The penultimate weekend of the Texas high school football season is upon us, and the teams of seven Texas Longhorn commits are left standing after last week’s state quarterfinal playoff round.
Two of those seven commits have missed the season due to injury, but the other five will all be in action tonight or Saturday in state semifinal games (aka, the fifth round) that will be played in greater Dallas, Round Rock, San Antonio, and Waco.
2020 offensive line commits Andrej Karic and Jake Majors both played the final games of their high school careers last week, as their teams were eliminated in high-scoring games, as detailed later in this post. 2020 running back Ty Jordan departed from the #cloUT2020 class when he reportedly flipped his commitment from Texas to Utah on Tuesday, leaving the 2020 class with 16 current commits.
Last week, 2020 QB Hudson Card returned to the field after missing nearly two months due to a foot injury and led Lake Travis past perennial contender Converse Judson. Fellow 2020 QB commit Ja’Quinden Jackson had a perfect passing day and also ran for three touchdowns as Duncanville knocked off previously unbeaten Southlake Carroll in a battle of nationally-ranked teams that both had Longhorn commits on their roster.
2021 OL commit Hayden Conner’s season continued for another week, as his Katy Taylor team reached the state semifinals for the first time after surprisingly being the only Katy ISD team to still be alive after the third round.
And 2021 teammates and fellow Longhorn commits Billy Bowman and Ja’Tavion Sanders contributed to Denton Ryan’s continuing demolition of all 5A Division I teams in their path, as their team scored 56 points for a fourth consecutive playoff game.
The teams of Longhorn commits that advanced to this week’s semifinals have mostly been there before, but some of them are more playoff-tested than others.
Denton Ryan is in the semifinals for its ninth time this century, while Lake Travis is making its 11th trip in the span of 13 seasons. Duncanville is back in the semifinals with redemption in mind after losing in last year’s 6A Division I state final, and injured 2020 defensive back commit Xavion Alford watched his Alvin Shadow Creek team again reach the semifinals a year after it lost in the 5A Division I state championship in the school’s very first varsity season. On the other end of that spectrum is Hayden Conner’s Katy Taylor team, which is making its first-ever semifinal appearance in its 40th season.
Next week’s state championships from Class 1A (six-man) to Class 6A will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington between Wednesday and Saturday, and since all of UT’s commits who have reached this far in the postseason play at the 5A Division I level or above, any potential state championship games involving Longhorn commits will be played between Friday night and Saturday night.
There is a possibility that the 6A Division I state championship will feature Longhorn QB commits on opposite sidelines, provided that Duncanville and Lake Travis both win their semifinal games. There could also very well be a state championship re-match between Duncanville and Galena Park North Shore, who played a memorable state championship in 2018 that was decided by a Hail Mary pass on the final play, and who began the 2019 season as the state’s top two ranked teams in Class 6A.
The 5A Division I final could also feature Longhorn commits on both sidelines if Denton Ryan and Alvin Shadow Creek both win their semifinal matches, though Shadow Creek’s Xavion Alford will not be playing due to injury.
The Texas Associated Press Sports Editors traditionally releases its All-State teams in the week of the UIL state championship games, and several Longhorn commits have made strong cases for receiving those honors. I’ll likely have more on that in next week’s post.
In this one I’ll start by covering the commits whose teams will play this week (including two injured commits who will not be suiting up), then give brief summaries on the teams for each commit whose seasons have ended.
Commits in the state semifinals this week
2020 QB Hudson Card (Lake Travis)
2021 TE Lake McRee (Lake Travis) - injured, out for season
Last week: Card completed 19 of 27 passes for 342 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, and had 7 carries for 16 yards and 1 TD in a 48-35 win over Converse Judson in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 14 at 4:00, vs. Galena Park North Shore (at Round Rock’s Reeves Stadium) in the semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Notes: Hudson Card returned to action last week after missing Lake Travis’s previous six games due to a foot injury and led the Cavaliers to a 48-35 win over a 12-1 Converse Judson team. It was the third straight year in which Lake Travis eliminated Judson from the playoffs.
