Last week, a total of 18 Texas Longhorn commits celebrated Thanksgiving knowing that they still had at least one game left to play in the 2022 high school football season. One week later, that number is down to 11. Two out-of-state commits concluded their high school careers last weekend with state championship wins, three other out-of-state pledges lost in their team’s playoff games, one player saw his season end in the third round of the Texas playoffs, and one other in-state product (Daingerfield’s Aeryn Hampton) who was also on the losing end of a third round game de-committed from Texas a few days later, and thus he will not be mentioned in the rest of this post.
The number of future Longhorns still playing football next week will be at least two less than the current number, as there are not one but two games on tap tonight where UT commits will be playing against each other. UT’s commits in the 2023 and 2024 classes play for contenders in the brackets for the Texas Class 6A Division I and II, and Class 5A Division I and II playoffs, as well as one Louisiana commit who is in that state’s semifinals. Because some of the commits are bound to eventually collide in the Texas state semifinals or championship game if they continue winning, and the season can’t end on a happy note for all of them, the largest number of the eleven commits still playing that can win a state title is seven.
The odds are favorable that at least one future Longhorn will leave Arlington in a couple of weeks as a newly-minted state champion. The last Texas high school football season in which no championship teams had a future UT letterman on their roster was way back in 1995.
There will be a lot of exciting and competitive games played tonight and tomorrow, and the ones involving Longhorn commits include one game tonight where the #1 and #2 teams in their classification will play in the state quarterfinals, and another one in Louisiana where a defending state champion team will take on that state’s top-ranked 5A squad. The fourth round of the Texas playoffs features a number of teams that are a very familiar presence at this point in the postseason, but a few other Longhorn commits have led their teams on unprecedented playoff runs and hope to continue them for at least another week.
Commits with games this week will be listed first, and those whose seasons have ended (including those who lost last week) will be at the bottom of the post. For the two games where multiple UT commits will be in opposition, I’ve combined the notes on the commits in question and put them in one section. The usual disclaimer about listed game times being according to their local time zone is unnecessary from here on out, as all games previewed below are well within the Central time zone.
Texas Longhorn commits in the playoffs
2023 RB Tre Wisner — DeSoto
2023 WR Johntay Cook II — DeSoto
Last week: Tre Wisner had 3 carries for 38 yards and 3 catches for 15 yards; and Johntay Cook had 3 catches for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 38-14 win over Tomball in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
2023 OL Jaydon Chatman — Killeen Harker Heights
Last week: Team beat Spring Dekaney 63-35 in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 2 at 7:00, DeSoto vs. Killeen Harker Heights (at Waco’s McLane Stadium) in the Region II final of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
For the first time in this year’s playoffs, Longhorn commits will be on opposing sidelines. Tonight’s DeSoto-Harker Heights matchup for the Region II championship of Class 6A Division II is the first of two such games that will take place this evening, with another commit vs. commit game kicking off 30 minutes later.
DeSoto got off to a slow start in its regional semifinal game against Tomball last week. Tomball scored first to take a 7-0 lead a few minutes into the 2nd quarter, and DeSoto responded with two consecutive possessions that ended with a turnover on downs at the Tomball 33-yard line. But the Eagles tied the contest at 7-7 on a 91-yard touchdown reception by Johntay Cook with 1:38 left in the first half.
That remained the score at halftime, but in the 3rd quarter DeSoto scored touchdowns on three straight possessions while its defense forced two punts and a turnover on downs when Tomball had the ball. A Tomball touchdown in the first minute of the 4th quarter cut DeSoto’s lead to 28-14, but the score got no closer than that. The 38-14 win allowed DeSoto to advance to the fourth round of the playoffs for a third straight year, and for the ninth time in 22 seasons. DeSoto was bounced by Duncanville in the fourth round in 2020 and 2021, but Duncanville (who beat DeSoto 41-17 back on October 28) is in a different playoff bracket this year, so there will be no playoff rematch. Instead the Eagles will take on a Killeen Harker Heights team that is in the fourth round for its first time ever.
Harker Heights, whose season high in scoring going into last week was 55 points, put 63 points on the board against a defenseless Spring Dekaney team and smashed its school record for points scored in a playoff game. Harker Heights’s senior running back Re’Shaun Sanford, a Houston commit, opened the scoring almost as soon as the game began, running for an 81-yard touchdown in the game’s opening minute. The Harker Heights Knights led 35-7 at halftime and looked poised to win in a blowout.
