The Texas high school football playoffs will begin tonight, and the teams of 22 Texas Longhorn commits will get to play at least one more game in the 2019 season. At least eight play for teams that should be considered legitimate state championship contenders, so these recap/preview posts should continue well into December.
Going into the final week of the regular season, the teams of 21 of the 26 recruits then committed to the Texas Longhorns had already clinched playoff spots, and four others still had a mathematical chance to do so. When the dust settled on last week’s action, two more future Longhorns, both from the 2021 class saw their season extended for one more week, while a pair of 2020 commits both lost and saw their senior seasons come to an end.
The Longhorns also lost a member of their 2021 recruiting class this week when Dallas Skyline wide receiver Quaydarius Davis announced his de-commitment on Monday. Davis’s Skyline team qualified for the Class 6A Division I playoffs but faces a very tough DeSoto team in the first round this week.
There was also some unfortunate injury news within UT’s 2020 class, as another member of #cloUT2020 learned this week that his senior season was over. That leaves four commits whose season has ended due to injury, along with Hudson Card, who may still return at some point in the playoffs.
On the brighter side, eight Longhorn commits have yet to see their team lose a game this season, and there could be as many as five that complete the 2019 season undefeated.
There were several games during the regular season that pitted two UT commits against each other, the most recent one being last week’s district game between Prince Dorbah’s Highland Park team and Jaden Hullaby’s Mansfield Timberview team (see below). Depending on this week’s results, there might be another such matchup as early as the second round of the playoffs next week.
While UT’s in-state commits are just beginning their playoff run, Utah defensive end Van Fillinger is nearing the end of his, as his Corner Canyon team is in the semifinals of that state’s Class 6A playoffs and aims to bring home its second straight state championship after winning the 5A title a year ago. But to do so they’ll have to knock off the defending 6A champs in tomorrow’s semifinals. More on that game later.
Something readers may notice when looking at this week’s scheduled games, and which I may have pointed out in a post a few weeks ago, is that all of UT’s current commits hail from big schools, which is an anomaly with historic Longhorn recruiting trends. Their in-state commits all play for schools at the 6A or 5A level, Van Fillinger plays for a school in Utah’s highest classification, and Bijan Robinson plays for a Conference 4A private school in Arizona whose enrollment is equivalent to a school near the borderline between 4A and 5A in Texas.
Texas has signed many impact players from the smaller schools over the years, but unless Texas picks up a commitment from Carthage athlete Kelvontay Dixon or gives out some late offers that produce commitments, Signing Day for the 2020 class will be the first one since 2004 in which Texas did not sign a single in-state recruit from a public school below the 5A (previously 4A) level.
This should be a great week of high school football, so find a warm, comfortable spot and prepare to read loads of statistics, analysis, and historical factoids as we review last week’s games involving UT’s recruits and preview this week’s playoff matchups. All start times listed will be for their location’s local time zone.
Commits whose season is over
2020 RB Ty Jordan (West Mesquite)
Last week: Team lost to Texarkana Texas 41-14.
Notes: Despite having a 2-7 record going into the last week of the season, the West Mesquite Wranglers still had a shot at the playoffs, but they had to beat Texarkana Texas and hope for a Tyler John Tyler win against Sherman. In the end, neither happened, and Ty Jordan’s high school career ended with a 41-14 blowout loss on a field 170 miles from his home campus.
West Mesquite turned the ball over eight times on the night, six times via interceptions. Texarkana led 34-0 at halftime and went up 41-0 three minutes into the second half. West Mesquite scored the first of its two touchdowns with 5:15 left in the 3rd quarter, and its final points of the 2019 season on a TD pass with 1:24 left in regulation.
West Mesquite has now missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons after only missing the postseason once between 2006 and 2016, and its 2-8 record this fall was the program’s worst since 1993.
2020 WR Troy Omeire (Fort Bend Austin)
Last week: Completed 6 of 15 passes for 38 yards, had 29 carries for 218 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 lost fumble; made 1 tackle and defended 1 pass; punted twice for an average of 37 yards, and ran for 2 two-point conversions in a 51-29 loss to Fort Bend Elkins.
Notes: With his team’s season on the line, Troy Omeire played quarterback for the entirety of last week’s game versus Elkins, something he had not done previously this year. Austin started off well, taking a 13-8 lead early in the 2nd quarter, but Elkins scored the game’s next 29 points and led 37-13 with 3:41 left in the 3rd quarter.
With two Omeire TD runs in the 4th quarter Austin was able to close the gap to 44-29 with 2:11 left in regulation, and the Bulldogs got the ball back after forcing an Elkins punt, but Elkins returned a fumble 20 yards for a TD to make the score 51-29 with thirty seconds left. Omeire and his teammates lost three fumbles in the game and his passing was ineffective, but he did not throw an interception.
With the loss Austin finished 3-7 overall and 3-4 in district play, putting it in a three way tie for fourth place in District 20-6A. Austin could have clinched a playoff spot with a win, and even after the Bulldogs lost last Thursday night they still had an outside shot to reach the postseason but needed district leader Travis to beat Bush and for 1-8 district doormat Clements to beat Kempner. The first of those went as expected, with Travis finishing an undefeated regular season with a 21-10 win over Bush, but Kempner beat Clements 36-19, and when Bush, Austin, and Kempner finished in a three-way tie for the district’s final playoff spot it was Bush that advanced by virtue of point differentials between the three teams.
