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Texas football commits in action, Oct. 25-27

As the playoffs inch closer, some UT commits have do-or-die games this week that will affect their postseason hopes.

2019 defensive back commit Marques Caldwell (Alvin) sporting a Texas cap and wristbands on the field before a recent game.
Mike Craven -

Last week, five of the Texas Longhorns’ then-19 football commits had a bye, but there were a few exciting finishes for the #fUTure19 class members who did take the field. Two of UT’s commits threw game-winning touchdown passes late in the 4th quarter. Two recruits returned interceptions for TDs. And a few others helped their teams get into a position to win their district, section, league, or region.

There will be no byes this week, and every commit will be playing except for an injured Marques Caldwell, whose team is going through the most miserable season I can remember following for any UT commit over the past four years.

Also this week, Texas added its newest commit in the form of Odessa Permian athlete Peyton Powell. You can read a recap of the exciting finish for his most recent game at the end of this post.

While only one commit has seen his team all but eliminated from playoff contention, a few others are a loss away from seeing their season end in two weeks, so every game going forward week-to-week will be hugely important for them. At least two commits whose teams are assured of a playoff spot will be facing opponents who need a win this week to avoid staying home for the postseason.

De’Gabriel Floyd’s team will face a nationally-ranked opponent with multiple four-star recruits on its roster. Fellow linebacker commit David Gbenda and his Katy Cinco Ranch teammates will play state-ranked Katy. And Brayden Liebrock and his Chandler, Arizona teammates play Chandler Hamilton in the most recent edition of the “Battle for Arizona Avenue”.

Texas high schools have three games left in the regular season, while a lot of Arizona and California schools will close out their regular season this weekend. As such, the potential playoff picture for each commit’s team is becoming a bit clearer, and I’ve got notes on where each team stands in the postseason picture.

Game times listed are for each game location’s local time.


2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, vs. Del Valle
Notes: Hudson Card and the Lake Travis Cavaliers are 5-1 for the season and 4-1 in district play, and they’re alone in third place in district 25-6A with three games to go. They got a bye last week after a humbling 44-14 loss to arch-rival Austin Westlake on October 12, and resume their district slate on Friday against Del Valle (4-4 overall, 2-4 in district). Del Valle is itself coming off a loss to Westlake, against whom it fell 48-10 a week ago. Del Valle also has district losses on its ledger to Austin Akins and Austin Bowie, two squads Lake Travis beat by a combined 59 points.

Lake Travis is ranked 9th in Class 6A in this week’s Associated Press poll.

QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)

Last week: Completed 26 of 44 passes for 382 yards, 3 TDs and 3 INTs, and had 28 carries for 124 yards and 3 TDs in a 44-37 win over Dayton.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, vs. Santa Fe
Notes: Port Neches-Groves appeared to have things in hand against winless Dayton last week, but for the third time in as many games, Roschon Johnson was called on to provide some late heroics to win the game, and for the third time he answered that call.

The first half was played fairly evenly; the teams essentially traded scores and were tied three different times. PN-G led 28-21 at halftime, then added a field goal and Johnson’s third rushing TD in the 3rd quarter to extend its lead to 37-21 going into the 4th. PN-G’s defense kept Dayton from scoring for over 25 minutes of game time until Dayton scored on a two-yard run with 3:27 left in regulation and added a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 37-29. Dayton then proceeded to recover what the Port Arthur News described as a “pooch kick” to get the ball back at the PN-G 25-yard line. One play later they scored on a 25-yard pass, then added another two-point conversion to tie the game with 3:17 on the clock, completing a 16-point swing in the span of 10 seconds of game time.

But PN-G had Roschon Johnson and a little over three minutes of game clock, which ended up being way too much time. Johnson drove the Indians 67 yards on four plays, tossing a 54-yard TD pass with 2:16 left to take back the lead at 44-37. Dayton made a drive of their own in the closing minute to get as close as the PN-G 15-yard line, but the Indian defense forced a turnover on downs with 11 seconds remaining to end that Dayton drive and secure their fourth straight win.