Sanford scored two more times early in the 3rd quarter to help give his team a 49-14 lead, but three Dekaney touchdowns in that quarter cut the Knights’ lead to 49-29. But another touchdown run by Sanford made it a four-possession game again, and Harker Heights won comfortably. Sanford finished the game with 233 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns on 19 touches.
This will be the third playoff matchup between DeSoto and Harker Heights. They previously met in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 and 2021, with DeSoto winning those two games by a combined score of 127-43. Harker Heights is 12-1 for the season, and its win last week over Dekaney set a new program record for wins in a season. DeSoto, which went into the playoffs as the 13th-ranked team in Class 6A, is 11-2 on the year and aiming to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016, when the Eagles won their only state championship.
The winner between DeSoto and Harker Heights will move on to the 6A Division II state semifinals and face the winner of the Region I final between 4th-ranked Southlake Carroll and 6th-ranked Denton Guyer.
2023 OL Andre Cojoe — Mansfield Timberview
Last week: Team beat Frisco Reedy 28-26 in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 2 at 7:00, vs. Longview (at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium) in the Region II final of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Mansfield Timberview set a new program record by winning its 13th game of the season last week. It wasn’t easy, as the Wolves had to overcome 7th-ranked Frisco Reedy in a battle of unbeaten Dallas-area teams. Timberview scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions to build what appeared to be a solid 21-0 lead late in the 2nd quarter. Reedy got on the board with a field goal made in the final minute of the 2nd quarter, and the score was 21-3 at halftime.
Timberview punted on four of its first five drives of the second half, and three scoring drives by Reedy allowed it to pull within 28-20 with 5:43 left in regulation. After a Timberview punt, Reedy got the ball back with 3:06 left. The Lions went 92-yards on a late scoring drive to cut the deficit to two points with 1:10 remaining on the clock, but Timberview successfully prevented a two-point conversion to hold on to a 28-26 lead. After recovering the onside kick attempt, TImberview kneeled out the rest of the clock.
Timberview began this season as the 9th-ranked team in Class 5A Division I, but moved up to the #2 spot three weeks into the season and has held that position ever since. Longview has gone the distance as that classification’s top-ranked team, and #1 and #2 will meet tonight in Mesquite with a berth in the state semifinals on the line.
Longview is chasing its third state championship, and potentially its second within five seasons after the Lobos won the 6A Division II title in 2018. With a 13-0 record this season, Longview is now tied with Brownwood for seventh place on the list of all-time wins by a Texas high school football program (768), and with a win over Timberview it would take sole possession of 7th place.
Timberview is chasing football history for its own city. No Mansfield ISD team has ever won a state championship in football, but six teams from the district have reached the state semifinals in various brackets since the start of the 2011 season, and Mansfield Lake Ridge reached the 5A Division I title game in 2015 before getting shellacked 56-0 by Richmond George Ranch.
The winner between #2 Mansfield Timberview and #1 Longview will move on to the 5A Division I state semifinals and play the winner of tonight’s Region I final between #3 Aledo and Burleson Centennial.
2023 OL Trevor Goosby — Melissa
Last week: Team beat Terrell 42-20 in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
2023 EDGE Billy Walton — Dallas South Oak Cliff
2023 CB Malik Muhammad — Dallas South Oak Cliff
Last week: Billy Walton and Malik Muhammad both had five tackles in a 33-27 overtime win over Midlothian Heritage in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 2 at 7:30, Melissa vs. South Oak Cliff in the Region II final of the Class 5A Division II playoffs
Another matchup between teams that each have Longhorn commits on their roster will take place tonight between Melissa and defending 5A Division II state champion South Oak Cliff. Melissa, which is in its first season as a 5A program, began the season 0-2, but has since won 11 straight games. SOC opened the season 0-3 against a very tough non-district schedule, but has since won ten straight.
Melissa advanced to the fourth round via a 42-20 win last week over a hot Terrell team that had gone 6-1 since Melissa beat them 56-21 in a late September district game. One note on the Melissa-South Oak Cliff game that might be of interest only to this writer is the fact that a Melissa win over the SOC Golden Bears would complete a perfect “Oh my!” trifecta, with Melissa having won its last two playoff games against the Ennis Lions and Terrell Tigers.
