The Texas high school football playoffs have now reached the state semifinals, the final four. This weekend’s games will determine who plays for state championships next week, and who gets a less ostentatious patch for their letter jacket.
Going into last week’s regional final round 11 Texas Longhorn commits were still playing football. That number has decreased to six. Two pairs of teammates are among those six, and there will be a future Longhorn competing in this week’s semifinals for Class 6A Division I and II, as well as 5A Division I and II. Four of the six have been part of state championship teams in previous seasons, and will hope to leave high school with another ring.
Five other future Longhorns whose fortunes have been followed in this column throughout the season saw their season come to an end last week, with four of them losing in the regional final (aka the state quarterfinals) round of the Texas playoffs, and one Louisianan losing in his state’s semifinals. There have been years where a season got to this point and I’d have a very high level of confidence that at least one or two commits was going to punch their ticket to the state final. I expect at least one of the six commits playing this week will do so, but all of them have a very tough matchup in front of them.
The DeSoto pair of Johntay Cook and Tre Wisner will play an undefeated Denton Guyer team that appears to have been underrated despite going into the playoffs ranked 6th in Class 6A. Colton Vasek’s Austin Westlake team is riding a 54-game winning streak, but must get past a perennial Texas superpower in Galena Park North Shore, which has won three state titles in the past four seasons. Jaden Allen’s Aledo team is very familiar with being this deep in the postseason, but they’ll have to beat a top-ranked Longview team that has two four-star prospects at offensive skill positions. And Malik Muhammad and Billy Walton of South Oak Cliff are seeking a second straight state championship for their school, but will have to overcome an Argyle team that has been ranked atop 5A Division II for the majority of this season.
Best case scenario: they all win this week and we’ll get to see some photos on social media with multiple Longhorn commits meeting up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington next week while wearing state championship medals. But if the season ends this week for one or more of them, they’ll still have had a season that lasted longer than those of roughly 96% of the teams in their classification.
In every Texas high school football season from 1996 to 2021 there was at least one state championship team that had a future Texas Longhorn on its roster. Over the past few years I’ve included the list of those Longhorns who won Texas state championships at the end of my high school season recap posts, and hopefully I’ll have to add another line to it after next week.
The six commits with playoffs games this week will be listed first, and those whose seasons have ended (including those who lost last week) will be further down in the post. Good luck to all of the commits this week, and safe travels for their family, friends, and fans who will be traveling to Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, or Houston to watch them play.
Texas Longhorn commits in the playoffs
2023 RB Tre Wisner — DeSoto
2023 WR Johntay Cook II — DeSoto
Last week: Tre Wisner had 8 carries for 61 yards, and caught 7 passes for 125 yards and 1 touchdown; and Johntay Cook caught 2 passes for 31 yards and 1 TD in a 60-24 win over Killeen Harker Heights in the Region II final of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 10 at 2:00, vs. Denton Guyer (at Frisco’s Ford Center) in the semifinal round of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
The 13th-ranked DeSoto Eagles scored very early and very often in their 60-24 blowout win over Harker Heights in last week’s Region II final. Tre Wisner took a screen pass 75 yards to the house on the game’s first offensive play to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead only 11 seconds into the 1st quarter. DeSoto would score touchdowns on seven of its first eight possessions, and Harker Heights just couldn’t keep up. DeSoto led 20-0 before the Knights got on the scoreboard with just under eight minutes left in the 1st quarter. Johntay Cook had a 26-yard touchdown catch that made the score 26-7 with six minutes still remaining in the 1st quarter.
Harker Heights got the score as close as 26-10 after a made field goal three minutes later, but DeSoto responded with yet another touchdown drive to make the score 33-10 just before the end of the quarter, and its lead never got below 23 points after that. The Eagles led 47-17 at halftime. Tre Wisner’s 187 yards from scrimmage were his most in any game this season. Those figures come from the Dallas Morning News’s box score of the game; MaxPreps credited him with 70 yards rushing and 141 yards receiving.
Tre Wisner’s highlights vs. Harker Heights
The win gave DeSoto its first regional championship since 2016, the year it won the 6A Division II state championship. The Eagles reached the fourth round of the 6A Division I playoffs in both 2020 and 2021, but lost in both years to Duncanville.
Standing in the way of DeSoto making a return trip to the state championship is 6th-ranked Denton Guyer, an undefeated squad quarterbacked by Oklahoma commit Jackson Arnold. Arnold has accounted for over 4,100 offensive yards and 55 total touchdowns (33 passing, 22 rushing) this season while throwing just three interceptions.
