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Longhorn football commits in the playoffs, Nov. 26-27

Two California commits will play for section championships this weekend, while the in-state commits go into the third round of the playoffs.

2022 QB Maalik Murphy on the field at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium in September 2021. Murphy will lead his team in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship on Saturday.

The Texas high school football playoffs will go into their third week this Thanksgiving weekend, and every other state that current Texas Longhorn commits hail from are in at least the second round of their respective postseasons.

Every 2022 commit the Longhorns had in early November reached the playoffs, and now 11 still remain. The teams of two commits in California will play for championships this weekend. Two Arizona commits are in the quarterfinals of their conference’s playoff bracket, and if each wins two more games their teams will meet in the state championship. Closer to home, three in-state commits will face state-ranked teams in the third round of the playoffs.

One commit whose team was seeking to defend its state crown from 2020 lost last week, but three other future Longhorns who won state titles a season ago are still alive in their quest for another. Four commits in all celebrated Thanksgiving without having lost a game in the 2021 season.

In other news, the Longhorns both lost and (re)gained a commit on Thanksgiving Day. 2022 defensive back Jaylon Guilbeau (Port Arthur Memorial), who was committed to Texas for ten months before re-opening his recruitment this past July and committing to TCU in September, re-joined the Longhorns’ #22EFFECT class.

But on the same day, 2022 running back Jamarion Miller (Tyler Legacy) flipped his commitment from Texas to Alabama after being part of UT’s recruiting class for five months.

It’s been a nightmare of a season for the Texas Longhorns since halftime of the Oklahoma game, and their season will mercifully come to an end today, but some of their commits may still have 3 or 4 games left to play in their senior season, and there’s a good chance that a few will arrive in Austin in January or June with a state championship to their name.

Hopefully they will bring that winning attitude and work ethic with them to the 40 Acres as well. Below is this week’s playoff schedule for the Longhorns’ current recruits. All game times listed are according to Central Time.

2022 QB Maalik Murphy — Gardena (California) Junipero Serra

Saturday, November 27, vs. Apple Valley in the championship of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs

Note: One week after eliminating a 10-1 Foothill team in the quarterfinals of their sectional playoffs, Maalik Murphy and the Junipero Serra Cavaliers did themselves one better, upsetting an undefeated Etiwanda team in overtime by a 34-27 score. Murphy completed 16 of 27 passes for 213 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception (which was tipped by one of his receivers and caught by a defensive back), and also had a rushing touchdown.

Etiwanda led Serra 14-7 going into the 4th quarter, then the two teams combined to score 33 points in the final seven minutes of regulation. Serra drove deep into Etiwanda territory on their first possession of the 4th quarter, but got no points after their field goal attempt was blocked. The Cavaliers got the ball back a few minutes later after an Etiwanda fumble, and a touchdown run with 6:44 left tied the score at 14. Etiwanda answered very quickly with an 80-yard TD run to go ahead 20-14 after a missed extra point.

Serra returned the kickoff with a touchdown of their own, and after the extra point they led 21-20. With 2:21 left in regulation they scored again to extend their lead to 27-20, but they missed the extra point. Etiwanda came back and drove deep into Serra territory in a desperate attempt to tie the game. The game appeared to be over when Serra recorded a sack, but that defender took his helmet off in celebration on the mistaken assumption that the clock had run out. He was flagged, keeping Etiwanda’s drive alive, and it scored a TD with just five seconds left. The extra point tied the game at 27 and sent it into overtime.

Maalik Murphy ran into the end zone for a TD on Serra’s possession in overtime, and on Etiwanda’s turn, Serra’s defense forced them into a 4th-and-11 situation before an incomplete pass ended the game.

Murphy missed one and a half games early in the season due to a shoulder injury, which kept him off the field for nearly a full month, but since his return Serra is 6-1, with their only loss coming in overtime by a 41-40 score. In that seven-game stretch, Murphy has completed 72.9% of his passes and thrown for 1,419 yards, 11 TDs and 4 interceptions.

The win advanced Serra into the championship game for the Southern Section’s Division 3 bracket, the first time Serra had reached a Southern Section final since 2013. In that final round the Cavaliers will face a 10-3 Apple Valley team that has won ten of its last 11 games and has advanced to a Southern Section championship game for the first time in school history.

Apple Valley is led by senior quarterback Jayden Denegal, a Michigan commit. But he has been sidelined by an ankle injury and hasn’t played since October 22. Sophomore Noah Celie has filled in at QB and led Apple Valley to four straight wins, including three in the playoffs. Apple Valley’s defense includes Boise State linebacker commit Gavin Hambrick.

