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Longhorn football commits in action, Oct. 13-15

Check out Billy Walton’s stats from last week!

2023 LB/DE commit Billy Walton (South Oak Cliff) at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium for the Texas Longhorns’ season-opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe on September 3, 2022.

On the same weekend that the Texas Longhorns shut out their archrival Oklahoma 49-0 in Dallas, the program’s current high school recruits went 17-2. As will happen, there was a bit of “good news, bad news” in the goings on of the Longhorns’ commits in the week since this column’s last post.

Arch Manning threw a game-winning touchdown pass last Friday, Tre Wisner scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and very nearly had one on a kickoff return, Spencer Shannon had his longest reception of the season in his team’s win over one of the highest-ranked teams in the country, Billy Walton stuffed the defensive stat sheet in a blowout win, Jaden Allen had a pick-six, Aeryn Hampton made big plays on both sides of the ball, and S’Maje Burrell helped his team stay undefeated with a win in a game that may ultimately decide his district’s champion.

In less positive news, Cedric Baxter had to leave his team’s last game with an injury, and Derek Williams’s team suffered its first loss of the season against a very tough opponent.

Mid-October is the thick of district play for most schools, and every win or loss from here on out could prove to be the difference in a team reaching the postseason or not come November.

Two in-state Longhorn commits will be playing against ranked opponents this week. Ryan Niblett’s Aldine Eisenhower team plays always-tough Spring Westfield tonight, and Jaden Allen’s Aledo team will face a ranked Burleson Centennial squad that will look to deal Aledo its first loss in a district game in 15 years.

This should be a good weekend of football action at all levels. Below, you’ll get your weekly update on last week’s action involving UT’s commits, and a preview of this week’s games. As always, the start times for each game listed is according to its local time zone.

After you’ve caught up on how UT’s commits performed last week and who they’ll be playing in the coming days, you can read about this post’s Historic Longhorn Notable of the Week, and afterwards you’ll be equipped to answer the trivia question, “Who was the first player from an Iowa high school to play football for the University of Texas?”

2023 QB Arch Manning — New Orleans (Louisiana) Isidore Newman

Last week: Completed 12 of 17 passes for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 23-20 win over Belle Chasse (Louisiana).
This week: Bye

Arch Manning had a 43-yard touchdown pass with 2:12 left in regulation last week to give his team a 23-20 lead that it maintained to earn a win over a good Belle Chasse team.

His Isidore Newman team led 6-0 at halftime, but Belle Chasse scored on a 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the 3rd quarter, then recovered a pooch kick and scored again shortly afterward to take a 13-6 lead barely a minute into the second half. Manning threw the first of his two touchdown passes in the game with 7:31 left in the 3rd quarter, which tied the game at 13-13.

The Newman Greenies are now 5-1 for the season and hold the top spot in this week’s LHSAA’s power ratings for Select Division III schools, meaning they would have that Division’s top seed if the playoffs began today. The team has a bye this week before returning to action on October 21 for the first of its three district games.

2023 RB Cedric Baxter Jr. — Orlando (Florida) Edgewater

Last week: Had 11 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown in a 40-0 win over Orlando (Florida) Timber Creek on October 6, and had 6 carries for 29 yards in a 14-6 win over Apopka (Florida) Wekiva on October 10.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Ocoee (Florida)

Last Thursday, the Eagles got a blowout 40-0 win over Timber Creek in a game where Baxter got 118 yards early in the game and was able to rest in the second half.

On Monday of this week, just four days after the win over Timber Creek, Edgewater played against Wekiva in a district game that had originally been scheduled for September 30 but was delayed due to Hurrcane Ian. For reasons known only to God and the coaches at Edgewater and Wekiva, the schools elected to make up that game on a Monday night just four days after both had played their previous game, despite the fact that both teams had a bye scheduled for the final weekend of October, which seemed like a much more logical date for a make-up game.

