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Longhorn football commits in the playoffs, Nov. 17-19

19 UT commits are in the playoffs and hoping to extend their season beyond Thanksgiving Day.

2023 Texas commit Liona Lefau (left) and his teammate, 2025 linebacker Fale Atuaia, visit the UT football facilities on November 13, 2022.

The playoffs began last week for the Texas Longhorns’ committed recruits from the states of Texas, California, Florida, Louisiana, and New Jersey, and their first Hawaii commit will have his first playoff game this week.

Of the program’s 24 total commits between the 2023 and 2024 classes, 19 of them are still playing football. Of the other five, two had season-ending injuries earlier in the year, two played for teams that failed to qualify for the postseason, and the other lost in the first round of the playoffs a week ago.

As with rivalry games, the playoffs are a time when you can throw the records out in a lot of instances, and the results on the field will show which teams are peaking in November and which ones haven’t elevated their level of play, and also will show the difference between teams that compiled gaudy records against poor competition in the regular season and the ones won 6 or 7 games while being tested by stronger competition.

As you read through the previews of this week’s games involving Longhorn commits, you’ll see a lot of evidence of teams being either better than or not nearly as good as their season record up to this point might indicate.

A number of commits will have to overcome some tough tests in order to keep their season alive for another week. Cedric Baxter’s team will face an opponent that lost in last year’s Florida 7A state championship game. Connor Stroh’s Frisco Wakeland team will play a 10-1 Port Arthur Memorial squad. Billy Walton and Malik Muhammad of the defending 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff survived a defensive struggle last week and must contend with the best offense they have faced in months. And S’Maje Burrell’s North Crowley team must make a long trek west for a bout with an El Paso Pebble Hills team that knocked off traditional power Odessa Permian last week.

Those who emerge victorious this week will get to have practices during the week of Thanksgiving, with the goal of playing on into December. Going into the Thanksgiving week a season ago, 11 Longhorn commits were still playing football. If that number is not higher this year, that will mean this weekend was a very disappointing one for several future Longhorns. (Thanksgiving Day 2021 also featured running back commit Jamarion Miller flipping to Alabama, and former defensive back commit Jaylon Guilbeau re-committing to Texas. Let’s hope this year’s Turkey Day has drama only on the field.)

This should be a great weekend for seeing some high school football action. All game times listed below are according to their local time zone, and this column has separate sections for the UT commits who are still in the playoffs and those whose season has ended.

Texas Longhorn commits in the playoffs

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

Last week: First round bye
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. New Orleans (Louisiana) Sophie B. Wright in the regional round of the Select Division III playoffs.

Arch Manning will begin the final playoff run of his high school career on Friday with the goal of bringing his high school its first-ever state championship in football. His Isodore Newman Greenies went 7-2 in the regular season and received the top seed in the Select (read: private school) Division III playoff bracket, and the top eight seeds in that bracket all got a bye in last week’s bi-district round. The last time Newman got the top seed in its playoff bracket was in 2020, when the Greenies reached the semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Lafayette Christian Academy. LCA also ended Newman’s season in the semifinal round of the playoffs in 2021, but will not do so again in 2022, as it is in the Select Division II playoffs.

On Friday night the Greenies will take on Sophie B. Wright, a New Orleans charter school whose football teams compiled a record of 3-22 over the previous three seasons before going 6-4 in the 2022 regular season and garnering the 16th seed in the Select Division III playoffs. The Warriors advanced to the regional round by knocking off 17th seed D’Arbonne Woods last week.

The winner between Newman and Wright will move on to the state quarterfinals and face either 8th seed Baton Rouge University Lab or 9th seed Metairie Park Country Day, the latter of which Newman beat 31-14 back on October 21.

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

Last week: Team beat Jacksonville (Florida) First Coast 57-6 in the regional quarterfinal round of the FHSAA Class 3M playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:30, vs. Tampa Bay (Florida) Tech in the regional semifinal round of the FHSAA Class 3M playoffs

Cedric Baxter returned to action for the first time in three and a half weeks, and his Edgewater Eagles teammates had no trouble eliminating First Coast in their first round playoff game last week. Edgewater was the highest-rated team in class 3M at the close of the regular season and got the top seed in its regional bracket. On Friday the Eagles will play 5th seed Tampa Bay Tech, which got a dominating 34-3 win over 4th seed Neptune Beach Fletcher in its own first round game. Fletcher and Tampa Bay Tech had been the 10th and 11th-rated teams in 3M at the close of the regular season, and their seedings reflect how deep Region 1 is in the 3M playoffs.

