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Longhorn football commits in action, Oct. 28-30

One future Longhorn has a playoff game tonight, while the in-state commits are two weeks away from the postseason.

2022 DL commit Kristopher Ross (Galena Park North Shore) will be in a matchup of two top-ten teams on Friday when #8 North Shore hosts #5 Humble Atascocita.

We’ve reached the penultimate week of the Texas high school football regular season. Eight of the Texas Longhorns’ in-state commits have seen their teams qualify for the playoffs, and a lot would have to go wrong for the others to miss out on the postseason.

UT’s out-of-state commits are all at slightly different points in their schedule. Nevada edge defender Anthony Jones will have his team’s first playoff game tonight. Alabama defensive lineman Justice Finkley and his team have concluded their regular season and will play their first round playoff game next week. The program’s two Arizona commits, meanwhile, still have three games left in their regular season.

While the in-state commits have a pretty good view of what they need to do to get into the playoffs and who they might face in the first round, the playoff picture is a bit harder to draw for the team’s Arizona, California, and Louisiana commits, as those states have playoff brackets that will be put together largely by a power ranking formula and not solely by a team’s district standing. But right now all of the team’s 19 commits who have actually played a decent portion of the 2021 season look like good bets to still be in action when their state’s playoffs begin.

There are still a few big games left before the playoffs arrive, though. Jamarion Miller’s Tyler Legacy team faces its fourth state-ranked opponent of the season on Friday night. Also on Friday, Armani Winfield (Lewisville) and Kristopher Ross (Galena Park North Shore) both have games that amount to de facto district championship tilts. Derrick Brown (Texarkana Texas) is one win away from his team clinching its district’s championship as well.

Other commits and their teams won’t have nearly as competitive an opponent this week, but after next week the games will only get more difficult as the playoff action begins.

Below are my notes on each commit and their team’s games this week, and the start times listed for each game is listed according to Central Time.

2022 QB Maalik Murphy — Gardena (California) Junipero Serra

Friday, October 29 at 9:00, vs. La Puente (California) Bishop Amat

Note: Junipero Serra scored its fourth straight victory last weekend with a 30-10 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Maalik Murphy completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 267 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also had two carries for 10 yards.

Serra is 5-3 overall and 3-0 against its Mission League opponents. It will have its Senior Night and regular season finale on Friday night against Bishop Amat, which is 6-3 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Cavaliers should know after that which playoff division they will be in.

2022 RB Jamarion Miller — Tyler Legacy

Friday, October 29 at 7:30, at Rockwall-Heath

Note: Tyler Legacy beat North Mesquite 42-20 last week to bring its record to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in district play. The Raiders are tied for 2nd place in District 10-6A, and I believe last week’s win clinched a playoff berth, since even if they were to lose their final two games they would, at worst, be tied with Mesquite Horn, who they beat by 22 points.

Legacy’s three losses this season have all come against currently-ranked teams: Longview (#8 in Class 5A Division I), Allen (#10 in Class 6A), and Rockwall (#14 in Class 6A). On Friday night, the Raiders will face their fourth ranked opponent of 2021, Class 6A’s sixth-ranked team Rockwall-Heath. Rockwall-Heath is 7-1 this season, with a one-point loss in September to Class 6A’s current #3 team Southlake Carroll being the only blemish on its record.

Tyler Legacy will be the smallest of the district’s four playoff entrants, so the Raiders will be in the 6A Division II bracket. As things stand now, Legacy’s first round opponent would be either Garland or Naaman Forest.

2022 WR Brenen Thompson — Spearman

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, at Friona

Note: Spearman shut out Dimmitt 56-0 last week to improve its district record to 2-2. Those two losses came against district leaders Childress and Canadian, which are currently ranked third and ninth in Class 3A Division II. Spearman is in a three-way for third place in District 3-3A Division II, along with Friona and Tulia, the last two teams on its schedule. The top four teams in each district will advance to the playoffs. The Spearman Lynx will face Friona on Friday night, and will have to win at least one of their last two games to reach the postseason.

Brenen Thompson has not played since early September due to injury, and it remains unknown if he will return before the end of the season.

2022 WR Armani Winfield — Lewisville

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, at Flower Mound Marcus

Note: Lewisville beat Coppell 38-15 last week to sew up a playoff bid for a fourth straight season. Armani Winfield had another big receiving night, catching seven passes for 138 yards. In six games this season he has caught 31 passes for 635 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Lewisville is 8-0 and ranked 20th in Class 6A. The Farmers lead district 6-6A with a 5-0 district record, and can finish no worse than third. Their opponent this week is 6-2 Flower Mound Marcus, whose two losses on the season came by a combined seven points. Marcus is 4-1 in district, though it lost to a Flower Mound team that Lewisville beat by nine points, and needed double overtime to beat a Coppell team that Lewisville beat last week by 23 points. Still, it’s a rivalry game, one that has a longtime nickname (“the Battle of the Axe”), and the winner on Friday night will likely be the district champion at the end of the regular season. Marcus beat Lewisville 58-38 in last year’s matchup, and has won 12 of the last 14 games in this rivalry.

