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Longhorn football commits in action, Nov. 11-12

It’s playoff time this week for 16 Longhorn commits!

2022 defensive line commit Justice Finkley will lead his team in the Alabama playoffs against the 17th-ranked team in the country on Friday night.

The Texas Longhorns may have forgotten how to close out games in the past few weeks, but their recruits have not. The Longhorns currently have 22 players committed in the 2022 recruiting class, 19 of whom have played in multiple games this season, while the three others have missed the season due to injury, opt-out, or ineligibility. Barring something weird happening this weekend in Arizona, all 19 of those commits who have played significant time this season will make the playoffs.

A pair of out-of-state commits have already begun their playoff run, while the playoffs for Texas schools begin tonight. For some of these future Longhorns, you can all but pencil their team in for the next round, but two commits will have to lead their teams to upset wins against nationally-ranked opponents this weekend to keep their season alive.

One commit returned from injury a week ago to help his team wrap up a playoff spot in a do-or-die district game, while another commit’s season may be over due to off-the-field reasons (more on that later).

You can visit Dave Campbell’s Texas Football for the full list of Texas’s UIL playoff game times and locations. It has been well over two decades since the last time there wasn’t a future Longhorn playing for a Texas state championship team, so long playoff runs by at least one UT commit should be expected every year. But since 2015 (the year I started doing these weekly posts for BON) there has never been a season where this many Longhorn commits reached the playoffs, and certainly not a season where 100% of the senior commits got their teams into the postseason.

The herd will only get thinner from here, though, and this will almost certainly be the last time I write a preview for some of these teams.

It should be a great weekend for some high school football action. All game times listed are according to Central Time.

Texas Longhorn commits playing this week

2022 QB Maalik Murphy — Gardena (California) Junipero Serra

Friday, November 12, vs. Santa Ana (California) Foothill in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs

Note: For their first round playoff game last week, the Junipero Serra Cavaliers had a re-match with a Chaminade team they’d beaten 16-12 only four weeks earlier. The rematch wasn’t nearly as close as their October meeting, as Serra prevailed 40-14. Maalik Murphy completed 21 of 28 passes for 257 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and he also had 4 carries for 9 yards and a TD.

In the second round they’ll face a tough Foothill team that is 10-1 on the season and advanced with a 31-14 win over a Chino Hills Ayala team that had finished the regular season 9-1. Foothill’s only loss of the season came on October 15 by a 30-27 score against Yorba Linda, a team that went undefeated in the regular season before losing last week in the first round to a Bishop Amat team that had beaten Serra 41-40 in overtime the week before.

Remarkably, Foothill has compiled its 10-1 record this season while facing just two opponents that had with a losing record.

2022 RB Jamarion Miller — Tyler Legacy

Friday, November 12 at 7:30, vs. Garland (at Garland’s Williams Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

Note: Tyler Legacy fell to Mesquite 21-9 last week in the regular season finale for both teams. Both teams had clinched playoff berths and the game had no effect on either team’s playoff seeding.

The Legacy Raiders finished the regular season 5-5, and in the first round of the playoffs they will face 10-0 Garland, the champion of District 9-6A. The Garland Owls ran the table on their regular season schedule and have won ten games after winning a combined nine games in the past four seasons. It was Garland’s first undefeated regular season since 2002, and it will go into the playoffs ranked 25th in Class 6A.

The winner between Tyler Legacy and Garland will move on to the area round and play either Cedar Hill or Bryan. The only other ranked team in Region II of the 6A Division II playoffs is #5 Rockwall-Heath, but Legacy would only face that team if both advanced to the regional final (aka the fourth round).

2022 WR Brenen Thompson — Spearman

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. Lubbock Roosevelt (at Amarillo’s Wildcat Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 3A Division II playoffs

Note: Brenen Thompson returned to the field for the first time in two months last Friday for Senior Night and gave his team all the boost it needed in a win-or-stay-home game against Tulia, as Spearman won 45-28 to nab its district’s final playoff spot. He didn’t have a big direct impact on the scoreboard, though he made an effective decoy on a number of snaps and he scored on a one-yard TD midway through the 4th quarter to give Spearman a 38-21 cushion.

