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Texas football commits in action, Nov. 9

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Eight commits have playoff games tonight, eight more begin the postseason next week, and three others need wins tonight to earn a playoff bid.

2019 safety commit Tyler Owens (Plano East) on the field in a game against Plano West on November 2, 2018.
Mike Craven - HookEm.com

This week is the eleventh and final week of play in the Texas high school football regular season. It will include the final game in the high school career of at least one Texas Longhorn commit. Two others have already played the last game of their senior season, including one out-of-state commit whose team lost its first playoff game last week.

19 UT pledges will have games tonight, with eight out-of-state commits having playoff games, eight in-state products finishing off the regular season before moving on to the playoffs next week, and three other recruits needing a win to avoid elimination from playoff consideration.

Two commits missed games due to injury last week: Marques Caldwell has missed several games due to a torn labrum, and Peyton Powell missed his team’s most recent game with an unspecified injury. Caldwell has likely played his last high school game, while Powell’s return to action is unknown, though he missed at least seven games earlier in his high school career due to injury (more on that below).

Nine commits play for teams that are ranked in their respective state and classification or conference, and two (De’Mariyon Houston and Brayden Liebrock) play for schools that won state championships a year ago. So there’s a very good chance that a few members of the #fUTure19 class will be wearing state championship rings when they arrive at their college home. Whether one of them is an in-state commit remains to be seen, but in every season since 1996 there has been at least one future Longhorn on the roster of a Texas state championship team.

Though most of the program’s commits already know if they will have another game next week, tonight’s games are not without some intrigue.

Roschon Johnson’s Port Neches-Grove team is playing for its third shared district championship in four years.

Jared Wiley’s Temple team has clinched a postseason berth and knows it will have to face one of Class 6A’s top five teams in the first round of the playoffs...unless they lose their regular season finale tonight.

Jordan Whittington’s Cuero team is playing for an outright district championship and looking for revenge against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago.

Peyton Powell, in his first year at Odessa Permian after transferring in January, gets to experience the latest edition of the legendary Permian-Midland Lee rivalry, with an outright district title on the line.

Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest) and David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch) both need wins to qualify for the playoffs, while Peter Mpagi’s Richmond George Ranch team faces very long odds and needs an upset win and some help to avoid missing the playoffs for just the second time in its history.

I’ve got notes on each of them, plus a preview of each out-of-state commit whose teams have playoff games tonight. The game times listed are for each location’s local time.

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2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)

Last week: Completed 25 of 34 passes for 214 yards and 2 TDs, and had eight carries for 36 yards and one TD in a 44-28 win over Buda Hays.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Austin Anderson
Notes: Lake Travis secured not only a playoff spot with its win over Buda Hays last week, but clinched the district’s top seed in the 6A Division I bracket. The game was tied at 7-7 in the 1st quarter, but by the time Hays scored again Lake Travis held a 41-7 lead in the 4th quarter.

Lake Travis is now 7-1 overall and 6-1 in district play, and is ranked tenth in this week’s AP poll for Class 6A. Through eight games, Hudson Card has accounted for 34 total touchdowns and just two interceptions (both against Austin Westlake) while sitting out the second half of a number of games. The Cavaliers will conclude the regular season by hosting Austin Anderson tonight. Anderson is 5-4 overall and 4-3 in district, and will finish with at least a .500 record for the first time since 2011. While an upset win over Lake Travis would potentially put the Trojans in a tie with Bowie and/or Hays for third or fourth place, it wouldn’t get them into the playoffs, as they have already lost to both Bowie and Hays, so they will have only pride on the line tonight.

Lake Travis fans may be watching the progress of some other games tonight as much as they’ll be watching their Cavaliers play Anderson, as the outcome of the Smithson Valley-New Braunfels game will determine the #2 seed in the Division I bracket out of District 26-6A. If Smithson Valley wins, Lake Travis will host them in the bi-district round of the playoffs next week. If New Braunfels wins, then it would get the district’s final playoff spot over Smithson Valley, and Lake Travis would instead open the playoffs against Schertz Clemens.

QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)

Last week: Completed 11 of 16 passes for 207 yards, had 29 carries for 236 yards, and scored 4 total TDs in a 31-14 win over Barbers Hill
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Nederland
Notes: Port Neches-Groves clinched a playoff spot and set up tonight’s matchup with Nederland as a battle for the championship of District 12-5A Division II after their win last Friday over Barbers Hill.

This gave the Indians some measure of revenge on Barbers Hill, whose coaches had reported to the district’s executive committee that PN-G coaches used an iPad in the press box during its October 12 win over Crosby (Barbers Hill had sent coaches to scout that game and they reported seeing the iPad while in the press box). As a result, the executive committee voted early last week to force PN-G to forfeit the win over Crosby, dropping its district record from 5-0 to 4-1.

