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Longhorn football commits in the playoffs, Nov. 18-20

This weekend, fifteen future Longhorns in five states will try to move one step closer to winning a state championship.

2022 defensive line commit Zac Swanson of Phoenix Brophy Prep.

The football playoffs began last week for Texas high schools. Sixteen future Longhorns had playoff games last week, and this week there will be fifteen. Three Texas Longhorn commits lost their playoff games a week ago, but two out-of-state commits will play their first playoff games on Friday.

After several weeks of mopping up against weak opponents, a lot of very good teams with future Longhorns on their roster will be playing much tougher competition this week.

Last week saw one of the very few games this season in which Longhorn commits were on opposing sidelines, as the program’s two Arizona commits played in their teams’ final regular season game. If not for Trevell Johnson’s injury, he would be playing future teammate Armani Winfield this week. Aledo’s Bryan Allen and Frisco’s Cole Hutson will be on the same field next weekend if their teams prevail in their playoff games on Friday night.

A lot of good matchups are in store starting tonight and going into Saturday afternoon. Four UT commits play for teams that are attempting to defend state titles, and this is very likely to be the 25th or 26th consecutive season in which a future Longhorn is part of a Texas state championship team.

This columnist hopes all readers have a great weekend and Thanksgiving holiday next week. As always, the game times listed below are according to Central Time.

2022 QB Maalik Murphy — Gardena (California) Junipero Serra

Friday, November 19 at 9:00, vs. Etiwanda in the semifinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs

Note: Serra advanced to the third round of its section’s playoff bracket with a 34-7 win last week over a solid Foothill team that came into the contest with a 10-1 record. Serra’s first two possessions ended with a blocked field goal and an interception, and the Cavaliers trailed 7-0 going into the 2nd quarter, but scored 34 unanswered points over the final three periods.

Serra’s defense recorded six sacks, a blocked punt, and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Maalik Murphy’s stats for the game have not been published.

On Friday, Serra will take on unbeaten Etiwanda in the Southern Section’s Division 3 semifinal round. Etiwanda is 12-0 this season and has outscored foes by an average of 22.5 points. Three of Etiwanda’s last four games have been decided by 8 points or less, but it won every other game this fall by at least 14 points.

Etiwanda’s roster includes a pair of three-star seniors with several FBS offers, including its top offensive skill player Jordan Williams, a receiver who has compiled 1,157 offensive yards and scored 15 total touchdowns (8 receiving, 7 rushing).

2022 RB Jamarion Miller — Tyler Legacy

Saturday, November 20 at 11:00 am, vs. Cedar Hill (at Arlington’s Globe Life Field) in the area round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

Note: Tyler Legacy went 5-5 in the regular season and got into the playoffs as its district’s fourth-place team, earning a first round date with unbeaten and state-ranked Garland. It turned out that Legacy had been battle-hardened by its four regular season losses to ranked teams, as the Raiders upset the 10-0 Garland Owls 41-40.

Jamarion Miller finished the game with 202 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on just 15 offensive touches, and he was also credited with three tackles and a pass deflection on defense. During the game he broke his school’s record for career rushing yardage and now has well over 4,700 yards for his varsity career.

Legacy was outgained on offense by nearly 200 yards, and gave away 119 yards on 15 assessed penalties (Garland itself had 10 penalties for 92 yards), but it was able to pull off the upset.

Garland had the ball late, trailing 41-40, and got as close as the Legacy 10-yard line, but on a would-be game-winning field goal the ball was snapped wildly off-target and Legacy recovered the loose ball at the 25-yard line to ice the game.

Legacy will next face Cedar Hill, which advanced past the bi-district round by beating Bryan by a baseball-like score of 10-5. Cedar Hill went 6-4 in the regular season, and similar to Tyler Legacy all of its losses came against ranked opponents. The Cedar Hill Longhorns lost non-district games to Rockwall (42-29) and Allen (35-16), then were blown out in consecutive weeks in October by DeSoto (45-0) and Duncanville (58-7). Those four teams went into the playoffs as Class 6A’s 12th, 17th, 21st, and 4th-ranked teams, respectively.

Cedar Hill has actually been outscored by 23 points this season, and if the Longhorns lose to Legacy or win by less than 25 points then Cedar Hill will likely finish the season with fewer points than their opponents for the first time since 2002, their least season before Joey McGuire (recently hired as Texas Tech’s new head coach) was promoted to head coach.

The winner between Legacy and Cedar Hill will face either Cypress Bridgeland or The Woodlands College Park.