SOC, which closed the regular season as the 8th-ranked team in 5A Division II, needed overtime to eliminate 6th-ranked Midlothian Heritage in its third round game. The SOC-Heritage game was close throughout, with neither team ever leading by more than seven points. With the game tied 27-27, SOC missed a potential go-ahead field goal with 1:59 left in regulation, and the game remained tied at the end of the 4th quarter. Heritage got the ball first in overtime, and SOC’s defense pushed the Jaguars backwards and eventually stopped them on downs. SOC’s offense then gave the ball to running back Danny Green on six straight plays, and the sixth resulted in a game-winning one-yard touchdown.
SOC has been buoyed of late by the return of four-star Texas A&M commit Jayvon Thomas, who missed most of the regular season due to injury. Thomas scored a pair of touchdowns in SOC’s second round 42-37 win over Lovejoy, and in the win over Heritage he accounted for 217 rushing yards and two TDs on just 11 carries. 97 of those yards came on one touchdown run after SOC had started a drive on its own 3-yard line in the early minutes of the 4th quarter. That score gave SOC a short-lived 27-20 lead, but Heritage answered with a game-tying TD only a minute later.
Depending on where he lines up on defense, Billy Walton might have some up-close encounters in tonight’s game with his future Longhorn teammate Trevor Goosby, Melissa’s left tackle. The winner between #8 South Oak Cliff and #9 Melissa will move on to the 5A Division II state semifinals and play the winner of tonight’s Region I final between #1 Argyle and Abilene Wylie.
2023 DL Dylan Spencer — Houston C.E. King
Last week: Made 8 tackles in a 38-21 win over Fort Bend Hightower in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 2 at 7:00, vs. Katy (at Houston’s NRG Stadium) in the Region III final of the Class 6A Division II playoffs
Dylan Spencer helped his C.E. King reached the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time in school history following their 38-21 win last week over Fort Bend Hightower. The win improved the King Panthers’ record to 9-4 for the season. To keep their dream season going they’ll have to play the game of their lives tonight vs. 5th-ranked Katy, a school for whom long playoff runs are a way of life.
Katy heard King was in the fourth round for the first time and said, “That’s cute.” Since the start of the 1992 season, the Katy Tigers have advanced to the fourth round or further an incredible 22 times and won eight state championships. King’s previous games this season against ranked opponents have gone poorly, to say the least. The Panthers lost by 35 points in September games against #20 Allen and #2 Galena Park North Shore, and lost by 33 points in October to #8 Humble Atascocita.
Anything can happen when the football season gets into December, but it would be a huge upset if King were to knock off Katy. The winner of this matchup moves on to the 6A Division II semifinals and will play the winner of tonight’s Region IV final between #11 Dripping Springs and #17 Austin Vandegrift.
2023 EDGE Colton Vasek — Austin Westlake
Last week: Made 3 tackles in a 44-7 win over San Benito in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 3 at 2:00, vs. San Antonio Brennan (at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium) in the Region IV final of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
Class 6A’s top-ranked Westlake Chaparrals won their 53nd straight game overall, and 21st consecutive playoff game in the regional semifinals last week. Their current run is the third-longest win streak in Texas high school football history. Westlake makes deep playoff runs almost as often as Katy does, and this is the 12th time within the lifetime of their current seniors that the Chaparrals have reached the fourth round. If Westlake wins out it will become the first team ever to win four consecutive state titles in the UIL’s highest classification, and the first school at any level to win four straight championships since Lake Travis won five consecutive crowns in Class 4A from 2007 to 2011.
But before the Chaparrals can get there, they’ll need to beat a 14th-ranked San Antonio Brennan team that knocked Lake Travis out of the playoffs last week by a 34-17 score. Brennan lost 35-34 in its season-opener to Cibolo Steele, which went undefeated in the regular season and entered the playoffs as Class 6A’s 9th-ranked team. But Brennan has won 12 straight games since that Week One loss to Steele, and has now reached the fourth round of the playoffs in two straight years.
Brennan and Westlake have met in the playoffs on two previous occasions, which resulted in Westlake wins in the second round of the 2018 and 2019 playoffs by a combined score of 73-13. Westlake has been 6A’s top-ranked team for most of the season, and occupies the #10 spot in this week’s USA Today Super 25 national rankings.
The winner between #14 San Antonio Brennan and #1 Austin Westlake will advance to the 6A Division I state semifinals and play the winner of tonight’s Region III final between #2 Galena Park North Shore and #8 Humble Atascocita.