Edgewater lost to Fort Lauderdale powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in the 7A state championship game in both 2019 and 2020, Cedric Baxter’s freshman and sophomore seasons. Edgewater and St. Thomas Aquinas were ranked 1st and 2nd in the final FHSAA power ratings for the new 3M classification going into these playoffs, and the bracket is set up for those teams to potentially meet in a state championship for the third time in four seasons. But first Edgewater will have to get past a Tampa Bay Tech team that would like some revenge against St. Thomas Aquinas as well.

In 2021, Edgewater reached the second round of the Class 7A playoffs before losing 32-14 to eventual semifinalist Lake Gibson, while Tampa Bay Tech reached the 7A state championship game but lost 42-14 to St. Thomas Aquinas.

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

Last week: Tre Wisner had 3 carries for 6 yards; and Johntay Cook had 5 catches for 197 yards and 2 TDs in a 37-20 win over Pflugerville Weiss in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Thursday, November 17 at 7:00, vs. Rockwall-Heath (at Frisco’s Ford Center) in the area round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.

Johntay Cook had another big night last week in helping DeSoto advance to the second round of the playoffs. Cook had nearly 200 receiving yards and reached the end zone twice in DeSoto’s 37-20 win over Pflugerville Weiss. Several weeks ago a reader of this column bemoaned the fact that Cook had caught only one pass for a loss of four yards in DeSoto’s 42-24 win over playoff team Waxahachie. In DeSoto’s six subsequent games, Cook has recorded a total of 760 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

The DeSoto Eagles appeared to have a fight on their hands early in last week’s first round playoff game against Weiss. Weiss received the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards in 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. Weiss would score points on three of its first four possessions and lead DeSoto 17-14 after a made field goal with 8:47 left in the 2nd quarter, but DeSoto outscored Weiss 23-3 the rest of the way. After Weiss took that 17-14 lead, Johntay Cook scored on a 42-yard touchdown reception on DeSoto’s next offensive play to give his team its first lead at 20-17, and it was all DeSoto from there. The rest of Weiss’s drives resulted in: one field goal, five punts, and a turnover on downs.

Johntay Cook’s highlights vs. Weiss

The win allowed DeSoto to advance to the second round of the playoffs for a 17th consecutive season, and tonight the Eagles will seek a berth in the regional semifinals when they face Rockwall-Heath, a school they have never previously met in the playoffs. Rockwall-Heath went a modest 6-4 during the regular season, but scored a 23-16 upset win in last week’s first round over Wylie East, the champion of District 9-6A.

Two of Rockwall-Heath’s four losses in the regular season were against ranked teams: a 47-14 loss in its season-opener to 6th-ranked Denton Guyer, and a 56-21 loss in district play to cross-rown rival Rockwall, Class 6A’s 18th-ranked team.

The winner between DeSoto and Rockwall-Heath will play either New Caney or Tomball next week.

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

Last week: Caught 1 pass for 9 yards in a 54-14 win over San Juan Capistrano (California) JSerra Catholic in the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division I Playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. Los Alamitos in the semifinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs

Mater Dei, the consensus top-ranked high school team in the country, got a blowout victory in its first playoff game last week, winning 54-14 over a JSerra Catholic team it had beaten by a much closer 21-13 score back on September 30. No opponent can be taken for granted in the Southern Section Division I playoffs, as the quarterfinal round saw the elimination of Corona Centennial and Long Beach Poly, which had been rated by the USA Today Super 25 as the 15th and 20th-ranked teams in the country, respectively.

On Friday, the Mater Dei Monarchs will face a Los Alamitos team that beat previously undefeated Long Beach Poly 52-42 in the quarterfinals. Los Alamitos is 9-2 this season but has not lost to a California opponent. Its two losses came in back-to-back weeks early in the season against Plantation (Florida) American Heritage and Chandler (Arizona) Basha, the teams USA Today currently ranks 13th and 25th in the county. The Los Alamitos Griffins are beatable, but have also shown they can hang with some very talented and nationally-ranked foes.