2022 WR Armani Winfield — Lewisville

Saturday, November 27 at 2:00, vs. Southlake Carroll (at Coppell’s Echols Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: Lewisville got its biggest win of the season last week over the best opponent it has faced in 2021, beating Arlington Margin 35-18. Martin went into the playoffs as the 13th-ranked team in Class 6A and had won seven straight games before Lewisville ended its season. Armani Winfield caught 4 passes for 29 yards, and Lewisville only attempted 11 passes overall, mainly choosing to ride the legs of Oregon State commit Damien Martinez, who rushed for 230 yards and 3 TDs on 22 carries.

The win moved Lewisville into the third round of the playoffs for the first time since it won the 5A Division I state title in 1996. The Fighting Farmers will have to pull an even bigger upset to get into the fourth round, as they’ll face 3rd-ranked Southlake Carroll. Lewisville has played Carroll in the postseason on two previous occasions and lost those games by a combined score of 119-6. Saturday’s game should be a lot closer than the 84-6 pounding Lewisville took against Carroll in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, but this year’s Carroll Dragons will still present a very tough challenge.

Carroll is 12-0 this season and apparently hasn’t missed a beat despite its would-be five-star senior QB Quinn Ewers (a one-time Texas commit) graduating early and enrolling at Ohio State in August. Their only close call all season was a one-point win over 5th-ranked Rockwall-Heath (a team now in the third round of the 6A Division II playoffs) in early September. In its first two playoff games, Carroll beat North Crowley 42-20, and Midland Legacy 42-7.

Carroll’s junior running back Owen Allen has over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and has scored 29 total TDs, and junior QB Kaden Anderson has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 29 TDs against 6 INTs. Senior defensive back Avyonne Jones, a Wisconsin commit, will likely be covering Armani Winfield for at least some of the game on Saturday.

The winner of the Lewisville-Carroll game will play either 14th-ranked Euless Trinity or 17th-ranked Allen next week in the Region I final of the 6A Division I bracket.

2022 OL Connor Robertson — Austin Westlake

Friday, November 26 at 2:00, vs. PSJA North (at San Antonio’s Alamodome) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

Note: Westlake had 609 yards of offense last week, as it easily dispatched New Braunfels by a 70-7 score. To take the next step on their quest for a third straight state championship, the Chaparrals will face Pharr-San Juan-Alamo North (aka PSJA North) on Friday afternoon. PSJA North is in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and its Raiders have never advanced past the third round.

PSJA North is 10-2 on the season and doesn’t throw the ball a lot, but they’ve rushed for over 4,200 yards as a team, and three different ball-carriers have rushed for 930 or more yards this season. That trio has combined for 3,647 rushing yards and 40 rushing TDs.

The winner between Westlake and PSJA North will move on to the Region IV final (aka, the state quarterfinals) and play either Austin Vandegrift or Edinburg Vela.

2022 DL Kristopher Ross — Galena Park North Shore

Friday, November 26 at 1:00, vs. Katy Tompkins (at Galena Park ISD Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Note: 7th-ranked North Shore won its ninth straight game last week, beating League City Clear Springs 41-13 in the area round of the playoffs. On Friday, the Mustangs will take on 24th-ranked Katy Tompkins, which advanced to the third round of the playoffs for a fourth straight season with a 42-14 win last week over 23rd-ranked Jersey Village. North Shore beat Tompkins in the third round of the 2020 playoffs by a score of 47-22.

The Tompkins Falcons are 11-1 this season, with their only loss coming against 2nd-ranked Katy by a 56-21 score on October 1. Against all other opponents, the Falcons have won their games by an average margin of 31.6 points.

The winner of this game will play either Fort Bend Ridge Point or 10th-ranked Humble Atascocita, the latter of whom North Shore beat 31-21 in their final regular season game.

2022 DL Zac Swanson — Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep

Friday, November 26 at 8:00, vs. Mesa (Arizona) Red Mountain in the quarterfinal round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs

Note: Brophy Prep beat Mesa Desert Ridge 22-9 in its first round playoff game last week. Zac Swanson was credited with four total tackles and two tackles for loss. Brophy Prep is the fifth seed in Arizona’s Conference 6A playoff bracket, and in the quarterfinal round it will take on fourth seed Mesa Red Mountain, which edged out 13th seed Peoria Centennial 20-19 in its first round game.

Red Mountain is 10-2 for the season, with its losses coming against Williams Field, the third seed in the 6A playoffs, and Peoria Liberty, which got the sixth seed in the Open Division playoff. Five of Red Mountain’s ten wins came by a margin of 21 points or more, while four of their last five wins were by six points or less.