2020 DT Vernon Broughton (Cypress Ridge)
Last week: Team lost to Cypress Falls 34-27.
Notes: Broughton was the only UT commit who went into the last week of the regular season knowing that his team wouldn’t be making the playoffs. With nothing to play for but pride the Cypress Ridge Rams attempted to end their 2019 season on a high note against 8-1 Cypress Falls, but they came up short in a 34-27 loss. Cy Falls finished as the runner-up in District 17-6A, while the loss dropped Cy Ridge’s overall record to 5-5 and its district record to 3-5, tying it with two other teams for fifth place. Even had they upset Cy Falls the Rams would have been merely alone in fifth place in the district, and they have now missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
Commits in the playoffs
2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis) - injured
2021 TE Lake McRee (Lake Travis) - injured, out for season
Last week: Team beat Austin Anderson 49-14.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. Smithson Valley in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Lake Travis finished off the regular season with a lopsided win over an Anderson. Both Lake Travis and Anderson were missing their starting QBs, but while Anderson had a freshman filling in under center, Lake Travis had junior Nate Yarnell, who has a pair of FBS offers. Yarnell threw a pick-six in the 1st quarter but also tossed a pair of TD passes to his own team, and the Cavaliers led 35-7 at halftime.
With the win Lake Travis finished the regular season 9-1 overall and a perfect 8-0 in district play, claiming its 13th district title in 16 seasons. The Cavaliers are ranked #11 in Class 6A, and their only loss of the season was in Week One to current #10 team Arlington Martin. They will host 6-4 Smithson Valley in the first round of the playoffs on Friday, and a win would give them double-digit wins for a seventh straight season.
Smithson Valley has been one of the San Antonio area’s most consistently solid programs for a quarter century. The Rangers went 1-9 in 1993, their first season under current head coach Larry Hill. At the time of Hill’s hiring the school had never reached the playoffs or won more than four games in any of its first 17 seasons of varsity football, but the Rangers have now finished .500 or better in 26 straight seasons. reached the postseason in 23 of the last 24 seasons, and lost in the state championship game three times (2001, 2002, and 2004).
Smithson Valley finished in 4th place in District 26-6A this season, and its four losses came by an average margin of 18.5 points and against teams that finished the regular season with a combined record of 35-5, with three of those losses coming in district play against ranked teams: #17 Schertz Clemens, #20 Converse Judson, and #23 Cibolo Steele. So while its record and stats aren’t as impressive as Lake Travis’s on paper, Smithson Valley has indisputably played a tougher slate of opponents, and though it lost to the four best teams it faced it also posted a 44-0 win over San Antonio Madison, the champion of District 27-6A.
Smithson Valley and Lake Travis have met in the playoffs on three previous occasions, all wins by Lake Travis by an average score of 42-19. I’ve read no report on whether or not Card is slated to return for this week’s game, but I suspect Lake Travis will be comfortably favored to win with or without his services.
The winner between Smithson Valley and Lake Travis will advance and face either San Antonio Madison (the champion of District 27-6A) or San Antonio Stevens.
2020 QB Ja’Quinden Jackson (Duncanville)
Last week: Completed his only pass attempt for a 10-yard TD in a 49-0 win over Dallas Molina.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. South Grand Prairie in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Facing a 1-8 Molina team last week whose only win had come against a 4A Division I team and who also had a 55-point loss on their resume to a 4A Division I team that finished 4-6, mighty Duncanville could have pretty much named its score. The Panthers took a 35-0 lead in the 1st quarter, rested their starters for the vast majority of the contest, and got the game over with as quickly as possible.
The game was almost certainly played under a running clock for most of its length, as it kicked off at 7:00 pm last Thursday and its final score was reported on social media as early as 8:48. Duncanville’s defense forced two punts and intercepted Molina three times in the 1st quarter alone, and the Panthers scored a 24-yard TD run on their first offensive play, scored on a pick-six, and had a pair of other short scoring drives set up by interceptions. Just 11 offensive plays were run in the 2nd quarter, and the only time Duncanville possessed the ball was on a 73-yard punt return for a TD that made the score 42-0 with 8:48 left in the 2nd quarter.
Ja’Quinden Jackson’s night was done after he completed his only pass for a 10-yard TD to Zeriah Beason with 7:07 left in the 1st quarter, and he gave way to freshman QB Chris Parson afterwards.
Duncanville completed a 10-0 regular season in which it outscored its opponents 444-33 and allowed only one touchdown to a Texas opponent. They have held the #1 ranking in Class 6A since the second week of the season and are #3 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 Expert Ranking.
The 2018 Duncanville Panthers similarly steamrolled through their regular season opposition and advanced all the way to the 6A Division I state championship game, where they memorably lost to Galena Park North Shore on a last-second Hail Mary TD pass. That Panther team outscored its 10 regular season opponents 503-34, and just like last season Duncanville will begin its quest for the state championship with a first round playoff game against South Grand Prairie, who they beat 30-14 a year ago.
South Grand Prairie is 5-5 overall and finished 4th in District 7-6A. Their one common opponent with Duncanville this season was Lancaster, the current #8 team in Class 5A Division I, who Duncanville beat 24-3 to open the season, and who South Grand Prairie lost to two weeks later by a score of 42-27. This is South Grand Prairie’s sixth straight playoff appearance, and while the Warriors have advanced to the second round four times in the past 14 seasons, they have not advanced further than that in 20 years.