2024 CB Jaden Allen — Aledo
Last week: Team beat Midlothian 27-21 in the regional semifinal round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 3 at 2:00, vs. Burleson Centennial in the Region I final of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
Aledo had a rare come-from-behind win last week to topple a previously unbeaten Midlothian team in the third round of the playoffs. Aledo scored on its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Midlothian scored a TD in the opening minute of the 2nd quarter, then after Aledo missed a field goal with just over two minutes left in the half the Panthers marched 80 yards on five plays to knot the score at 14-14 with just 48 seconds left in the 2nd quarter.
Aledo got nothing out of its first two drives of the 3rd quarter, and Midlothian took its first lead on a touchdown with 2:27 left in the frame. Aledo later tied the game at 21-21 with 8:13 left in the 4th quarter. After forcing a Midlothian three-and-out, the Aledo Bearcats got the ball back, and facing a 4th-and-1 from the Midlothian 20-yard line, they went for the conversion and got a 20-yard touchdown run from Davhon Keys to go ahead 27-21 with 2:58 left in regulation. On its final possession, Midlothian would get as close as the Aledo 25-yard line before turning the ball over on downs after losing yards on a 4th-and-3 play.
The win was Aledo’s 11th straight after an uncharacteristic 0-2 start for the Bearcats to open the season. On Saturday they will have a re-match with a Burleson Centennial team that they beat 64-21 in a district game back in October. That is Centennial’s only loss of the season thus far, and the Spartans advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time in their school’s history by beating Lake Belton, 6th-ranked Amarillo Tascosa, and Abilene in the first three rounds.
The winner between #3 Aledo and Burleson Centennial will move on to the 5A Division II state semifinals and play the winner of the Region II final between #1 Longview and #2 Mansfield Timberview.
2023 S Derek Williams — New Iberia (Louisiana) Westgate
Last week: Rushed for a touchdown in a 21-10 win over Monroe (Louisiana) Neville in the quarterfinal round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 2 at 7:00, vs. Destrehan (Louisiana) in the semifinal round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs.
Westgate beat Neville 21-10 last Friday on a rainy night to punch its ticket to the Non-Select Division I semifinals, and in the process Westgate’s senior class got some measure of revenge for Neville eliminating their team from the playoffs in both 2019 and 2020. In prior years, Louisiana’s public schools competed in playoff tournaments for their respective classifications, from 1A to 5A. Those classifications still exist for the purpose of organizing districts for regular season play, but starting this season the public — or “Non-Select” — schools compete in playoff brackets organized from Division I (for the largest schools) to Division IV, rather than the five classes from 1A to 5A. This matches the way the state’s private schools have had their (“Select”) playoffs organized for the past decade. This change was bound to make any discussion of Louisiana’s classifications and playoffs confusing.
Westgate won last year’s 4A state championship, but the new playoff structure has the Tigers playing in the Non-Select Division I bracket, which has some of the larger 4A schools and all of the public 5A schools. Neville had been the sixth-ranked team in Class 4A in the final regular season poll, but playoff seedings are determined by a power rating, and Neville had the second-highest power rating in Non-Select Division I. The Westgate-Neville game was mostly a defensive struggle, but Derek Williams was able to put the game away during a cameo on the offensive side of the ball when he was inserted at running back in the 4th quarter and ran for a 42-yard touchdown.
Westgate had a 5-0 start to its season and got as high as #2 in the Non-Select Division I power ratings, but then went 2-3 in the second half of the regular season and went into the playoffs as the 10th seed. After 21-point wins over 23rd seed Belle Chasse and 7th seed Slidell, the Tigers upended 2nd seed Neville 21-10. In tonight’s semifinal round they will take on unbeaten Destrehan, whose status as the 3rd seed in the Non-Select Division I playoffs belies the fact that the Louisiana Sports Writers Association rankings had Destrehan #1 in Class 5A for much of the season.
Destrehan was the only Non-Select Division I team to finish the regular season without a loss, but the LHSAA’s power rating formula evidently dinged the Wildcats for a weak strength of schedule. They won every regular season game by at least 35 points, and in the playoffs they have beaten 14th seed Dutchtown 35-14, and squeaked by 11th seed East St. John 21-20 only four weeks after beating that same East St. John team 48-7 in an October district game.
Westgate was the underdog in its win over Neville and will be an underdog when it takes the field against Destrehan tonight. The winner of this game will play in next Friday’s Non-Select Division I state championship game at the Superdome against either top-seeded Ruston or 5th seed Zachary, last year’s Class 5A state champion.
Texas Longhorn commits whose 2022 season is over
2023 QB Arch Manning — New Orleans (Louisiana) Isidore Newman
Last week: Completed 8 of 21 passes for 96 yards and 2 interceptions, and had 15 carries for 81 yards and 1 touchdown and lost a fumble in a 49-13 loss to Baton Rouge (Louisiana) University Lab in the quarterfinal round of the Select Division III playoffs.