But with the win PN-G ensured that it would finish no worse than second place in the district, and it will take home the district championship with a win tonight over unbeaten Nederland, who Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks ninth among Class 5A Division II teams. Nederland has won its last four district games all by 20 or more points, though those four games were against the district’s bottom four teams who have a combined district record of 5-19. Earlier in the season the Bulldogs had a six-point win over Barbers Hill and won by a combined eight points in two nondistrict games against 4A Division II teams West Orange-Stark and Silsbee. So Nederland is a tough team but this is definitely a winnable game for PN-G.

Nederland beat PN-G 36-35 in the last week of the regular season in 2017, and has won seven of the last eight games in the series, with five of those games being decided by seven points or less.

RB Derrian Brown (Buford, Georgia)

Last week: Had 18 carries for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 45-3 win over Clarke Central.
This week: Friday November 9 at 7:30, vs. Miller Grove in the first round of Georgia’s AAAAA playoffs.
Notes: Buford dominated Clarke Central last Friday to run the table on its region foes. Buford outscored its five AAAAA Region 8 opponents 253-9, and according to Gwinnett Prep Sports the Bulldogs have not lost a region (Georgia’s equivalent to Texas’s districts) game on the field since 2009.

In the win over Clarke Central, Derrian Brown had TD runs of 17, 9, 41, and 46 yards and was responsible for the first four of Buford’s six TDs. The last of Brown’s scores came with 8:34 left in the 3rd quarter and put Buford ahead 31-3, and his night was done afterwards.

Brown played a backup role in Buford’s backfield as a sophomore and junior due to the team having two 2018 running backs who are now freshmen at Florida State and Michigan, but in his senior year he has emerged as his team’s top rusher and has produced when called upon. He finished the regular season with 184 carries for 1,443 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had a light workload during region play, carrying the ball only 66 times in those five games and usually sitting out the second half, as Buford beat those opponents by an average of over 48 points. Gwinnett Prep Sports published an article last week on Brown and his senior year ascent into a high-profile recruit status.

Buford finished the regular season 8-2, with its two losses coming at the hands of Deerfield Beach (Florida’s top-ranked Class 8A team) and Archer (Georgia’s eighth-ranked AAAAAAA team). Buford will begin its quest for the school’s 12th state football title tonight when it hosts Miller Grove in the first round of the AAAAA playoffs. Miller Grove has a 3-7 overall record but earned a playoff berth by finishing fourth in Region 5. Buford and Miller Grove had no common opponents in the regular season and Maxpreps’s game history (which goes back to 2004) indicates the schools have not played each other in the past 14 seasons.

Miller Grove has faced a number of tough teams in 2018, with its two most lopsided losses of the season being a 45-0 loss on October 5 to a Tift County team that was ranked ninth in AAAAAAA (7A) in the Georgia Sports Writers Association’s preseason poll, and a 35-0 loss on September 14 to a Coffee team that was ranked second in AAAAAA (6A) at the time. More recently, Miller Grove had a close 14-7 defeat on October 13 to AAAAA’s current #6 team, Southwest DeKalb. So while having been blown out by the best teams it has played this season, Miller Grove shouldn’t be dismissed solely by its record.

Buford enters the playoffs as the second-ranked team in Class AAAAA. The playoff bracket shows that the Wolves have a potential second round game against #9 Kell, and would most likely face either #4 Wayne County or #8 Jones County in the third round on Thanksgiving weekend. Stockbridge and Southwest DeKalb, which are tied at #6, are the only ranked teams Buford could encounter in the fourth round (the state semifinals), and the state championship will very likely go through top-ranked Rome, the #15 team in this week’s USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings (one spot ahead of Georgia’s top-ranked 7A team Colquitt County).

Buford’s last state title was the AAAA championship in 2014, which capped off a dominating run in which the Wolves took home seven state championship trophies in the span of eight seasons. Valdosta, with 22 trophies, is the only Georgia high school with more football state titles than Buford’s 11.

WR De’Mariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood)

Last week: Team beat Stratford 47-6.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Ardmore Dickson in the first round of the OSSAA Class 2A playoffs.
Notes: De’Mariyon Houston’s Millwood team handily beat Stratford 47-6 last week, completing an undefeated 7-0 run through District 7-2A in which the Falcons outscored their opponents 382-86.

They have now won 38 straight games and are the decided favorite to win their third straight 2A state title as the playoffs begin this week. Millwood received all ten first-place votes in the AP’s final regular season poll for Class 2A. They will begin their title defense with a first round game against Dickson, the fourth-place finisher out of District 8-2A, which has an overall record of 5-5 with four of its losses coming by six points or less. After going 6-33 over the previous four seasons, winning five games and making the playoffs has to be considered a successful season for Dickson, but their season will very likely be over after tonight.

Should Millwood advance, it faces a potential second round game against #10 Vian, then a possible third round game against #4 Adair. #5 Sperry is the only ranked team that they would potentially meet in the state semifinals, while the other side of the bracket (i.e. the pool of potential state championship game foes) includes the teams ranked second, third, sixth, seventh, and ninth.