2022 OL Cole Hutson — Frisco

Thursday, October 28 at 7:00, vs. Prosper Rock Hill

Note: Frisco suffered its first loss of 2021 last week, falling 38-15 to undefeated Lovejoy, the third-ranked team in Class 5A Division II. Frisco is now 7-1 overall and 5-1 in district play, tied for second place in District 7-5A Division II with Frisco Liberty, who it has a head-to-head win over.

Tonight, the Raccoons will face Prosper Rock Hill, which is 3-3 in district. A win in either of their final two games will get Frisco into the playoffs. There are a few scenarios in which Cole Hutson and company could miss the playoffs, but all would require them to lose to both Rock Hill and Frisco Memorial (2-4 in district). It’s pretty hard to see that happening.

Right now, Frisco’s most likely first round opponents in the playoffs appear to be Royse City and Forney.

2022 OL Connor Robertson — Austin Westlake

Friday, October 29 at 7:30, vs. Austin High

Note: Westlake allowed its first points in four weeks during last Friday’s 55-6 win over Austin Akins. The Chaparrals are 5-0 in district play and have outscored their District 26-6A opposition by a combined tally of 286-12. The highlights below from the Westlake-Akins game show Connor Robertson playing left guard.

Can things get much easier for Westlake? Yes. Yes they can. On Friday they will play Austin High, which is winless in district play and not only has a loss to Akins on its ledger, but also a 52-3 loss last week to a Buda Hays team that Westlake had beaten 77-0 the week before. The Austin Maroons just aren’t good at all in 2021 and Charles Wright won’t be suiting up for them on Friday. So Westlake can all but name its score.

Westlake remains the top-ranked team in the state of Texas, and in its regular season finale next week it will face ninth-ranked Lake Travis for the district championship.

2022 DL Aaron Bryant — Southaven (Mississippi)

Friday, October 29, at DeSoto (Mississippi) Central

Note: Southaven scored an easy 47-7 victory over Lewisburg last week, as its defense forced five turnovers and limited Lewisburg to 107 yards of offense.

The Southaven Chargers are 4-1 against their 6A Region 1 opponents and are tied with DeSoto Central (this week’s opponent) for 2nd place. With a win on Friday, the Chargers should finish no worse than 2nd in the Region.

The top four teams in each region will advance to the playoffs, and Southaven has two games remaining. Assuming that Mississippi high schools use similar tie-breaker procedures as their Texas counterparts, I suspect the only way Southaven could miss the playoffs would be if it lost both of its final two games, finished in a three-way tie for third place with Horn Lake and Hernando, and came up last in a tiebreaker due to losing to Horn Lake by more than 14 points. But a win in either of its last two games will eliminate any worry of that.

2022 DL Justice Finkley — Trussville (Alabama) Hewitt-Trussville

No game this week

Note: Hewitt-Trussville closed out its regular season schedule last week with a 28-7 win over Oak Mountain. Justice Finkley was credited with ten total tackles and one tackle for loss in the win. Both teams had already clinched playoff spots, and the game was a battle for third place in Class 7A Region 3.

Hewitt-Trussville finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-2 and a region record of 5-2. The Huskies will have their first round playoff game next week against a 5-4 Madison Bob Jones team that finished second in its region.

2022 DL Kristopher Ross — Galena Park North Shore

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, vs. Humble Atascocita

Note: Last week, North Shore shut out Houston C.E. King 17-0, holding the King Panthers to 152 total yards. It was North Shore’s sixth straight win this season and it improved the Mustangs’ record to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in district play.

On Friday, the eighth-ranked Mustangs will host Class 6A’s fifth-ranked Atascocita Eagles in a battle for the championship of District 21-6A. Atascocita has a win on the road over 10th-ranked Allen on its resume, and its only loss came in a September road game against current 11th-ranked Denton Guyer.

Regardless of the outcome on Friday, North Shore and Atascocita will be their district’s two representatives in the 6A Division I playoff bracket, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a re-match in a few weeks. The chances of that happening will go up dramatically if 2nd-ranked Katy ends up in the Division II bracket. North Shore will have a bye next week before the playoffs begin the following weekend.

2022 DL Zac Swanson — Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep

Friday, October 29 at 9:00, vs. Peoria (Arizona) Centennial

Note: Brophy Prep won a defensive struggle over Phoenix Pinnacle last week, by a 21-0 score. The two teams combined for only 365 yards of total offense, and Brophy’s defense recorded three interceptions. Zac Swanson was credited with 3 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack.