The winner of the Duncanville-South Grand Prairie game will advance and play either Flower Mound or Keller.
2021 QB Jalen Milroe (Katy Tompkins)
Last week: Bye
This week: Thursday, November 14 at 7:00, vs. Fort Bend Travis (at Sugar Land’s Mercer Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Jalen Milroe’s Tompkins team had its bye in the final week of the regular season and got a week to rest and scout their first round opponent, which they knew a week ago would be Fort Bend Travis. This promises to be one of the best first round matchups in the state, as Tompkins is 9-1 and ranked #19 in Class 6A, while Travis is 10-0 and enters the state rankings at #24 this week.
This season marks the sixth straight playoff appearance and first-ever district championship for Travis, which played its first varsity football season in 2008. The Tigers had never previously won more than 8 games in a season, so their 10 wins this fall is already a school record. Winning their district allowed them to avoid a first round matchup with Katy, who beat them in the playoffs in each of the last three years, but Tompkins is hardly a slouch. This is one of just three first round matchups in either 6A bracket that features a pair of ranked teams.
This will be the first-ever matchup between Travis and Tompkins, whose campuses are just ten miles apart. Travis didn’t blow away most of its opponents, as its average margin of victory was 22.5 points and three wins came by four points or less, but the Tigers did beat six teams that eventually qualified for the playoffs.
This game should feature a great QB matchup between Jalen Milroe and Travis’s senior QB Eric Rodriguez, who measured 5’9” and 198 pounds at a Nike event last spring, and who I suspect would have several offers if he were 6’ or taller. Rodriguez makes a lot of nice throws in his highlights and as a senior he has completed 67% of his passes for over 2,400 yards and 29 TDs against 5 interceptions. He has accounted for 72 total TDs in two years as a starter. Rodriguez’s top two receiving targets are seniors Parker Washington, a four-star Penn State commit, and Jarrell Farr. That duo that has combined for over 1,700 receiving yards and 26 TDs this season.
The winner of Tompkins-Travis will play the winner of this week’s playoff between Houston Lamar and Cypress Falls.
2020 RB Bijan Robinson (Salpointe Catholic - Tucson, Arizona)
Last week: No game
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, vs. Phoenix Pinnacle in the first round of the AIA Open Division playoffs
Notes: Salpointe Catholic finished the regular season 9-0 and outscored its opponents 524-82. The Lancers were one of two Conference 4A teams to qualify for the Open Division playoffs, a new bracket instituted for this season in which a computer formula rated the teams in the “big school” conferences (6A and 4A) and the top eight earned the right to compete for an overall Open Division championship.
Salpointe Catholic ended up with the #4 seed in the Open Division and it will play #5 seed Pinnacle on Friday night. Pinnacle is 8-2 on the year and has only lost to one of Washington’s top teams and to Scotsdale Chaparral, which landed the #8 seed in the Open Division. Pinnacle and Salpointe Catholic had no mutual opponents in the regular season and the two schools have not played each other in at least the past 15 years.
In 2018 Pinnacle went 9-1 in the regular season and went into the 6A playoffs as the #2 seed, but lost in the semifinals to eventual state runner-up Gilbert Perry. Salpointe Catholic reached the 4A state championship in 2017 and 2018 but lost in both years to Saguaro, which has won six straight state titles and has the #3 seed in the Open Division playoffs, so a third straight Salpointe-Saguaro playoff matchup would only happen if both teams reach the Open Division final.
The winner between Pinnacle and Salpointe Catholic will move on to the semifinals and play either #1 seed Chandler (the alma mater of Longhorn freshman tight end Brayden Liebrock, and winner of the last three 6A state championships) or #8 seed Chaparral.
Bijan Robinson has scored 111 total touchdowns in his career and is now one away from tying the state’s career record in that category.
2020 WR Dajon Harrison (Hutto) - injured
Last week: Caught 7 passes for 101 yards and one TD, had 2 carries for -2 yards, and made 2 tackles in a 34-15 win over Leander Rouse.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. Seguin in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: In his first game as a Texas commit (and apparently his last; see below), Dajon Harrison caught 7 balls and scored a TD as Hutto beat Rouse to finish the regular season 8-1 overall, and to wrap up the runner-up spot in District 11-5A Division I. Hutto is ranked #9 in Class 5A Division I and in the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year, where they will face Seguin in the first round.
Seguin has a record of 5-5 and was the third place team in District 12-5A Division I. The Matadors are in the playoffs for a second consecutive season after missing the playoffs for the 11 prior years. There was little drama in Seguin’s games this season, as they had three losses by 21 or more points, all of their wins came by 26 or more points, and only one game was decided by a margin of less than 19.
Seguin is in its fourth season under head coach Travis Bush, who earlier in his coaching career served as offensive coordinator at Houston, UTSA, and Texas State, and he was the wide receivers coach at Texas State during Tom Herman’s two years as that program’s offensive coordinator (2005-06). After going 2-8 in both of Bush’s first two seasons, the Matadors have won at least 5 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2004-06. The school has not won a playoff game since 1988, though, and that’s unlikely to change on Friday.
If Hutto wins it will potentially get a second round matchup with the #2 team in Class 5A Division I and the defending state runner-up, Alvin Shadow Creek. A Hutto-Shadow Creek game would feature Longhorn commits on opposite sidelines, though neither would be wearing a helmet or pads. Shadow Creek DB Xavion Alford has missed essentially the entire 2019 season with a knee injury, and it appears that Dajon Harrison has played his last high school game as well.
