On Thanksgiving Day, twelve Texas Longhorn football commits sat down to lunch knowing that their teams still had at least one game left to play in the 2018 football season. That number decreased to nine by the end of the weekend, as UT’s two commits from Georgia both had their highly-ranked teams suffer disappointing playoff exits at the hands of unranked squads.
Back in Texas, it turned out Peyton Powell had already played his last game, as an injury prevented him from taking the field with his Odessa Permian teammates last Friday night, and a loss to Arlington Lamar ended their season.
Four more commits will suit up for their school for the last time this weekend, as the Longhorns’ two commits from Arizona (Brayden Liebrock and Jake Smith) and one commit from Missouri (Marcus Washington) will all be competing in state championship games on Saturday, and the program’s lone junior college commit (Jacoby Jones) will play in a season-ending bowl game on Sunday afternoon. The other five commits playing this week — four of them in-state products — hope to not be turning in their equipment early next week.
Hudson Card’s Lake Travis team faces a south Texas team that is in the third round for the first time in a decade, and the Cavaliers will have to avoid thinking ahead to their likely matchup with undefeated Converse Judson next week should they win.
Roschon Johnson leads his Port Neches-Groves team against an undefeated and state-ranked team led by one of the nation’s top quarterback recruits from the 2020 class.
Fresh off a dismantling of perennial powerhouse Manvel in the second round last week, T’Vondre Sweat and his Huntsville teammates will look to advance to the fourth round with a win over Marshall, a school Huntsville’s current head coach led to the state championship game twice in the mid-2000s.
Out of the nine games this weekend involving Texas Longhorn commits, five of them are re-matches between teams that played each other in the playoffs a year ago.
- Tight end Brayden Liebrock’s Chandler, Arizona team beat a Brock Purdy-led Gilbert Perry team to win last year’s 6A state championship, and on Saturday will go for its third straight state title and once again faces Perry, whose 2018 squad is led at QB by Purdy’s younger brother.
- Wide receiver Jake Smith’s Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale, Arizona) team will try to atone for its 5A state championship loss a year ago in a championship re-match with Peoria Centennial, a team that local media believe is the best in that state regardless of conference.
- After disappointing postseason finishes in its previous two seasons, wide receiver Marcus Washington’s talented St. Louis Trinity Catholic team will play for Missouri’s Class 3 state championship on Saturday against a nearby rival that they eliminated in the second round of the 2017 playoffs.
- Defensive end Myron Warren’s Many, Louisiana team, which is the top seed in that state’s Class 2A playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, is playing in the state semifinal round and looks for revenge against Welsh, the team that beat them in last year’s semifinals and went on to win the state championship.
- Wide receiver Jordan Whittington’s Cuero team has been on a roll for over two months and plays a third round opponent that they demolished in the first round last season.
There will be a lot fewer games for UT commits on tap this weekend than there have been in any week since the Texas high school football season kicked off, but several of the ones on the schedule should be very good matchups. As always, game times listed are for that particular location’s time zone.
2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)
Last week: Completed 17 of 22 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, and had 6 carries for 66 yards and one TD in a 56-35 win over San Antonio Madison in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 1 at 4:00, vs. Weslaco (at San Antonio’s Alamodome) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Lake Travis scored TDs on its first five possessions and built up a 35-14 halftime lead last week against Madison, who the Cavaliers were facing in the playoffs for a third straight season.
Lake Travis got the ball with a short field twice in the 1st quarter, courtesy of two very short Madison punts following Lake Travis defensive stops. The Austin American-Statesman’s recap stated that Madison’s first possession ended with a punt that only advanced the ball five yards and set Lake Travis up at Madison’s 28-yard line, and its second punt flew barely a dozen yards beyond the line of scrimmage and gave the Cavaliers a first-and-10 at the Madison 40.
Madison got on the board in the 1st quarter and answered Lake Travis’s third TD with another score to get as close as 21-14, but Lake Travis scored the game’s next 35 points to put the game away. Madison’s senior QB Dante Heaggans, an Illinois State commit, had a hand in all five Maverick TDs and finished the game with 141 yards passing and 142 yards rushing, but 74 of his rushing yards came on one 3rd quarter TD carry that came with his team trailing by 42 points, and his other 22 carries netted just 68 rushing yards.
Hudson Card ran for a 28-yard TD on Lake Travis’s first offensive snap, and also had a 1st quarter TD pass to sophomore running back Weston Stephens and a 14-yard TD pass to five-star Ohio State commit Garrett Wilson in the 2nd quarter. Wilson, who battled injuries for the second half of the regular season but has been in top form through the Cavaliers’ first two postseason games, finished with 12 catches for 165 yards and two TDs, and also scored on a 5-yard run.
