record to 5-2 and its record against Region 8-7A opponents to 2-0. Grayson remains the fourth-ranked team in 7A, and Archer dropped from fifth to eighth in this week’s Georgia Sports Writers Association poll. Grayson has played several tough opponents this season, but none of its three remaining games are against teams currently with a winning record. On Friday they play Newton, a team they beat in each of the past two seasons by a combined score of 75-16. Newton lost 40-14 to Archer two weeks ago, and on September 21 it lost 26-23 to an Atlanta Westlake team that Grayson had beaten 21-16 the previous week.