A Tuesday open post at The Football Brainiacs included a short mention of Harrison, stating, “It sounds like Harrison broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle”, presumably during Hutto’s win over Rouse. On Wednesday afternoon Inside Texas reported that Harrison “has a hairline fracture (lower leg) and will be on crutches over the next 4-6 weeks.”
2020 WR Quentin Johnston (Temple)
Last week: Team beat Copperas Cove 55-17.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, at Longview in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs
Notes: Temple attempted just 4 passes in its big win over Copperas Cove to close out the regular season last week, and Johnston did not record a catch on any of them. The Wildcats led 7-0 early on, but poured it on Copperas Cove in the 2nd quarter, scoring 35 points and intercepting three passes on defense. Temple led 45-10 at halftime and finished the game with 410 rushing yards on 38 carries as a team.
With the win Temple finished the regular season with an 8-2 record and in a tie with Waco Midway for first place in District 12-6A, though Midway got the district’s top seed in the 6A Division II bracket by virtue of their head-to-head win two weeks ago. That means Temple begins (and likely ends) their 2019 postseason run on Friday night with a trip to Longview, where they will aim to upset the defending 6A Division II state champions, who are ranked #4 in Class 6A and whose most recent loss came in the semifinals of the 2017 6A Division II playoffs.
Longview outscored its regular season foes by just under 35 points per game this season and had only two close calls: a 24-21 Week One win over east Texas rival Lufkin (the #5 team in Class 5A Division I), and a 17-7 win three weeks later over a West Monroe, Louisiana team that has not lost any other games and finished the regular season as the fourth-ranked team in that state’s highest classification (5A).
Longview’s top senior recruits are QB Haynes King, a three-year starter and a Texas A&M commit who has accounted for nearly 8,500 total yards and 97 total TDs in his varsity career, and defensive tackle Sawyer Goram-Welch, an Oklahoma State commit who has been credited with 51 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 7 sacks this fall. King is the son of Longview head coach John King, who is in his 16th season at the helm of the program, and during his tenure the Lobos have made the playoffs every year and lost in the first round only twice, both times by one-point margins.
This is the 19th straight playoff appearance for Longview, which now has the 7th-most wins of any Texas high school football program with 736 (Temple is #3 on that list with 774). Temple is in the playoffs for a seventh straight season, and this is the sixth straight Wildcats team to win at least eight games in a season, a streak of success the program has not experienced since winning 8 or more games in every season between 1975 and 1986.
The two storied programs both have a pair of state championship trophies, and they have met in the playoffs on four previous occasions, the first being in Longview’s 1937 state championship season, and the most recent being in 2011. Each has won two playoff games against the other.
The winner between Temple and Longview will advance to the area round of the 6A Division II playoffs and take on either Dallas Jesuit or Garland Lakeview Centennial.
2021 OL Hayden Conner (Katy Taylor)
Last week: Credited with 5 pancake blocks in a 57-0 loss to Katy.
This week: Saturday, November 16 at 1:00, vs. Fort Bend Elkins (at Missouri City’s Hall Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs
Notes: Taylor was manhandled by Katy in their regular season finale, losing 57-0 to the #2 team in the state. The Mustangs committed 6 turnovers and rushed for just 22 yards on 16 carries as a team. After starting off the season 5-2, Taylor limped to a 0-3 finish against the three best teams in its district, though its 3-3 district record was good enough to nab the fourth and final playoff spot from District 19-6A.
Taylor had five regular season losses and was blown out by every legitimately good team it faced. Four of its losses came against teams that are now state-ranked, and in those four games Taylor lost by an average of 47 points. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Mustangs extended their season by a few weeks in the playoffs, because while Region 3 in the 6A Division I bracket is one of the deepest in the state, the same region in the 6A Division II bracket is comparatively weak and does not include any ranked teams.
Taylor’s first round opponent is Fort Bend Elkins, which finished 8-2 overall and was the third place team out of District 20-6A. Elkins’s two losses were a 10-point defeat to district runner-up Fort Bend Ridge Point, and a 56-28 loss to 6A’s #24 team Fort Bend Travis. The two schools have never previously met in the playoffs and have not played each other in at least the last 15 seasons.
The winner of Taylor-Elkins will advance and play either 4-6 Houston Heights or 6-4 Houston Memorial.
2020 OL Jaylen Garth (Port Neches-Groves) - injured, out for season
Last week: Team beat Nederland 27-21.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. Fort Bend Marshall (at Missouri City’s Hall Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs
Notes: Port Neches-Groves completed its regular season with a win over district rival Nederland to finish the season 7-3 overall. finished tied with Crosby for second place in District 12-5A Division II, but got the district’s third place slot due to its head-to-head loss with Crosby.
With Roschon Johnson under center in 2018, the Indians won their district and reached the third round of the playoffs before being blown out by a state-ranked Fort Bend Marshall team. This year, they get Marshall in the first round, and the Buffalos are 9-1 and ranked #4 in 5A Division II, with their only loss coming by a 38-34 score against #2 Manvel on September 20. Marshall won its other nine games by an average of almost 48 points.
2020 OL Andrej Karic (Southlake Carroll)
Last week: Team beat Keller Timber Creek 49-8.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. Lewisville in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Carroll, the #6 team in Class 6A, completed an undefeated regular season last week with a 41-point win over Timber Creek. The Dragons led 14-0 at the end of the 1st quarter, with one of their TDs coming on a pick-six, but they also lost a fumble and had a turnover on downs. But following the opening frame they scored on their next three possessions, then added another pick-six that put them ahead 42-0 with 8:25 left in the 3rd quarter.