Lake Travis is now 10-1 and has advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the tenth time in the span of twelve seasons. On Saturday the Cavaliers will travel to San Antonio to face south Texas program Weslaco, which is 11-1 and was the runner-up in District 31-6A this season after going 8-11 in its previous two seasons. This is Weslaco’s first postseason trip since 2015, and the first year its Panthers have advanced beyond the second round since 2007. Weslaco’s only loss was a 17-7 defeat on October 12 to district champion Edinburg Vela, which is 12-0 for the season and will face Austin Westlake in the 6A Division II playoffs on Friday.
The campuses of Lake Travis and Weslaco are over 320 miles apart. They have never faced each other in the playoffs and this is likely their first-ever meeting. The winner of this game will advance to the Region IV final (effectively the state quarterfinal round) and face the winner of Converse Judson and San Benito.
QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)
Last week: Completed 9 of 16 passes for 230 yards and 2 TDs, and had 19 carries for 248 yards and 4 TDs and scored on a 2-point conversion run in a 50-28 win over Lindale in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 30 at 7:30, vs. Fort Bend Marshall (at Baytown’s Stallworth Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
Notes: Port Neches-Groves has been on a roll over its past two months since Roschon Johnson returned from an injury that kept him off the field for parts of two games, and the Indians have not lost on the field since September 15.
In the second round of the playoffs last week they faced a Lindale team that was hoping to advance to the third round for the first time in school history. After the teams played even for the 1st quarter, Lindale scored on a 43-yard TD pass just six seconds into the 2nd quarter and took a 21-14 lead. But PN-G squashed Lindale’s dreams of an upset by scoring the next 36 points of the game, and Lindale didn’t add to its score again until less than a minute remained in regulation.
Roschon Johnson had a hand in the first six of PN-G’s seven TDs in the game, and five of them came on plays that covered 43 yards or more. Johnson ran the ball into the end zone from 66 yards out just 50 seconds into the game, and added a 65-yard TD pass to Jose Ceja later in the 1st quarter. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters when PN-G outscored Lindale 36-7, Johnson had TD runs of 1, 87, and 73 yards, and connected with Ceja again on a 43-yard scoring pass.
Against Lindale, PN-G did not turn the ball over, was penalized just five times, and averaged 11.5 yards per offensive play. That’s called winning playoff football. The Indians will have to execute at least as well if they hope to extend their season beyond tonight, as they will take on 12-0 Fort Bend Marshall, which was ranked fourth in Class 5A in the AP’s final regular season poll.
Marshall went four rounds into the 5A Division II playoffs in 2017 before losing 49-47 to eventual state champion College Station. The Buffalos were already highly rated coming into the 2018 season, then got a high-profile transfer in August from four-star 2020 prospect Malik Hornsby, the #2 dual-threat QB in his class, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings.
After transferring from Fort Bend Austin, Hornsby had to sit out a few weeks and was not declared eligible to play for Marshall until September 25. Marshall had a few close finishes in its first four games before Hornsby joined the lineup, winning 28-21 over 6A program Aldine Eisenhower (which finished 5-6 this year) in its season-opener and needing overtime to beat 5A Division I team Fort Bend Hightower (whose final record was 3-8) and Manvel later in September.
But Marshall made mincemeat of the eight opponents it played after Hornsby’s eligibility was cleared by the UIL, outscoring those teams 461-82. In his eight games under center for Marshall, Hornsby led the Buffalos against a fairly weak collection of foes and didn’t have to play at Superman levels like Roschon Johnson did in putting his team’s offense on his back and leading them to wins in several games that went down to the wire, but he has been crazy efficient.
Hornsby has averaged 13 yards per carry and scored nine rushing TDs, and when passing he has completed 71% of his throws, tossed 19 TDs against just one interception, and his receivers are averaging a rather absurd 27.4 yards per catch! Fun fact: in the 2018 season Malik Hornsby has attempted 69 passes and has just two fewer touchdowns (19) than he has incompletions + interceptions (21). Hornsby’s 2018 season says, “Really?” to Darrell Royal’s classic lament that “There are three things that can happen on a forward pass — and two of them are bad.” (Royal may or may not have borrowed that maxim from Woody Hayes.)