2022 DE/LB Derrick Brown — Texarkana Texas

Friday, November 26 at 6:00, vs. Port Neches-Groves (at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, Louisiana) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: The Texas Tigers won a playoff battle for supremacy among Class 5A Division II’s “Texas” teams, shutting out Texas City 31-0 in what was likely the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Tigers held Texas City to 231 total yards on 54 offensive plays, and their defense recorded a pair of interceptions on the night.

The win moved the 6th-ranked Tigers into the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they lost in that round to a Copperas Cove team quarterbacked by Robert Griffin III. There they will face a Port Neches-Groves team that went 6-4 in the regular season but has steamrolled its way into the third round of the playoffs with a 72-20 win over Galena Park in the first round and a 49-42 upset win last week over 7th-ranked and previously unbeaten Montgomery.

The Port Neches-Groves Indians reached the third round in three consecutive seasons when Roschon Johnson was their starting QB (2016-18), but have not advanced to the fourth round since 1999, when they lost in the 4A Division II state championship to Stephenville in Art Briles’s last season at that school.

Texas High and PN-G had one mutual opponent during the season in Texas City, who the Tigers beat last week 31-0, and who PN-G lost to 49-42 in overtime a month ago.

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

Friday, November 26 at 9:30, vs. Anaheim (California) Servite in the championship of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs

Note: Mater Dei, USA Today’s top-ranked team in the country, advanced to the championship round of the CIF Southern Section’s Division I bracket last week with a 21-16 win over Corona Centennial, which last week was the 10th-ranked team in the nation. Eoghan Kerry did not record any stats in the game, and according to Mater Dei’s MaxPreps page he has not recorded a tackle in a game since October 29.

Mater Dei has won 15 consecutive games, with its last loss coming in the Southern Section’s Division 1 championship in 2019. In Friday night’s championship round the Monarchs will face Servite, USA Today’s 5th-ranked team in this week’s Super 25. Servite is 10-2 this season, with its two defeats being a 46-37 loss five weeks ago against Mater Dei and a 24-10 loss a week later to St. John Bosco. Servite avenged its loss to St. John Bosco in last week’s semifinals, winning the rematch 40-21.

2022 DB Bryan Allen — Aledo

Friday, November 26 at 2:00, vs. South Oak Cliff (at Mansfield’s Vernon Newsom Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Note: Last week, Aledo made short work of a 10-1 Frisco Liberty team that had won a share of the championship of District 7-5A Division II, knocking them out of the playoffs in a dominating 57-14 victory.

Preparing for a playoff game the week of Thanksgiving is a way of life in Aledo; the last time the Bearcats did not reach the third round of the playoffs was in 2012. In the lifetime of Aledo’s current senior class, the Bearcats have failed to reach the fourth round of the playoffs only twice! Since the start of the 2016 season, Aledo’s only loss to a Class 5A team was to College Station in the 2017 5A Division II state championship.

To win their fourth straight state title, Aledo will have to beat 5th-ranked South Oak Cliff, who beat Cole Hutson’s Frisco team in last week’s area round, 35-24. SOC is in the playoffs for a 19th straight season and has advanced two or three rounds into the postseason several times, but its only trip to the fourth round in school history was way back in 1970 when the Bears lost in the state semifinals. SOC’s only loss this season was on September 3 to Class 6A’s 4th-ranked team, Duncanville, a school that has an enrollment well over three times that of SOC. The Bears will be by far the most athletic team Aledo has faced this season.

SOC is seeking to become the first Dallas ISD school to win a state championship in football since Sunset won the Big City Conference in 1950 (Dallas Carter won the 1988 5A state title but later had to forfeit it). Bryan Allen and the Aledo secondary will be going against an SOC offense led by senior QB Kevin Henry-Jennings, who has completed 68% of his throws and passed for 32 TDs and just 2 INTs.

The winner between Aledo and SOC will play either 9th-ranked Lovejoy or Mansfield Timberview (who upset 3rd-ranked Ennis last week).

2022 DB Austin Jordan — Denton Ryan

Friday, November 26 at 3:00, vs. Longview (at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium) in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs

Note: Class 5A Division 1’s top-ranked team and defending champion Denton Ryan fought off a tough Magnolia West team last week and won 28-20 to advance to the third round of the playoffs for a sixth straight season. Austin Jordan was credited with four solo tackles, and also caught two passes for 21 yards.