Carroll won its 14th district title in the span of 18 seasons and qualified for the postseason for a 20th straight year. The Dragons will play their first round game on Friday against Lewisville, the fourth place team from District 6-6A. This is Lewisville’s second straight playoff berth after only reaching the playoffs twice between 2002 and 2017. After going 9-3 a year ago, Lewisville is 7-3 this season and is ensured of finishing with a winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since the Farmers’ two decade run from 1981 to 2001, a stretch in which they won 7 district titles and the Class 5A Division I state championships in 1993 and 1996.
Carroll and Lewisville have played in the postseason on one previous occasion, a 35-0 win for Carroll in the first round of the 2006 playoffs en route to an eventual 5A Division I state championship. With a win on Friday night, Carroll would advance and play either DeSoto or Dallas Skyline.
2020 OL Jake Majors (Prosper)
Last week: Team beat Plano 58-27.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, at Wylie in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: With its big win over Plano last week, Prosper finished the regular season with an 8-2 record and eliminated Plano from playoff contention. Thus did a school that competed in the 3A Division II playoffs as recently as 2011 ensure that it would be in the 6A Division I bracket in 2019, despite being in a district with the four largest high schools in Texas! Had Prosper lost to Plano it would have been in the 6A Division II bracket and Plano would have gotten District 9-6A’s runner-up seed in the Division I bracket.
Against Plano, Prosper scored the game’s first 35 points and added a pair of field goals in the final minute of the 2nd quarter to take a 41-7 halftime lead. The Eagles finished the game with 546 total yards, with 311 coming on the ground.
Prosper is in the playoffs for a fifth straight season and for the 16th time in 18 seasons after reaching the postseason only twice in its first 38 varsity seasons (1964-2001). The Eagles will have a first round matchup on Friday with Wylie. Wylie started off 0-3 this season but then went 6-1 in district play to tie for first place in District 10-6A.
Prosper and Wylie had a pair of mutual opponents this season in Rowlett and Dallas Jesuit. Prosper beat Rowlett 31-7 to open its season and lost 41-14 to Jesuit a month ago in district play. Wylie lost to Jesuit 31-10 in September in the last of its three non-district games, and beat Rowlett 14-13 in an October district game. The winner between Prosper and Wylie will play the winner of Friday’s game between Mesquite and Killeen Shoemaker, two teams that finished third in their districts.
2020 OL Logan Parr (San Antonio O’Connor)
Last week: Team beat San Antonio Stevens 31-0.
This week: Saturday, November 16 at 2:00, vs. San Antonio Reagan (at San Antonio’s Farris Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: According to the San Antonio Express-News box score, last Thursday’s O’Connor-Stevens game was largely devoid of offense; the two teams combined for 174 total yards and only 11 first downs, and 11 of O’Connor’s 31 points came on defense or specials teams (two safeties and a pick-six). O’Connor has averaged just under 34 points per game this season but hasn’t regularly had dominating offensive performances.
The Panthers finished the regular season with an 8-2 record, with losses coming against a pair of ranked 6A teams in #16 San Antonio Brandeis and #23 Cibolo Steele. They open the playoffs on Saturday afternoon against familiar postseason foe Reagan. Reagan ended O’Connor’s season in the first round of last season’s playoffs by a 30-7 score, and the teams have met in the playoffs on four other occasions, with Reagan holding a 4-1 edge in all-time playoff matchups.
Reagan has had a down year by its standards, finishing fourth in District 27-6A and posting a 5-5 overall record after winning seven or more games in each of the previous eight seasons and winning five district titles in that span. The last time Reagan entered the playoffs after finishing fourth in its district the Rattlers ended up advancing four rounds into the 2006 5A Division I playoffs before losing to eventual state runner-up Austin Westlake.
Reagan’s roster includes senior quarterback Travis Sthele, who committed to the Texas Longhorn baseball program nearly two years ago and signed his letter of intent this week. Sthele was Reagan’s starting QB as a sophomore and junior but has played in very few games this season (he was reportedly held out of some early season games to rest his arm after the summer baseball season) and I do not know his status for Saturday’s game.
The winner between O’Connor and Reagan will advance to the area round and play either #20 Converse Judson or 8-2 Buda Hays.
2020 DE Van Fillinger (Corner Canyon - Draper, Utah)
Last week: Made 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 sack in a 56-0 win over Syracuse in the quarterfinal round of the UHSAA Class 6A playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 11:00 am, vs. Lone Peak (at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium) in the semifinal round of the UHSAA Class 6A playoffs
Notes: Corner Canyon, the #1 seed in Utah’s 6A playoff tournament, made quick work of #8 seed Syracuse in last week’s quarterfinal round, taking a 49-0 lead at halftime. Senior QB Cole Hagen, who had 36 total touchdowns in the regular season, passed for four TDs and ran for two more in the first half, as Corner Canyon cruised to its 24th consecutive win. The Chargers moved up one spot to #23 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 rankings.
The semifinal and championship rounds will be played at the University of Utah, and in order to reach the state final for a third straight year the Chargers will have to defeat defending 6A state champion Lone Peak, a team they very narrowly beat back on September 27. In that game (which I wrote about in this post) Lone Peak took a 17-7 lead late in the 4th quarter, but Corner Canyon responded with a miracle comeback, scoring two TDs in the game’s final minute to win 21-17.