If Sam Ehlinger vs. Kyler Murray is the best QB matchup seen in the state of Texas this week, Roschon Johnson vs. Malik Hornsby may be a close second. The winner of the Port Neches-Groves vs. Fort Bend Marshall game will advance to the Region III final of the 5A Division II bracket and play the winner of Huntsville and Marshall. So that round could see a battle of Marshalls, or a re-match between Huntsville and PN-G, which would feature UT commits on opposite sidelines.
RB Derrian Brown (Buford, Georgia)
Last week: Had 31 carries for 229 yards and two TDs in a 23-20 loss to Bainbridge in the quarterfinal round of the GHSA Class AAAAA playoffs.
Notes: Buford went into the postseason as the second-ranked team in Class AAAAA, and I noted at the beginning of the playoffs that the bracket set Buford up to possibly have to go through four ranked teams in order to win the state championship. But as it turned out, it was an unranked team that played spoiler to the Buford Wolves’ state title hopes.
The Bainbridge Bearcats were 2-4 at the end of September, and had a 3-5 record as recently as October 25. Bainbridge’s five regular season losses came by margins of 22, 2, 23, 17, and 38 points, so it would seemingly be hard to say their 5-5 record was deceptive, or that they were two or three bad breaks away from being 8-2 instead. But after going .500 in the regular season they’ve taken their play to another level in the postseason and shocked the state of Georgia, eliminating eighth-ranked Jones County, fourth-ranked Wayne County, and second-ranked Buford in successive weeks.
Derrian Brown had a strong performance in his final game in a Buford uniform, rushing for 229 yards and two TDs. But Buford’s passing game was altogether ineffective (just 2 completions out of 16 attempts) and a couple of botched snaps on their first two possessions put them behind the 8 ball before their offense had a chance to get into any kind of rhythm.
A bad shotgun snap on Buford’s first offensive series was recovered by Brown deep in Buford territory, and when Buford was forced to punt, the kick was blocked out the back of the end zone for a safety. After receiving the ensuing free kick, Bainbridge needed only two plays to score its first TD and push its lead to 9-0. Buford had another bad snap on its next drive, and Bainbridge recovered the loose ball at the Buford 10-yard line and scored a few plays later to take a 16-0 lead with 6:27 left in the 1st quarter.
But Buford didn’t give up. Brown had a 9-yard TD run with 5:32 left in the 2nd quarter that made the score 16-6, and a few minutes later he had a 45-yard run that set Buford up for a short TD run that cut the deficit to 16-13 with 2:33 left in the quarter, and that remained the score at halftime.
Bainbridge returned the opening second half kickoff for a 91-yard TD that gave them another ten-point cushion and made the score 23-13. Derrian Brown ran for a 64-yard TD on Buford’s ensuing drive to get the Wolves within three points at 23-20 with 10:40 left in the 3rd quarter, but that was the last score by either team.
Buford had multiple chances afterward to tie the score or take the lead, but three drives deep into Bainbridge territory in the 4th quarter resulted in a missed field goal, a blocked field goal, and a turnover on downs after a pass to the end zone on a 4th-and-18 play from the Bainbridge 31-yard line in the final minute of regulation fell incomplete.
Buford finished the season with an overall record of 10-3, and according to Gwinnett Prep Sports’ recap of the game, the loss kept the Wolves out of the state semifinal round for the first time since 2006. Derrian Brown finished his senior season with 246 carries for 1,897 yards (7.7 yards/carry) and 28 TDs, and he also returned a punt for a TD in Buford’s second round playoff win over ninth-ranked Kell.
WR Jake Smith (Notre Dame Prep - Scottsdale, Arizona)
This week: Saturday, December 1 at 12:30, vs. Peoria Centennial (at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium) in the AIA Conference 5A state championship game.
Notes: Notre Dame Prep has qualified for Arizona’s 5A state title game for the second straight season. On Saturday afternoon the Saints will have a re-match with Peoria Centennial, who beat them 42-21 in last year’s state final.
Centennial is 13-0 and has outscored its opponents 564-78 this season, and the Coyotes have beaten their three playoff foes by an average score of 50-10. Centennial has won six state championships in the past 12 seasons and reached the state semifinal round in 14 out of 15 seasons. Centennial’s head coach Richard Taylor, who started up the football program when the school first opened in 1990, won his 300th career game in September.
Such is Centennial’s reputation that throughout the 2018 season the Arizona Republic has ranked it as the state’s #1 team, regardless of conference. Centennial beat Casteel 42-19 in its season-opener on August 17, and no team since then has scored more than 13 points against them. The Coyotes have held 10 of their 13 opponents to single-digit point totals and shut out five of them. After a 13-7 win on August 31 in an inter-state matchup with Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman (which will play for Nevada’s 4A state title on Saturday), the Coyotes beat all of their 11 subsequent opponents by at least 26 points, and won ten of those games by 35 or more. So they haven’t been seriously challenged in three months.