But play on very short rest, they did. Cedric Baxter was injured early in Monday night’s contest after rushing for 29 yards on six carries, and he did not return. Edgewater’s starting quarterback also missed much of the game with an injury, but returned late in a game the Eagles held on to win 14-6.

Edgewater is 7-0 for the season and 2-0 in district play. On Friday the Eagles will play a 5-1 Ocoee team that had a pair of common opponents with Edgewater this year. Ocoee’s only loss of the season came by a 13-12 score in its season-opener on August 26 against Apopka, a team Edgewater beat 28-19 four weeks later. The severity of Baxter’s injury and how long it will keep him out of action remains to be seen.

2023 RB Tre Wisner — DeSoto
2023 WR Johntay Cook II — DeSoto

Last week: Tre Wisner had 9 carries for 116 yards and 2 TDs, and Johntay Cook had 9 receptions for 102 yards and one TD in a 56-7 win over Mansfield Legacy.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Mansfield Lake Ridge

The DeSoto Eagles took care of business against district opponent Mansfield Legacy last week. Both Tre Wisner and Johntay Cook scored touchdowns in the win, which improved DeSoto’s overall record to 5-1 and its district record to 3-0.

The Eagles outgained Legacy 487-197, forced a pair of turnovers while committing none, and were penalized five fewer times than the Legacy Broncos. Johntay Cook scored his touchdown on a 35-yard pass with 36 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter.

DeSoto led the game 49-0 at halftime, and Tre Wisner came very close to returning the second half kickoff for a touchdown before he was tackled at the 6-yard line. Four plays later, Wisner punched the ball in from two yards out on 4th-and-goal to enlarge his team’s lead to 56-0.

Tre Wisner’s highlights vs. Mansfield Legacy

Johntay Cook’s highlights vs. Mansfield Legacy

DeSoto maintains the #11 spot in the Class 6A rankings this week, and appears poised to go into the final two weeks of the season 8-0 before finishing the regular season with Mansfield and Duncanville, both of which are currently unbeaten and the latter of which is ranked third in the state. But before getting there they will play Mansfield Lake Ridge on Friday, a team that is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in district play.

DeSoto is the third largest school in District 11-6A out of the ones that have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. The Eagles will be in the 6A Division II bracket if both Duncanville and Waxahachie claim playoff spots, but will be in Division I if Waxahachie isn’t a playoff team.

2024 WR Hunter Moddon — Houston Clear Lake

Last Week: Had 2 receptions for 10 yards and made 3 tackles in a 17-13 win over Friendswood Clear Brook.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at League City Clear Springs

Clear Lake got its second straight win over a district opponent with “Clear” in its name last week, beating Clear Brook 17-13. The Falcons are now 5-1 overall and 2-0 in district play.

They will look for a third straight “Clear” victory on Friday when they travel to play Clear Springs, a team that has won four of its past five games after opening the season with losses against state-ranked teams Katy and Alvin Shadow Creek.

Clear Lake has lost 13 straight games against Clear Springs, and its only win in the all-time series against that school was in 2008 in Clear Springs’ first varsity football season.

2023 WR Ryan Niblett — Aldine Eisenhower

Last week: Team beat Aldine MacArthur 30-0.
This week: Thursday, October 13 at 7:00, at Spring Westfield

Eisenhower got its second consecutive district win over an Aldine ISD school last week, beating MacArthur 30-0 last Friday after topping Nimitz the week before.

The Eisenhower Eagles are 2-4 overall but 2-1 in district play. They’ll face their toughest test of the regular season tonight when they play 5-1 Spring Westfield, the 12th-ranked team in Class 6A. Westfield’s only loss of 2022 came on September 9 against Galena Park North Shore, the current top-ranked team in 6A. The Westfield Mustangs have outscored their other five opponents by an average margin of 40 points per game.

2023 TE Will Randle — New Orleans (Louisiana) Isidore Newman

Tore ACL during a game on Sept. 16 and will miss the rest of the season.