A revenge-minded Judson team led 14-3 at the end of the 1st quarter, but Lake Travis scored the game’s next 28 points. After trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Cavaliers went on a 21-0 run, taking their first lead of the game early in the 3rd quarter and leading 38-21 going into the 4th quarter. Judson cut the deficit to 10 points two different times in the 4th quarter, but Lake Travis answered with a scoring drive both times.
Card connected with senior receiver Kyle Eaves for a pair of TDs in the 3rd quarter, and also tossed a 70-yard TD pass to junior running back Weston Stephens late in the 2nd quarter. Stephens finished the game with a career-high 221 yards and 2 TDs rushing and had 84 yards receiving on a pair of receptions. He has been on a tear since missing Lake Travis’s game against Westlake on October 11 (the last game Card played in before returning last week) and has rushed for 985 yards and 13 TDs in Lake Travis’s last seven games (including four playoff games), and in those seven games he has set a new career high for single-game rushing yardage six different times.
Lake Travis’s first four playoff opponents have been the same teams they faced in the 2018 postseason, and that pattern will hold true for at least another week. On Saturday the Cavaliers will face the defending 6A Division I state champions from Galena Park North Shore, who demolished Lake Travis 51-10 in the state semifinals a year ago.
North Shore has been a virtual D1 talent factory for at least the lifetime of its current senior class. The Mustangs made no playoff appearances during the school’s first 30 years of varsity football, but their fortunes turned dramatically with the hiring of David Aymond as head coach in 1994. In his first season at the helm the Mustangs won a then-school record 8 games and made the first of what is now 26 consecutive playoff appearances. They have not had a losing season since 1997, have reached at least the second round of the playoffs in 20 straight seasons, and won state championships in 2003, 2015, and 2018.
That 2018 6A Division I state title was memorably won against Duncanville (and current Longhorn QB commit Ja’Quinden Jackson) on a 45-yard Hail Mary pass on the game’s final play.
North Shore opened the 2019 season with a 24-21 loss to Katy, but has since won 13 straight games, one of those being a 56-35 win in a re-match with Katy two weeks ago in the third round of the playoffs. The Mustangs are averaging 61 points per game in the playoffs and are the last team standing out of Region III in the 6A Division I playoffs, a ridiculously loaded region that included six ranked teams and three unranked teams that won 9 or more games in the regular season. In its most recent game, North Shore — which was ranked #5 in Class 6A going into the playoffs — beat #9 Humble Atascocita 76-49 in a game in which the Mustangs rolled up over 800 offensive yards and rushed for just shy of 500.
North Shore will have at least seven seniors who sign with FBS programs in the next couple of months, and the obvious headliner out of that group is five-star running back Zachary Evans, currently the top-rated running back in the 2020 recruiting class (one spot ahead of Longhorn commit Bijan Robinson), according to the 247Sports Composite, and the #14 prospect overall. Joining Evans in the backfield is three-star Utah commit John Gentry.
Lake Travis hasn’t faced anywhere near as many quality teams as North Shore has this season, and the Cavalier defense should expect to get a heavy dose of Evans, Gentry, and junior four-star QB and Virginia Tech commit Dematrius Davis attacking them on the ground.
In its quarterfinal win over Judson last week, Lake Travis allowed 285 rushing yards, including 139 yards and 3 rushing TDs to Judson’s talented senior QB Mike Chandler II. Back in September in a 48-26 win over Mansfield Timberview, Lake Travis allowed 359 rushing yards against an offense keyed by Texas commit Jaden Hullaby and then-Colorado RB commit Stacy Sneed. And in their season-opening 35-14 loss to Arlington Martin — still Lake Travis’s only loss of 2019 — the Cavaliers allowed 292 yards and 4 TDs on the ground, with 174 yards and 3 TDs being the work of junior QB Zach Mundell.