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

Last week: Caught seven passes for 122 yards and three TDs, had three carries for six yards, and punted twice for an average of 42.5 yards in a 46-30 win over Gilbert in the first round of the AIA Conference 5A playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Goodyear (Arizona) Millennium in the quarterfinal round of the AIA Conference 5A playoffs.
Notes: Jake Smith had his biggest receiving performance in over a month and went over the century mark in receiving yardage for the fifth time this season in Notre Dame Prep’s first round playoff win over Gilbert last week.

Notre Dame Prep had previously beaten Gilbert 47-0 on August 31. Gilbert not only got on the scoreboard in the re-match but actually briefly led 8-7 after a touchdown and two-point conversion nearly mid-way through the 1st quarter. But Notre Dame Prep scored the game’s next 39 points and and kept Gilbert from adding to its total for nearly three whole quarters. The Saints took a 46-8 lead early in the 4th quarter, before Gilbert scored three times in the game’s final eight minutes to make the final margin more respectable.

Notre Dame is the third seed in the Conference 5A playoffs and with its first round win it moves on to face sixth seed Millennium, which advanced to the quarterfinals with a 58-7 first round win over Flowing Wells. Millennium is 9-2 this season, with its two losses coming in back-to-back September games to eventual #1 seed Peoria Centennial and #5 seed Higley.

Millennium’s defense includes senior three-star defensive end Anthonie Cooper, an Arizona State commit who has been credited with 25 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, two blocked punts, and two blocked field goals this season. Among the members of Millennium’s secondary that will be tasked with shadowing Jake Smith will be junior Kaysan Barnett, who has seven interceptions this season, three of which were returned for TDs.

WR Marcus Washington (Trinity Catholic - St. Louis, Missouri)

Last week: Caught three passes for 37 yards and one TD and made one tackle in a 71-10 win over McCluer South-Berkeley in the district semifinal round of the MSHSAA Class 3 playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 9, vs. St. Charles West in the district championship round of the MSHSAA Class 3 playoffs.
Notes: As noted in last week’s post, Missouri’s playoff system literally lets everybody in, and early round games involving high seeds routinely get out of hand. Thus, Marcus Washington’s Trinity Catholic team, which ended the regular season as the second-ranked team in Class 3, has won its first two playoff games by a combined score of 159-10. Things will get at least marginally more difficult in this week’s “district championship” round, as the Titans will play St. Charles West, which is 8-3 for the year and won its first two playoff games by a cumulative score of 100-26.

If Trinity Catholic beats St. Charles West tonight it could face eighth-ranked Southern Boone in the quarterfinals next week, and after that would loom a potential date with either top-ranked Odessa or fifth-ranked Maryville.

WR Jordan Whittington (Cuero)

Last week: Caught three passes for 15 yards, had four carries for 73 yards and one TD, made 10 tackles, and scored on a two-point conversion run in a 43-7 win over Geronimo Navarro.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, at Wimberley
Notes: Cuero opened up a 30-0 halftime lead last week and cruised to a 43-7 win over Navarro, a team that came into the game with a 6-1 overall record and which has reached at least the third round of the playoffs in three straight seasons and reached double digits in wins in four straight years. As noted in last week’s post, Cuero and Navarro have played each other in the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, with Cuero winning four of those games, including a 38-24 victory in last season’s regional semifinals.

With last week’s win, the Gobblers improved to 8-1 overall and are 4-0 in district play. To secure the championship of District 13-4A Division II, Cuero will have to beat 4-5 Wimberley, the team that knocked them out of the 2017 playoffs with a come-from-behind 44-36 win in the state quarterfinals. If Wimberley beats Cuero and Navarro wins its last game, those three teams would finish tied for first place with a 4-1 district record and each having one win and one loss against the other two. In that scenario, Cuero would win the district championship via the points differential tiebreaker as long as they lost to Wimberley by less than 21 points.

A win over Wimberley will give the Gobblers their third straight district title, and their eleventh in the span of 16 seasons. Cuero is the fifth-ranked team in Class 4A in this week’s AP poll, and Texas Football ranks it third among 4A Division II schools. If the Gobblers win the district championship they will open the playoffs next week against whoever gets the fourth playoff spot in District 14-4A Division II out of a trio of Pearsall, Carrizo Springs, and Poteet.

TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)

Last week: Caught four passes for 72 yards and two TDs in a 64-14 win over Boulder Creek in the first round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Phoenix Mountain Pointe in the quarterfinal round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs.
Notes: Brayden Liebrock had his second two-TD receiving game of the season in last week’s 64-14 thrashing of Boulder Creek in the first round of the Conference 6A playoffs. Since its season-opening loss to nationally-ranked Corona (California) Centennial, Chandler has reeled off ten straight wins, outscoring those opponents 532-131.