2023 TE Spencer Shannon — Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei

Last week: Caught 1 pass for 39 yards in a 17-7 win over Bellflower (California) St. John Bosco.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, vs. Orange (California) Lutheran

Mater Dei won its 24th consecutive game last Friday and topped St. John Bosco in a highly-anticipated matchup of the top two ranked teams in the country. The two teams in the game have nearly 50 combined players who have received grades of three-stars or higher from 247Sports.

The Mater Dei Monarchs are 7-0 for the season and 2-0 against Trinity League opponents. On Friday they will face another tough opponent in 6-1 Orange Lutheran, a team whose only loss came on September 2 against a currently undefeated Huntington Beach Edison team.

2023 OL Jaydon Chatman — Killeen Harker Heights

Last week: Team beat Hutto 42-24.
This week: Bye

Harker Heights won its third straight district game and improved to 6-1 overall with its 42-24 win over Hutto last week. The Knights largely rode the legs of senior running back and Houston commit Re’Shaun Sanford, who had a season-high 272 yards on 24 carries.

The Knights have a bye this week before resuming district play against Temple on October 21. Harker Heights will all but clinch a playoff spot with one more win.

2023 OL Andre Cojoe — Mansfield Timberview

Last week: Bye
This week: Thursday, October 13 at 7:00, vs. Dallas Molina

Timberview is ranked 2nd in Class 5A Division I, and coming off its bye week it will face a Dallas Molina team that has lost six straight games. This should be another blowout for the Timberview Wolves. Timberview is 6-0 for the season and has outscored opponents by an average margin of 40 points per game.

2023 OL Trevor Goosby — Melissa

Last week: Team beat Mesquite Poteet 42-10
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:30, vs. Denison

After dropping their first two games of the season, Melissa has gone on a four-game winning streak during which they’ve outscored their opponents by an average margin of 30 points. Last week the Cardinals improved to 3-0 in district play following a 42-10 dismantling of Mesquite Poteet.

Though it wasn’t listed on their MaxPreps schedule at the time of this section’s writing, the Cardinals have a game this Friday against a 3-3 Denison team that lost 55-30 last week against Terrell, a team Melissa beat 56-21 two weeks earlier.

2023 OL Payton Kirkland — Orlando (Florida) Dr. Phillips

Last week: Team beat Orlando (Florida) Lake Nona 27-14.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Orlando (Florida) Olympia

Dr. Phillips moved to 3-3 for the season following a win over Lake Nona. The Dr. Phillips Panthers are now 3-3 overall and 1-0 in district play. They will play the second of their four district games on Friday against Olympia, a team that is 2-3 overall and scored a win of its own over Lake Nona by a 20-14 score on September 9.

2023 OL Connor Stroh — Frisco Wakeland

Last week: Team beat Frisco Liberty 59-21.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, vs. Frisco Centennial

Frisco Wakeland had little trouble with a winless Frisco Liberty team last week, prevailing 59-21. Wakeland led 28-14 after a high scoring 1st quarter, and piled on several more touchdowns afterward to lead 56-14 by the time Liberty scored again in the early minutes of the 4th quarter. Wakeland forced three turnovers on defense and scored a pair of touchdowns after blocked punts.

Wakeland evened its season record at 3-3, and also rose to .500 in district play at 2-2. On Friday the Wolverines will play cross-town rival Centennial, which has lost four straight games and will go into Friday with a district record of 1-4. Wakeland has beaten Centennial in four straight seasons, and in eight of the past nine meetings between the schools.

2023 DL Sydir Mitchell — Oradell (New Jersey) Bergen Catholic

Last week: Bye
This week: Saturday, October 15 at 1:00, at Montvale (New Jersey) St. Joseph Regional

The 5-1 Bergen Catholic Crusaders return to action on Saturday after a bye last week. They will face non-league opponent St. Joseph Regional this week, then will finish out their regular season schedule against league opponents on the following two Saturdays. Bergen Catholic is MaxPreps’s top-rated team in New Jersey, and is ranked third in the state according to the USA Today Network.