So Lake Travis has had its struggles to contain teams with strong rushing attacks, especially ones led by mobile QBs. And Dematrius Davis, currently the 4th-rated dual-threat QB in the 2021 recruiting class, is nothing if not mobile. In North Shore’s first four playoff games he rushed for 742 yards and 11 TDs, including back-to-back games with over 280 rushing yards in wins against top-ten 6A teams Katy and Atascocita.
When he’s not running with the ball or handing it off to Zachary Evans, Davis is usually passing the ball to a talented receiving corps that includes four-star junior and Texas A&M commit Shadrach Banks, senior Houston Baptist commit Ismael Fuller, senior Zorhan Rideaux, and junior Charles King. Banks was injured in North Shore’s first round win and has not played since, but the trio of Fuller, Rideaux and King have ably picked up the slack, combining to make 24 catches for 546 yards (22.8 yards/catch) and 6 TDs in four playoff games.
When Lake Travis has the ball, Hudson Card will be leading the Cavaliers against a North Shore defense that includes three-star senior linebackers Corey Flagg (a Miami commit) and Matthew Roberts, three-star senior defensive backs Joseph Wilson (a Kansas State commit) and Upton Stout, two-star senior cornerback Perry Wells (no relation to this writer), and highly-touted sophomore cornerback Denver Harris (who was offered by Texas in August).
The winner of this game will advance to the 6A Division I state championship and will face either Duncanville or Rockwall. A Duncanville-Lake Travis final would be of great interest because it would pit two Longhorn QB commits against each other with a championship on the line, though that drama would pale in comparison to the hype that would build in the week leading up to a Duncanville-North Shore championship re-match. Over 42,000 fans attended last year’s 6A Division I state final, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see over 50,000 turn out for a rematch.
2020 QB Ja’Quinden Jackson (Duncanville)
Last week: Completed 8 of 8 passes for 183 yards and 2 TDs, and rushed 12 times for 129 yards and 3 TDs in a 49-35 win over Southlake Carroll in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 14 at 2:30, vs. Rockwall (at McKinney ISD Stadium) in the semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Ja’Quinden Jackson had a hand in five of Duncanville’s seven touchdowns last week, as the Panthers knocked off a very strong Southlake Carroll team and ended the season of 2019 Texas OL commit Andrej Karic in the process.
Jackson tossed a 49-yard TD pass to Marquelan Crowell on Duncanville’s first possession to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead just under four minutes into the game. After Duncanville forced Carroll to punt for a third straight time, Jackson made the score 14-0 with a 20-yard TD run on the second play of the 2nd quarter. Carroll scored on its next two drives and tied the score at 14-14 with 3:33 left in the first half, but Duncanville answered with an 8-play, 80-yard drive that Jackson capped off with a 1-yard TD run to take back the lead at 21-14 with 1:07 left in the 2nd quarter. Jackson helped set up that score with a 61-yard run a few plays earlier that gave Duncanville a 1st-and-goal at the 8-yard line.
The game was effectively decided in the 3rd quarter. Duncanville received the second half kickoff and scored six plays later to expand its lead to 28-14. On its ensuing possession, Carroll was stopped for no gain on a 4th-and-2 play at the Duncanville 42-yard line, and on the very next play Jackson connected with receiver Roderick Daniels for a 58-yard TD pass to make the score 35-14 with 7:52 left in the 3rd quarter.
After Carroll cut the deficit to 35-21 early in the 4th quarter, Jackson scored his third rushing TD to bring the lead back to 42-21 with 5:43 left in regulation. But the Carroll Dragons didn’t quit. They converted on a 4th-and-10 on their next drive to set up a scoring pass with 4:12 left in the game, then recovered an onside kick and scored again two plays later to make the score 42-35 with 3:53 left. But Duncanville scored two plays into its next drive to make it a two-possession game again at 49-35, and the Dragons turned the ball over on downs near midfield on their final possession.
This was a far tougher game against a more talented Carroll team than the one Duncanville beat 51-7 in the state quarterfinals a year earlier. And hopefully there’s a decent chance Jackson will have gotten that win against more than one future teammate. Carroll’s sophomore QB Quinn Ewers, who was offered by Texas in September, finished the game with 393 yards and 3 TDs passing, and also rushed for 115 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries.