The Wolves entered the Conference 6A playoffs as the top seed and made quick work of 16th-seeded Boulder Creek. This week they will take on 8th seed Mountain Pointe, which is 7-4 overall this season and advanced to the quarterfinals with a 40-7 first round win over 9th seed Brophy College Prep. Mountain Pointe is actually the last Arizona high school to have beaten Chandler, as it won a September 8, 2017 matchup between the schools, 24-21. Chandler went on to win the 6A state championship that season, while Mountain Pointe was that conference’s top seed in the playoffs but lost in the semifinals to eventual state runner-up Gilbert Perry.

Mountain Pointe’s defense includes senior three-star cornerback LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson (who has eight reported P5 offers) and senior three-star defensive end Anthony Dedrick.

TE Jared Wiley (Temple)

Last week: Completed 12 of 18 passes for 198 yards, one TD and one INT, and had eight carries for 31 yards in a 31-28 loss to Waco Midway.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, at Copperas Cove
Notes: Hoping to wrap up a district title against a Waco Midway team that had not lost a district game in five years, Jared Wiley’s Temple Wildcats came up short last Friday and suffered their first loss of the season, 31-28.

With the score tied at 14, Wiley was victimized for a pick-six with just 41 seconds left in the 2nd quarter, but he rebounded to hit running back Anthony Jackson for a 40-yard TD reception in the final seconds of the first half to knot the score at 21 going into halftime.

Temple was held to seven points in the second half and was stopped on two crucial fourth down attempts, while Midway extended one second half drive with a conversion on a very gutsy 4th-and-1 play from deep inside its own territory, and got a fortunate bounce on a squibbed kickoff late in the game. Midway took a 31-28 lead on a 27-yard field goal with under five minutes left in regulation, then got the ball back when Temple was unable to secure the kickoff, and proceeded to run the game clock down to just over thirty seconds before Temple got the ball back.

With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in district play, tying them with Belton for second place in District 12-6A. They will conclude the regular season on the road tonight against Copperas Cove, which is 4-3 in district play and needs a win over Temple to secure the district’s fourth and final playoff spot.

If Temple beats Copperas Cove and Killeen beats Waco, then Killeen would get the final playoff spot and Temple and Midway would be the district’s two representatives in the 6A Division II bracket, meaning Temple would have to play fourth-ranked Longview in the first round. Temple would only avoid a first round date with Longview if it either lost to Copperas Cove, or if they beat Cove and Killeen lost to a 1-8 Waco team that has been outscored by 41 points per game in district (not a likely result).

While avoiding Longview right out of the playoff gate would seem preferable, Temple head coach Scott Stewart doesn’t strike me as a man who would be at all pleased with his team going into the postseason with two straight losses, even if that meant facing a weaker first round opponent as a result. Out of the top ten 6A teams in this week’s AP poll, only #4 Longview, #8 Austin Westlake, and #9 Cypress Ranch will be in the Division II bracket, and Temple will likely have to get past one or both of Longview and Cypress Ranch just to get out of its region, anyway.

Temple beat Copperas Cove 51-39 in 2013, the last time the two teams played. Before that Temple had not beaten the Bulldawgs in over a decade.

OL Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge)

Last week: Had 10 pancake blocks in a 56-35 win over Klein.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Conroe
Notes: Tyler Johnson and the Oak Ridge line paved the way for an offense that gained nearly 400 rushing yards and had over 600 total yards in last week’s 56-35 win over Klein.

The win improved the War Eagles’ record to 4-5 overall and 3-4 in district play, but they had already been eliminated from playoff contention even before the game. They are alone in sixth place in District 15-6A, and the two teams tied for fourth, College Park and Klein, will play on Friday night with the winner getting the district’s final playoff spot.

Tyler Johnson and his fellow Oak Ridge seniors will play the last game of their high school careers tonight against 3-6 Conroe, a team the War Eagles have beaten five straight times.

2020 OL Logan Parr (San Antonio O’Connor)

Last week: Team beat San Antonio Brennan 30-23.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, at San Antonio Stevens (at Farris Stadium)
Notes: Last Saturday, San Antonio Brennan was looking to hand Logan Parr and the O’Connor Panthers their first district loss since 2015, and they appeared to be on their way to doing just that early on. Brennan took a 20-6 lead with 2:30 left in the first half, and an O’Connor field goal with 0:46 left cut the deficit to 20-9 before halftime.

Brennan had the ball deep in O’Connor territory with a chance to make it a three-possession game in the 3rd quarter, but a lost fumble resulted in a 91-yard TD return for O’Connor, bringing the Panthers to within 20-17 with 7:24 left in the quarter. Later, O’Connor took its first lead with 9:31 left in the 4th quarter on a short TD run that put them ahead 27-20. The teams added only a field goal each in the remainder of regulation and O’Connor held on to win and remain unbeaten at 9-0.