2023 DL Dylan Spencer — Houston C.E. King

Last week: Made 3 tackles (1 for loss) in a 42-21 win over Humble Kingwood.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Beaumont United.

King continued its season of high scoring margins, beating district foe Kingwood by 21 points last week. The King Panthers have four wins each by 21 points or more, and in their two losses — both against state-ranked opponents — they were beaten by exactly 35 points.

On Friday they will travel to play a 1-5 Beaumont United team that lost 45-14 to Kingwood two weeks ago. So the transitive property of football scores suggests that will be another blowout in King’s favor.

2023 EDGE Derion Gullette — Teague

Injured - out for 2022 season

2023 EDGE Billy Walton — Dallas South Oak Cliff
2023 CB Malik Muhammad — Dallas South Oak Cliff

Last week: Billy Walton had 12 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and an interception that he returned for a TD, and Malik Muhammad had 4 tackles in a 56-0 win over Dallas Kimball.
This week: Bye

South Oak Cliff posted its third straight shutout last week, running wild over Dallas Kimball 56-0. The Golden Bears have outscored their three district opponents by a combined 153-0. For his performance against Kimball, Billy Walton was named by the Dallas Morning News as its SportsDayHS defensive player of the week.

SOC is now 4-3 overall for the season, and is ranked 10th in Class 5A Division II. It will have a bye this week before resuming what will almost certainly be an undefeated district run next week.

Billy Walton’s highlights vs. Dallas Kimball

2023 LB S’Maje Burrell — North Crowley

Last week: Made 5 tackles in a 21-17 win over Saginaw Boswell.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:30, at Weatherford

North Crowley won a defensive struggle last week against previously unbeaten Boswell to improve to 6-0 for the first time in school history and take sole possession of first place in District 3-6A. The North Crowley Panthers moved up one spot to #23 in this week’s Class 6A rankings.

On Friday the Panthers will travel to play a 5-1 Weatherford team that likely represents their strongest remaining challenge to winning this year’s district championship. Weatherford last week won a 41-38 overtime game against previously unbeaten Hurst L.D. Bell, who North Crowley will play next week. Weatherford’s only loss came by a 31-17 score against district foe Crowley four weeks ago.

A North Crowley win on Friday would give it a huge leg up over the rest of their district with three games left, and would set up a possible scenario where the Panthers run the table on their district while Weatherford, L.D. Bell, and Crowley finish in a three-way tie for 2nd.

2023 LB Liona Lefau — Kahuku (Hawaii)

Last week: Team beat Honolulu (Hawaii) Moanalua 60-7.
This week: Saturday, October 15 at 6:30, vs. Mililani

Kahuku won easily last week over league opponent Moanalua. I said in last week’s post that it would be the Red Raiders’ final regular season game, but MaxPreps now shows them playing against Mililani on Saturday. Kahuku is 7-2 overall for the season and 4-0 against their OIA Open League opponents.

Kahuku will go into the final week of the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Cover2 Hawaii high school football rankings, having received all 20 first-place votes. The 3rd-ranked team in the rankings is Mililani, Kahuku’s opponent this week. Mililani is 6-2, with both of its losses coming against California opponents.

2024 CB Jaden Allen — Aledo

Last week: Returned an interception 71 yards for a TD in a 68-0 win over Fort Worth South Hills.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Burleson Centennial

Similar to South Oak Cliff, Aledo had started putting up box scores that look like those of a typical Aledo team after some early season struggles. The Bearcats are 5-2 and have outscored their five district opponents 297-54.

They won a laugher over Fort Worth South Hills last week by a 68-0 score. Aledo led the game 48-0 at halftime, and Jaden Allen had a pick-six.

Aledo moved up one spot to 5th in this week’s Class 5A Division I rankings, and moving into the #6 spot that Aledo occupied last week is Burleson Centennial, the team it will face on Friday.