Notre Dame Prep is likewise 13-0, but the Saints have had challenges this season and had to stave off a late comeback attempt or two along the way. After averaging 47 points per game in the regular season and beating Gilbert 46-30 in the first round of the playoffs, the Saints found points harder to come by, winning their quarterfinal and semifinal playoff games by scores of 14-0 and 21-14. In the latter game, they needed a last minute goal-line stand (which was not without controversy regarding the game’s officiating) to hold off #2 seed Williams Field and escape with the victory.
Scoring 14 or 21 points against Centennial on Saturday likely won’t get the job done. In the 2017 championship game, Jake Smith had 3 catches for 89 yards and one TD, as well as 8 carries for 26 yards. Centennial probably wins another championship if it limits Smith to 11 offensive touches on Saturday, and he’ll no doubt be the player their defense focuses on the most. He’ll be covered by a secondary that includes three-star 2019 prospect Kieran Clark, who has four reported FBS offers, and 2020 prospect Jaydin Young, a two-way player who has recorded 3 interceptions and 85 tackles this season while also averaging nearly ten yards per carry.
WR Marcus Washington (Trinity Catholic - St. Louis, Missouri)
Last week: Team beat Maryville 36-14 in the semifinal round of the MSHSAA Class 3 playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 1 at 11:00 a.m., vs. Cardinal Ritter (at Faurot Field at the University of Missouri in Columbia) in the MSHSAA Class 3 state championship game.
Notes: Marcus Washington was not mentioned in either of the two published recaps I read of last week’s state semifinal win by Trinity Catholic over Maryville, and individual stats were not listed.
Trinity’s success in the game came primarily on the ground, as it rushed for 335 yards on 38 carries, while its defense limited Maryville — whose starting QB and RB missed the game with injuries — to less than four yards per carry.
Maryville fumbled the snap on its first offensive play, and Trinity recovered the ball and scored six plays later to take a 6-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. Maryville tied the game early in the 2nd quarter, but later had the ball deep in its own territory and was called for holding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety and an 8-6 lead for Trinity, who never relinquished the lead again.
Trinity scored a TD just before halftime to extend its lead to 15-6, then scored on its first possession of the second half to lead 23-6. Trinity would lead by as much as 36-6 in the 4th quarter.
With the win, Trinity improved its season record to 12-2 and advanced to the Class 3 state championship game, in which they will face off against 14-0 Cardinal Ritter on Saturday. At the conclusion of the regular season, Trinity was ranked 2nd and Cardinal Ritter 3rd in Class 3.
This year’s two state finalists in Class 3 are both in their first year at that level after previously competing in Class 2. Both schools are in St. Louis and their campuses are just 12 miles apart. Saturday’s state championship will be the 14th time they’ve played each other in the span of 15 seasons. Trinity has won the last three of those games, including a 57-0 regular season win in 2017 and a 28-7 victory in the second round of that year’s playoffs. Before that, Cardinal Ritter won five of the six matchups played between 2008 and 2013.
The teams had a pair of mutual opponents this season in Miller Career Academy and McCluer South-Berkeley. Trinity beat Miller Career Academy 61-6 on October 5, and Cardinal Ritter eliminated that team in the district semifinal round of the playoffs by a score of 55-12. Trinity eliminated McCluer South-Berkeley in the same round by a 71-10 score, a few weeks after Cardinal Ritter beat McCluer 46-6 on October 13.
Trinity lost its first two games of the season against Colquitt County (Georgia’s top-ranked AAAAAAA team) and East St. Louis (one of Illinois’ top 7A teams), but in their twelve subsequent games the Titans have beaten every opponent by at least 22 points, save a 27-17 win over Southern Boone in the state quarterfinal round. Three of Cardinal Ritter’s wins have come by single digits, one against an Illinois 5A program, and the other two against in-state Class 4 teams. After winning their first playoff game by forfeit, the Cardinal Ritter Lions beat their next four postseason foes by a combined score of 187-32, with the latest being a 49-6 win over Mount Vernon in the semifinals.
Cardinal Ritter has D1 talent on the outside on both sides of the ball, which should give a good challenge to Marcus Washington and his Trinity teammates. Cardinal Ritter’s corps of wide receivers includes four-star 2019 Ohio State commit Jameson Williams and four-star 2019 Western Michigan commit Cameron Coleman. Passing them the ball will be three-star 2020 dual-threat QB Mekhi Hagens, who reportedly holds offers from Missouri, Kansas, and Syracuse.