Arch Manning was unable to lead his Isidore Newman team to its first state championship, and the final playoff game of his high school career proved a forgettable one. After throwing no interceptions in the first ten games of his senior season, Manning was picked off twice in last week’s 49-13 quarterfinal round loss to University Lab, one of which was returned for a 100-yard touchdown. He also lost a fumble that was returned for another touchdown. The Newman Greenies went into the Select Division III playoffs as the top seed, but they fell in lopsided fashion to 8th seed University Lab, a playoff-tested team that won the Select Division II state championship a year ago, and who was quite underrated by the LHSAA’s power rating formula that determines playoff seedings.
The season-ending loss by Manning’s team last Friday set off a renewed round of trolling and clowning of Manning and his prospect status on social media. No small amount of it came from Twitter users whose bios hinted they were fans of colleges that Arch did not commit to, and much of that commentary could be described as idiotic and/or ignorant. “He’s just a three-star QB with a five-star name!”, and, “He’s overrated and couldn’t even get his 2A team to a state championship!” were common refrains.
I may have more to say about that at a later time. But for now, if you hear or see any people try to troll Manning over the way his senior season ended, they deserve a reminder that Arch plays for the same high school that his uncles Peyton and Eli Manning attended (it was a Class 2A school during their time as well), he holds all of the school’s passing and touchdown records, he led Isidore Newman (which is not exactly a football talent factory) to the state semifinals more times than Peyton and Eli combined, and Peyton — as legendary of a college and pro quarterback as he was — didn’t even make it out of the second round of the playoffs in his senior year of high school.
As for the lazy narrative that Arch played against only weak competition from small Louisiana 2A schools, I suspect that most observers not from Louisiana aren’t aware that Isidore Newman actually has an enrollment equivalent to a 3A Division I school in Texas, and in their just-concluded season the Greenies went 8-3 against a slate of opponents comprised of: two 5A teams (they beat both), two 4A teams (beat both of them as well), two 3A teams (these were Newman’s two playoff foes, and they beat one and lost to the other), four 2A teams (they went 2-2 against that group, losing to the #2 seed in Select Division III, St. Charles, and to the top seed in the Non-Select Division III playoffs, Many), and one high-scoring 1A team (Reserve Riverside Academy) that averaged 47 points per game aside from its 42-20 loss to Newman.
The University Lab team that ended Manning’s high school career was not made up of a bunch of unathletic science nerds, as some on social media seemed to believe. U-High has a four-star linebacker committed to Notre Dame (Jaiden Ausberry), and four-star sophomore athlete Keylan Moses, whose older brother Dylan Moses played at Alabama. I have yet to hear a cogent or logical argument for why the level of competition Arch played against will uniquely hinder his adjustment to the D1 college football game in a way that it didn’t for Peyton and Eli, let alone for Texas Longhorn legend Colt McCoy, who unquestionably faced weaker high school competition in west Texas at what was then the Class 2A level before going on to break most of UT’s passing records and playing 13 seasons (so far) in the NFL. In the last game of Colt’s high school career he was intercepted three times in a 32-27 loss to Canadian in the third round of the 2004 Class 2A Division II playoffs.
Arch Manning is slated to be an early enrollee this spring.
2023 RB Cedric Baxter Jr. — Orlando (Florida) Edgewater
Last week: Had 54 rushing yards in a 42-13 loss to Orlando (Florida) Jones in the regional final round of the FHSAA Class 3M playoffs
Cedric Baxter’s high school career definitely didn’t have the ending he imagined or hoped for. Facing a Jones team his Edgewater Eagles had beaten 14-13 on a wet night back on September 16, the Eagles were thoroughly dominated in last week’s rematch. Jones led 21-0 at halftime and held a 42-7 lead late in the 4th quarter before the game’s final minutes were played with a running clock.
Edgewater had its first undefeated regular season since 1973 and went into the playoffs as the top-rated team in Florida’s new 3M classification. But its team was undone by six turnovers committed against an inspired Jones team that had already overcome more than its share of obstacles during the 2022 season, including a hurricane and a recent shooting at its campus.
Edgewater finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 12-1, and Baxter finished his senior year with 174 carries for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns, despite missing his team’s last few regular season games with an injury.