PN-G improved to 4-0 in district play, tying them with Nederland for the lead in District 12-5A Division II. Roschon Johnson and company have had three straight games in which they scored the winning TD in the final three minutes of regulation, and that many not be the last such game they play, as their final three regular season games come against aforementioned district co-leader Nederland and a pair of teams that are tied for third place in the district with 3-1 records: Santa Fe and Barbers Hill.

The first of those games is Friday night at home versus Santa Fe, a school southeast of Houston which will be making the 115-mile drive to Port Neches-Groves. Santa Fe started off this season with losses in three of its first four games, including a 20-19 loss on September 7 to a Tomball team that beat PN-G without Roschon Johnson the following week 31-21. But Santa Fe has since won three straight games and is coming off a 27-20 win last week over Crosby, which was undefeated and state-ranked as recently as two weeks ago.

Santa Fe is 4-3 overall, and with two more victories in 2018 its two-season (2017-2018) win total would match the eleven wins it recorded in the six prior seasons (2011-2016). Santa Fe has been playing varsity 11-man football since at least 1947 and has only reached the postseason three times in its history and has never won a playoff game. So its seniors will obviously have plenty of motivation to take down PN-G and help secure their hometown’s first playoff berth since they were in 3rd grade.

RB Derrian Brown (Buford, Georgia)

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, vs. Walnut Grove
Notes: Derrian Brown and his Buford team are 6-2 for the season and fresh off their bye week with two games left in the regular season. Buford is 3-0 in 5A Region 8 play and has won those games by a combined score of 147-6.

The Wolves should win handily again on Friday night when they play Walnut Grove (2-6 overall, 1-2 in region). Buford beat Walnut Grove by a combined 87-6 when the schools were regional foes in the previous two seasons, and Walnut Grove’s only two wins this season both came against very mediocre teams.

Buford is ranked second in this week’s Georgia Sports Writers Association poll for Class AAAAA. Based on the design of Georgia’s 5A playoff bracket, Buford could potentially face #1 Rome or #3 Warner Robbins in the state championship game. There are still two games left for each team to play, but depending on how things shake between now and the end of next week, Buford could be looking at a potential second round game against #10 Kell, and a third round game against one of #4 Wayne County, #6 Stockbridge, #7 Jones County, or #9 Ware County.

WR De’Mariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood)

Last week: Team beat Star-Spencer 65-6
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, vs. Little Axe
Notes: Millwood moved to 8-0 after another dominating victory. Millwood, Oklahoma’s top-ranked 2A team and winner of 36 consecutive games, has only been challenged twice this season: they beat defending 4A state champs Heritage Hall 30-20 in their season-opener, and had a close five-point win over last year’s 2A state runner-up Washington three weeks ago. In their other six wins, the Falcons have outscored their opponents 345-56.

Millwood leads District 7-2A with a 5-0 record and should clinch the district championship with a win on Friday, as the Falcons have already beaten Washington and Lexington, the two teams tied for second place with 4-1 records. This week’s opponent, Little Axe, is 3-5 overall and 2-3 in district, and they have losses to three teams Millwood has beaten. It has been almost a decade since Millwood and Little Axe played each other in football, but in their four most recent meetings (all between 2004 and 2009) Millwood went 4-0 and outscored Little Axe 198-28.

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

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, vs. Phoenix Paradise Valley
Notes: Notre Dame Prep is 9-0 and is averaging 47 points per game this season. Jake Smith isn’t single-handedly responsible for that start, but he has outscored Notre Dame Prep’s opposition by himself, as he has personally put 22 points per game on the scoreboard while his team has allowed just under 20 points per game.

With one game left in the regular season, Notre Dame Prep leads the 5A Northeast Valley section standings at 5-0, and on Friday the Saints will close out their sectional slate against Paradise Valley (6-3 overall, 3-2 in section), which is tied for third place in the section. In Arizona’s playoff system, the top team in each of section (5A has seven sections) gets an automatic playoff bid and the rest of the 16-team bracket is filled out by at-large teams based on their ranking in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s formula, and the teams are seeded 1-16 in the playoff bracket based on their ranking. If the playoffs began this week, Notre Dame Prep would be the #3 seed in the 5A bracket, while the top seed would be defending champion Peoria Centennial. Centennial beat Notre Dame Prep in last year’s 5A state championship game and has wins this season over six of the top 17 teams in the AIA’s current rankings for 5A, with those six wins coming by an average score of 43-7.