The win moved Duncanville to the state semifinals, where it will face a Rockwall team that has not advanced this far in the playoffs since losing in the Class 4A state championship in 1987. Rockwall is 12-2 this season, with a season-opening 66-59 loss to defending 5A Division I state champion Highland Park, and a 49-3 loss a few weeks later to defending 6A Division II champion Longview, a game that seems like an extreme outlier compared with the rest of its 2019 results.
After finishing in 2nd place to Longview in District 11-6A, the Yellowjackets advanced through the postseason with a 47-7 win over Killeen Harker Heights, a 60-59 upset win over 3rd-ranked Allen (which had beaten Rockwall 52-40 in the second round of the 2018 playoffs), a 37-27 win over a 10-2 Klein Oak team, and a 59-42 win last week over Prosper and 2020 Texas commit Jake Majors.
The Yellowjackets are averaging 48 points per game this season (52 points per game if you eliminate that 49-3 loss to Longview in September), while Duncanville has allowed 8 points per game. The main focus for Duncanville’s defense will be senior five-star wide receiver and Ohio State commit Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has caught 103 passes for 2,124 yards and 35 TDs, and has also rushed for 4 TDs. Smith-Njigba, who was recently named the Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year, has already broken the Class 6A record for receiving TDs in a season, and he has 5,366 career receiving yards and is just 58 yards away from breaking former Texas Longhorn star Jordan Shipley’s state record in that category. (Oklahoma commit Marvin Mims of Frisco Lone Star is just eight yards behind Smith-Njigba and his team is in the Class 5A Division I semifinals, so Shipley will likely be in 3rd place by the end of the week.)
Duncanville and Rockwall had one common opponent this fall; they gave a state-ranked Arlington Martin team its only two losses of the 2019 season. Rockwall beat Martin 45-38 in September, and Duncanville eliminated Martin in the third round of the playoffs by a 45-17 score. Rockwall has shown that it can put loads of points on the scoreboard in a way few other teams have this season, but its defense has not played up to the same level. The Yellowjackets have gone 12-2 this season despite having seven games in which they allowed 32 or more points.
With its win over Allen three weeks ago Rockwall showed that anything can happen when it gets into an offensive shootout, but Duncanville has shown the ability to get defensive stops at crucial times in games and has shut down some strong offenses during this postseason. The winner of this game will face either Galena Park North Shore or Lake Travis in the 6A Division I state championship, so Ja’Quinden Jackson is one win away from either a shot at revenge against the team that beat his in last year’s state final, or a matchup against his future teammate Hudson Card.
2021 OL Hayden Conner (Katy Taylor)
Last week: Credited with 3 pancake blocks in a 58-20 win over Cypress Creek.
This week: Saturday, December 14 at 2:30, vs. Austin Westlake (at Waco’s McLane Stadium) in the semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
Notes: Hayden Conner and the Katy Taylor Mustangs blew out Cypress Creek last week to win the Region III final and advance to the semifinals of the Class 6A Division II playoffs. This is the 40th season of the Katy Taylor football program, and prior to this year the Mustangs had never advanced beyond the third round of the playoffs, but they’ve taken advantage of a very favorable playoff bracket and are one win away from becoming the second Katy ISD school to reach a state final.
Against Cypress Creek, Taylor scored 58 points despite having just four offensive touchdowns. Leading 10-0 with 3:37 left in the 1st quarter, Taylor recovered a fumble for a TD, then less than a minute later added a 38-yard interception return TD. After Taylor went up 27-0 on a 42-yard field goal on the first play of the 2nd quarter, Cypress Creek returned the ensuing kickoff for a 98-yard TD and finally got on the scoreboard, but Taylor added a passing TD and another field goal later in the 2nd quarter and led 37-7 at halftime.