2024 WR Hunter Moddon — Houston Clear Lake
Clear Lake finished with a 5-5 record and did not qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
2023 WR Ryan Niblett — Aldine Eisenhower
Eisenhower lost to New Caney 28-6 in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs and 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 TE Spencer Shannon — Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei
Last week: Team lost to Bellflower (California) St. John Bosco 24-22 in the championship of the CIF Southern Section Division I Playoffs.
Mater Dei was denied a chance to repeat as California’s Open Division state champion, and as another mythical national championship. The Monarchs had not lost a game since 2019 and were ranked at #1 in USA Today’s Super 25 rankings throughout the season. Last Friday they played against national 4th-ranked St. John Bosco for the CIF Southern Section Division I final, with the winner getting a spot in the CIF’s Open Division state championship. Mater Dei edged St. John Bosco 17-7 in a regular season matchup in early October, but fell by two points in last week’s playoff rematch in front of over 15,000 fans at the Rose Bowl.
The game was tied 7-7 at halftime, but St. John Bosco seized control to take a 24-13 lead in the second half. A Mater Dei field goal cut the deficit to 24-16, and after scoring a touchdown with 3:08 left in regulation the Monarchs had a chance to tie the game, but their two-point conversion attempt was stopped short of the end zone, and 24-22 remained the score when the clock hit all zeroes. Mater Dei finished the 2022 season with a 12-1 record, and its longtime head coach Bruce Rollinson, who had announced at the start of the playoffs that this season would be his last, finished his career with a record of 339-86-2.
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 OL Connor Stroh — Frisco Wakeland
Wakeland lost to Port Arthur Memorial 52-50 in four overtimes in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs, and finished with a record of 7-5.
2023 DL Sydir Mitchell — Oradell (New Jersey) Bergen Catholic
Last week: Made 1 tackle in a 45-0 win over Ramsey (New Jersey) Don Bosco Prep in the championship game of the Non-Public A playoffs.
Sydir Mitchell and his Bergen Catholic teammates won their second consecutive Non-Public A state championship, and their school’s tenth Non-Public state title in the thirty seasons since New Jersey began awarding championships in those leagues in 1993.
Bergen Catholic’s only loss of the season was a 31-7 defeat to Don Bosco Prep (which has nine Non-Public state championships of its own) on September 24, but in last week’s state championship rematch, the Crusaders left no doubt who the state’s top Non-Public team was, as they obliterated the Ironmen 45-0.
Bergen Catholic finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 11-1, and Sydir Mitchell became the first out-of-state Longhorn commit to be part of multiple state championship teams since tight end Brayden Liebrock played for Chandler teams that won Arizona’s 6A state title in three straight years from 2016 to 2018.
2023 EDGE Derion Gullette — Teague
Sat out the 2022 season after suffering a torn ACL
2023 LB S’Maje Burrell — North Crowley
Last week: Team lost 35-21 to Prosper in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
After setting a new program record by winning 12 games and going undefeated in the regular season for the first time, the 19th-ranked North Crowley Panthers saw their season come to an end in the third round of the 6A Division I playoffs last week against 10th-ranked Prosper.
Prosper led 14-13 after a North Crowley touchdown scored with 4:42 left in the 2nd quarter, then the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half to go into the 3rd quarter with a 28-13 lead. North Crowley scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half to cut the deficit to 28-21, but its subsequent possessions ended with a punt, an interception, and two turnovers on downs. The Panthers finished their season with an overall record of 12-1.
2023 LB Liona Lefau — Kahuku (Hawaii)
Last week: Team beat Punahou 20-0 in the Division I-Open state championship.
A few hours after fellow Longhorn commit Sydir Mitchell finished his senior season with a New Jersey state championship, Liona Lefau and his Kahuku Red Raiders teammates won their second consecutive HHSAA Division I-Open state championship last Friday, beating in a 20-0 shutout a Punahou team that they had already beaten 27-20 back on September 3. Kahuku finished the year with a 12-2 record, with both of its losses coming to out-of-state superpowers St. John Bosco of California and St. Frances Academy of Baltimore, Maryland, a pair that USA Today currently ranks 1st and 11th in the nation.
Earlier this week, Liona Lefau was named the 2022 MaxPreps Hawaii High School Football Player of the Year.
Historic Longhorn Notable of the Week: on hiatus
During the current season I’ve enjoyed bringing BON readers the stories of some lesser-known (at least to members of Generation Z) or outright forgotten Longhorn football notables of the past. I’ll almost certainly have more to write 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 for now and may return in the week leading up to the state championships.
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)