The Lions’ secondary also boasts a pair of senior FBS commits in three-star CB Caleb Roberson (a Wyoming commit) and two-star CB Keith Jones (who joins Coleman as a Western Michigan pledge), and junior Jaden Williams, who is sometimes listed as a CB recruit, has four reported P5-level offers.
The combined rosters of Trinity Catholic and Cardinal Ritter have ten of the top 43 recruits in Missouri’s 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, along with eight of the state’s top 25 recruits in the 2020 class.
WR Jordan Whittington (Cuero)
Last week: Caught 4 passes for 72 yards and one TD, had 2 carries for 24 yards, made 5 tackles, and scored on a 2-point conversion run in a 56-0 win over Rio Hondo in the area round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 30 at 7:30, vs. Corpus Christi West Oso (at San Antonio’s Heroes Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs.
Notes: Cuero rolled all over Rio Hondo in its second round win last week, winning 56-0 and extending its current winning streak to ten games. Cuero led 42-0 at halftime, and limited Rio Hondo to 137 total yards. It was the ninth straight game in which the Gobblers have scored at least 43 points.
Jordan Whittington sat out the preseason and missed Cuero’s first four games while recovering from a groin injury that had affected him for several months. Since Whittington’s return to the field on September 28 in a 43-21 win over Wharton, the Gobblers have averaged just shy of 59 points per game. With 621 points scored over their first 12 games, they’re 81 points shy of tying the school record for scoring in a season, set by last year’s team that went 12-1 before falling in the regional finals.
In this week’s third round (aka, the regional semifinals), Cuero will play a Corpus Christi West Oso team that went 6-4 in the regular season and finished in a three-way tie for second place in District 15-4A Division II. In back-to-back weeks, West Oso has scored its highest single-game point total since at least 2012, earning the school its first playoff victory since 2002 in a 57-56 shootout over Port Isabel in the first round, then beating Llano 62-31 last week. Those 119 points scored in just two playoff games is only one point less than West Oso scored in the entire 2013 season. The West Oso Bears (literal translation: the West Bear Bears?) are now in the third round of the playoffs for the fifth time in school history; they have never advanced further than that.
Cuero beat West Oso 67-10 in the first round of the playoffs a year ago. Llano is their only mutual opponent this season. Cuero beat Llano 55-16 on October 19, and West Oso beat Llano 62-31 a week ago. No other team scored more than 31 points against Llano this season. The winner of Friday night’s Cuero-West Oso regional semifinal will move on to the Region IV final in the 4A Division II bracket and will play the winner of Navarro and Rockport-Fulton.
TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)
This week: Saturday, December 1 at 4:30, vs. Gilbert Perry (at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium) in the Conference 6A state championship game.
Notes: On Saturday afternoon in Tempe, the Chandler Wolves will play for their third straight state championship and their fourth in five seasons, and they will be facing an opponent they’re very familiar with in Gilbert Perry. The 6A state final will offer a re-match of last year’s title game, in which Chandler beat Perry 49-42.
In that 2017 championship game, Brayden Liebrock caught 5 passes for 115 yards and a TD as Chandler rolled up 679 offensive yards but had to fight off a valiant effort from a Perry team that got 322 yards passing, 131 yards rushing and six total TDs from a then-senior QB named Brock Purdy.
Fortunately for Chandler (and unfortunately for the Big 12), Brock Purdy is now a freshman QB at Iowa State, but the Wolves will still have to contend with a Purdy on Saturday: Brock’s younger brother Chubba Purdy, a junior QB who has amassed nearly 4,300 total yards and accounted for 57 touchdowns (35 passing, 21 rushing, and 1 receiving) this season.
The younger Purdy passed for 361 yards and 4 TDs and added a rushing TD when the teams met on September 28 in a game Chandler won 45-34. The first-year starter at QB has some experienced weapons at his disposal, including senior tight end Kyle Patterson (a three-star recruit with five reported FBS offers), senior receiver Colby Dickie (who has over 1,000 receiving yards for a third straight season and has 37 career TDs), and senior running back Jalen Young (who has averaged 9 yards per carry and scored 11 total TDs). Purdy throws from behind an offensive line that includes senior Cal commit Brayden Rohme.