O’Connor wasn’t dominating on offense, gaining just 302 total yards, but its defense forced four Brennan turnovers, with the biggest being the long 3rd quarter fumble return that prevented Brennan from going ahead 27-9.

I said in last week’s post to watch out for Brennan’s underrated senior receiver Jordan Smith, and he delivered seven receptions for 157 yards and one TD on the night, bringing his season yardage total over 1,000. I haven’t attached pieces about under-the-radar recruits to this year’s posts as I did a couple of seasons ago, but Smith would be one I’d surely spotlight if I were including that feature. His 7-catch, 157-yard performance against O’Connor actually brought down his season yards/catch average, and he now has over 2,000 receiving yards across his three varsity seasons at the 6A level in San Antonio. Remarkably, his only reported offer so far is from Division III East Texas Baptist.

O’Connor has clinched the championship of District 28-6A and will wrap up the regular season against 4-5 San Antonio Stevens, which has already been eliminated from playoff contention. O’Connor has won its last four meetings with Stevens and scored 41 or more points each time. O’Connor will be in the 6A Division I playoff bracket, and its first round opponent when the playoffs begin next week will be San Antonio Reagan.

OL Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest)

Last week: Team beat Stafford 30-17.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Houston Yates
Notes: Playing in its second straight must-win game, North Forest once again came away with a victory to keep its playoff hopes alive. North Forest and Stafford were close on the scoreboard for most of the night, and though North Forest held a lead late Stafford scored to get to within 23-17 almost mid-way through the 4th quarter. But junior star receiver Demond Demas, a Texas A&M commit, returned the ensuing kickoff for a 65-yard TD (his third score of the game) and gave North Forest a 13-point cushion that it maintained for the rest of the game. The Bulldogs improved to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in district, tying them with the vanquished Stafford for fourth place in District 12-4A Division I.

North Forest will clinch the district’s fourth and final playoff spot with a win tonight against Yates (2-7 overall, 1-4 in district). North Forest has beaten Yates in each of the past four seasons by an aggregate score of 158-6. If North Forest were to lose to Yates tonight while Stafford loses to 1-4 Worthing, that would leave those four teams in a tie for fourth place in the district, all having 2-4 district records. North Forest and Worthing would both be 2-1 against the other three teams, and North Forest has a head-to-head win over Worthing, so I think that would give it the edge in that scenario, but each district sets its own tiebreaker policies, so we’ll see.

DE Peter Mpagi (Richmond George Ranch)

Last week: Team lost to Houston Strake Jesuit 34-7.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Pearland
Notes: George Ranch has yet to put together a two-game streak of any kind this season; it opened its 2018 campaign with a loss to Dickinson, and has alternated wins and losses week-to-week ever since. Last week’s loss to Strake Jesuit dropped George Ranch’s season record to 4-5 and its district record to 3-3.

I’ve previously written about potentially complicated tiebreaker scenarios that could be in play in District 23-6A, and sure enough George Ranch will go into the last week of the regular season as one of four teams tied for third place. The schedule is not kind to them, though, as they face unbeaten Pearland, which has already clinched the district’s championship, while two of teams George Ranch is tied with and has already lost to, Alief Hastings and Pearland Dawson, will close the season against the district’s two cellar-dwellers.

So George Ranch will need an upset win over Pearland (which has outscored its 2018 opponents by 30 points per game) to have any hope of getting one of those final two playoff spots, but even a win might not be enough because a three-way tie between George Ranch, Dawson, and Hastings would result in George Ranch being the odd team out.

George Ranch’s only previous meetings with Pearland occurred in the past two seasons, with the Longhorns winning last year’s game 28-21, and losing 13-7 in the 2016 season. Peter Mpagi will be battling a Pearland offensive line that includes 2019 Tulane commit Sincere Haynesworth (a three-star center recruit), and senior Jaret Porterfield (a three-star guard who has a half-dozen FBS offers). Pearland’s defensive line boasts senior defensive end and Texas Tech commit Gilbert Ibeneme.

DE T’Vondre Sweat (Huntsville)

Last week: Team beat Montgomery Lake Creek 70-7.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Bryan Rudder
Notes: Huntsville had its way with a first-year varsity program for the second time in as many weeks, demolishing new Montgomery ISD school Lake Creek 70-7 one week after its 48-0 shutout of Katy Paetow. The Hornets will cap off the regular season tonight against a program that is a bit older than its previous two opponents but no more accomplished.

Bryan Rudder is now in its eleventh varsity season, has never reached the playoffs, and its 4-5 record this year already represents the second-most wins its Rangers have had in a full season. To reach the playoffs the Rangers will have to both upset Huntsville and hope for a Lamar Consolidated loss to Paetow, neither of which is likely. Huntsville has never lost in four meetings with Rudder, though their last game in 2015 was a wild one that Huntsville won 52-51 in overtime.