As a result of Spearman’s win, every current in-state Longhorn commit will get to see his school in the playoffs, including those who opted out or are ineligible.

As a reward, the Spearman Lynx get a first round date with Lubbock Roosevelt, which is 10-0 and ranked sixth in Class 3A Division II. So it will likely be a short postseason run. Spearman beat Roosevelt 63-34 in the first round of last year’s playoffs, but Roosevelt has been a much better team in 2021, and Thompson is probably still far from 100%. If he has played his last high school game, then he will have contributed to his team making the playoffs for a 12th straight year.

2022 WR Armani Winfield — Lewisville

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. McKinney Boyd (at Lewisville’s Goldsmith Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: Lewisville won a dramatic regular season finale over Hebron last Friday, with the winning points in the 37-35 victory coming on a Hail Mary pass as time expired. Armani Winfield caught 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown on the night.

Hebron scored a go-ahead touchdown with 15 seconds left in regulation to take a 35-31 lead. Lewisville returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to set up a final play from Hebron’s 40-yard line. On that final play, Lewisville QB Ethan Terrell loosed a very awkward throw while running to his left and connected with senior receiver Kye Stone, who caught the ball at about the 8-yard line but fought his way into the end zone for the winning points. Stone had 9 catches for 206 yards in the game.

With the win, Lewisville finished the regular season 9-1, its best regular season record in 20 years. The Fighting Farmers also ensured that they would get District 6-6A’s top seed in the 6A Division I playoff bracket. Had they lost last Friday they would now be preparing to play 17th-ranked Allen, but Allen will instead be Hebron’s problem. Lewisville will open the postseason against McKinney Boyd, a team it beat 48-24 in the first round a year ago.

McKinney Boyd finished the regular season 8-2, with its two losses coming against 9th-ranked Denton Guyer and 17th-ranked Allen. The Boyd Broncos had a solid, if unspectacular season, tying the school record for most regular season wins. Boyd recorded three wins against teams that have reached the playoffs, and it had four total wins that came by 7 points or less.

2022 OL Cole Hutson — Frisco

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. Royse City (at Frisco’s Ford Center) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: Frisco had far from a crisp all-around performance last week, as the Raccoons committed three turnovers, were penalized eight times, and scored just two offensive touchdowns, but its defense limited Frisco Memorial to 10 rushing yards and its special teams unit scored TDs on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone and on a punt return.

Frisco beat Memorial 27-10 to finish the regular season 9-1. Also last week, Frisco Liberty upset 2nd-ranked Lovejoy 27-24, leaving Frisco, Liberty, and Lovejoy in a three-way tie for the lead in District 7-5A Division II, each having a 7-1 district record. Lovejoy beat Frisco and Frisco beat Liberty earlier in the season, and after the point differentials tiebreaker Lovejoy got the district’s top playoff seed and Frisco the runner-up seed.

On Friday, Frisco will face 8-2 Royse City, the third seed from District 8-5A Division II. Royse City started off the season 8-0, but goes into the playoffs on a two game losing streak, having fallen to 30-20 to Forney last week, and 48-20 to current 3rd-ranked Ennis the week before. If Frisco wins it will advance to the area round for a fourth straight year, the longest such streak in school history. If they reach the area round the Raccoons will play either 5th-ranked South Oak Cliff for a fourth straight year, or Everman.

2022 OL Connor Robertson — Austin Westlake

Friday, November 12 at 7:30, vs. Hutto (at Westlake’s Chaparral Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

Note: Westlake manhandled archrival Lake Travis 63-21 last week to win the championship of District 26-6A and extend its winning streak to 34 consecutive games. Westlake will go into the playoffs as the top-ranked team in Class 6A, a position it has maintained all season.

