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Texas football commits in action, Sept. 7-8

Three future Longhorns had very nice 2018 debuts playing QB, while defensive commits continue to make big plays.

Texas WR commit Demariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood) lines up before a play in his team’s game versus Heritage Hall on August 30, 2018.
Mike Craven (HookEm.com)

Last week saw a successful beginning of the 2018 high school football season for several future Longhorns. Hudson Card led his Lake Travis team to a win in his first start at quarterback after a 210-mile drive north to Arlington. Future tight end Jared Wiley likewise had a wildly successful debut at QB for his school, and current and future QB Roschon Johnson picked up right where he left off at the end of his very productive junior year.

Speaking of Johnson, he’ll be involved in this season’s first game involving opposing Longhorn commits when his Port Neches-Groves team hosts Huntsville and defensive lineman commit T’Vondre Sweat tonight.

Two members of the #fUTure19 class have yet to take the field for the first time this season, as both sat out their team’s first game due to injury, and another commit left his team’s game early last week after getting banged up. Hopefully they will all return to full health soon.

Here’s the complete rundown of this week’s matchups involving Texas Longhorn football commits.

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2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)

Last week: Completed 19 of 27 passes for 238 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions, and had 10 carries for 7 yards in a 35-14 win over Arlington Martin.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:30, at Mansfield Summit (at Vernon Newsom Stadium)
Notes: Hudson Card played in his first game as Lake Travis’s starting QB and his first game period since committing to Texas over the summer, and this writer watched most of that game in person after finding a seat shortly after Lake Travis scored on the game’s opening drive.

Against Martin, which has had the top football program in Arlington ISD for a decade, Card was under duress for much of the first half and was sacked five times in the game, but did not turn the ball over and completed a high percentage of his passes.

Two of Lake Travis’s first three drives ended in TD passes from Card to Ohio State commit Garrett Wilson. Wilson had some very nice moments in the game but all six of his receptions came on Lake Travis’s first four possessions. For much of the game Martin covered Wilson with senior cornerback Willie Roberts (a quality athlete who has a Rice offer, and who also played QB for Martin) at the line, with Nevada safety commit Jayce Godley providing help over the top. Wilson’s second TD catch was on a leaping grab over Roberts in the right corner of the end zone with 2:53 left in the 1st quarter.

Card barely looked Wilson’s way after connecting with him for a 28-yard pass on the first play of the 2nd quarter, but the attention Martin’s defense gave to Wilson helped open up the passing game to other receivers, with junior Kyle Eaves reaping the most benefit (6 receptions for a game-high 123 yards), and senior Jeremiah Patterson was the recipient of a 20-yard reception on Lake Travis’s second scoring drive. Patterson, interestingly, attended Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona as a freshman and was a teammate of current Texas commit Jake Smith.

Lake Travis took a 13-7 lead with 2:53 left in the 1st quarter on Wilson’s second TD catch, but neither team was able to score for the next one and a half quarters.

In the second half, Lake Travis went to the ground early and often, finding holes and moving the chains in a way they had not consistently done in a penalty-plagued first half, and the Cavaliers gradually pulled away. Lake Travis got a 33-yard TD run from Sean Brown-Nixon (younger brother of former TCU running back Shaun Nixon) four and a half minutes into the half to expand their lead to 20-7. Martin answered with by far its best offensive play of the night: a 77-yard TD run by Montrell Smith (younger brother of North Texas running back Nic Smith) to cut the deficit to 20-14 with 7:13 left in the 3rd quarter, but that one carry represented 45% of Martin’s total offense for the game, and the Warriors would not score again afterwards.

On Lake Travis’s next possession, Card had an 18-yard run for a first down, but he was slow to get up after being tackled on the left sideline, and he walked off the field for a few plays. Four plays later, Brown-Nixon scored on his second TD run to give Lake Travis a 26-14 lead, and Card re-entered the game to complete a two-point conversion pass. Card later made a very nice 42-yard TD pass to Kyle Eaves on the first play of the 4th quarter put Lake Travis ahead 35-14. Only seven of Card’s 27 pass attempts came in the second half. Martin’s offense couldn’t get anything going after Smith’s 3rd quarter TD run, and after a deflected Martin pass was intercepted with 7:28 left in regulation, Lake Travis sent in its backups.

Card’s box score looked good on paper, but this probably won’t end up being one of his better games of the season. He was sacked or hit as he threw multiple times in the first half and had a few possessions where he and the Lake Travis offense (which was playing its first game under a new offensive coordinator) looked far from crisp, and the Cavaliers were penalized 12 times for 86 yards in the game. I suspect the Lake Travis machine will look far better come Week 11.

For the second time in as many weeks, Lake Travis will travel to the Metroplex for a non-district game, this time to face Mansfield Summit. Summit was one of four Mansfield ISD schools that traveled to Oklahoma last weekend to take on a group of schools from the greater Tulsa area, and the Jaguars were the lone MISD team to return home a winner, as they beat Sand Springs 41-28.