Brophy Prep is 5-2 overall and 2-0 against its sectional opponents. The power ranking formula that decides the seeding for Arizona’s playoff brackets currently ranks Brophy Prep seventh out of the 38 teams in Conference 6A, and it is #11 in the Open Division rankings. The Brophy Prep Broncos have three regular season games remaining, and their ideal outcome would be to finish just outside of the top eight in the Open Division rankings and get one of the highest seeds in the 6A playoff bracket.

Their opponent this week is Peoria Centennial, which despite its 3-4 record is rated #15 in 6A.

2022 DE J’Mond Tapp — Donaldsonville (Louisiana) Ascension Catholic

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, vs. Gonzales (Louisiana) Ascension Christian

Note: Ascension Catholic got a blowout win over winless East Iberville last week, by a final score of 57-12. The Bulldogs are now 5-1 and moved up two spots to fourth in this week’s Class 1A rankings. They have two games left on their regular season schedule, both against schools with losing records. It will be a battle of Ascensions on Friday, as Ascension Catholic takes on 2-5 Ascension Christian.

Ascension Catholic should be assured a playoff spot, and it will likely get a first round bye. The 1A bracket last year featured 24 total teams in a seeded tournament, and the top eight seeds all had first round byes.

2022 DE/LB Derrick Brown — Texarkana Texas

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, vs. Nacogdoches

Note: The Texas Tigers beat Jacksonville 42-7 last week to stay unbeaten at 7-0 and clinch a spot in the playoffs. Texas held Jacksonville to 133 total yards, including -2 yards rushing.

The Tigers are ranked seventh in Class 5A Division II, and have two games left on their district schedule. On Friday they host Nacogdoches (3-5 overall, 3-2 in district), and with a win they will clinch the championship of District 9-5A Division II. In the current state rankings for 5A Division II, Texas High is one of three teams from Region 3 that are in the top ten, along with #8 Montgomery and #10 Crosby.

2022 LB Eoghan Kerry — Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei

Friday, October 29 at 9:00, vs. San Juan Capistrano (California) JSerra Catholic

Note: Mater Dei beat nationally-ranked Anaheim Servite 46-37 last week in its closest finish of this season so far. Eoghan Kerry was credited with one tackle in the win. The game was a battle between the #1 and #7 teams in the country, according to the USA Today Super 25 rankings. Mater Dei remains the top-ranked team in the nation and has one regular season game left, in which it will host JSerra Catholic (not to be confused with Maalik Murphy’s Junipero Serra team) on Friday night.

JSerra beat Mater Dei 35-28 in 2015, when Mater Dei had a freshman QB named J.T. Daniels (now a junior at Georgia), but since then Mater Dei has won five straight in this series and all were by margins of at least 35 points. JSerra is 3-6 this season and lost to Servite 53-0 two weeks ago, so this will likely be another lopsided win for Mater Dei.

I won’t make any attempt at guessing Mater Dei’s first round playoff opponent or what division it will even be in, but you readers will know when I know something.

2022 DB Bryan Allen — Aledo

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, at Arlington Seguin

Note: Aledo had another cakewalk last week, leading Waco University 55-6 at halftime and ultimately winning 65-14. Bryan Allen was credited with three total tackles and a 25-yard punt return.

Aledo is 8-0 and has clinched a playoff spot. With a win over Arlington Seguin on Friday the Bearcats will wrap up the championship of District 5-5A Division II with one game left in the regular season. Seguin is 3-6 overall and is coming off a 56-23 loss to a Mansfield Timberview team that Aledo beat 35-21 the week before.

Aledo should cruise into the playoffs undefeated, and then likely won’t face anything resembling a stiff challenge until the third round. In a lot of seasons, Aledo has cleaned up against Region 1 competition on its way to the state semifinals, but this year Aledo is in Region 2, which has three other ranked teams, plus some solid non-ranked squads. Aledo is the top-ranked team in 5A Division II, and as things stand now, it could face either 6th-ranked South Oak Cliff or Cole Hutson’s 7-1 Frisco team in the third round, then would likely play either #2 Lovejoy or #4 Ennis in the regional final.

2022 DB Austin Jordan — Denton Ryan

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, vs. Frisco Independence

Note: The Ryan Raiders scored early and often last week against Frisco Heritage, taking a 41-0 lead into halftime and winning 55-14. Ryan piled up 607 yards of offense in the win. Austin Jordan contributed 3 tackles and an interception on defense, and also caught 3 passes for 25 yards. Ryan is 6-0 in district and tied for the lead in District 5-5A Division I with Frisco Lone Star, its opponent next week. Ryan can finish no worse than 2nd place in the district.