The winner between Mater Dei and Los Alamitos will advance to the Southern Section Division I championship game on November 25 and face either St. John Bosco (USA Today’s 5th-ranked team in the country) or Mission Viejo (which knocked off 15th-ranked Corona Centennial last week).

2023 OL Jaydon Chatman — Killeen Harker Heights

Last week: Team beat Mansfield 26-2 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:30, vs. Royse City (at Waco ISD Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.

Harker Heights rode a strong defensive effort and the legs of senior running back Re’Shaun Sanford to a 26-2 win over Mansfield last week, the program’s first playoff win since 2002. Harker Heights’ defense limited Mansfield to 170 offensive yards and 9 first downs, and Mansfield scored its only points on a safety. Sanford, a Houston commit, rushed for 165 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries.

On Friday, Harker Heights will make a relatively short drive north to Waco to take on Royse City, which is in its first season as a 6A program and advanced to the area round of the playoffs after a 45-14 win last week over Garland Naaman Forest. Royse City went 6-4 during the regular season, and its four losses (all of which came by double digit margins) were against 6A playoff teams Arlington Bowie, Rockwall, and Mesquite Horn, as well as Longhorn commit Trevor Goosby’s Melissa team in Class 5A Division II.

Harker Heights’ offensive attack is led by Re’Shaun Sanford and his 2,200+ yards from scrimmage so far this season, and it will be matched with a Royse City offense that led all Dallas-area 6A teams in rushing yards per game with 276. The winner between Harker Heights and Royse City will move on to the regional semifinals and will play either Spring Dekaney or Cypress Falls.

2023 OL Andre Cojoe — Mansfield Timberview

Last week: Team beat Frisco Heritage 33-14 in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill (at Cedar Park’s Grupton Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.

If one looked only at the box score of last week’s Mansfield Timberview-Frisco Heritage playoff game, one would assume Timberview dominated throughout and won in a blowout, as the Wolves outgained Heritage 424-130, had 27 first downs to Heritage’s 7, and won the turnover battle 3-2. But the game was closer than the final score or box score stats would indicate.

Timberview led 14-7 at halftime, and took a 20-14 lead into the 4th quarter. Heritage forced a Timberview punt three minutes into the 4th quarter to get the ball at their own 20-yard line with a chance to take the lead, but Timberview’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and its offense then needed only four plays to score a touchdown to extend the lead to 27-14. Timberview added one last touchdown after a Heritage turnover on downs, which all but put the game out of reach at 33-14 with just over two minutes left in regulation.

The Timberview Wolves, who entered the playoffs as the #2 team in Class 5A Division I in the final regular season rankings, will look to advance to the third round for a third straight season when they play Barbers Hill on Friday. Barbers Hill is 8-3 for the season and advanced to the area round for a fourth straight season after a 24-7 win last week over Forney.

Barbers Hill High School, which is about 30 miles east of Houston in Mont Belvieu, has advanced into the third round of the playoffs five times in its history, including state championship seasons in 1971 and 1976. But Friday’s matchup with Mansfield Timberview is historic in that it will be the first time a Barbers Hill team has ever had a playoff game against a school from Tarrant or Dallas County. Forney, which is a short distance east of Dallas in Kaufman County, was the first playoff opponent Barbers Hill had ever faced from the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Region 2 competition will get harder for whoever wins between Timberview and Barbers Hill, as the team that advances will play either 4th-ranked Lancaster or 7th-ranked Frisco Reedy next week.

2023 OL Trevor Goosby — Melissa

Last week: Team beat Hallsville 57-20 in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:30, vs. Ennis (at Dallas’s Wildcat-Ram Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.

In its first season as a Class 5A program, Melissa has won its district’s championship, finished the regular season in the state rankings, and won its first playoff game. Last week the Cardinals blasted Hallsville 57-20 in their bi-district matchup. They led 34-13 at halftime, and 47-13 going into the 4th quarter. On Friday, Melissa will play a 6-5 Ennis team that is in the playoffs for an 11th straight season and has now reached the second round 15 times during the 2000s. Ennis beat Dallas Woodrow Wilson 55-23 in last week’s first round.