2022 WR Armani Winfield — Lewisville

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Arlington Martin (at Irving’s Ellis Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: Last week, Lewisville overcame a 17-13 halftime deficit and took control in the second half to win their bi-district playoff game over McKinney Boyd by a 27-17 score. Armani Winfield caught 5 passes for 57 yards, and also had a 19-yard touchdown run taking a direct snap out of a wildcat look.

With the win, the Lewisville Fighting Farmers advanced to the area round of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, and on Friday they will face Arlington Martin, the team that ended their 2020 season at this same point by a 68-0 score and dealt them their worst playoff loss in school history.

Arlington Martin won the championship of District 8-6A and suffered its only losses in the regular season to 3rd-ranked Southlake Carroll and 19th-ranked Lake Travis. The Martin Warriors went into the postseason as the 13th-ranked team in 6A and will unquestionably be the toughest team Lewisville has faced this season, though with Texas commit Trevell Johnson injured and out for the year, Armani Winfield won’t get to face his future Longhorn teammate on the field.

Lewisville and Martin had three common opponents in the regular season, and if one puts any stock in the transitive properties of those game scores it would mean bad news for Lewisville. In three wins against Arlington Bowie, Arlington Lamar, and Hebron, Lewisville outscored those teams 129-59, blowing out Bowie and Lamar but needing a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass to beat Hebron. Against those same three teams, Martin won by a combined score of 174-29, beating all of them by 44 or more points.

If Lewisville were to pull the upset, it would advance to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since its 1996 state championship season, and would then face either 3rd-ranked Southlake Carroll or 16th-ranked Midland Legacy.

2022 OL Cole Hutson — Frisco

Thursday, November 18 at 7:30, vs. South Oak Cliff (at Arlington’s Globe Life Field) in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: Frisco defeated Royse City in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight year, winning last week 48-28. The Raccoons piled up 380 yards and 5 TDs on the ground.

They will have another playoff rematch tonight when they face off against South Oak Cliff, the 5th-ranked team in Class 5A Division II. Frisco beat SOC 19-17 in the second round of the 2020 playoffs. SOC opened this season with a 42-27 loss to Class 6A’s 4th-ranked Duncanville (a school that has nearly four times the enrollment of SOC), then afterwards the Bears outscored their next nine opponents each by 38 or more points.

South Oak Cliff plays in an exceedingly weak district, and against District 6-5A Division II teams it had one win by forfeit and outscored its other seven opponents by a combined tally of 450-31. It advanced to the second round with a 49-28 win last over Everman. The Bears may very well have the better team and should be the favorite, but Frisco played a number of teams that were better than any SOC went up against after Duncanville.

At some point in tonight’s game, Cole Hutson will likely get up close and personal with one or both of 2023 edge prospect Billy Walton (who has offers from Kansas and UTSA) and 2023 defensive lineman Keith Smith, who leads SOC with 17 tackles for loss and has been credited with 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. Smith has an offer from Toledo and should have several more by the end of the spring.

The winner between Frisco and SOC will get to face either top-ranked Aledo or Frisco Liberty next week.

2022 OL Connor Robertson — Austin Westlake

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. New Braunfels (at San Marcos’s Rattler Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

Note: Westlake beat Hutto 54-9 in last week’s bi-district round. On Friday the top-ranked Chaparrals will face New Braunfels, which advanced with a 51-45 win over San Antonio Johnson. New Braunfels made the postseason for the first time in five years, and its win over Johnson represented its first playoff since since 2009, when the Unicorns made it all the way to the 5A Division II state semifinals before losing to Katy. This will be the first time Westlake has ever faced New Braunfels in a playoff game.

The winner will advance to the regional semifinals and play either Eagle Pass or Pharr-San Juan-Alamo North.

2022 DL Aaron Bryant — Southaven (Mississippi)

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Starkville (Mississippi) in the quarterfinal round of the MHSAA Class 6A playoffs

Note: Southaven won its first playoff game last week, defeating Clinton 14-10 in yet another low-scoring affair. The Chargers have had a dominating scoring defense this season and have won four games in which they scored 22 or fewer points.

In this week’s Class 6A quarterfinal round, they will face Starkville, which went into the playoffs as the fifth-ranked team and advanced past the first round with a 63-21 win over Hernando, a team Southaven beat 16-9 on October 1. The winner between Southaven and Starkville will advance to the semifinals and play either third-ranked Madison Central or Oxford.

2022 DL Kristopher Ross — Galena Park North Shore

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. League City Clear Springs (at Webster’s Challenger-Columbia Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: North Shore blew through the first round last week, beating Pasadena Dobie 62-14.