One player to watch for Rudder is sophomore WR/DB Keithron Lee, who played on Rudder’s varsity basketball team as a freshman last winter and has made 23 tackles while averaging 22 yards/catch this fall. T’Vondre Sweat and the Huntsville defense will also have to contain Rudder’s senior RB Byron Moore, who has rushed for 100+ yards in seven straight games and has 15 total TDs for the season.

Huntsville is 6-0 in district and 8-1 overall, and as such has already wrapped up the championship of District 10-5A Division II. Maxpreps already lists Huntsville as having a first round playoff game against Nacogdoches next week, and while that will likely happen Nacogdoches still needs to win its own regular season finale tonight to set that up.

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

Last week: Team lost 19-14 to Los Alamitos in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
Season over
Notes: De’Gabriel Floyd’s Westlake team led 14-10 over Los Alamitos in the 4th quarter of last week’s first round CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff game. But Los Alamitos took the lead on a TD with 9:08 left in regulation and Westlake was unable to answer on any of its last three possessions.

Thus ends De’Gabriel Floyd’s high school career, one in which he attended at least three different schools and wasn’t declared eligible to play this season until shortly before Westlake’s first game. Full stats for Westlake’s 11-game season aren’t available, but in the eight games for which the school submitted stats to Maxpreps, Floyd was credited with 103 total tackles, two interceptions, and four rushing touchdowns.

Floyd has been committed to the Texas Longhorns for over seven months, and he’s clearly ready to take that next step in his career.

LB David Gbenda (Katy Cinco Ranch)

Last week: Made 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and had two carries for one yard and one TD in a 39-14 win over Katy Tompkins.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 6:30, vs. Katy Seven Lakes
Notes: David Gbenda had a big game for Cinco Ranch in last Friday’s convincing 39-14 win over Katy ISD rival Tompkins. I noted in last week’s post that despite Tompkins’ 8-1 record, its Falcons “should be considered quite beatable” owing to a few close finishes they’d had along the way.

Tompkins sought to dispel that notion in the 1st quarter by taking a 14-0 lead, but it never scored again. Cinco Ranch led 17-14 at halftime, courtesy of a David Gbenda three-yard TD run with 0:37 left in the 2nd quarter, and the Cougars added three more TD runs in the second half while blanking Tompkins. Cinco Ranch’s defense forced three turnovers in the game, keeping them unbeaten in five all-time games against Tompkins.

The win brought Cinco Ranch’s record to 3-6 overall and 3-2 in district, tying them with Katy Taylor for third place in District 19-6A. The Cougars will play Seven Lakes (5-4 overall, 2-3 in district) tonight in a game that will decide the district’s final playoff spot. Cinco Ranch will be in the playoffs for a 13th straight year if it wins, while a loss would eliminate them from the postseason under any scenario and Seven Lakes would advance to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Cinco Ranch has never lost in its ten previous games against Seven Lakes. Seven Lakes’s roster includes stud 2019 DE/TE recruit David Ugwoegbu, who has received over 20 FBS offers (including Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, and Oklahoma), yet is woefully underrated as a three-star prospect in the 247Sports composite.

LB Marcus Tillman (Jones - Orlando, Florida)

Last week: Team beat Orlando Evans 48-0.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Orlando Bishop Moore in the region quarterfinal round of the FHSAA Class 5A playoffs.
Notes: As I touched on in my previous post, Marcus Tillman’s Jones team beat local rival Evans on Tuesday of last week in an unusual mid-week game that had been rescheduled after heavy rains postponed the teams’ originally scheduled September date.

Jones won its last nine games of the regular season after an opening week loss to Wekiva (Florida’s current #5 team in Class 8A), and will go into the playoffs as the sixth-ranked team in Class 5A. Jones is the third seed in Region 4 and will face sixth seed Bishop Moore in the first round. Bishop Moore went 6-4 in the regular season, and despite its four losses it was among three teams that received votes in the final regular season AP poll for Class 5A but did not make the top ten.

Tonight’s Jones-Bishop Moore playoff game will be a rematch of a September 28 game that Jones won 50-14. Bishop Moore won Florida’s 5A state championship in 2015, and in 2014 and 2016 it lost in the playoffs to eventual state champion American Heritage.

The Jones Fightin’ Tigers have never advanced further than the second round of the playoffs, and while they won’t run into either of their classification’s top two teams unless they reach the state championship, they could potentially face third-ranked Cardinal Gibbons (the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago) in the second round next week, and then either fourth-ranked American Heritage (winner of four of the last five 5A state titles) or fifth-ranked Rockledge in the regional final. So Marcus Tillman and company have quite the postseason challenge ahead of them.

DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)

Last week: Had a TD reception and one interception in a 21-14 win over Chino Hills Ayala in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, at Oxnard Pacifica in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs.
Notes: Chris Adimora’s TD catch came as time expired in the first half and gave the Mayfair Monsoons a 21-7 halftime lead. They would hold on to win 21-14 and advance to the second round of the Southern Section Division 6 playoffs.