Lone Peak was ranked very high at the time, but the shocking defeat to Corner Canyon was the first of three straight losses it would suffer on the field, and a few weeks later the team had to forfeit its five wins from early in the season after it was discovered that the Knights had inadvertently used an ineligible player. So the defending 6A state champions entered the playoffs officially 1-9 and were seeded 20th out of the 27 teams in the “all comers” playoff bracket. Under the UHSAA’s former playoff system Lone Peak would not have qualified for the postseason.
After beating #13 seed Riverton 37-8, Lone Peak won its second round game 30-6 over #4 seed Skyridge, a team it has lost to 22-21 four weeks earlier. Then in last week’s quarterfinals it beat #5 seed Kearns 37-19 to set up a re-match with Corner Canyon, meaning a spot in the 6A state championship will be decided by a semifinal game pitting Utah’s 2018 state champions in 6A (Lone Peak) and 5A (Corner Canyon).
Lone Peak is the only team to hold Corner Canyon under 30 points this season, and the Chargers averaged nearly 49 points in their other 11 games. The game will feature two of Utah’s four highest-rated recruits in the 2020 class, with Van Fillinger at #2 and Lone Peak safety Nate Ritchie checking in at #4 in the current 247Sports Composite state rankings.
The winner between Corner Canyon and Lone Peak will play for the 6A state title on November 22 against either #7 seed American Fork or #6 seed Salt Lake City East.
2020 LB Prince Dorbah (Highland Park)
Last week: Team beat Mansfield Timberview 43-21.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, vs. Frisco Wakeland in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: Highland Park clinched its 17th outright district championship in head coach Randy Allen’s 21 seasons at the school with a 43-21 win over Timberview last week. Prince Dorbah and the Scot defense kept Timberview’s vaunted running game mostly in check, holding fellow Longhorn commit Jaden Hullaby and the Wolves’ offense to a season-low 122 rushing yards, but the game was close for most of three quarters, courtesy of three Highland Park turnovers and some other defensive stops by Timberview.
Highland Park led 21-14 at halftime, but Timberview tied the game at 21 when junior running back Montaye Dawson returned the second half kickoff 96 yards. But that would be Timberview’s last score of the evening, as Highland Park ended the game with 22 unanswered points and Timberview’s four possessions of the second half ended with three punts and an interception.
Highland Park finished the regular season 9-1 and is ranked #4 in Class 5A Division I. The Scots’ only loss came against top-ranked Frisco Lone Star, a team they could potentially face in the third round. Such is the UIL playoff structure.
The Scots will begin their quest for a fourth straight 5A Division I state championship on Friday against Wakeland, the alma mater of Longhorn offensive lineman Rafiti Ghirmai. Wakeland is 5-5 overall and finished fourth in District 5-5A Division I this season. Wakeland is in the playoffs for a seventh straight year, but the Wolverines have advanced past the first round only once in their history. It would be a very dramatic upset if their second-ever trip to the area round occurred this year.
Highland Park and Wakeland have never played each other previously in the regular season or playoffs. The winner of Friday night’s game will move on and face either Mesquite Poteet or Magnolia.
2021 LB Derrick Harris (New Caney)
Last week: Made 6 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, had 5 QB hurries and defended 2 passes in a 37-0 win over New Caney Porter.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, vs. Richmond Foster in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: Derrick Harris and the New Caney defense pitched their third shutout of the season last week against arch-rival Porter, putting an exclamation point on their third straight district title after their school had won its district only twice in its first 60 years of existence. Thus did a program that won ten games in the entire decade of the 1980s finish off its first-ever 10-0 regular season.
New Caney led 7-0 at halftime, but broke the game open with thirteen 3rd quarter points. Senior QB and UTSA commit Zion Childress had 323 total yards and accounted for four total TDs. Childress finished the regular season with nearly 3,200 offensive yards and 37 total TDs to his name.
New Caney is in the playoffs for a program-record fifth straight year and was one of only six teams in 5A Division I to go undefeated in the regular season. The Eagles entered the 5A Division I state rankings for the first time this week and are #10 as the playoffs begin. On Friday they will face the fourth place team from District 10-5A Division I, Richmond Foster, which could be the most dangerous 6-4 team in that classification.
This is Foster’s eighth consecutive trip to the playoffs, and the Falcons advanced to at least the third round in each of the past four postseasons. They lost 49-35 early this season to Fort Bend Travis, now the #24 team in Class 6A, and their other three losses came in district play by a combined 13 points, the most impressive being a 24-17 defeat three weeks ago against Class 5A Division I’s #2 team, Shadow Creek. No other team held Shadow Creek under 34 points during the regular season, or lost to the Sharks by a margin of less than 28 points.
Among Foster’s offensive players that Derrick Harris and company will have to contend with are senior QB Ryan Stubblefield, a Kent State commit who has accounted for at least 30 total TDs this season, four-star junior receiver Cody Jackson, an Oklahoma commit who has 16 TD catches, and four-star junior offensive line prospect Reuben Fatheree, who counts Texas among his over two dozen offers.
New Caney and Foster have not previously played each other, and the winner of their bi-district game will face either Austin LBJ or Georgetown in the area round.