The Mustangs’ area round opponent is Clear Springs, which beat Pearland 42-35 in the first round. Clear Springs went 6-4 in the regular season and had three losses against teams that were ranked in the top 25 of Class 6A at the end of the regular season. Clear Springs lost 40-7 to 2nd-ranked Katy to open its season, lost 53-43 the next week against #24 Katy Tompkins, and fell 35-24 late in the regular season to #22 Dickinson.

The winner between North Shore and Clear Springs will advance and play either #23 Jersey Village or #24 Katy Tompkins.

2022 DL Zac Swanson — Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep

Friday, November 19 at 8:00, vs. Mesa (Arizona) Desert Ridge in the first round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs

Note: Zac Swanson and Brophy Prep lost to Williams Field (and Swanson’s future Longhorn teammate Lance St. Louis) 21-17 last week in the final week of the regular season for Arizona’s high schools. Swanson was credited with 4 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. As expected, both schools got decently high seeds in Arizona’s Conference 6A playoff bracket, which is seeded based on a power ranking formula.

Brophy Prep had the 10th highest rating in 6A at the end of last weekend, but 6A’s five highest rated teams qualified for the Open Division playoff, so Brophy Prep advanced to the playoffs as 6A’s fifth seed and Williams Field as the third seed.

The Brophy Prep Broncos will face 12th seed Desert Ridge on Friday night, and with a win would advance to the quarterfinal round and play either #4 Red Mountain or #13 Peoria Centennial.

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

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Monroe (Louisiana) Ouachita Christian in the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Division IV playoffs

Note: Ascension Catholic is the 9th seed in Louisiana’s Division IV playoff bracket and it survived its first round matchup last week with 8th seed Morgan City Central Catholic. This despite a report from a few weeks ago that a number of Ascension Catholic players had been either kicked off the team or expelled from school following an alleged hazing incident. Local media all but said Tapp was one of those players without actually naming him, so it’s likely he hasn’t been playing for the past few weeks.

Ascension Catholic’s luck will probably run out on Friday when it faces top seed Monroe Ouachita Christian, which is undefeated and has outscored opponents by an average of 35.5 points per game.

2022 DE/LB Derrick Brown — Texarkana Texas

Friday, November 19 at 7:30, vs. Texas City (at Lufkin’s Martin Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: Texas High beat Fulshear 42-14 in last week’s first round to set up a “Texas” championship matchup in the area round, as Texas High of Texarkana will face off with Texas City High School.

The two schools are well over 300 miles apart and have never previously met in the playoffs, and it seems unlikely that they would have ever scheduled a non-district matchup previously. I hope somebody printed “Texas champions” t-shirts for the game to be passed out to the winning team.

Texas City advanced with a 66-21 win over Houston Sterling. The Texas City Stingarees went 9-1 in the regular season, with their only loss coming by a 57-28 score to Crosby, the 10th-ranked team in Class 5A Division II and last season’s state runner-up.

The winner of this game will play either 7th-ranked Montgomery or Port Neches-Groves in next week’s regional semifinals.

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

Friday, November 19 at 9:00, vs. Corona (California) Centennial in the semifinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs

Note: Mater Dei, which has been USA Today’s top-ranked team in the country all season long, won its first playoff game last week over Norco 49-14. Eoghan Kerry did not record any stats in the win, according to Mater Dei’s MaxPreps page.

To win the CIF’s Southern Section Division I playoff bracket, the Mater Dei Monarchs will need to beat not one, but two top-10 teams in the nation. On Friday they face unbeaten Corona Centennial, which is the country’s 10th-best team by USA Today’s reckoning. The winner of that game will advance to the championship round, where they will face either national #4 Bellflower St. John Bosco (who Mater Dei beat 42-21 on October 1) or #9 Anaheim Servite.

2022 DB Bryan Allen — Aledo

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Frisco Liberty (at Denton’s Apogee Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: Aledo continued their recent pattern of winning its first round playoff game like they’re an SEC team playing an early September non-conference game. The Bearcats beat Dallas Hillcrest 77-0.

They’ll have a stiffer challenge this week when they face a Frisco Liberty team that went 9-1 in the regular season and upset highly-ranked Lovejoy in the final week of the regular season. Liberty’s only loss game against Cole Hutson’s Frisco team by a 43-7 score on October 1. Had Liberty’s five-star senior wide receiver Evan Stewart not opted out of finishing his senior season a few weeks ago, this would be a great matchup for Bryan Allen and Aledo’s secondary.