QB Roschon Johnson (Port Neches-Groves)

Last week: Completed 18 of 27 passes for 247 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs, and had 18 carries for 104 yards and 3 TDs in a 48-14 win over Silsbee.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, vs. Huntsville
Notes: Johnson scored on TD runs of 7, 18, and 3 yards, and his scoring passes covered 15 and 51 yards. PN-G led 28-14 late in the first half, and Silsbee drove into PN-G’s territory looking to cut that deficit before the half, but an 82-yard pick-six off a trick play that scored after time had expired in the 2nd quarter gave PN-G an insurmountable 35-14 lead.

In PN-G’s 10-2 season last fall, Roschon Johnson had four or more total TDs in every game except for one. This week he’ll take on Huntsville and its UT commit on the D-line T’Vondre Sweat in what will be the 2018 season’s first game featuring Longhorn commits on opposite sidelines.

WR Demariyon Houston (Oklahoma City Millwood)

Last week: Team defeated Oklahoma City Heritage Hall 30-20.
This week: Saturday, September 8 at 1:00, at Oklahoma City Douglass
Notes: Millwood, Oklahoma’s two-time defending Class 2A state champion, opened its season with a win over fellow Oklahoma City powerhouse and defending 4A state champion Heritage Hall. (Heritage Hall, a private school whose enrollment was actually smaller than a lot of 3A schools last season while it was in 4A, dropped down to the 3A level starting this fall.)

Individual stats from the game have not been posted but Millwood completed just two passes as a team and for the most part its offense was driven by the combination of senior running back Marcus Major, an Oklahoma commit who ran for 118 yards and a TD, and senior QB Daniel Howard, who rushed for 140 yards and three TDs on 21 carries and also intercepted two passes while playing on defense. According to The Oklahoman’s recap of the game, Demariyon Houston caught a five-yard pass early in the 3rd quarter to record his team’s first reception of the game.

Millwood will next take on 1-0 Douglass, a 3A team that opened its season last week with a 22-18 win over 2A program Star-Spencer. Millwood beat Douglass 67-7 when the teams played in 2017.

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

Last week: Caught 3 passes for 44 yards and two TDs, had 5 carries for 38 yards, was credited with 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks, and punted once for 50 yards in a 47-0 win over Gilbert.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, vs. Glendale Apollo
Notes: After scoring 11 total touchdowns in his first two games, Jake Smith’s performance in the third game of his senior season was a comparatively ho-hum affair. In the game’s MaxPreps stats Smith was credited with one receiving touchdown, but published recaps of the game credited him with two. Gilbert intercepted Notre Dame Prep on its first possession but could do little to stop the Saints after that, as they rolled to a lopsided win to improve their season record to 3-0.

Notre Dame will seek a 4-0 start on Friday when the Saints take on Apollo, which won its season-opener against Scottsdale Desert Mountain in a 48-41 shootout, but has lost its last two games.

WR Jordan Whittington (Cuero)

Last week: Did not play in a 49-42 win over Bay City.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:30, at Yoakum
Notes: Jordan Whittington sat out Cuero’s season-opener due to injury, and in his absence his brother Devin Whittington (also a senior) caught a 9-yard TD pass to help Cuero build a 27-7 1st quarter lead against Bay City. The Gobblers led 34-14 at halftime and 41-21 going into the 4th quarter. Bay City scored three TDs in the span of seven and a half minutes to take a brief 42-41 lead with just over three minutes left in regulation, but Cuero scored the go-ahead TD and converted a two-point conversion with 1:32 left on the clock to pull out a 49-42 win.

Jordan Whittington had surgery for a sports hernia in the spring and has been dealing with an injured groin off-and-on since track season. He was held out of both of Cuero’s preseason scrimmages and did not suit up for its first game either. When he will return to the field is yet to be determined.

Cuero, which is in 4A Division II, will next play Yoakum of 3A Division I. Yoakum lost to 4A Division I school Boerne in its season-opener, 47-28. In 2017, Yoakum advanced all the way to the 3A Division I state semifinals before losing 31-21 to eventual state champion Rockdale.

TE Brayden Liebrock (Chandler, Arizona)

Last week: Caught one pass for 11 yards in a 62-0 win over Mesa.
This week: Saturday, September 8 at 4:30, vs. Las Vegas Faith Lutheran (at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada)
Notes: Chandler outgained Mesa 573-71 last week, and its passing game had as many TDs as incompletions in a very lopsided 62-0 win. Chandler’s 16 completed passes were caught by eight different receivers, and only one of them went to Liebrock.