Westlake won the 6A Division I state title in 2020, and the 6A Division II crown in 2019. 6A is the only classification that divides into separate divisions after the regular season and not before. At the conclusion of the regular season when each district’s four playoff qualifiers have been determined, the two with the highest enrollments go to Division I and the two with the smallest to Division II. It’s an often unstable system in which a school ends up in one division or another solely because of the size of the other schools in its district.

Because Westlake has (barely) the third-highest enrollment in its district after Lake Travis and Austin Bowie, its placement in Division I or Division II has nothing to do with how well it plays during the regular season and almost everything to do with whether or not Bowie makes the playoffs. Bowie went 3-5 in 2020 and snapped a 13-year playoff streak, thus Westlake went to the Division I bracket. Bowie went 8-2 this season and easily earned a playoff bid, so Westlake is back in Division II.

6A Division II was unusually weak the last time Westlake was in that bracket in 2019, but this year’s bracket includes six of Class 6A’s top 25 teams, plus nine unranked teams that won either 9 or 10 games during the regular season. Westlake will begin its quest for a third straight state title on Friday by hosting Hutto, which went 5-5 in the regular season.

Westlake and Hutto had one mutual opponent this season in Temple, a team Westlake beat 54-13 in its season opener, and who Hutto lost to 60-53 two weeks later.

2022 DL Aaron Bryant — Southaven (Mississippi)

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. Clinton in the first round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs

Note: Southaven beat Horn Lake 21-7 last week to finish 6-1 in its region and in second place. Southaven played a lot of low-scoring games but was typically on the winning side of them. The 8-3 Chargers allowed just 102 points in their 11 games and allowed only one opponent to score more than 16 points. Their three losses came by a combined 16 points.

Southaven’s first round playoff opponent will be Clinton, which went 6-4 in the regular season and lost one game in double overtime and two others by a margin of seven points each. Southaven and Clinton had no common opponents this season. If Southaven wins it will advance to the quarterfinals and play either Hernando (who Southaven beat 16-9 in early October) or Starkville, which was ranked 5th in Class 6A going into the final week of the regular season.

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

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs Hoover in the quarterfinal round of the AHSAA Class 7A playoffs

Note: Hewitt-Trussville won its first round playoff game last week, notching a convincing 42-20 win over Bob Jones. Justice Finkley was credited with 11 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

The Huskies will face a very stiff obstacle to their state championship goal on Friday in the form of unbeaten Hoover, which went into the playoffs as Alabama’s top-ranked team and is #17 in this week’s USA Today Super 25 rankings. Hoover beat Hewitt-Trussville 34-10 on October 1. Hoover has been Alabama’s top football powerhouse in the current century, with 11 state championships won between 2000 and 2017, and 13 overall in school history, while Hewitt-Trussville has never won a state title in football.

Should the Huskies upset Hoover they would advance to the state semifinals and would have to tangle with either 2nd-ranked Thompson (the two-time defending state champions who beat Hewitt-Trussville 42-9 in mid-September) or Oak Mountain.

2022 DL Kristopher Ross — Galena Park North Shore

Thursday, November 11 at 7:00, vs. Pasadena Dobie (at Galena Park ISD Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: North Shore had a bye in the final week of the regular season and got to rest up a bit for the playoffs after winning its final district game against state-ranked Humble Atascocita. The 9-1 Mustangs will go into the 6A Division I playoffs as Class 6A’s 7th-ranked team and will begin their postseason run against frequent bi-district foe Pasadena Dobie. Dobie and North Shore have met in the first round of the playoffs seven times since 2011, with North Shore winning those seven matchups by an average margin of 34.7 points.

Dobie has not won a playoff game since 2004, when its current seniors were either in diapers or the womb, while North Shore has reached at least the second round of the playoffs in 21 straight seasons and has not lost a bi-district round game since 1999. North Shore is one of six ranked teams in Region 3 of the 6A Division I playoff bracket, but it will only have to beat two of the others, with their first ranked opponent likely to be either #23 Jersey Village or #24 Katy Tompkins in the third round.