EJ Holland of 247Sports was in attendance for Mayfair’s win and has a piece this week on Adimora’s recruitment and notes that he will take an official visit to Arizona State this weekend for its game against UCLA.

Tonight Adimora’s Mayfair team will face Pacifica, which won just two games a year ago but is 10-1 this season and was ranked fifth (one spot ahead of Mayfair) in Division 6 in the season’s final CIF Southern Section poll. Pacifica won its first round game over Fullerton in a 58-0 runaway. Mayfair may be glad to be catching this year’s Pacifica team in the playoffs as opposed to next year’s, as Pacifica’s starting QB, leading rusher, three leading receivers, two leading tacklers, top three defensive backs, and their placekicker are all juniors. Pacifica’s junior QB RJ Maria has completed 61.2% of his passes for 1,848 yards, 27 TDs and just 5 INTs.

DB Marques Caldwell (Alvin)

Last week: Team lost to Friendswood Clear Brook 68-14
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, at Dickinson
Notes: Caldwell suffered a torn labrum a few weeks ago and his season has likely been done for some time now. His Alvin team has been historically bad this season and had another in a long line of lopsided losses last week, as the Yellowjackets fell 68-14 to Clear Brook. Alvin’s opponents have scored 501 points this season, which is just outside of the top 25 for most points allowed in a season by a 6A (formerly 5A) team, according to the Texas High School Football History website (whose numbers actually appear to be off in some cases). The 6A season record of 606 points allowed (held by Fort Worth Paschal’s 2014 team) is quite safe, though if Dickinson scores merely 34 points against Alvin tonight the latter will be elevated into the top ten, and if the Yellowjackets allow more than 55 points they will be vaulted into the top three in that ignominious category.

Dickinson is 8-1 and has averaged exactly 43 points per game this season. Dickinson has won all six previous matchups with Alvin in the past decade, winning by scores of 24-7 and 55-7 in the past two seasons.

DB Tyler Owens (Plano East)

Last week: Team beat Plano West 51-17.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:00, vs. Dallas Jesuit
Notes: After two losses followed by an overtime win, Plano East finally got back to the form it showed during its 5-0 start to the season, beating cross-town rival Plano West last Friday 51-17.

Plano East never trailed in the game and built a 30-10 halftime lead, while Plano West’s first half drives ended with a missed field goal, made field goal, punt, punt, punt, interception (which led to a Plano East TD one play later), punt, and passing TD.

Plano East improved to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in district play. This is just the third time in the span of eleven seasons that the Panthers have won seven games in the regular season, and a win over Dallas Jesuit tonight would give them their most wins in a season since they went 10-3 in 2006.

Jesuit is 2-7 overall and 1-5 in district, will miss the playoffs for the first time in eight years, and appears set to finish with its worst record in the fifteen years that it has played a UIL district schedule. (Dallas Jesuit and Houston Strake Jesuit are the only two private schools that compete in the UIL, which they both officially joined in 2004 after many years of dominating private school leagues.) After scoring 454 or more points in each of the last seven seasons, Jesuit has put just 223 points on the scoreboard in 2018 and needs to score 19 against Plano East to avoid matching its lowest-scoring season as a UIL school. Plano East has beaten Jesuit in three straight seasons and averaged just under 50 points in those matchups.

Plano East goes into the last week of the regular season as part of a three-way tie for second place in District 9-6A, along with Plano and Prosper, two teams that will play each other tonight, and those three are one game ahead of 3-3 McKinney. Plano East will clinch a playoff spot with either a win over Jesuit, a Plano win over Prosper, or a McKinney loss.

The only scenario where Plano East misses out on the postseason is one where it loses to Jesuit, Prosper beats Plano, and McKinney beats its cross-town rival McKinney Boyd, which would leave Plano East, Plano, and McKinney in a three-way tie for third place. Those three teams all have one win and one loss against each other, and if the tiebreaker to decide third and fourth place came down to point differentials then Plano and McKinney would get the district’s last two playoff spots, while Plano East would be left out of the playoffs.

If Plano East clinches a playoff spot it will get the district’s second seed in the 6A Division I bracket and will play its first round game against the winner of tonight’s Rowlett-Sachse game.

DB Kenyatta Watson (Grayson - Loganville, Georgia)

Last week: Team beat Snellville South Gwinnett 35-7.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, vs. Cumming South Forsyth in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAAA playoffs.
Notes: Kenyatta Watson’s Grayson team beat South Gwinnett last Friday to run the table on its AAAAAAA Region 8 opponents and finish the regular season with a five-game winning streak and 8-2 overall record. The Rams outscored their region competition 241-41.