The Taylor defense got its second pick-six with 3:22 left in the 3rd quarter and led 51-20 going into the 4th. Taylor’s senior running back Casey Shorter, who ran for 118 yards on 12 carries, closed out the game’s scoring with a 35-yard TD run in the first minute of the 4th quarter. Taylor intercepted Cypress Creek three times, and the Mustangs had a 302-17 advantage in rushing yards.
Taylor went 5-5 during the regular season, and four of its five losses came against state-ranked opponents (their margins of defeat in those games were between 26 and 62 points), but it has benefited from this being a year in which Region III in the 6A Division II playoff bracket was unusually weak and included no ranked teams and no teams with fewer than two losses in the regular season. Having found itself in uncharted postseason territory it will now have to contend with perennial powerhouse Austin Westlake, which beat two ranked teams in its run through Region IV and is in the state semifinal round for the eighth time in 20 seasons.
Westlake is 13-1 this season and was ranked #12 in Class 6A entering the playoffs. The only blemish on its record is a 26-25 loss on October 11 to Hudson Card and current 6A Division I semifinalist Lake Travis. The Westlake Chaparrals have allowed just 10 points per game this season and only Lake Travis and Del Valle (who Westlake beat 69-31 in October) have scored more than 14 points against them. Their current playoff run includes a 30-7 win over state-ranked Cibolo Steele in the first round, and a 42-14 win over state-ranked and previously unbeaten San Antonio Brandeis in last week’s quarterfinal round.
Westlake hasn’t quite been the Division I QB assembly line that archrival Lake Travis has been for over a decade, but the team seems to always have more than solid play from its signal-callers. Senior QB Kirkland Michaux (who has scholarship offers in both football and baseball) has accounted for nearly 2,700 total yards and 40 TDs this season, while highly-touted sophomore QB Cade Klubnik has completed 78% of his passes and compiled 12 total TDs in limited snaps in a backup role, and is closing in on 1,000 total yards himself. The receiving trio of seniors Ryan Lindley (a Yale commit) and Mason Mangum (a former Arkansas commit) and freshman Jaden Greathouse have combined to produce 181 receptions for 2,564 yards and 37 TDs.
Hayden Conner and the Taylor offensive line will attempt to block a Westlake defense that has been credited with 35 sacks and 82 tackles for loss, according to the team’s MaxPreps page.
The winner between Katy Taylor and Austin Westlake will play for the Class 6A Division II state championship against either Denton Guyer or Spring Westfield, which are both 13-1 and were ranked 14th and 8th, respectively, at the end of the regular season.
2020 DB Xavion Alford (Alvin Shadow Creek) - injured, out for season
Last week: Team beat Manor 59-14 in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 13 at 7:30, vs. San Antonio Wagner (at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium) in the semifinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Shadow Creek moved to 14-0 for the season with yet another in a long line of lopsided wins. Facing a Manor team that reached the state quarterfinals with an upset win over state-ranked Cedar Park, Shadow Creek found itself in the unfamiliar position of trailing. A Manor touchdown with 5:10 left in the 2nd quarter put it ahead of Shadow Creek 14-10, but Shadow Creek scored three quick TDs and went into halftime with a 31-10 lead, and it would finish the game having scored 49 unanswered points.
The win moved the Shadow Creek Sharks on to the state semifinals for the second time in the program’s two-year existence, where they will once again face the Wagner Thunderbirds, who they beat at this point in the 2018 playoffs by a 41-24 score. Shadow Creek ended the regular season ranked #2 in Class 5A Division I, while Wagner was #7.
Wagner, which is part of the Judson Independent School District in northeast San Antonio, played its first varsity season in 2006 but struggled for a number of years as one of the smallest schools in the state’s highest classification. But after moving down from Class 6A to Class 5A a year ago the Thunderbirds became much more competitive.
After winning 13 games total between 2013 and 2017, Wagner went 13-2 in 2018, posting five more wins than it ever had in a single season and reaching the state semifinals for the first time in school history, though Shadow Creek ended its postseason run there.