Paradise Valley is right on the border in terms of being ranked high enough to secure an at-large bid, and its qualifying for the postseason likely hinges on the result of Friday’s game, so Notre Dame Prep should expect to get all they can handle from Paradise Valley. Paradise Valley walloped Notre Dame Prep 45-0 back in 2015, but the Saints won two subsequent high-scoring meetings by a combined 131-53.

WR Jordan Whittington (Cuero)

Last week: Caught two passes for 48 yards and one TD, had three carries for 90 yards and one TD, returned an interception 43 yards for a TD, and made three tackles in a 55-16 win over Llano.
This week: Thursday, October 25 at 7:30, at Austin Eastside Memorial
Notes: Jordan Whittington is making up for lost time after missing the first four games of his senior season due to injury. I erroneously said in last week’s post that Cuero’s October 12 win over Bandera was Whittington’s first game of the season, but he had actually played back on September 28 in their win over Wharton. In three games played he has scored seven touchdowns on 25 offensive touches.

In last week’s lopsided district win over Llano, he had TDs rushing, receiving, and on a pick-six, all in the first half. Cuero led 48-3 at halftime, and after scoring again in the 3rd quarter to push their lead to 55-3, the rest of the game was played with a running clock.

Cuero’s record now stands at 6-1 overall and 2-0 in district play. They are tied for first place with Geronimo Navarro and Wimberley, the teams against whom the Gobblers will play in their final two games. This week, Cuero plays 0-7 Austin Eastside Memorial, an Austin ISD school that played an independent football schedule for most of its first decade after opening in 2008, before joining the UIL before the 2016-17 school year. Eastside Memorial is almost exactly one year removed from its last win, and over two years past its last football win that came at the expense of a team other than San Antonio’s Brooks Academy of Science & Engineering. Cuero, which is ranked fifth in this week’s AP poll for Class 4A, should have no trouble in this one.

TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)

Last week: Caught 2 passes for 34 yards and one TD in a 62-0 win over Tucson High Magnet School.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, at Chandler Hamilton
Notes: Chandler has won eight straight games since losing 35-13 to Corona (California) Centennial to start its season on August 17. The Wolves scored 62 points for the second time in as many games in last week’s 62-0 shutout of Tucson High Magnet School, and Brayden Liebrock had his fifth TD catch of the season. After a slow statistical start to his senior year, Liebrock has 37 catches (one behind his team’s leader) for 470 yards through nine games.

Chandler is averaging 52 points per game in its current eight-game win streak, and this week’s AIA 6A rankings have Chandler as that classification’s #1 team. Arizona’s playoff brackets will be announced on Saturday morning. Like Jake Smith’s Notre Dame Prep team, Chandler will be finishing its regular season Friday night against a team that needs to win to ensure a playoff spot: Hamilton, Chandler’s cross-town rival and a program that won seven state championships between 2003 and 2012 but is 3-6 this season and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in school history.

The campuses of Chandler High and Hamilton are less than four miles apart and located on the same street, and their rivalry, “The Battle For Arizona Avenue”, was the subject of a 153-page thesis by an Arizona State Honors College student two years ago. Hamilton won the first 18 matchups between the two schools after opening in 1998, but Chandler has since begun to dominate that rivalry and has won five straight games since losing to Hamilton in the 2013 Division I state semifinals. Despite their 3-6 record, Hamilton is 17th in the AIA’s 6A rankings, and an upset win over their cross-town rival would keep their two-decade playoff streak alive, while a loss likely ends it.

TE Jared Wiley (Temple)

Last week: Completed 15 of 23 passes for 154 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and had 2 carries for 12 yards in a 42-18 win over Killeen Ellison.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, at Waco
Notes: Temple completed a quadfecta of wins against Killeen ISD’s four schools last week, beating Ellison 42-18 in a game in which the Wildcats never trailed and outscored Ellison 28-6 after Ellison got to within 14-12 early in the 3rd quarter.