2020 DB Xavion Alford (Alvin Shadow Creek) - injured, out for season
Last week: Team beat Rosenberg Terry 63-0.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, vs. Port Arthur Memorial (at Iowa Colony’s Freedom Field) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: Shadow Creek is in its second varsity football season and has yet to lose a regular season game. The Sharks destroyed Terry last week 63-0 to cap off another 10-0 campaign and will go into the playoffs as the #2 team in Class 5A Division I. They outscored their regular season opposition 492-73. For comparison, Shadow Creek’s 2018 team that reached the state championship game before losing to Highland Park outscored its regular season opponents 416-135.
Shadow Creek will begin its quest to win the state title that eluded it a year ago when it faces Port Arthur Memorial on Friday. Memorial will be making its fourth straight playoff appearance but is 5-5 for the season, and with another loss the Titans will have as many in 2019 as they did in their previous three seasons combined, as they went 28-6 from 2016 to 2018.
Xavion Alford is injured and will not play but his team has hardly skipped a beat in his nearly season-long absence. Though Alford will be on the sidelines fans who watch Shadow Creek will have the chance to see other future D1 athletes, including junior linebacker Terrence Cooks, who Texas offered earlier this week. The winner between Shadow Creek and Port Arthur Memorial will face either Hutto or Seguin next week.
2020 DB Kitan Crawford (Tyler John Tyler)
Last week: Had 13 carries for 125 yards and 2 TDs, and made 7 tackles in a 32-27 loss to Sherman.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, at College Station in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: Kitan Crawford had another productive all-around game but it wasn’t enough, as Tyler John Tyler lost its third straight game to end the regular season and will limp into the postseason with a 3-7 overall record. The Lions will finish with their first losing record since 2007 unless they shock the world and win five games to reach the state championship.
They will face College Station in the first round of the 5A Division I playoffs on Friday. College Station goes into the playoffs with a record of 7-3 and as the runner-up from District 8-5A Division I. The Cougars are in just their sixth season of varsity football but have an all-time record of 62-15, and won the 5A Division II state championship just two years ago.
The winner between John Tyler and College Station will play either Mansfield Legacy or the #1 team in 5A Division I, Frisco Lone Star.
2020 DB Jerrin Thompson (Lufkin)
Last week: Team beat Waller 42-14.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:00, vs. Texarkana Texas in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Lufkin scored a big win over Waller to finish an undefeated run through its district, and the Panthers had a 9-1 overall mark in the regular season. They are the #5 team in Class 5A Division I and are in the playoffs for a 22nd consecutive season. In the first round on Friday they will host a Texarkana Tigers team that is back in the postseason after missing out a year ago and snapping what had been a 17-year playoff streak.
Texarkana was a streaky team this season, putting together a pair of three-game win streaks sandwiched around a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season. After falling to a record of 3-4, Texarkana won its final three games to claim the final playoff spot out of District 7-5A Division I, with last week’s win coming at the expense of Ty Jordan’s West Mesquite team.
Lufkin and Texarkana have never previously met in the playoffs. The winner of this game will move on to play either Frisco Independence or Mansfield Timberview in the area round.
2021 ATH Billy Bowman (Denton Ryan)
2021 ATH Ja’Tavion Sanders (Denton Ryan)
Last week: Bowman caught 2 passes for 15 yards and a TD, and Sanders caught 5 passes for 91 yards and a TD in a 41-14 win over Birdville.
This week: Thursday, November 14 at 7:00, vs. Granbury in the bi-district round of the 5A Division I playoffs.
Notes: The Ryan Raiders faced the Birdville Hawks last week in a battle for the championship of District 4-5A Division I, and as they’ve done throughout this season, the Raiders dominated. Ryan scored on six of its first seven possessions, and the one time in the first half that Birdville got a defensive stop and forced a punt it muffed the return to give the ball right back.
Ryan led 28-0 at halftime and 41-0 midway through the 3rd quarter, and Birdville scored its only two touchdowns in the 4th quarter with the game already well in hand. Ryan completed its fifth straight undefeated regular season; the Raiders have not lost a regular season game since their 2014 finale.
Ryan enters the playoffs as the #3 team in Class 5A Division I and has outscored its 2019 opponents 507-83. On seven occasions this season the Raiders have scored 42 points or more in the first half. They’re more than capable of doing that again tonight in their first round matchup with Granbury, the fourth place team from District 3-5A Division I.
The Granbury Pirates are 6-4 and are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 after winning just 11 games in their previous five seasons. Following a three-decade playoff drought, Granbury reached the postseason in four straight years from 2010 to 2013, but was eliminated in the first round each time by an average margin of 32 points. As much as this writer hates to say it about his alma mater, it will be a pleasant surprise if Granbury isn’t trailing by at least 32 points at halftime tonight, given the talent disparity and Ryan’s track record this season.
Granbury hasn’t won a playoff game since Lyndon Johnson was president, and that won’t be changing this season. After beating Granbury, Ryan will face either El Paso Eastwood or Lubbock Coronado. Ryan is in Region I of the 5A Division I playoff bracket, which has no other ranked teams, so the Raiders might be barely challenged in the first four rounds before they reach the state semifinals and face whoever survives out of the four ranked teams in Region II.
2021 ATH Juan Davis (Everman)
Last week: Had 13 carries for 200 yards and 2 TDs, caught 1 pass for 3 yards, blocked a punt, and punted twice for an average of 28.5 yards in a 42-7 win over Joshua.
This week: Friday, November 15 at 7:30, at Red Oak in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs
Notes: Juan Davis rushed for a career-high 200 yards in last week’s win over Joshua. According to his highlights he got those carries either while taking snaps at QB or on plays when he lined up as a tight end/wingback and received the handoff on an end-around.