2022 DL Zac Swanson — Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep

Friday, November 12 at 8:00, at Gilbert (Arizona) Williams Field

Note: Brophy Prep lost 21-9 last week against Peoria Liberty, which ended the slim chance Brophy had at getting in to the Open Division playoffs, but likely ensured it would get one of the higher seeds in the Conference 6A playoffs when they begin next week.

Liberty limited Brophy to -17 rushing yards and 200 total yards of offense. Zac Swanson was credited with 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a fumble recovered for Brophy’s only touchdown in the game. Swanson’s touchdown, which I believe was his second score in as many games, came after Liberty was forced to punt on its opening drive, and a bad snap on the punt attempt was recovered in the end zone. After taking an early 6-0 lead, Brophy Prep added only a field goal in the remainder of the game, while Liberty scored touchdowns thrice.

The Brophy Broncos are 6-3 overall and ranked 8th in 6A going into the final week of Arizona’s regular season. Zac Swanson will face future teammate Lance St. Louis on Friday when Brophy Prep travels for a non-section game against Williams Field, currently ranked 10th in 6A. The game will affect the teams’ playoff seedings but both should be shoo-ins for the postseason. If the playoffs began today, the top five teams in 6A would all be slated into the Open Division playoff, while the teams in 6A ranked 6th through 21st would go into the playoff bracket for the Conference 6A state championship.

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

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, at Morgan City (Louisiana) Central Catholic in the first round of the LHSAA Division IV playoffs

Note: Ascension Catholic concluded its regular season with a 7-1 record following a 33-14 win last week over Plaquemine St. John. The Bulldogs were ranked 4th in Class 1A in the final Louisiana Sports Writers Association poll, but the power ranking formula used to assemble the state’s seeded brackets gave them the 9th seed in the Division IV playoffs, a bracket wholly comprised of small private schools.

Ascension Catholic will travel to play 8th seed Morgan City Central Catholic on Friday night, and with a win it would likely have a quarterfinal match next week against top seed Ouachita Christian, but it appears that J’Mond Tapp will not be in uniform on Friday and may have played his last high school game.

A reader who commented on my post last week shared a link to a Baton Rouge news article about an alleged hazing incident at Ascension Catholic that had resulted in an investigation by its parish’s Sheriff’s Department. Until then I was unaware of that story. Sources told Baton Rouge’s CBS affiliate WAFB that “multiple football players” on the team had been “expelled”. A November 1 report from local ABC affiliate WBRZ added this detail: “A Division I commit is among the players removed from the team, sources told the WBRZ sports department.”

A look at the 247Sports database reveals that J’Mond Tapp is the only football recruit from that school who is currently committed, and the only other Ascension Catholic player who even has a recruit profile is uncommitted four-star junior athlete Khai Prean, The alleged victim in the hazing incident(s) that sparked the criminal investigation has reportedly declined to press charges, but it remains to be seen what effect this could have on Tapp’s academic status for his senior year, let alone whether he will part of the Longhorns’ 2022 recruiting class come February.

2022 DE/LB Derrick Brown — Texarkana Texas

Thursday, November 11 at 7:00, vs. Fulshear (at Texarkana’s Tiger Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: The Texas Tigers completed their second straight undefeated regular season last week with a 34-7 win over Whitehouse.

The 9-0 Tigers will go into the playoffs as the 6th-ranked team in Class 5A Division II and will host 5-5 Fulshear, a Lamar Consolidated ISD school which finished 4th in its district and reached the playoffs for the first time in its four seasons of varsity football. With a win, Texas High will advance to the area round and play either Texas City or Houston Sterling.

Texas High vs. Texas City would be a fun matchup just for the potential confusion. The two schools are 330 miles apart and have never met in the playoffs, and have most likely not played in the regular season either.