The offensive production by Purdy and his Perry teammates is all the more remarkable because they’ve been without their highest-rated player: senior receiver D’Shayne James, a three-star Iowa State commit who had over 1,600 total yards and 23 TDs as a junior in 2017, but has missed the entire 2018 season due to a knee injury. [Side note: if you think Iowa State’s offense gave the Big 12 fits in 2018, just wait until 2019 when the Cyclones (likely) return their top three running backs, their top tight end, their top three receivers, their starting QB in Brock Purdy, and they bring in one of Purdy’s most talented high school teammates in James.]
This will be the third straight season that Chandler and Perry have met in both the playoffs and the regular season. Before outlasting Perry in the 2017 state championship, the Wolves beat them 55-27 in a sectional game in October. And in 2016, Chandler beat Perry 44-35 in early October, then eliminated the Pumas in the 6A semifinals by a score of 62-20. Since the start of the 2016 season, Perry is 0-5 against Chandler and 34-1 against every other school.
Chandler has reeled off 12 straight wins since opening the season with a 35-13 loss to nationally-ranked Corona (California) Centennial, and are the #18 team in the country according to the most recent USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings. The Wolves entered the postseason as the top seed in the 6A bracket and breezed through the first two rounds before winning in overtime over #5 seed Highland two weeks ago in the semifinals. Perry was the #6 seed and reached its second straight state final by beating the #11, #3, and #2 seeds by an average margin of 25 points.
DE Jacoby Jones (Butler Community College - El Dorado, Kansas)
This week: Sunday, December 2 at 2:00, vs. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (in Miami, Oklahoma) in the Midwest Classic Bowl.
Notes: As in FBS ball, the National Junior College Athletic Association has a series of postseason bowl games that some of its top teams will play in at various locations. It’s been three weeks since Jacoby Jones and the Butler Grizzlies played their last regular season game, a 22-10 loss to Garden City Community College that dropped their season record to 7-4.
On Sunday afternoon, Butler will conclude its season with a Midwest Classic Bowl matchup against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (colloquially known as NEO). NEO reached the championship game of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, where they lost to Kilgore 62-19 on November 10. Seven weeks earlier the Golden Norsemen had lost to Kilgore by a much closer 31-24 score.
Through 11 games this season, Jacoby Jones has been credited with 55 tackles (fourth on the team), 10.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and three pass break-ups. He was named to the all-conference first team at defensive end.
DE T’Vondre Sweat (Huntsville)
Last week: Team beat Manvel 34-10 in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 1 at 8:00, vs. Marshall (at Frisco’s Ford Center at the Star) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
Notes: Huntsville won its ninth straight game last week and punched its ticket to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1990 with a 34-10 win over Manvel. One week after setting a new school record for scoring in a playoff game in a 57-7 first round win over Nacogdoches, the Hornets weren’t quite as dominant against Manvel, gaining just 311 total yards. But they committed no turnovers while forcing three by Manvel, and their defense held the Mavericks to 28 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Huntsville went into halftime with a 17-10 lead, then added 17 more points in the second half while preventing Manvel from adding to its total. The Houston Chronicle’s recap of the game mentioned T’Vondre Sweat sacking Manvel’s QB on a key 4th down play in the 3rd quarter, with Huntsville leading 24-10 at the time.
Manvel was penalized 14 times, compared with Huntsville’s six. The 24-point loss was the most lopsided one Manvel had suffered since a 45-17 loss to Katy in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 playoffs. Huntsville prevented Manvel from advancing to the third round for a ninth straight season, and became the first team to ever hold the Mavericks under 14 points in a playoff game. Manvel came into the game averaging 58 points per game in 2018, and the ten points Huntsville held them to was their fewest in a game since a 12-7 loss to Pearland Dawson on September 26, 2008.
The game appeared on paper to be a classic battle of unstoppable force vs. immovable object, and the Hornets and their defense emerged as the clear victor and served notice to the rest of the 5A Division II field that they were for real, in case that hadn’t been evident since they began their nine-game winning streak with a 27-7 win over then state-ranked A&M Consolidated on September 28.
In its third round game on Saturday night Huntsville will face Marshall, a school it has met in the postseason on two previous occasions three decades ago. Marshall eliminated Huntsville in the second round of the 1988 playoffs by a score of 30-22, and a year later beat Huntsville 21-8 in the third round.
Marshall is 10-2 this season and has likewise won nine straight games after suffering consecutive losses in early September at the hands of Longview (the fourth-ranked team in Class 6A) and Carthage (the top-ranked team in Class 4A). Marshall averages 43.5 points per game this season, and aside from their 60-14 loss to Longview on September 7, no team has held the Mavericks under 32 points. Huntsville, by contrast, has allowed less than 9 points per game this season.