This week Chandler will travel to Nevada to take part in the Polynesian Football Classic, which will feature four games involving teams from six states on Friday and Saturday. The Wolves will play Las Vegas school Faith Lutheran on Saturday afternoon in the second of three games that will be played that day at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada. Faith Lutheran finished the 2017 season with a record of 6-4 and lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual 4A state champion Bishop Gorman by a score of 51-6.

Faith Lutheran’s roster includes defensive end David Heckard (an Arizona State commit), athlete Sir Oliver Everett (a UNLV commit), quarterback Sagan Gronauer (an Idaho State commit), and cornerback Greg Oliver (who has BYU and UNLV offers).

TE Jared Wiley (Temple)

Last week: Completed 8 of 16 passes for 242 yards and 4 TDs, and had 2 carries for 45 yards and one TD in a 45-25 win over Round Rock Cedar Ridge.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:30, vs. Autonama de Nuevo Leon (Monterrey, Mexico)
Notes: In his first start as Temple’s QB, Jared Wiley had the most auspicious of starts, completing his first pass for a 55-yard TD to junior receiver Quentin Johnson, a 6’4” athlete who finished 3rd in the high jump at last spring’s 5A state track meet (prediction: you’ll be reading his name a lot in this season’s recaps). Wiley and Johnson had earlier connected for multiple TDs in a preseason scrimmage with defending 5A Division II state champion College Station, and the duo proved that performance was no fluke last week, as Johnson caught 5 passes for 223 yards and four TDs from Wiley in a convincing season-opening win over Cedar Ridge, a team that reached the semifinals of the 6A Division I playoffs a year ago and had beaten Temple in non-district play in each of the previous two seasons.

Temple lined up to receive the game’s opening kickoff but a miscue allowed Cedar Ridge to recover it, and the Raiders scored on the ensuing offensive snap to take a quick 6-0 lead. Johnson’s TD on the first play of Temple’s first possession gave the Wildcats a 7-6 lead, and Wiley scored on a 42-yard run later in the 1st quarter to extend Temple’s lead to 14-6. Cedar Ridge later fought back to briefly take a 18-17 lead in the 2nd quarter, but another 55-yard TD pass from Wiley to Johnson put Temple ahead 24-18, and the Wildcats never trailed again. Three 3rd quarter TDs extended Temple’s lead to 45-18 going into the 4th quarter.

Temple will next host Universidad Autonoma De Nuevo Leon, a Mexican team that has regularly traveled to play Texas high schools in the past few seasons. The Autonoma De Nuevo Leon Tigres played Copperas Cove (one of Temple’s district foes) last week, losing 34-27.

OL Tyler Johnson (Conroe Oak Ridge)

Last week: Credited with 8 pancake blocks in a 34-21 loss to Pearland Dawson.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, at Alief Elsik (at Crump Stadium)
Notes: Oak Ridge gained 217 yards and 3 TDs on the ground and averaged 6.2 yards per carry last week, but it wasn’t enough to get a win over perennial playoff team Pearland Dawson.

Johnson and his Oak Ridge teammates will face fellow 0-1 team Alief Elsik on Friday. Elsik lost its opener 47-6 to Spring in a game in which the Mighty Rams managed just 157 yards of total offense. Elsik failed to make the playoffs only five times between 1989 and 2015, but its last couple of seasons have been pretty rough. Since the start of the 2016 season, Elsik has won just four games and averaged just under 13 points per game.

OL Javonne Shepherd (Houston North Forest)

Last week: Team lost to Houston Austin 29-28.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, at New Caney Porter
Notes: I have found no box score or published recap from North Forest’s narrow defeat to Austin last week. The Bulldogs will try to get into the win column this week when they face New Caney Porter, which is also 0-1 after dropping its opener 16-14 to Class 6A program Houston C.E. King.

North Forest is one of the largest schools in 4A Division I, but its enrollment is not even half that of Porter, which has one of the 15 largest enrollments out of the schools in Class 5A. Porter won just ten games total in its first six seasons of varsity football (2010-2015), winning no more than three games in any of those years, but the Spartans are coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons and consecutive playoff appearances. North Forest and Porter have played on two previous occasions, with North Forest winning both matchups in 2014 and 2015.

DE Peter Mpagi (Richmond George Ranch)

Last week: Did not play in a 38-8 loss to Dickinson.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, at Houston Clear Lake
Notes: Mpagi sat out his team’s first game due to a high ankle sprain. I have read no published updates on the timetable for his return to the field. In his absence his team lost badly to perennial playoff team Dickinson.

This week the George Ranch Longhorns will play Clear Lake, the team that knocked them out of the 6A Division II playoffs in 2017. Clear Lake lost 42-6 last week to Manvel.