Ennis’s season record will not look impressive, and indeed the Lions are one loss away from having their most losses in any season since 2011, but all five of their defeats in 2022 have come against playoff-qualifying teams, and the last three were all by margins of three points or less. Ennis opened this season with a 42-2 loss to a solid 6A team in Waxahachie, then fell 28-10 the next week to the current 5th-ranked team in 5A Division I, Midlothian. Their next nine games included a three-point loss to a good Colleyville Heritage team, a two-point loss to a 9-2 Everman team that was ranked 10th in 5A Division II going into the final week of the regular season, a three-point loss to sixth-ranked Midlothian Heritage, and a three-point win over a Mansfield Summit team that last week gave 8th-ranked South Oak Cliff its toughest game in two months.

In short, Ennis has three fewer wins but has played more good teams than Melissa has, and its 6-5 record is quite deceptive. At quarterback for the Lions is senior Jackson Gilkey, a UTSA commit, and his top receiving target is sophomore Gracen Harris, who already holds offers from half of the current Big 12 and has just shy of 2,500 receiving yards in his high school career. If his already high production improves even marginally in his last two prep seasons, Harris might make a run at Jordan Shipley’s state record for career receiving yards (5,424) before the end of his time at Ennis.

The winner between Melissa and Ennis will play either Terrell or Everman next week.

2023 OL Connor Stroh — Frisco Wakeland

Last week: Team beat Birdville 42-28 in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. Port Arthur Memorial (at Lufkin’s Martin Stadium) in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.

Frisco Wakeland capitalized on a pair of turnovers and some timely defensive stops to pull out a 42-28 win over Birdville last week. As the 1st quarter ended, the score was tied 7-7 and Birdville had the ball at the Wakeland 4-yard line on 4th-and-2. Birdville was stopped for no gain on the first play of the 2nd quarter and turned the ball over on downs. Wakeland responded with a 10-play, 96-yard scoring drive to take its first lead at 14-7. The teams traded touchdowns on their next possessions, and a touchdown pass by Wakeland with 31 seconds left in the 2nd quarter allowed it to take a 21-14 lead into halftime.

Birdville got the ball to start the second half, but Wakeland’s defense recorded an interception on the second offensive play of the half, and six plays later the score was 28-14. Birdville would cut the deficit to 28-21 after scoring a touchdown five minutes into the 4th quarter, but Wakeland responded with a touchdown drive of its own to extend the lead back to 14 points. An interception on Birdville’s ensuing possession led to a Wakeland touchdown with 2:05 left in regulation that made the score 42-21.

With the win, Wakeland advanced to the area round of the 5A Division I playoffs and will face a 10-1 Port Arthur Memorial team that won the championship of District 8-5A Division I. Memorial has already achieved a double-digit win total for just the third time in school history, though its schedule strength could fairly be called suspect. The Titans were ranked as high as 5th in 5A Division I during the regular season but dropped out of the rankings after a 28-24 upset loss on October 21 to a Baytown Lee team that had a season record of 5-5 and missed the playoffs. Their resume also includes a 18-17 win in mid-September over a New Caney Porter team that missed the playoffs.

Port Arthur Memorial won its first playoff game by a 48-41 score over McKinney North, who had previously lost to ranked teams from Longview and Lancaster by a combined score of 123-14. The Wakeland-Memorial game is another one in which the records of the participating teams don’t give a full picture of how well each is playing right now. The winner of this game will play either top-ranked Longview or 9-2 Frisco Lone Star next week.

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

Last week: Team beat Toms River (New Jersey) Donovan Catholic 41-7 in the quarterfinal round of the Non-Public A playoffs.
This week: Saturday, November 19 at 1:00, vs. Morristown (New Jersey) Delbarton in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Non-Public A playoffs

After having a bye in the first round of the Non-Public A playoffs, the Bergen Catholic Crusaders began the defense of their 2021 state title by beating Donovan Catholic 41-7. Sydir Mitchell was not credited with any defensive stats from that game.

Awaiting Bergen Catholic in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal round is a Delbarton team that it defeated 21-6 back on September 10. Delbarton had just a 4-5 record in the regulat season, but got into the playoffs and won its first round game over St. Joseph 42-6, then upset third-ranked St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City 35-12 in last week’s quarterfinal round. Delbarton had previously lost to St. Peter’s Prep 32-27 in mid-September. Delbarton’s record isn’t pretty, but its team is peaking at the right time and shouldn’t be taken lightly by Bergen Catholic.