Wiley managed to complete 65% of his passes on a rainy evening, but Temple did most of its damage on the ground, rushing for 328 yards and 5 TDs as a team while not fumbling once. Temple improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in district play, and the Wildcats remain tied atop District 12-6A with Waco Midway, who they will play next week.

On Friday Temple will face a downtrodden Waco team that is 1-6 on the year. Waco is led by first-year head coach and former Temple assistant Kwame Cavil, the former Texas Longhorns star wide receiver whose 100-catch, 1,188-yard season in 1999 broke school records in both statistical categories and is now second-best in program history behind Jordan Shipley’s 2009 season. Waco won its first game under Cavil but lost its six subsequent contests and has been outscored by its district foes by nearly 36 points per game.

Despite its unbeaten start Temple still has not cracked the top ten in the AP’s Class 6A rankings, though Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks the Wildcats eighth this week.

OL Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge)

Last week: Team lost to Klein Oak 35-20.
This week: Saturday, October 27 at 6:00, vs. Klein Cain
Notes: Oak Ridge’s playoff hopes were dealt a serious blow with its loss last Saturday to Klein Oak, which dropped the War Eagles to 1-4 in district play and in a three-way tie for sixth place in the nine-team District 15-6A. They have a greater than zero chance of reaching the postseason, but not much greater. To do so they will have to win all of their final three games while two teams ahead of them in the district standings lose games that they shouldn’t. Looking at the remaining schedule I’ve run through one scenario that would end with Oak Ridge finishing in a tie for fourth place and getting the district’s final playoff spot via a head-to-head tiebreaker, but it would require a series of very unlikely game results.

Oak Ridge’s next game is Saturday evening against 2-5 Klein Cain, a first-year varsity program whose only two wins this season came against winless Klein Forest and fellow first-year program Cypress Park. Klein Forest is actually the only district victim for either ream; Oak Ridge beat Forest 49-14 on September 28, and Cain beat Forest last week by a score of 56-39.

OL Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest)

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, vs. Houston Worthing
Notes: North Forest comes off its bye week as the last-place team in District 12-4A Division I, with a 0-3 district record, putting its six-year playoff streak in jeopardy. Luckily, North Forest ends its district schedule with games against three teams with one district win each and a combined overall record of 7-14. If North Forest wins out it could be in a position to grab a playoff spot, but the Bulldogs will need help along the way, and a loss in any of the last three games means they’ll be staying home for the postseason.

DE Peter Mpagi (Richmond George Ranch)

Last week: Team lost to Pearland Dawson 33-14.
This week: Thursday, October 25 at 7:00, vs. Alief Elsik
Notes: In a pivotal district game last week, George Ranch fell behind early against Pearland Dawson and was never able to mount a serious comeback. Dawson led 19-0 in the 1st quarter and was ahead by as much as 33-6 in the final frame. George Ranch committed at least four turnovers in the game.

That loss dropped the George Ranch Longhorns to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in district play, putting them in a four-way tie for third place in District 23-6A. In their last three games they will play winless Alief Elsik, followed by district leaders Pearland and Houston Strake Jesuit. As with Tyler Johnson and Javonne Shepherd’s teams, Peter Mpagi’s squad isn’t eliminated from playoff contention yet, but they’re perilously close to it. To reach the playoffs they will have to win at least two of their three remaining games and likely get some help elsewhere.

Their first step toward earning a postseason berth will be beating Elsik tonight. Elsik is 0-7 this season and has lost ten of its last eleven games dating back to the 2017 season. Opponents in 2018 have outscored the Rams by an average of 38 points per game. After reaching the playoffs 15 times in the 20-year tenure of retired head coach Bill Barron, Elsik is 4-21 and has scored just 12 points per game in nearly three full seasons under Aric Sardinea. George Ranch has won its only two previous matchups with Elsik, squeaking out a one-point win a year ago and topping the Rams by 27 points in 2016.

DE T’Vondre Sweat (Huntsville)

Last week: Team beat Lamar Consolidated 14-7.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, vs. Katy Paetow
Notes: Sweat and his Huntsville Hornets teammates won a low-scoring battle with Lamar Consolidated last week in a game that included Tom Herman, defensive line coach Oscar Giles, 247Sports’s EJ Holland, and BON’s own Joe Hamilton as noted visitors. Joe wrote about Sweat and his play in that game on Tuesday.