Ryan is the top-ranked team in Class 5A Division I, and before it finishes the regular season next week against 8th-ranked Lone Star it will host Frisco Independence, which is 3-5 overall and has losses to a few teams that Ryan beat decisively. Once the playoffs begin, Ryan will have to navigate a Region 2 bracket in Class 5A Division I that currently boasts half of that classification’s top ten teams. So Friday’s game against Independence may be the last easy win the Raiders get this season.

2022 DB Ronald Lewis — New Orleans (Louisiana) Warren Easton

Saturday, October 30 at 2:30, vs. New Orleans (Louisiana) Lusher

Note: Warren Easton blew out Eleanor McMain last Saturday by a 44-0 score. The Easton Eagles are 4-2 this season and have two games left on their regular season schedule, with those two opponents currently sporting a combined season record of 2-8.

Easton will go into Week 9 of the season as Class 4A’s third-ranked team. Their only two losses have come against the top-ranked teams in 5A (Catholic-Baton Rouge) and 4A (New Orleans Edna Karr). The Eagles will play their fourth straight Saturday game this weekend when they host 0-4 Lusher, a team that has been outscored this season 188-6, and which apparently has not won a football game since October 26, 2019.

2022 ATH Anthony Jones — Henderson (Nevada) Liberty

Thursday, October 28 at 8:00, vs. North Las Vegas (Nevada) Legacy in the first round of the NIAA 5A Southern Region playoffs

Note: Liberty capped off its regular season schedule last week with a 49-7 win over Desert Pines. Anthony Jones had three total tackles, one tackle for loss, and a reception for no gain in the win.

The Liberty Patriots go into the playoffs with an 8-1 overall record and a five-game winning streak. They will play their first playoff game tonight, which they will host against North Las Vegas Legacy, a team they beat 48-7 on September 17. If they win that game they will advance to the next round and play either Arbor View or Desert Pines, two teams they beat in the regular season by a combined score of 91-21.

Waiting for Liberty in the Southern Regional final will likely be 8-1 Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, which has not been scored upon by a Nevada opponent this season, and whose only loss came by a 25-24 score on September 17 against Chandler Hamilton, the current third-ranked team in Arizona.

2022 K Will Stone — Austin Regents School

Friday, October 29 at 7:00, at Corpus Christi John Paul II

Note: Last week, Regents knocked around Brownsville St. Joseph Academy (the alma mater of Longhorn receiver Kai Money) by a score of 63-6.

The Regents Knights are 8-0 and have two games remaining against Corpus Christi John Paul II and Austin Brentwood Christian, two teams that are currently tied for third place in District 3 of TAPPS Division II. Regents is 5-0 in district play and would have to lose both of its final two games to finish worse than 2nd in the district.

Texas Football continues to rank Regents as the state’s top private school team. Of the other four teams in its top five, only one of them (#3 Houston Second Baptist) is also in TAPPS Division II. So the Knights would appear to be in a very good position to claim their second straight TAPPS Division II state title in December.

2022 LS Lance St. Louis — Gilbert (Arizona) Williams Field

Friday, October 29 at 9:00, vs. Mesa (Arizona) Desert Ridge

Note: Williams Field beat Corona del Sol 13-7 last week in a defensive struggle in which neither team even reached 300 yards of offense.

The Williams Field Black Hawks are 5-2 for the season and have three regular season games left. On Friday they will host 3-4 Desert Ridge. Williams Field is currently #12 in the Conference 6A rankings, and while it very likely won’t be in the hunt for an Open Division playoff spot, it’s in a solid position to be one of 6A’s playoff teams. If the top 5-6 teams in 6A qualify for the Open Division bracket, that will leave teams ranked 6-21 or 5-20 to fill out the 6A playoff bracket, and the Black Hawks would probably have to lose and lose badly in their final three games to miss the postseason.

Other commits not playing this season

2022 RB Jaydon Blue (Klein Cain)

Blue opted out of playing in the 2021 season. In his absence, Klein Cain has gone 7-2 overall with a 4-1 record in district play, and the Hurricanes have clinched a playoff berth.

2022 DL Jaray Bledsoe (Marlin)

After previously attending Bremond High School, Bledsoe transferred in the summer of 2021 to Marlin High School, which is 17 miles away. He was subsequently ruled ineligible for the 2021 football season, and in late August the U.I.L. denied his eligibility appeal. In his absence, Marlin has compiled a record of 5-3 overall and 2-1 in district play. The Bulldogs are one win away from clinching a playoff spot.

2022 LB Trevell Johnson (Arlington Martin)

Johnson attempted to play in Week One, despite having dealt with a hip issue for several months beforehand, but afterwards he elected to have surgery and will miss the rest of his senior season. In his absence, Arlington Martin has a 6-2 overall record and a 4-0 mark in district play. The Martin Warriors have already extended their Arlington ISD record streak by clinching a playoff berth for a 16th consecutive season, and with a win over Grand Prairie on Friday night they will be district champions for a third straight year and for the fifth time in eight seasons.