This season the Thunderbirds rolled through the regular season once again, losing to 6A power and Judson ISD rival Converse Judson, but winning their other nine games. After running the table on its eight opponents in District 13-5A Division I and outscoring them 444-36, they blew out San Antonio Harlandale 62-0 in the first round, had two wins by a combined six points over Corpus Christi Flour Bluff and San Antonio Harlan, then beat Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial 74-14 last week to win Region IV for a second straight year.
Wagner runs a flexbone option offense and averages over 370 rushing yards per game and usually attempts barely a handful of passes. Junior running back L.J. Butler has over 2,200 rushing yards and 30 TDs on the season. This is Butler’s second straight season to cross the 2,000-yard rushing mark, and he is closing in on 5,000 yards for his career. This season he has averaged 10.8 yards per carry, and in the playoffs he is averaging 12.4 yards/carry and has scored 10 TDs.
Sophomore quarterback Isaiah Williams has attempted just 73 passes, but 20 of them have resulted in touchdowns while only 2 have been intercepted. He has also rushed for 563 yards and 12 TDs, with 415 of those yards coming in Wagner’s last two playoff games alone. Senior Joshua Cobbs is the primary beneficiary when Wagner passes the ball, as he has 27 receptions (compared to 20 for the rest of the team) and has scored 17 TDs.
If Wagner’s MaxPreps page is to be believed, its defense spends a goodly portion of games in opponents’ backfields. Seven different players have been credited with 20 or more tackles for loss, and the team averages over 20 such tackles per game. Senior defensive end Demarcus Hendricks is arguably Wagner’s top impact player on that side of the ball, with a reported 79 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, and 3 defensive touchdowns.
When Shadow Creek and Wagner met in the 2018 playoffs it was a very closely-fought game decided in a wild back-and-forth 4th quarter. Wagner led 17-7 early in the 3rd quarter, but three lead changes followed and Shadow Creek led 27-24 after a long TD run with 7:40 left in regulation. With under three minutes left Wagner lined up to kick a would-be game-tying 36-yard field goal, but the kick was short, and Shadow Creek safety Ronald Nunnery (now a freshman at Houston) caught the ball and returned it 105 yards for a back-breaking TD, which put Shadow Creek ahead 34-24 with 2:37 left.
Wagner’s seniors would no doubt love to exorcise that bad memory by beating Shadow Creek this time around. Xavion Alford had 8 tackles in last year’s win over Wagner but is injured and out for this season. Were he healthy he would be counted on far more to play in run support than in pass defense.
The winner between Shadow Creek and Wagner will play in the 5A Division I state championship against either top-ranked Frisco Lone Star or #3 Denton Ryan.
2021 ATH Billy Bowman (Denton Ryan)
2021 ATH Ja’Tavion Sanders (Denton Ryan)
Last week: Bowman caught 2 passes for 14 yards and 1 TD and had 1 carry for 12 yards, and Sanders caught 3 passes for 58 yards in a 56-10 win over Colleyville Heritage in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 14 at 2:00, vs. Frisco Lone Star (at Allen’s Eagle Stadium) in the semifinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Billy Bowman caught a 14-yard TD pass on Denton Ryan’s third offensive play last week against Colleyville Heritage. That drive was Ryan’s opening salvo in a first half barrage in which it scored touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions, while the Raider defense did not allow a Heritage touchdown until the 4th quarter, with the game well in hand by that point.
Also in the 1st quarter, Bowman had a 67-yard kickoff return that set up Ryan’s fourth possession with a 1st down at the Heritage 24-yard line. Senior running back Emani Bailey, a Louisiana-Lafayette commit, gained 331 yards from scrimmage and scored 4 total TDs. He outgained Heritage by nearly 100 yards by himself, as the Raiders had a 553-240 advantage in total yards, and an even more stark 378-91 lead in rushing yards.
It was Ryan’s second win over Heritage in two months. When the teams played on October 11, Ryan was held to a season-low 14 points in the first half, but after leading 14-9 midway through the 3rd quarter, the Raiders pulled away and won 35-9.