With the win Huntsville remained alone in first place in District 10-5A Division II with a 4-0 district record. The Hornets close their regular season with games against three teams with losing records, the first two of which are new schools in their first season of varsity football. On Friday night the Hornets host the newest of Katy ISD eight high schools, Paetow. The Paetow Panthers actually got their inaugural season off to a 3-1 start, but are winless in the month of October and have lost their last three district games by an average margin of 35 points. Paetow’s leading rusher is a junior running back named - not making this up - Major Payne! He was likely born 7-8 years after the Damon Wayans movie of the same name.

There will surely be no shortage of Payne and Sweat on the field at Bowers Stadium on Friday night!

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

Last week: Returned an interception for a 25-yard TD in a 42-7 win over Newbury Park.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, at Westlake Village (California) Oaks Christian
Notes: Westlake dominated Newbury Park last week in a Marmonte League game played after Westlake’s bye week. Westlake led 21-0 after the 1st quarter and the end result was never in doubt. De’Gabriel Floyd caught a deflected pass and returned it for a 25-yard pick-six. He was later ejected from the game, which I believe was a consequence of the body-slam tackle he made on a Newbury Park running back seen at the end of the video below.

Westlake is 7-2 and will face its toughest test of the year in its regular season finale on Friday night when it travels to play unbeaten Oaks Christian, the #13 team in this week’s USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings. Oaks Christian’s roster includes, among others, 2019 DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, the nation’s #1 overall recruit in the current 247Sports Composite rankings, four-star 2019 RB Zach Charbonnet (a Michigan commit), four-star 2019 LB Joshua Calvert (a Washington commit), three-star 2019 LB Ryan Franke (a Oregon State commit), and four-star 2020 WR Bryce Farrell (a Stanford commit).

Oaks Christian has steamrolled over nearly everything in its path this season, with its only close game a 21-13 win last week over a strong Calabasas team that beat Westlake 20-14 on September 28. Even including that result, Oaks Christian has won its games this year by an average margin of just under 38 points, and in the five games preceding last week’s win over Calabasas the Lions outscored their opposition 287-27. Oaks Christian beat Westlake 42-7 when the teams played in 2017.

An upset win by Westlake would likely leave it, Oaks Christian, and Calabasas in a three-way tie for first place in the Marmonte League but would have little effect on each team’s playoff future. The five teams in the Marmonte League play in four different divisions and will mostly be in different playoff brackets. To make the postseason, Westlake needs only to be rated among the top 16 out of the 18 Division 2 teams in the CIF Southern Section, and in this week’s poll the Warriors are ranked seventh.

LB David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch)

Last week: Bye
This week: Friday, October 26 at 6:30, at Katy
Notes: Cinco Ranch is 2-5 overall this season but both of its wins came in district play. The Cougars are right in the middle of the seven teams in District 19-6A, and with three games left on the schedule they probably need just one more win to get into the postseason. That win likely won’t come this week, as Cinco Ranch visits district-leading Katy, the seventh-ranked team in Class 6A.

Katy is 6-1 overall and 4-0 in district play. The Tigers’ only loss was a 35-21 defeat in Week One to Galena Park North Shore, the current #2 team in the state. Katy bounced back in Week Two with a 31-28 win over Humble Atascocita, which is currently just outside of the 6A rankings. After starting their season with those two tough teams, the Tigers have beaten their last five foes by an average score of 58-8.

Katy has nine straight wins over Cinco Ranch, and the last time the Cougars won in that series was 2008 when they edged Katy - whose team would go on to win that year’s 5A Division II state title - by a score of 27-21.

LB Marcus Tillman (Jones - Orlando, Florida)

Last week: Team beat Eustis 51-0.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, vs. Tavares
Notes: The Jones Fightin’ Tigers won their seventh straight game last week, blowing out district foe Eustis on a night in which their defense pitched a shutout and allowed just 56 total yards. Jones led 21-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, then added two TDs and a safety in the span of 44 seconds early in the 2nd quarter to push their lead to 37-0 with 10:42 left in the first half.