Centennial is 6-0 and moved into the state rankings for the first time following a 23-16 upset win last week over 3rd-ranked Denton Ryan, which had not lost a district game since 2014. Aledo will face Ryan next week, which should make for the toughest two-week stretch of district games Aledo has had in many years. Jaden Allen and his Aledo teammates were probably still in diapers the last time Aledo lost a district game in 2007, when it shared a district with very strong teams from Everman and Stephenville.

2024 CB Aeryn Hampton — Daingerfield

Last week: Team beat New Diana 73-6.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, vs. Elysian Fields

Daingerfield is now 4-2 following their 67-point blasting of New Diana last week. Aeryn Hampton’s highlights show him scoring on three receptions and recording an interception.

The Tigers are 2-0 in district play, and will look to move to 3-0 on Friday when they host a 1-6 Elysian Fields team.

2023 S Jamel Johnson — Arlington Seguin

Last week: Had 8 carries for 42 yards and 1 TD in a 42-34 overtime loss to Everman.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, vs. Joshua

Seguin dropped to 2-4 for the season and 1-2 in district play after its 42-34 loss to Everman last week. Seguin outgained Everman, but it was also penalized for 44 more yards, had three turnovers on downs in Everman territory, and missed a pair of PAT attempts.

The game was tied 28-28 going into the 4th quarter. Everman took a 34-28 lead following a touchdown mid-way through the final frame, but missed the extra point. Seguin tied the game at 34-34 with a TD of its own with 2:17 left in regulation, but missed the extra point as well.

The game went into overtime and the Dallas Morning News’s account of the game says Seguin had the ball first. The Cougars got as close as the four-yard line, but were pushed back by a penalty and a negative play, and instead of attempting a field goal on 4th-and-goal from the 13-yard line the Cougars went for it and their pass fell incomplete. Everman scored on a 25-yard TD run on its first play of overtime. The fact that Everman also converted a 2-point conversion attempt suggests they had the ball first in OT instead of Seguin, because otherwise the game would have ended as soon as they scored a TD in the second possession of OT.

In either case, the loss dealt a blow to Seguin’s playoff hopes, but the Cougars will look to get back into the win column on Friday when they host 1-5 Joshua, a school whose name has essentially been synonymous with “doormat” for over three decades.

2023 S Derek Williams — New Iberia (Louisiana) Westgate

Last week: Team lost to Lafayette (Louisiana) Teurlings Catholic 30-22.
This week: Friday, October 14 at 7:00, at Maurice (Louisiana) North Vermilion

Westgate, Louisiana’s defending Class 4A state champion, suffered its first loss in nearly a year last week. The Westgate Tigers fell 30-22 to a Teurlings Catholic team that currently holds the highest power rating among Division II Select schools. Westgate was rated 2nd among Non-Select Division I schools as recently as two weeks ago, but it is now rated 7th in that group with four regular season games remaining. Last week’s loss probably didn’t hurt their rating as much as their having the second-lowest strength of schedule out of the 43 teams in Non-Select Division I.

Louisiana’s football playoff brackets are organized as seeded 32-team tournaments. Westgate won last year’s 4A state title as the 5th seed in that bracket, and their last three wins in the playoffs came against the teams seeded 4th, 1st, and 3rd.

Westgate is 5-1 for the year and 0-1 against district foes, with two district games left to be played. On Friday, the Tigers will play 3-3 North Vermilion, which is currently rated 23rd out of the 42 Non-Select Division II teams.

Historic Longhorn Notable of the Week: John Robert Swenson (1902)

The 1902 University of Texas varsity football team. John Robert Swenson (wearing a dark coat) is the third man from the right on the top row.
1903 Cactus yearbook

The Texas Longhorns are set to host Iowa State this Saturday morning. With that matchup in mind, this column will go back 120 years in time to tell you a bit about one John Robert Swenson, the first University of Texas football letterman to attend high school in Iowa. (That group presently includes only three total lettermen, and I’d bet Bijan Robinson’s NIL money that nobody can name the other two.)