In this week’s third round, the Ryan Raiders will have a re-match with a Longview team that they beat 40-7 in this season’s opening weekend. Longview later had narrow regular season losses at the hands of Highland Park (5A Division I’s 3rd-ranked team going into the playoffs) and McKinney North. In the playoffs, the Longview Lobos have beaten Magnolia 45-24 and knocked off 10th-ranked Lancaster 34-14. So this won’t be a Longview team Ryan should expect to beat by 33 points a second time.

The winner between Denton Ryan and Longview will next play either 2nd-ranked College Station or Frisco Wakeland (which is coming off an upset win over 3rd-ranked Highland Park). The storylines will write themselves if top-ranked Denton Ryan wins on Friday and finds itself preparing next week for a Wakeland team that will have beaten the state’s 3rd and 2nd ranked teams in successive rounds.

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

Friday, November 26 at 7:00, vs. Belle Chasse in the quarterfinal round of the LHSAA Class 4A playoffs

Note: The Warren Easton Eagles, the 3rd seed in Louisiana’s Class 4A playoff bracket, beat 19th seed Opelousas in a laugher last week, 67-6. In this week’s quarterfinal round, the Eagles will face 11th seed Belle Chasse, which eliminated 6th seed Huntington 28-22 in the second round.

If Warren Easton wins it will have to prepare for either 2nd seed Neville (which sweated out a 19-15 win over 18th seed Carencro last week) or 7th seed Cecilia.

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

Friday, November 26 at 8:00, vs. Glendale (Arizona) Mountain Ridge in the quarterfinal round of the AIA Conference 6A playoffs

Note: Williams Field got the 3rd seed in Arizona’s Conference 6A bracket and won its first matchup last week over 14th seed Boulder Creek, 41-28. This week the Black Hawks will play 11th seed Mountain Ridge, which is coming off a 40-35 win over 6th seed Mountain View.

Geographic features are a major player in the names of Arizona high schools. Among the 16 te that filled out the 6A playoff bracket were four that had “Mountain” in their school’s name, two with “Desert”, one “Boulder”, one “Pinnacle”, and one “Highland”.

Commits whose season has ended

2022 WR Brenen Thompson — Spearman

Spearman lost 44-11 to Lubbock Roosevelt in the first round of the playoffs and finished the season with a 6-5 overall record.

2022 OL Cole Hutson — Frisco

The Frisco Raccoons rode a dominating running game to a 9-1 record in the regular season, but in the second round of the playoffs they got a taste of their own medicine, as South Oak Cliff out-rushed them 387-205 en route to a 35-24 win. SOC running backs Qualon Farrar and KeAndre Hollywood combined to run for 354 yards and 4 TDs on 34 carries.

Frisco finished with a 10-2 record and has now won seven games or more in four consecutive seasons, the longest such streak for the program since 1961-65, a period in which the Raccoons won four consecutive district titles.

2022 DL Aaron Bryant — Southaven (Mississippi)

As documented in this space, the Southaven Chargers had an outstanding scoring defense in 2021. They won four games in which they scored 22 or fewer points, and in their three regular season losses they allowed a total of 36 points. But their defense couldn’t keep highly-ranked Starkville off the scoreboard last week in the quarterfinal round of Mississippi’s Class 6A playoffs, and their season ended with a 47-27 defeat. In their first 11 games, the most points the Chargers had allowed was 20 points. Southaven finished the season with an 8-4 record.

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

Hewitt-Trussville finished 9-3 and lost in overtime in the quarterfinal round of Alabama’s 7A playoffs to top-ranked Hoover two weeks ago. In his senior season, Justice Finkley was credited with 96 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 24 QB hurries, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

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

Ascension Catholic was blown out 42-0 last week in the quarterfinal round of Louisiana’s Division IV playoffs at the hands of top seed Monroe Ouachita Christian.

2022 DB Jaylon Guilbeau — Port Arthur Memorial

Port Arthur Memorial lost to Fort Bend Hightower two weeks ago in the first round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.

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 K Will Stone — Austin Regents School

Austin Regents came into 2021 as the defending champions of TAPPS Division II, and the Knights looked well on their way to repeating as state champions after dominating their regular season opponents and winning their first playoff game handily. But they were knocked off last week by Houston Second Baptist, 26-16.

2022 ATH Anthony Jones — Henderson (Nevada) Liberty

Anthony Jones’s Liberty team lost to Las Vegas Bishop Gorman by a 35-14 score in Nevada’s 5A state semifinals. Bishop Gorman went on to win the state title last week with a dominating 56-7 win over Reno McQueen.

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 caused him to miss his senior season.