Marshall is the second consecutive opponent for Huntsville whose team is called the Mavericks, and they are led by second-year head coach Claude Mathis, the former running backs coach at SMU who built DeSoto High School into a south Dallas powerhouse in the early years of the present decade. Marshall is the third school Mathis has led to the third round of the playoffs.
The Mavericks will be attempting to advance to the fourth round for the first time since 2004-05, when they lost in the 4A Division I state championship game in consecutive years. Marshall’s head coach for those seasons: Rodney Southern, who is now in his fifth season as head coach at...Huntsville.
The winner of the Huntsville-Marshall game will advance to the Region III final of the 5A Division II bracket and will face either unbeaten Fort Bend Marshall or the Roschon Johnson-led Port Neches-Groves.
DE Myron Warren (Many, Louisiana)
Last week: Team beat Vidalia 35-0 in the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Class 2A playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 30 at 7:00, vs. Welsh (at Many High School) in the semifinal round of the LHSAA Class 2A playoffs.
Notes: Many High is the top overall seed in Louisiana’s 2A playoff bracket, and last week the Tigers continued their march to the Superdome, winning their quarterfinal game against #8 seed Vidalia, 35-0. (MaxPreps lists the game as being a 44-15 win for Many, but all published reports of the game that I’ve seen have the final score as 35-0.)
Many’s defense forced three turnovers and held Vidalia to 18 yards on the ground. Many led 28-0 at halftime and scored once more mid-way through the 3rd quarter. Vidalia reached Many’s 1-yard line in a 4th quarter drive, but was pushed backwards and ultimately turned the ball over after an unsuccessful 4th down conversion attempt.
Many has won its first three playoff games by an average of 44 points. In the semifinals on Friday night, the Tigers will face #5 seed Welsh, which has shut out two of its three playoff opponents and hasn’t had much drama along the way.
Welsh is 11-2 this season, with its only losses a 18-7 defeat on September 7 against Kaplan (ranked fifth in Class 3A at the end of the regular season), and a 57-0 blowout loss on October 25 to Notre Dame, the top-ranked 2A team (which will play for the all-private school Division III state championship next week).
Ville Platte was the only common opponent for Many and Welsh this season; Welsh beat Ville Platte 55-0 in their regular season finale, and Many beat them 76-0 in the first round of the playoffs one week later. The two teams met at this same point in the 2017 playoffs, with #1 seed Welsh knocking off #4 seed Many in the state semifinals by a score of 28-18, and Welsh went on to claim the 2A state championship the following week.
I erroneously wrote in last week’s post that the last time Many entered the playoffs as the #1 seed was 2014, when the Tigers won the 2A state championship. Many was actually Class 2A’s top playoff seed in 2015 and 2016 as well, but the Tigers lost in the semifinals in 2016 to eventual state champion Sterlington, and were upset in the second round in 2015. This is the fifth time in six seasons that Many has been the top seed in the 2A playoffs, but the Tigers only finished as the last team standing on one of those previous occasions. They will seek to change that and avenge last year’s playoff loss to Welsh in the process.
The winner between Many and Welsh will play in the 2A state championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at noon on Friday, December 7, and will face either #2 seed Amite or #3 seed Ferriday.
DB Kenyatta Watson (Grayson - Loganville, Georgia)
Last week: Team lost to Lowndes 20-15 in the quarterfinal round of the GHSA Class AAAAAAA playoffs.
Notes: The Grayson Rams held Lowndes to 172 total yards in their quarterfinal playoff game last week, but they were done in by some ill-timed turnovers and special teams miscues and lost 20-15.
Grayson was the third-ranked team in Class AAAAAAA at the end of the regular season and seemed primed to make a long playoff run, in no small part because the bracket guaranteed that the Rams would not have to play a ranked opponent until the state semifinals, at the earliest. But they were knocked out one round earlier by the unranked Lowndes Vikings.
Lowndes lead 10-9 at halftime, and intercepted a Grayson pass in the 3rd quarter that set them up at the 1-yard line, from which the Vikings scored to take a 17-9 lead with 6:54 left in the quarter. Grayson answered with a 26-yard TD run by sophomore running back Phil Mafah (who finished with 162 yards on 15 carries) with 3:12 left in the 3rd quarter, but an unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempt left the Rams trailing 17-15. Grayson earlier in the game missed on a PAT following their first TD.
Grayson left more points on the field when a 44-yard field goal attempt less than three minutes into the 4th quarter was no good. Lowndes made a 36-yard field goal with 2:35 left in regulation to extend its lead to 20-15. Grayson had one more chance to take the lead, but fumbled on its ensuing possession and Lowndes recovered the ball just outside of the red zone on Grayson’s end of the field with 2:07 left. The Vikings successfully ran out the rest of the clock to preserve their victory.