The winner of this semifinal match will play at MetLife Stadium for the Non-Public A state championship on November 25 against either top-ranked Don Bosco Prep or Seton Hall Prep.

2023 DL Dylan Spencer — Houston C.E. King

Last week: Made 11 tackles (2 for loss) in a 70-14 win over Channelview in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. League City Clear Falls (at Sheldon ISD Panther Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs

The King Panthers had no trouble eliminating Channelview from the playoffs in their first round matchup last week. Dylan Spencer had a season-high 11 total tackles in the win. In this week’s area round they will play a Clear Falls team that is 9-2 for the season and won the championship of District 24-6A. One of Clear Falls’s two losses this season was a 56-28 non-district defeat early in the season against Humble Summer Creek, a team King played late in its district schedule and lost to by a score of 24-21.

This season’s results strongly suggest that if you want to see a dramatic high school game, you would be advised to avoid games involving the King Panthers. That 24-21 loss to Summer Creek three weeks ago is their only game of the 2022 season — win or loss — that was decided by fewer than 21 points.

A win over Clear Falls would advance King into the third round of the playoffs for a second straight season, something it has never done before. If they can get into the third round the Panthers will face either Houston Heights or Fort Bend Hightower.

2023 EDGE Colton Vasek — Austin Westlake

Last week: Team beat Round Rock Cedar Ridge 58-10 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:30, vs. New Braunfels (at San Marcos’s Rattler Stadium) in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs

Class 6A’s top-ranked Westlake Chaparrals won their 51st straight game in knocking off Cedar Ridge 58-10 in last week’s bi-district round. Westlake has won three consecutive state titles, and the last time it lost a postseason game was in the semifinal round of the 2018 6A Division II playoffs. The last time Westlake failed to reach at least the fourth round of the playoffs was in 2014, when the Chaparrals lost in the first round to Round Rock.

Westlake’s next opponent is New Braunfels, who they beat 70-7 in the second round of last year’s playoffs. New Braunfels is 8-3 and advanced to the second round by beating San Antonio Reagan 17-13 last week. New Braunfels has had a good season but would be a decided underdog to Westlake even at full strength, and the Unicorns will not be playing the state’s top-ranked team at full strength. New Braunfels will have a backup in at quarterback due to their junior starter Leighton Adams suffering injuries on Thursday of last week when he — not making this up — climbed a utility pole on the night before his team’s first playoff game, got electrocuted, and sustained “broken bones” after “falling at least 20 feet”, according to a local news report. Adams had a very good junior season before that incident, and it remains to be seen if he will be able to return to the field next fall for his senior season.

The winner between Westlake and New Braunfels will play either San Antonio Taft or San Benito.

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

Last week: Billy Walton had 6 tackles (2 for loss) and 2 sacks, and Malik Muhammad had 2 tackles in a 12-7 win over Mansfield Summit in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Saturday, November 19 at 3:00, vs. Lovejoy (at Arlington’s Globe Life Field) in the area round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs

Playing against their first tough opponent in nearly two months, the South Oak Cliff Golden Bears got all they could handle in their first round matchup with Mansfield Summit, but emerged with a 12-7 win to keep alive their goal of a second consecutive state championship.

Summit had reached the state semifinals of Class 5A Division I in its previous two seasons, but had only a 5-5 record in the regular season this year after dropping down to 5A Division II. Still, the Summit Jaguars were a clear upgrade in competition from what SOC had faced in its district. Summit led 7-0 at the end of a first half that was almost offense-free; the teams combined for seven punts and two turnovers on downs before halftime, and Summit’s points came on a touchdown set up by a fumble that gave Summit the ball at the SOC 31-yard line.

Summit’s only sustained drive of the game was after receiving the second half kickoff, as the Jaguars drove from their own 21-yard line to the SOC 12-yard line before missing on a field goal attempt. SOC took over at its own 19-yard line and scored its first touchdown at the end of an 11-play drive. Nearly two-thirds of SOC’s offensive yards in the game were gained on that one drive in the 3rd quarter. Summit led 7-6 after SOC missed the PAT attempt.