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

Friday, November 12 at 9:00, vs. Norco in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs

Note: After a week off, Mater Dei, the nation’s top-ranked team will begin its playoff run on Friday night against Norco, which went 8-2 in the regular season. The two teams had one common opponent this season in Santa Margarita, who Norco beat 40-22 on August 26, and who Mater Dei blasted 56-3 on October 15.

If they win on Friday, the Mater Dei Monarchs will next play either 9-1 Mission Viejo or unbeaten Corona Centennial, the 11th ranked team in this week’s USA Today Super 25 rankings.

2022 DB Bryan Allen — Aledo

Thursday, November 11 at 7:00, vs. Dallas Hillcrest (at Aledo’s Bearcat Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: As expected, Aledo finished the regular season unbeaten, as the Bearcats beat Cleburne 77-7 last week in their district finale.

Aledo is the top-ranked team in Class 5A Division II and might have to beat two ranked teams to win Region 2 and advance to the state semifinals. That journey begins tonight against Dallas Hillcrest, a team Aledo beat in the first round a year ago 77-13.

Since Aledo is almost always its district’s champion, its first round opponent is almost always another district’s 4th place team. Unsurprisingly, Aledo’s average margin of victory in its first round games since 2009 (the year it began its run of winning 9 state titles in 12 seasons) is just under 55 points. The last time Aledo reached the playoffs and lost in the first round? That would be 1988, when the Bearcats lost 38-22 to Decatur in that year’s 3A playoffs.

Hillcrest will likely be swept away tonight with little resistance, but after that Aledo will have a better challenge in Forney or Frisco Liberty, and in the third round could loom a matchup with either 5th-ranked South Oak Cliff or Cole Hutson’s Frisco team.

2022 DB Austin Jordan — Denton Ryan

Thursday, November 11 at 7:00, vs. Dallas W.T. White (at Denton’s Collins Stadium) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs

Note: Take everything I just said about Aledo’s first round playoff fortunes and it can be similarly applied to Denton Ryan, which has has only two first round playoff games in the past decade that were decided by less than 22 points. The Ryan Raiders have not lost in the first round since 2007. (The most impressive streak of that type that I know of is owned by Katy, which has now reached the playoffs in 31 straight seasons and has not lost a first round playoff game since 1993.)

The Raiders finished their regular season schedule last Friday with a heavyweight bout against 5th-ranked Frisco Lone Star for the championship of District 5-5A Division I. Ryan scored in the early minutes of the 1st quarter to take a 7-0 lead, but never scored again. Remarkably, that TD held up for the rest of the game, as Lone Star rushed for 246 yards as a team — with 231 of them coming from Boise State commit Ashton Jeanty — but managed only a pair of field goals. Ryan’s 7-6 win represented what has to be its lowest-scoring contest in many years.

The top-ranked Ryan Raiders will host W.T. White tonight in their first round game. W.T. White went 6-4 this season but recorded no wins over teams that finished above .500. The W.T. White Longhorns are in the playoffs for a second consecutive season, which marks just the second time that school has reached the postseason in back-to-back years, the first time being in 1978-79. White’s last playoff win came in 2000, when it beat Dallas Spruce in the first round, then was knocked off by... Denton Ryan the following week.

After Ryan beats White this week it will move on and play either Magnolia West or Tyler High.

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

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. Houma (Louisiana) A.J. Ellender in the first round of the LHSAA Class 4A playoffs

Note: Warren Easton cruised to a 48-0 win over New Orleans Kennedy last week, and will go into the Class 4A playoffs as its third overall seed. In the final LSWA poll taken at the end of the regular season, the Easton Eagles were ranked 3rd in Class 4A, and to reach the state championship game they would have to beat, at most, 2 other ranked squads. They have a potential quarterfinal game against 10th-ranked Huntington, and a potential semifinal with 2nd ranked Neville.