Grayson was ranked third in Class AAAAAAA in the final GSWA poll. As I speculated would happen in previous posts, the playoff bracket was very generous to Grayson, as the Rams wouldn’t play either of the top two teams or defending state champion North Gwinnett until the state championship game and won’t have to face a ranked opponent until they reach the state semifinals (the fourth round), where their potential opponents include fourth-ranked Hillgrove, fifth-ranked Walton, and ninth-ranked Milton. Top-ranked Colquitt County, which beat Grayson 26-14 back on September 21, will likely have to beat two top-seven teams to reach the championship game, while second-ranked Parkview may have to beat three straight ranked teams before playing for the championship.

Before they can think about that, the Rams must beat their first round foe, South Forsyth. South Forsyth is 5-5 overall this season and lost to the only three ranked opponents it has played, falling 35-6 on August 24 to AAAA’s current #1 Blessed Trinity, losing 36-14 on September 21 to AAAAAAA #4 Hillgrove, and losing 35-21 on October 12 to AAAAAAA #9 Milton. If South Forsyth’s previous games are any indication it likely won’t be a high-scoring contest when they play Grayson, as the War Eagles have neither scored nor allowed more than 36 points in any game this season.

ATH Peyton Powell (Odessa Permian)

Last week: Did not play in a 38-10 win over Wolfforth Frenship.
This week: Friday, November 9 at 7:30, at Midland Lee
Notes: According to the Odessa American, Peyton Powell did not play in last week’s win by Odessa Permian over Frenship due to an unspecified injury.

In his absence, Permian got off to a slow start against a team they were expected to dominate, as Frenship was coming off a 56-10 loss to Odessa, who Permian had beaten by 32 points a few weeks earlier. Frenship scored first in the game, taking advantage of Permian’s only turnover of the night to advance deep into Permian territory before settling for a field goal with 7:45 left in the 1st quarter. After a Permian TD gave the Panthers the lead with 9:08 left in the 2nd quarter, Frenship took back the lead less than three minutes later after scoring on a nine-play 76-yard drive to go up 10-7. But those were the last Frenship points of the night.

Permian scored twice in the last three and a half minutes of the 2nd quarter to take a 21-10 lead into halftime, then added a field goal and senior running back Ed Williams’s second and third TDs of the game in the second half to finish off a 38-10 win.

Permian is alone in first place in District 2-6A and has for two weeks been assured of being the district’s top seed in the 6A Division I playoff bracket. They will finish the regular season on the road against longtime rival Midland Lee tonight. A win would give Permian its first outright district championship since 2008, while a loss could leave Permian, Lee, and Amarillo Tascosa in a three-way tie for first place, which wouldn’t affect Permian’s playoff seeding since both Lee and Tascosa will be in the Division II bracket.

If you’ve read Friday Night Lights or have even a cursory knowledge of Texas high school football rivalries, you know that Odessa Permian-Midland Lee is among the state’s most storied ones. According to the Odessa American, Permian leads the all-time series with Midland Lee with 38 wins, 21 losses, and one tie. Permian has won four straight and 10 of the last 12 matchups with Lee, including a 42-7 win in last year’s regular season finale.

Lee is 7-2 this season, with its only district loss a 49-26 defeat to Tascosa on October 26, one week after Permian beat that same Tascosa team 32-25. Lee went 4-1 in non-district play, beating two 6A squads that have clinched playoff berths, and winning over two other teams that will be in the postseason with wins this week. Lee reached the third round of the 6A Division I playoffs in 2017 after missing the postseason for three years, and the Rebels have now qualified for the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since their seven-season streak that ran from 2003 to 2009.

Whether Powell is able to play tonight remains to be seen. I haven’t been able to find specifics regarding the injury that kept him off the field last week, but he does have an injury history that caused him to miss a number of games as a junior and sophomore while attending Midland Christian. As a sophomore in 2016 he missed two games late in the season due to what a contemporary report described as “a concussion and a cracked collarbone”. Then late in the 2017 season a broken rib kept him out of action for Midland Christian’s last four regular season games and its first round TAPPS playoff game.

Hopefully his current ailment is less severe and he’ll be healed up in time for the postseason. Permian has been a regular presence in the playoffs of late but is far removed from its days as a feared state powerhouse. Between 1965 and 1995, the Panthers won five state championships and tied for another, lost in the state final five times, and advanced at least four rounds into the playoffs 18 times. They have not made it beyond the third round since then (they lost in that round to the eventual state champion four times in the last 20 years), and at one point they missed the playoffs entirely for seven straight seasons (1999-2005). But the Panthers have now reached the postseason nine times in 13 seasons.

The playoff situation in El Paso’s District 1-6A will be sorted out on Friday night, so Permian does not yet know who its first round opponent will be. Should the Panthers beat that district’s second Division I seed in the first round next week they could face 9-1 Arlington Lamar in the second round, then fifth-ranked Duncanville would likely await the winner of that game in the third round. Once you get past the first round of the 6A playoffs there are very few easy outs to be found.