SOC took its first lead after a 55-yard punt return with 7:44 left in regulation, which gave it a 12-7 advantage after an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. After the missed field goal on their first drive of the second half, Summit advanced past the SOC 40-yard line only once and turned the ball over on downs at the 35-yard line with just over three minutes left in the game in its last decent drive of the game.

SOC upended Summit despite converting just 9 first downs, scoring six points on offense, and being outgained 250-126. The Golden Bears will face a more prolific offense this week when they take on a Lovejoy team that has been held under 38 points only twice in 11 games. Last week Lovejoy beat Whitehouse 38-34 in the first round. This would be a good week for Billy Walton and Malik Muhammad to have had a conversation with fellow commit Trevor Goosby, whose Melissa team beat Lovejoy 36-35 in their regular season finale two weeks ago.

The winner between South Oak Cliff and Lovejoy will play either 6th-ranked Midlothian Heritage or 9-2 Crandall in the 5A Division II regional semifinals next week.

2023 LB S’Maje Burrell — North Crowley

Last week: Team beat Keller Timber Creek 66-17 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 5:30, vs. El Paso Pebble Hills (at Andrews’s Mustang Bowl) in the area round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.

North Crowley went undefeated during the regular season for the first time in program history, then got its playoff run off to a high-flying start last week, beating Keller Timber Creek 66-17 and smashing their team record for points scored in a postseason game. Even during their 2003 Class 4A Division I state championship run, the Panthers had never previously scored more than 35 points in a playoff game, and the 66 points they put on the board against Timber Creek was one possession shy of the 74 combined points they scored in their six playoff games between 2004 and 2021.

North Crowley had scored 39 points by the time eight minutes remained in the 3rd quarter, and outgained Timber Creek 565-223.

The Panthers should get a better challenge on Friday evening when they will face a 10-1 El Paso Pebble Hills team after making the 325-mile trip from Fort Worth to Andrews. Pebble Hills, a young program which is in just its seventh season of varsity football, is fresh off of its first-ever playoff win, a 45-28 victory over Odessa Permian last week that made the Spartans only the third El Paso team to win a playoff game over Permian.

The winner of Friday’s North Crowley-Pebble Hills matchup will advance to the third round and take on either 10th-ranked Prosper or South Grand Prairie.

2023 LB Liona Lefau — Kahuku (Hawaii)

Last week: No game
This week: Friday, November 18 at 4:00, vs. Ewa Beach (Hawaii) Campbell in the semifinal round of the Division I-Open playoffs.

Kahuku won the Open Division final of the Oahu Interscholastic Association three weeks ago, and after a long layoff the Red Raiders will begin the defense of their HHSAA Division I-Open state title on Friday when they play a Campbell team that they beat 16-6 back on September 10. Liona Lefau and his family took advantage of the long break in his team’s playoff schedule to visit UT for last week’s game against TCU.

Lefau is one of four out-of-state Longhorn commits who was part of a state championship team in 2021, and the one whose team seems most likely to repeat this year, even including national #1 Mater Dei. Kahuku has not lost to a Hawaii opponent since 2019 (that state did not play high school football in 2020), and it has been the unanimous pick for the state’s top-ranked team this season.

With a win on Friday, Kahuku would advance to next week’s Division I-Open state championship game and play either 2nd-ranked Mililani or Punahou, both of which it has already beaten this year (twice, in Mililani’s case).

2024 CB Jaden Allen — Aledo

Last week: Had one interception in a 37-0 win over Killeen Shoemaker in the bi-district round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. Lubbock-Cooper (at Sweetwater’s Mustang Bowl) in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs

Aledo won its first round game 37-0 over Killeen Shoemaker last week to advance to the second round of the playoffs for a 27th consecutive season. (That’s not quite the longest current such streak in Texas; Katy in Class 6A has now made it to at least the second round of the playoffs in 29 straight seasons.) Aledo has the most UIL state football championships with 10, and took the first step toward #11 with last week’s dominating win.