Liberty’s remaining roster is far from chopped liver, though. Junior quarterback Keldric Luster has completed nearly 70% of his passes and thrown for over 3,200 yards and 30 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions, and he has also rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and another 21 TDs. He had 415 total yards and 5 TDs (3 passing, 2 rushing) in Liberty’s 45-21 win over Forney in the first round.

We could see a Longhorn commit vs. commit game next week; if Aledo beats Liberty it will face either South Oak Cliff or Cole Hutson’s Frisco team.

2022 DB Austin Jordan — Denton Ryan

Saturday, November 20 at 2:30, vs. Magnolia West (at Waco ISD Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs

Note: Denton Ryan began the defense of its Class 5A Division I state championship with a 49-14 win over Dallas W.T. White last week. Austin Jordan was credited with one tackle in the win.

The Ryan Raiders will next face a solid Magnolia West team that won its first nine games of the season before losing 41-20 in the final week of the regular season to 2nd-ranked College Station. Magnolia West beat Tyler High 56-14 in last week’s first round.

The winner between Denton Ryan and Magnolia West will play either 10th-ranked Lancaster or Longview.

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

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Opelousas in the second round of the LHSAA Class 4A playoffs

Note: Warren Easton is the 3rd seed in Louisiana’s Class 4A playoff bracket, which started with 32 teams in all. Last week the Easton Eagles manhandled 30th seed A.J. Ellender 59-6. On Friday they will face 19th seed Opelousas, which beat 14th seed South Lafourche 57-42 in the first round. The winner of this game will advance to next week’s quarterfinal round against either 6th seed Huntington or 11th seed Belle Chasse.

2022 K Will Stone — Austin Regents School

Friday, November 19 at 7:00, vs. Houston Second Baptist (at Brenham’s Cub Stadium) in the quarterfinal round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs

Note: Regents finished the regular season as Texas Football’s top-ranked private school team, and in the first round of the TAPPS Division II playoffs the Knights beat The Woodlands Christian Academy 41-7. They will continue their quest for a second consecutive state championship in this week’s quarterfinals with a game in Brenham against Houston Second Baptist.

The winner will play either Austin St. Michael’s or Fort Bend Christian Academy in next week’s semifinals.

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

Friday, November 19 at 8:00, vs. Anthem (Arizona) Boulder Creek in the first round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs

Note: Lance St. Louis saw his team get the best of his future teammate Zac Swanson and his Brophy Prep team last week 21-17, as both schools concluded their regular season schedule.

Williams Field is the 3rd seed in Arizona’s Conference 6A playoffs and will begin its postseason run by hosting 14th seed Boulder Creek.

Commits whose season has ended

2022 WR Brenen Thompson — Spearman

Thompson returned from injury two weeks ago to help Spearman clinch its district’s final playoff spot in the last week of the regular season. He reportedly played and scored a touchdown in Spearman’s first round game last week, but it wasn’t nearly enough to help the Lynx beat undefeated Lubbock Roosevelt, who eliminated Spearman 44-11. Spearman finished the 2021 season with a 6-5 overall record.

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

Hewitt-Trussville went toe-to-toe with Alabama’s top-ranked 7A team, Hoover, in last week’s quarterfinals. Hoover had won a regular season matchup 34-10 in October, but the playoff re-match was much closer.

The teams were tied 17-17 at the end of regulation. Hoover got the ball first and scored a touchdown to go ahead 24-17. Hewitt-Trussville answered with a TD of its own in short order, and lined up to go for two and the win. The would-be game-winning touchdown pass was tipped by a Hoover defender and fell harmlessly to the ground, preserving Hoover’s 24-23 overtime win.

Justice Finkley was credited with 7 tackles and a tackle for loss in the loss. In 12 games played in his senior season he was credited with 96 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 24 QB hurries, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Hewitt-Trussville finished the season with a 9-3 record, with its three losses all coming against Alabama’s two highest-ranked teams.

2023 DB Jamel Johnson — Arlington Seguin

Arlington Seguin went 4-5 in the 2021 season and did not qualify for the 5A Division II playoffs.

2022 ATH Anthony Jones — Henderson (Nevada) Liberty

Anthony Jones’s Liberty team lost in Nevada’s 5A state semifinals last week to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman by a 35-14 score. Bishop Gorman is USA Today’s 16th ranked team in the nation.

Other commits not playing this week

2022 RB Jaydon Blue (Klein Cain)

Blue opted out of playing in the 2021 season.

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.

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. Had he been healthy he would be preparing to face future teammate Armani Winfield and Lewisville on Friday.