Jones is 7-1 overall and 2-0 in district play, and it remains the sixth-ranked team in Class 5A. Class 5A District 13 has just four teams, and at 2-0 Jones leads the district with only 0-2 Tavares left to play. Since the Fightin’ Tigers have beaten the district’s two 1-1 teams, they have effectively clinched the district’s championship regardless of the outcome when they take on Tavares in front of a Homecoming crowd on Friday night. Tavares is 3-5 overall and lost its most recent district game 51-7 to Bishop Moore, a team Jones beat 50-14 on September 28. Jones beat Taveras 56-0 when the teams played last season.

Florida has a seeded playoff system in which district champions in each region receive an automatic playoff bid and at-large teams get the remaining slots based on a points formula. If the playoffs began today, Jones would be the #2 seed in Region 4 of the 5A bracket.

DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)

Last week: Team beat La Mirada 56-21
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, vs. Bellflower (at La Mirada HS)
Notes: Mayfair got one step close to winning the Suburban League championship with their win last Friday over rival La Mirada. Mayfair committed two 1st quarter turnovers that led to La Mirada TDs, and the Monsoons trailed 14-6 going into the 2nd quarter. But they outscored La Mirada 50-7 in the remaining three quarters, taking a 21-14 halftime lead and pulling away in the second half. Mayfair sophomore running back Tstrong Mataele rushed for 303 yards and 5 TDs on the night.

Mayfair is now 7-2 overall and 2-0 in Suburban League play, and will play its final regular season game Friday night against Bellflower (7-2 overall, 1-1 in league), a team that lost 42-18 to La Mirada two weeks ago.

A win would give Mayfair the league title, while a loss could potentially leave Mayfair, Bellflower and La Mirada in a three-way tie at 2-1 each. Either way, Mayfair is not in any real danger of missing out on the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs, as the Monsoons are currently ranked sixth out of the 22 Southern Section teams in that division, and the top 16 will qualify for the playoffs. Bellflower is ranked third among the 25 Southern Section teams in Division 12.

DB Marques Caldwell (Alvin)

Last week: Team lost 48-7 to Clear Falls.
This week: Saturday, October 27 at 1:00, at League City Clear Springs
Notes: Caldwell suffered a torn labrum earlier this season and seems unlikely to play again. His Alvin team has been very bad over the past month and a half and appears poised to finish with its first winless season since 2007, and this would be just the third time Alvin has failed to win a game since Franklin Roosevelt was first elected President.

Alvin lost by 15 in Week One to Houston Stratford, and had a close 39-35 loss the next week to Fort Bend Kempner (which hasn’t won a game since). In their five subsequent games, the Yellowjackets have been outscored 323-49 (essentially, by an average score of 65-10). To finish the season they will play District 24-6A’s two leading teams, and one team that is currently 2-5. Caldwell is the only current commit whose season is all but assured to be over in two weeks.

This week the Yellowjackets face Clear Springs, which played a very difficult non-district schedule to start the season, going 1-3 and losing to three teams that currently have a combined record of 19-2. But the Chargers have won all three of their district games and are coming off a 35-28 win over previously unbeaten Dickinson last week, which left them alone in first place in the district standings. For Clear Springs to turn around and lose to lowly Alvin the next week would be almost like Texas beating Oklahoma and then losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor (this writer actually had a nightmare - during the 2005 national championship season, no less - in which that very thing happened).

DB Tyler Owens (Plano East)

Last week: Team lost to Plano 41-19.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:00, at McKinney
Notes: That 5-0 start by Plano East is probably starting to feel like a distant memory. The Panthers were manhandled 74-36 by top-ranked Allen two weeks ago, then fell flat in a 41-19 drubbing by cross-town rival Plano last week.

Plano senior running back Kyron Cumby, an Illinois commit, scored four TDs and had 192 yards from scrimmage on 20 offensive touches, and Plano East fell behind 27-0 before finally scoring its first points almost half-way through the 4th quarter. Plano East’s first half possessions resulted in four punts and an interception deep in Plano territory. The second half didn’t start off any better, with a punt and two interceptions on their first three drives, but the Panthers scored TDs on each of their last three possessions to make the final score a bit more respectable.