Grayson, which has a roster chock-full of FBS commits and was ranked #5 in the country in this year’s initial USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings, finished the 2018 season with a 10-3 record.
It was never easy but it was worth it! HS football is over and I’m ready for the next chapter. pic.twitter.com/JCLdlK78M0— Kenyatta Watson II (@K2SZN) November 26, 2018
ATH Peyton Powell (Odessa Permian)
Last week: Did not play in a 49-35 loss to Arlington Lamar in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
Notes: According to published reports, Peyton Powell sat out last week’s playoff game against Arlington Lamar due to an injury. Powell previously missed Permian’s penultimate regular season game with an unspecified injury but played in both its regular season finale against Midland Lee and its dominating bi-district playoff win over El Paso Coronado. Through his last three years of high school, injuries have cost Powell essentially an entire football season’s worth of games; last week’s playoff loss to Lamar was at least the ninth game Powell has missed since the start of his sophomore year. I wrote about his prior injury history in a post earlier this season.
In Powell’s absence, the Permian Panthers trailed Lamar 21-0 when the game was barely 9 minutes old, with two Lamar TDs set up by Panther turnovers. Permian finally scored its first points on a TD with 2:39 left in the 2nd quarter and went into the second half behind 21-7. The Panthers inched closer with a pair of TDs in the 3rd quarter and trimmed the deficit to 28-21 going into the 4th quarter.
Permian scored a TD 12 seconds into the final frame to tie the game at 28 apiece, and on Lamar’s ensuing possession, Panthers senior cornerback Christian Tschauner intercepted a Jack Dawson pass and returned it 97 yards for a pick-six that gave Permian its first lead of the game at 35-28 with 10:03 left in regulation. But after coming back from an early 21-0 hole to take a brief 4th quarter lead, Permian was outscored by Lamar 21-0 over the game’s final eight and a half minutes.
The loss ended Permian’s season with a 8-4 overall record.
WR De’Mariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood)
Team lost to Vian 27-26 on November 16 in the second round of the OSSAA Class 2A playoffs, which snapped a 39-game winning streak. Millwood was the top-ranked team in its classification throughout the regular season and finished 11-1.
TE Jared Wiley (Temple)
Team lost to Mesquite Horn 45-38 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs on November 16. Temple won its first eight games of the season before dropping each of its last three.
OL Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge)
Oak Ridge finished 5-5 overall and did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
2020 OL Logan Parr (San Antonio O’Connor)
O’Connor went undefeated in the regular season for a second straight year, but lost to San Antonio Reagan 30-7 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs on November 16.
OL Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest)
North Forest qualified for the 4A Division I playoffs but lost in the bi-district round to Splendora on November 16 by a score of 47-19. North Forest finished 4-7.
DE Peter Mpagi (Richmond George Ranch)
George Ranch went 4-6 this season and did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
LB De’Gabriel Floyd (Westlake - Westlake Village, California)
Westlake went 7-4 and ended its season with a 19-14 loss to Los Alamitos in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs on November 2.
LB David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch)
Cinco Ranch finished 3-7 and did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs. For the season Gbenda was credited with 79 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 blocked punt, and he rushed for 5 TDs on 13 carries in short-yardage situations.
LB Marcus Tillman (Jones - Orlando, Florida)
Jones had a record of 10-2 and ended its season with a 30-27 loss on November 16 to Cardinal Gibbons in the second round of the FHSAA Class 5A playoffs. Cardinal Gibbons went on to beat defending state champion American Heritage last week and will play in the state semifinals tonight.
DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)
Mayfair went 9-3 overall and its season ended with a 31-28 overtime loss on November 10 to Oxnard Pacifica in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs. Chris Adimora was announced as the Suburban League MVP last week.
Congratulations to the 2018 Suburban League MVP. Mayfair Safety Chris Adimora (@HEI5MAN ) #UNCOMMON pic.twitter.com/j4T2dBEHZR— Mayfair Monsoons (@SoonsFootball) November 22, 2018
DB Marques Caldwell (Alvin)
Caldwell suffered a torn labrum and missed much of his senior season. Alvin finished 0-10 and did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
DB Tyler Owens (Plano East)
Plano East finished 8-3 and achieved its best win total since 2006. The Panthers lost 35-25 to Sachse in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs on November 16. Plano East had previously beaten Sachse 29-7 on September 14.