Swenson wasn’t particularly notable as a player, but he had an interesting life story and is likely the answer to more than one trivia question about Longhorn football history.

Swenson was born in 1870 in the southernmost county of Sweden, and was the youngest of the seven children in his family who survived childhood. His family moved to the United States when he was 11 years old, and eventually settled in Davenport, Iowa, a town located on the southeastern edge of that state across from Illinois on the Mississippi River. He attended Davenport High School, where he was an honor student and was named the valedictorian of the class of 1889. In contemporary news articles he was most often referred to by his middle name, Robert, by his initials J.R., or as “J. Robert Swenson”.

He worked as a teacher at schools in Iowa and Utah for a few years after his high school graduation, then enrolled at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, where he would graduate with a B.A. in 1896.

Earlier in that decade, Swenson’s parents and some of his older siblings moved from Iowa to the Texas gulf coast and settled in the eastern Calhoun County community of Olivia, which had been established in 1892 by a group of Swedish Lutherans.

After a few more years spent teaching after his graduation from the University of Denver, Swenson enrolled as a grad student at the University of Texas in the early 1900s. I have not been able to determine if he had any previous experience with the game of football, but he went out for the UT varsity team in 1902 and was a sometime starter at left guard, though knee ailments reportedly kept him off the field for much of the season and he played in only three of the team’s ten games in a season that resulted in six wins, three losses, and one tie.

At a sturdy 6’1” and 200 pounds, he was the heaviest member of that year’s Texas team, according to the roster printed in the 1903 Cactus yearbook. And at 32 years of age, he was the oldest player on the varsity roster by a full six and a half years, and most likely the oldest who had ever suited up for a Texas varsity team up to that point.

He still ranks very high on the list of the oldest players ever to win a football letter at Texas, a list that is probably topped by former long-snapper Nate Boyer, who was 33 during his last season with the Longhorns in 2014. Swenson was not just an old man compared with his teammates on the 1902 varsity; he was actually born earlier than all but two of the men who had formed the very first UT football team nine years earlier in 1893.

Along with playing football at Texas he was also an education tutor and a member of the editorial staff of the Cactus yearbook in the same year that its literary editor was John Lang Sinclair, who famously wrote the lyrics to “The Eyes of Texas” during the 1902-03 school year.

Swenson only played one year on the UT varsity football team (which would not be known as the “Longhorns” until the following year), and went on to graduate with a Master of Arts degree in 1904, with his graduate thesis titled “A Discussion of Secondary Education, With Particular Reference to Immediate Educational Improvement in Texas.” He did further post-graduate work at Columbia University in New York for two years, then in the summer of 1907 he was hired as a professor at the North Texas State Normal College in Denton, which is now the University of North Texas.

He spent most of his 34 years at the college as a professor of geography, and he was the director of the Geography Department for his last 20 years on the faculty before his retirement in 1941. According to Swenson’s obituary, he was also the college’s first physical education teacher.

In late 1907, a few months after he began teaching at the North Texas State Normal College, Swenson married the former Jennie Bickler. At the time of their wedding he was 37 and she was 32. The new Mrs. Swenson was a native Texan, but like her husband she came from a family of European immigrants. Her father and both of her maternal grandparents had been born in present-day Germany and later immigrated to Texas.

Mr. and Mrs. Swenson made their home in Denton and were married for almost 42 years before her death in 1949. John Robert Swenson was 80 years old when he died on the day after Christmas in 1950.

Previous Historic Longhorn Notables of the Week

Week one: Thomas Milik (1944)
Week two: Raymond Clayborn (1973-76)
Week three: Ox Emerson (1929-30)
Week four: Winston McMahon (1906)
Week five: James Ross “J.R.” Callahan (1943)
Week six: A.J. “Jam” Jones (1978-81)
Week seven: Marshall Morgan “Mark” McMahon (1898-1901)