Before they get to that point, the Eagles will have to beat A.J. Ellender on Friday night. The Ellender Patriots went 3-6 in the regular season but got into the playoffs as the 30th seed in Class 4A. Warren Easton and Ellender had one common opponent this season in New Orleans Eleanor McMain, a team Ellender beat 40-14 on September 24, and who Warren Easton beat 44-0 on October 23.

2022 ATH Anthony Jones — Henderson (Nevada) Liberty

Friday, November 12 at 8:00, vs. Las Vegas (Nevada) Bishop Gorman in the regional finals of the NIAA Class 5A playoffs

Note: For the second time in as many weeks, Liberty won a playoff game against a team it had already blown out in the regular season. Last week, the Liberty Patriots defeated Arbor View 30-8 to reach the semifinals of Nevada’s 5A playoffs. Anthony Jones had 5 total tackles and a sack in the win.

Liberty suffered its only loss by a 49-7 score to the nation’s #1 team Mater Dei on September 10, but has allowed no other opponent to score more than 14 points. They have won every game against non-Mater Dei foes by an average margin of 37.4 points.

They will not have so easy a time on Friday night when they take on Bishop Gorman, the 18th-ranked team in the nation according to USA Today. Bishop Gorman is 10-1 and has only lost (by one point) to Arizona powerhouse Chandler Hamilton, USA Today’s current #16 team. Against teams from the state of Nevada, Bishop Gorman is 7-0 and has outscored them 387-6.

Those 6 points all came in Bishop Gorman’s 63-6 playoff win last week over Foothill, a team it had beaten 59-0 two weeks earlier, and a team Liberty beat 34-6 back on September 3. If Liberty upsets Bishop Gorman it will advance to Nevada’s 5A state championship game on November 18 and play either Reno McQueen or Reno Bishop Manogue.

2022 K Will Stone — Austin Regents School

Friday, November 12 at 7:00, vs. The Woodlands Christian Academy in the first round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs

Note: Regents beat Austin Brentwood Christian 49-7 last week to finish the regular season undefeated for a second straight year. The Knights have beaten every opponent so far in 2021 by no less than 24 points, and they outscored their regular season foes by an average margin of 37.5 points. They will begin the defense of their TAPPS Division II state title on Friday against 7-3 The Woodlands Christian Academy.

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

Friday, November 12 at 8:00, vs. Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep

Note: Williams Field won its fourth straight game last week, beating Red Mountain 21-7 to improve to 7-2 for the season. Lance St. Louis will get an up-close look at his future Longhorn teammate Zac Swanson on Friday when Williams Field hosts Brophy Prep in both teams’ regular season finale. As explained earlier, the two teams are both all but certainties to reach the playoffs, as their current power ranking in Conference 6A puts them well within the range of seeds that will get one of that conference’s 16 playoff spots after its highest-rated five or six teams are removed from the equation and placed in the Open Division bracket.

Commits whose season has ended

2023 DB Jamel Johnson — Arlington Seguin

Jamel Johnson’s junior season ended last week with Seguin’s 35-13 win over Waco University. The Seguin Cougars went 5-5 in the regular season and finished 5th in District 5-5A Division II, missing out on the playoffs.

Other commits not playing this week

2022 RB Jaydon Blue (Klein Cain)

Blue opted out of playing in the 2021 season. In his absence, Klein Cain went 8-2 in the regular season and finished 2nd in its district. The Hurricanes qualified for the 6A Division I playoffs.

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 went 7-3 in the regular season, finished 2nd in its district and qualified for the Class 2A Division I playoffs.

2022 LB Trevell Johnson (Arlington Martin)

After dealing with a hip issue for several months, Johnson attempted to play in week one, but afterwards elected to have a surgery that will cause him to miss his senior season. In his absence, Arlington Martin had a regular season record of 8-2 and went undefeated in district play to clinch a berth in the Class 6A Division I playoffs.