Davis played both QB and receiver at different times this season, and in the 10 regular season games of his junior campaign he compiled 1,303 offensive yards and 17 total TDs while throwing four interceptions in 60 pass attempts and losing one fumble.
Going into the last two weeks of the regular season Everman was 2-6 and needed to win out while getting some help in order to reach the postseason. The Bulldogs’ win over Joshua coupled with Burleson’s win over Cleburne vaulted them into a tie with Burleson for fourth place in District 5-5A Division II, and Everman came away with the district’s final playoff spot by virtue of its head-to-head win over Burleson three weeks earlier.
This is Everman’s third straight trip to the playoffs, though its four wins are the fewest it has had in a regular season since going 3-7 in 1998. The Bulldogs last won a playoff game in 2015 and they’ll have a stiff challenge in getting one this season, as they will travel to face the champion of District 6-5A Division II, Red Oak.
Red Oak is in its second season under head coach Chris Ross, who had worked as Boise State’s director of program development for the two prior years, and had been the head coach or athletic director at four Texas high schools before that. The program has seen a sudden resurgence in Ross’s two seasons after being bad-to-mediocre for most of the past three decades. Before 2018 the Hawks had never finished a regular season with more than 8 wins, but this is their second consecutive year to enter the playoffs 9-1. This after winning 9 games total between 2013 and 2017.
Red Oak certainly didn’t play a murderer’s row of a district schedule, but it did score a legit district win over a South Oak Cliff team that finished 8-2 and had won its district in the five previous seasons, and their only loss came against a Denton Braswell team that went 8-2 and finished tied for first in District 7-5A Division II.
Red Oak ran the table on its district opponents to win its first outright district title since 1982, and aside from the 28-21 win over South Oak Cliff the Hawks outscored the rest of their district by an average margin of nearly 60 points. They scored 63 or more points six times and their offense should present a challenge to an Everman team that hasn’t gotten into many shootouts this season.
Everman’s offense didn’t produce a lot of points except against the very weakest teams on its schedule, but its defense didn’t allow a lot of points either; aside from a 42-13 loss to top-ranked Aledo, no other team scored more than 33 points against Everman.
The winner between Everman and Red Oak will move on to play either Denton Braswell or Corsicana.
2020 ATH Jaden Hullaby (Mansfield Timberview)
Last week: Completed 6 of 14 passes for 85 yards and 1 INT, and had 16 carries for 7 yards in a 43-21 loss to Highland Park.
This week: Thursday, November 14 at 7:00, vs. Frisco Independence (at Frisco’s Memorial Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Notes: As stated in the notes on Prince Dorbah, Timberview was tied with Highland Park early in the 3rd quarter before Highland Park ended the game with 22 unanswere points. Timberview’s running game has consistently produced over 300 yards this season, but the Highland Park defense limited the Wolves to just 122 rushing yards on 39 carries, and Jaden Hullaby ended with just 7 yards on 16 carries. His longest run went for 8 yards but he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage numerous times and fumbled twice (though he didn’t lose either).
Meanwhile, Highland Park got 336 yards from scrimmage and 4 TDs from a senior running back with the very Highland Park-sounding name of Hunter Heath, as well as two carries for five yards from senior RB Doak Walker, the grandson of the Highland Park and SMU legend of the same name.
After playing primarily at RB as a sophomore and junior at Dallas Bishop Dunne, Jaden Hullaby primarily played QB after transferring to Timberview this year. At the conclusion of the regular season he had amassed 809 yards and 9 TDs passing, 793 yards and 12 TDs rushing, and 3 catches for 98 yards and 1 TD.
Timberview finished the regular season with a 6-4 overall record and as the 3rd place team in District 6-5A Division I. All four of its losses came against ranked teams: Lake Travis (#11 in 6A), Highland Park (#4 in 5A Division I), Lancaster (#8 in 5A Division I), and Bixby, Oklahoma (that state’s top-ranked 6A Division II team and the winner of four state titles in the past five years).
The Wolves have a first round playoff game tonight against Frisco Independence, the second place team from District 5-5A Division I. Independence lost only one game on the field this season, a 63-14 blowout against top-ranked Frisco Lone Star five weeks ago, but it also had to forfeit a 49-7 win over Frisco Heritage due to the participation of an ineligible player, and so the Knights officially enter the playoffs with a 8-2 record.
Independence’s high-powered offense has averaged nearly 47 points per game and is led by junior QB Braylon Braxton, who produced over 3,300 offensive yards and 47 total TDs in the regular season while throwing just 3 interceptions. Braxton’s primary targets are senior receiver Khiyon Wafer and junior receiver Zhighlil McMillan, who have combined to make 31 touchdown catches. Wafer was recently offered by UTEP and UConn, and offers should eventually come for 6’4” junior tight end Elijah Arroyo, who has 37 receptions for 505 yards and 5 TDs.
An Independence defensive player Jaden Hullaby is almost certain to have some close encounters with when Timberview has the ball is senior defensive end Nick Carpin, who has been credited with a team-leading 79 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
The winner of tonight’s Timberview-Independence game will advance and play either fifth-ranked Lufkin or Texarkana Texas. Hullaby has already gotten to play against future Longhorn teammates Hudson Card and Prince Dorbah this season, and he’d no doubt love to keep his season going long enough to play against Jerrin Thompson next week.