DE T’Vondre Sweat (Huntsville)

Last week: Team beat Willis 34-24.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, at Port Neches-Groves
Notes: Huntsville trailed Willis 15-14 at halftime, and went into the 4th quarter behind 24-20, but the Hornets scored twice in the final seven minutes of regulation to take a lead they would not relinquish. Huntsville has not posted defensive stats from the game and Sweat was not mentioned in the local recap that I read. Against Huntsville’s defense, Willis (playing in its first game under new head coach and former Lake Travis offensive coordinator Michael Wall) gained 289 yards of total offense.

On Friday, Sweat will attempt to slow down his future Longhorn teammate when he and his Hornet teammates travel to Port Neches-Groves to take on its Indians, who are led by the #fUTure19 class’s first commit: Roschon Johnson.

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

Last week: Returned an interception for a 17-yard TD in a 24-20 win over Oxnard.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, vs. La Canada (California) St. Francis
Notes: Westlake committed five turnovers in its game versus fellow undefeated team Oxnard last Friday, but made just enough plays to pull out a victory. The game was tied 14-14 at halftime, and after Floyd returned a 3rd quarter interception for a touchdown, Westlake never trailed again. Oxnard scored a TD to pull within 21-20 in the 4th quarter, but missed on the PAT to remain one point behind.

Westlake is off to a 3-0 start and is ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Division 2. This week the Warriors face 1-1 St. Francis.

LB Marcus Tillman (Orlando Jones)

Last week: Team defeated Orlando Oak Ridge 40-13.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, vs. Orlando Colonial
Notes: According to one published recap Tillman had a sack in last week’s win over Oak Ridge, but no other stats have been reported. Despite the convincing win, Jones fell from #8 to #10 in this week’s AP rankings for Class 5A.

The Fightin’ Tigers will look to improve on their 1-1 record and their #10 ranking when they face 0-1 Colonial on Friday night. Colonial, which is in Class 8A, dropped its season-opener 38-14 last week to Edgewater, the state’s 9th-ranked team in Class 7A.

DB Chris Adimora (Mayfair - Lakewood, California)

Last week: Caught one pass for 16 yards and made one interception in a 20-6 win over Lakewood.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:00, vs. Santa Margarita (at Trabuco Hills High School)
Notes: Adimora’s only reception of the game came during what would be Mayfair’s second scoring drive, one that would give the team a 12-0 lead in the 2nd quarter. Adimora’s interception came later in the game when Lakewood had driven just outside of the red zone, and he left the game after reportedly rolling an ankle on the interception play. I do not know if that affects his status for this week’s game.

Mayfair is 3-0 and ranked 2nd in the CIF Southern Section Division 6. The Monsoons’ next opponent is 1-2 Santa Margarita, a Division 1 team that beat Mayfair 49-3 when the two teams played a year ago.

DB Marques Caldwell (Alvin)

Last week: Team lost to Houston Stratford 22-7.
This week: Team lost to Fort Bend Kempner 39-35 on Thursday night.
Notes: Alvin’s defense controlled the first half of play in the team’s season-opener against Stratford last week, limiting their opponent to zero first downs and just 13 total yards of offense before halftime to help the Yellowjackets to a 7-0 lead. But Stratford scored twice in the 3rd quarter to go ahead 14-7, then scored once more late in the 4th off of an Alvin fumble to ice the game.

Alvin played on Thursday night and lost a much more high-scoring affair to Fort Bend Kempner. I’ll have a recap of that game in next week’s post.

DB Kenyatta Watson (Grayson - Loganville, Georgia)

Last week: Team lost to Bergen Catholic (Oradell, New Jersey) 34-22.
This week: Friday, September 7 at 7:30, at Marietta
Notes: In a battle of nationally-ranked teams, Kenyatta Watson’s Grayson team was upset by Bergen Catholic from New Jersey. Grayson’s defense limited Bergen Catholic to just eight first downs, and held its offense to 280 total yards (including 144 through the air), but Grayson also lost three fumbles, had a blocked punt returned for a TD, and was penalized 13 times for a loss of 120 yards.

All those miscues allowed Bergen Catholic to take a 13-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Grayson managed only a field goal in the game’s first three quarters, while Bergen Catholic built its lead to 27-3 going into the final frame. Grayson scored twice within the first two minutes of the 4th quarter (the second time on a pick-six) to cut the deficit to 27-15. But Bergen Catholic responded with an eight-play drive that ate three and a half minutes off the clock and ended with a short TD run to extend their lead to 34-15 with 6:24 left in regulation.

Bergen Catholic jumped from #12 to #5 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 Expert rankings as a result of its win, while Grayson dropped from #5 to #24. Grayson also dropped out of the top spot in Georgia’s 7A rankings, falling to the #5 spot in Georgia’s highest classification. For their next game the Rams will travel to face Marietta, the #7 team in 7A. Marietta is state-ranked despite a 1-2 start to its season. Those two losses came against Maryland powerhouse Our Lady of Good Counsel, and on the road against Georgia’s top-ranked 5A team, Rome.