Denton Ryan’s weekly strategy this season might best be described as “shock and awe”, in that it routinely demoralized opponents early by putting lots of points on the board before halftime. Through their first 14 games, the Raiders have outscored opponents 559-43 in the first half, winning the first two quarters by an average margin of nearly 37 points per game.
Ryan has averaged 40 points in the first half of games, while no opponent in 2019 has scored more than 7 points before halftime. Thus, the Raiders’ October win over Colleyville Heritage was their only game this season in which the result was even remotely in doubt at any point in the second half.
Needless to say, Ryan is not a team that has much experience with second-half dogfights, but they’re likely to get one on Saturday afternoon when they face Class 5A Division I’s top-ranked team, Frisco Lone Star. Lone Star has put up similarly gaudy point totals on a week-to-week basis, though it has had a couple of close games, with an overtime win over three-time defending state champion Highland Park two weeks ago, and a 41-38 district win over The Colony in October. The Rangers advanced to the state semifinals with a 38-20 win over state-ranked Lancaster in last week’s quarterfinal round.
Lone Star will be Ryan’s first ranked opponent of 2019. This is the Lone Star program’s tenth varsity football season and its fifth time to advance three rounds or more into the playoffs. Its only previous trip this far into the postseason was in 2015, when the Rangers lost to Cedar Park 22-6 in the 5A Division II state championship. Denton Ryan is in the state semifinals for the ninth time in the span of 20 season, and the Raiders have made five state championship appearances with two wins (2001-2002). Both teams are 14-0 this season, and Lone Star is one win away from setting a new school record for a single season.
While on offense, Billy Bowman and fellow Longhorn commit Ja’Tavion Sanders will attack a Lone Star defense that includes a pair of FBS commits at linebacker: Colorado commit Toren Pittman, and Utah commit Jaylan Ford. Lone Star has allowed 14 points per game, and only three opponents have scored more than 20.
When Lone Star has the ball, Ryan’s focus will be containing its passing game, as sophomore QB Garret Rangel has passed for over 4,500 yards and 50 TDs, and senior wide receiver and Oklahoma commit Marvin Mims has caught 107 passes for 2,502 yards and 31 TDs. Mims is in a race with the aforementioned Jaxon Smith-Njigba of Rockwall to see who will break Jordan Shipley’s state record for career receiving yardage first.
The winner of this game will play for the 5A Division I state championship against either Alvin Shadow Creek or San Antonio Wagner.
Commits whose season has ended
2021 QB Jalen Milroe (Katy Tompkins)
Team lost 42-24 to Humble Atascocita in the regional round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
2020 RB Bijan Robinson (Salpointe Catholic - Tucson, Arizona)
Team lost 24-16 to Chandler in the semifinal round of the AIA Open Division playoffs.
2020 WR Dajon Harrison (Hutto)
Team lost 63-14 to Alvin Shadow Creek in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Harrison was named the co-Utility Player of the Year for District 11-5A Division I.
2020 WR Quentin Johnston (Temple)
Team lost to Longview 41-10 in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Johnston was unanimously voted to the All-District first team at wide receiver for District 12-6A.
2020 WR Troy Omeire (Fort Bend Austin)
Team did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs. Omeire was voted the Offensive MVP of District 20-6A.
2020 OL Jaylen Garth (Port Neches-Groves) - injured, missed 2019 season
Team lost 48-14 to Fort Bend Marshall in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
2020 OL Andrej Karic (Southlake Carroll)
Last week: Team lost to Southlake Carroll 49-35 in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
Notes: As described in Ja’Quinden Jackson’s section of this post, Karic’s Southlake Carroll team had its chances to take down top-ranked Duncanville in the state quarterfinals last week. The game was tied at 14-14 in the 1st quarter, and after trailing by 21 points for much of the 3rd quarter the Dragons managed to get within seven points with just under four minutes left in the game. But the Dragon defense was unable to stop Duncanville, and the Panthers scored in two plays to bring their lead back to 14 points at 49-35, and Carroll turned the ball over on downs on its final drive.