The loss dropped Plano East to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in district, leaving them as part of a four-way tie for third place in District 9-6A. The Panthers will face one of the other 2-2 teams on Friday night when they take on McKinney in a game that could definitely have playoff implications for both teams. Plano East plays its last two games against opponents that are a combined 2-12 overall, and those look like likely wins, but if a loss to McKinney precedes two finishing wins, that could potentially leave Plano East out of the postseason if they finish tied with McKinney and/or Plano in the district standings.

DB Kenyatta Watson (Grayson - Loganville, Georgia)

Last week: Made four tackles in a 57-14 win over Newton.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, at Conyers (Georgia) Rockdale County
Notes: Grayson fell behind 7-0 less than four minutes into its game last week against upset-minded district opponent Newton, but the Rams scored the next 37 points and held Newton scoreless for over two quarters’ worth of clock time, and won easily.

It was Grayson’s third straight win after their 26-14 loss to top-ranked Colquitt County on September 21. Grayson leads AAAAAAA (7A) Region 8 with a 3-0 record with two games left. On Friday night they travel to play Rockdale County (2-6 overall, 1-2 in region). Grayson and Rockdale County were also regional opponents in the previous two seasons, and Grayson won those matchups by a cumulative score of 98-0.

Grayson moved up one spot to #3 in this week’s Georgia Sports Writers Association Poll for Class 7A. If Grayson wins out or otherwise finishes as the top team in their region, they would host their first round playoff game against the fourth-place finisher from Region 5. The playoff bracket potentially puts Grayson in a very favorable spot and would allow it to avoid any of the other teams currently ranked in the top five until the fourth round of the playoffs, as #1 Colquitt County, #2 Parkview, and #4 North Gwinnett would all be on the opposite end of the bracket if they all win their regions, and Grayson wouldn’t face any of them unless one reached the state championship.

ATH Peyton Powell (Odessa Permian)

Last week: Completed 7 of 15 passes for 199 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs, and had 8 carries for 62 yards and one TD in a 32-25 win over Amarillo Tascosa.
This week: Friday, October 26 at 7:30, vs. Midland
Notes: Peyton Powell committed to Texas on Tuesday. The four-star athlete has played QB for Odessa Permian this season but is being recruited by colleges primarily as a wide receiver or defensive back, though he claims Texas told him he’d have a shot at playing QB to start his collegiate career.

In any case, I’m listing him as an “ATH” in these posts because his eventual college position is less clear-cut than any of the other current commits.

In last week’s district game against Tascosa, Permian led 24-13 after Powell scored on a 28-yard run about four minutes into the 3rd quarter. Permian’s defense stopped Tascosa on 4th down later in the quarter, but fumbled the ball right back on their ensuing possession, and Tascosa capitalized with a TD run to cut the deficit to 24-19. That remained the score five minutes into the 4th quarter, when a Permian fake punt at around midfield was unsuccessful, and two plays later Tascosa’s senior RB King Doerue, a Purdue commit, scored on a 31-yard TD that gave Tascosa its first lead of the game at 25-24 with 6:48 left in regulation.

Powell was intercepted on Permian’s next drive but his team’s defense forced Tascosa to punt four plays later with just under a minute left on the clock. On Permian’s second play, Powell connected with receiver Justin Hammond for a 49-yard TD pass, and when the two also teamed up for a successful two-point conversion Permian led 32-25 with 0:46 left in the game.

The win moved Permian’s overall record to 5-2 and its district mark to 2-0. The Panthers are tied with Midland Lee for first place in District 2-6A, but with three games left and no team mathematically eliminated, a lot can still happen.

On Friday night they will host Midland, which is 3-4 overall and 1-1 in district play. Midland lost 36-20 to Tascosa three weeks ago. Midland has never attained the heights or championship glory of its cross-town rival Midland Lee but is currently on a program-best four-year streak of reaching the playoffs. After a first-round playoff loss in 1951, Midland did not reach the postseason again until 2002, and they have since made the playoffs in 11 of the past 16 seasons. Despite that success and Permian having fallen pretty far from their Friday Night Lights-era glory days, the Panthers still own this series and have beaten Midland in three of the past four seasons, and in eight of the last 12.