This week the Bearcats will travel to west Texas to play a 9-2 Lubbock-Cooper team that finished second in its district behind 6th-ranked Amarillo Tascosa, and which has now reached the second round of the playoffs for a not-too-shabby ten straight seasons. Lubbock-Cooper had one loss and four wins during the regular season that were decided by five points or less, with the loss being a 36-33 defeat at the hands of Class 6A playoff team Wolfforth Frenship. Lubbock-Cooper advanced to at least the fourth round of the playoffs in every season from 2018 to 2021, and made it to the state semifinals in Class 5A Division II a year ago before losing to eventual state champion South Oak Cliff. The Pirates have since moved up to 5A Division I and get to face arguably the most dominant high school program in the state over the past decade or so.

Aledo and Lubbock-Cooper have met in the playoffs once before, in the state semifinals in 2019 when Aledo got a 28-21 win on its way to the second of three consecutive 5A Division II state titles. The victor in their 2022 re-match will move on and play either 5th-ranked Midlothian or Amarillo.

2024 CB Aeryn Hampton — Daingerfield

Last week: Team beat Anderson-Shiro 41-6 in the bi-district round of the Class 3A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, vs. De Kalb (at Sulphur Springs’s Prim Stadium) in the area round of the Class 3A Division II playoffs.

Daingerfield had no trouble with Anderson-Shiro in last week’s first round playoff game, as the Tigers got their seventh straight win in a streak that started in late September. This week will have a tougher challenge, as their area round opponent is a 9-2 De Kalb team that finished second in its district and averaged just shy of 40 points per game during the regular season. The De Kalb Bears got into the second round by beating Edgewater 42-40 in a game that featured by far the most points De Kalb had ever given up in a playoff win.

Daingerfield and De Kalb have met in the playoffs on one previous occasion: in 1968 when the Tigers beat the Bears 27-12 in a first round matchup before going on to win the 2A state championship, the first of six state titles Daingerfield has won to date. The winner of Friday’s Daingerfield-De Kalb game will play either 3rd-ranked Newton or New Boston next week

2023 S Derek Williams — New Iberia (Louisiana) Westgate

Last week: Team beat Belle Chasse 35-14 in the bi-district round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, November 18 at 7:00, at Slidell in the regional round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs

Westgate, last year’s Class 4A state champion in Louisiana, went into the new Non-Select Division I playoffs as the 10th seed, and last week the Tigers scored a convincing win over 23rd seed Belle Chasse. That win bought them a second round matchup with 7th seed Slidell, which is 9-2 this season and won its first round game against 26th seed Hammond 55-22, five weeks after beating Hammond 32-21 in a district game. This year is already a big improvement on Slidell’s 2021 season, in which it barely made the Class 5A playoffs and immediately lost 36-0 to top seed and eventual state champion Zachary.

Whoever wins between Westgate and Slidell will move on to the quarterfinals and get a Thanksgiving weekend date with either 2nd seed Neville or 15th seed East Ascension.

Texas Longhorn commits whose 2022 season is over

2024 WR Hunter Moddon — Houston Clear Lake

Clear Lake did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.

2023 WR Ryan Niblett — Aldine Eisenhower

Last week: Team lost to New Caney 28-6 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.

Ryan Niblett saw his senior season come to an end last week, as his Eisenhower Eagles lost in the first round of the 6A Division II playoffs to the unbeaten New Caney Eagles 28-6. Eisenhower finished the season with a 5-6 overall record.

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 OL Payton Kirkland — Orlando (Florida) Dr. Phillips

Dr. Phillips finished with a 4-6 record and did not qualify for the 4M playoffs.

2023 EDGE Derion Gullette — Teague

Injured - out for 2022 season

Historic Longhorn Notable of the Week: on hiatus

Over the past few months I’ve enjoyed bringing BON readers the stories of some lesser-known (to Generation Z anyway) or outright forgotten Longhorn football notables of the past. I’ll almost certainly have more to say and tell in the future about particular events and players from UT football’s nearly 130-year-old history, but this section of the column will be put on pause during the playoffs and may return either in the week leading up to the state championships or in the annual season recap post.

Listed below are the former Longhorns who have been featured in that section of this column’s previous posts this season.

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)
Week eight: John Robert “J.R.” Swenson (1902)
Week nine: Lawrence Sampleton (1978-81)
Week ten: none (this feature took a bye week)
Week eleven: Howard Fest (1967)