Karic blocked for an offense that averaged 49 points per game in 2019 and gave the nation’s 3rd-ranked team all it could handle. Carroll finished the season 13-1 and showed it was much improved from the 2018 team whose season ended with the school’s worst-ever playoff defeat, a 51-7 loss to Duncanville.
2020 OL Jake Majors (Prosper)
Last week: Team lost to Rockwall 59-42 in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
Notes: Jake Majors’s senior season ended with a loss to Rockwall in last week’s quarterfinals in high-scoring effort by both teams. I said in last week’s post that the key for Prosper might be less in getting defensive stops against Rockwall and more in simply keeping up with them on offense. This was based on my observation that even in some lopsided wins this fall Prosper had shown a tendency to have several drives end in punts or turnovers on downs early on, and that tendency showed itself in a key stretch against Rockwall.
Prosper received the opening kickoff and scored a TD just over three minutes in, then its defense intercepted Rockwall QB Braedyn Locke and returned it for a pick-six to make the score 14-0 with 7:40 left in the 1st quarter. Prosper forced a punt on Rockwall’s next possession, but its own subsequent drive stalled and the Eagles were forced to punt the ball back.
It was the first of four straight Prosper drives that ended with punts, and Rockwall responded by scoring TDs on its next three possessions to take a 21-14 lead. Prosper re-grouped and tied the game late in the 2nd quarter, but Rockwall needed just two plays to re-take the lead on a 66-yard TD pass from Locke to J.J. Williams with 54 seconds left in the half, and Rockwall led 28-21 at halftime.
That lead was quickly stretched to 35-21 after Rockwall received the opening kickoff and Locke connected with Williams for another long score on the first offensive snap of the 3rd quarter. The teams traded scores on their next possessions, and with Rockwall leading 42-28 Prosper apparently attempted a fake punt from its end of the field that was unsuccessful and gave the Yellowjackets a 1st down at Prosper’s 39-yard line. Rockwall settled for a field goal and led 45-28 with 2:50 left in the 3rd quarter.
Prosper scored on its next two drives and got the score as close as 52-42 with 10:21 left, but went three-and-out on its final possession, and Rockwall ran out most of the game clock on its final two drives before scoring a short rushing TD with five seconds remaining. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Rockwall’s five-star wide receiver who is committed to Ohio State, had 11 catches for 218 yards and scored six total TDs in the game.
Prosper finished the season with an overall record of 11-3, and Jake Majors was unanimously voted to the All-District first team on the offensive line for District 9-6A. With his season over he can go cheer for his future teammate Ja’Quinden Jackson to beat Rockwall on Saturday.
2020 OL Logan Parr (San Antonio O’Connor)
Team lost 23-20 to San Antonio Reagan in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs. Parr was voted an All-District first team offensive lineman for District 28-6A.
2020 DT Vernon Broughton (Cypress Ridge)
Team did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs. Broughton was named an All-District second team defensive lineman in District 17-6A.
2020 LB Prince Dorbah (Highland Park)
Team lost to top-ranked Frisco Lone Star 33-27 (in overtime) in the regional round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Dorbah was unanimously named the Defensive MVP of District 6-5A Division I.
2021 LB Derrick Harris (New Caney)
Team lost 31-21 to Richmond Foster in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Derrick Harris was voted the Defensive MVP of District 9-5A Division I.
2020 DB Kitan Crawford (Tyler John Tyler)
Team lost 40-21 to College Station in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Crawford was voted to the All-District first team at both running back and cornerback in District 7-5A Division I.
2020 DB Jerrin Thompson (Lufkin)
Team lost 41-35 in double overtime to Texarkana Texas in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Thompson was voted the District MVP of District 8-5A Division I.
2021 ATH Juan Davis (Everman)
Team lost 55-24 to Red Oak in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
2020 ATH Jaden Hullaby (Mansfield Timberview)
Team lost 43-28 to Frisco Independence in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs. Hullaby was named to the All-District first team at QB for District 6-5A Division I.