In Guyer’s first two varsity football seasons (2006-07) it compiled a record of 1-19. Since then, the Wildcats have made 15 straight playoff appearances, won a pair of state championships (back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with future Texas Longhorn Jerrod Heard at quarterback), and lost in a state championship three other times. This is the ninth time in the span of 15 seasons that Guyer has reached the state semifinals, and somewhat surprisingly the 2022 season was the first time the Wildcats finished a regular season undefeated.
Guyer has compiled a very impressive resume through its first 14 games, with victories over Aledo (ranked 3rd in 5A Division I) and Lancaster (ranked 4th in 5A Division I) in non-district games, victories against 10th-ranked Prosper and 20th-ranked Allen in district play, and playoff wins over 16th-ranked Highland Park, 23rd-ranked Trophy Club Byron Nelson, and 4th-ranked Southlake Carroll in consecutive weeks.
Guyer hasn’t merely recorded wins against a strong set of foes; they’ve taken some teams to the woodshed that aren’t at all used to such treatment. Guyer’s 63-42 win over Highland Park was that opponent’s worst playoff loss in 12 years, and the 63 points were the most Highland Park has ever given up in a postseason game. Early in the season the Wildcats beat Aledo — which may yet win this year’s 5A Division I state title — by 30 points. The following week they held a Prosper team that is presently in the 6A Division I state semifinals to its season-low in scoring in a 23-6 win. And on October 20 they whipped a state-ranked Allen team 49-7 before a TV audience on ESPN2. That margin was even larger than the 52-14 loss Allen had in Week One of this season against the current top-ranked team in the country, St. John Bosco of Bellflower, California.
For a DeSoto team that has gone 12-2 with its only losses coming in lopsided fashion to nationally-ranked Baltimore (Maryland) St. Frances Academy (47-7) and 6A Division I semifinalist Duncanville (41-17), this Denton Guyer team could end up being the toughest one they face this year. DeSoto will certainly have to play cleaner football than they have of late if they hope to upset Guyer, as the Eagles were penalized 13 times for 129 yards in last week’s win over Harker Heights, and they have averaged 9.5 penalties in their four playoff games.
The winner of Saturday afternoon’s DeSoto-Denton Guyer matchup will play for the Class 6A Division II state championship next week against either 5th-ranked Katy or 17th-ranked Austin Vandegrift.
2023 EDGE Billy Walton — Dallas South Oak Cliff
2023 CB Malik Muhammad — Dallas South Oak Cliff
Last week: Billy Walton had 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks; and Malik Muhammad had 4 tackles in a 30-16 win over Melissa in the Region II final of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
This week: Friday, December 9 at 7:30, vs. Argyle (at Fort Worth’s Crowley ISD Stadium) in the semifinals of the Class 5A Division II playoffs
South Oak Cliff won its 11th straight game following an 0-3 start to their season. Last week, Billy Walton and Malik Muhammad advanced to the state semifinals at the expense of Melissa and their future Longhorn teammate Trevor Goosby. In their run to the 2021 Class 5A Division II state championship, the Golden Bears won four of their six playoff games by double digits. The scores have been quite a bit closer through the first four games of their 2022 playoff run, with their margins of victory in those games being five, five, six (in overtime), and 14 points.
SOC led Melissa 12-9 at halftime, then on the opening drive of the second half the Golden Bears got as close as the Melissa 3-yard line but settled for a field goal. Melissa responded with a four-minute drive that ended with a touchdown to give it a 16-15 lead with 2:51 left in the 3rd quarter. SOC scored a TD on its ensuing drive and was successful on a two-point conversion to take back the lead at 23-16 with 10:57 left in regulation. Melissa went on a nearly five minute drive that included a conversion on one 3rd down try and later a 4th down play as well, but on a 4th-and-13 play from the SOC 21-yard line Melissa’s pass attempt was intercepted and returned to midfield with 6:02 left in the game.
SOC then went on an eight-play drive in which all eight plays were runs, and effectively put the game out of reach with a touchdown scored with 1:48 left in the game to make the score 30-16. Melissa briefly got into SOC territory on its final drive, but an interception ended that threat.
The win over Melissa has SOC within one win of playing for its second straight state title. In this week’s state semifinals the Golden Bears will face the Argyle Eagles, a DFW area powerhouse over the last decade and a half which is a newcomer to Class 5A this season. Argyle has reached the playoffs in 19 straight seasons, finished with a double-digit win total in every season going back to 2009, gone undefeated in the regular season ten times, won state championships in 2013 and 2020, and lost in a state final four other times. A year ago, the Argyle Eagles advanced to the third round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs before losing by four points to eventual state champion Stephenville.
Argyle began the 2022 season, its first in 5A Division II, as that classification’s 6th-ranked team. The Eagles flew to the top spot in the rankings after wins over fellow 5A newcomer Melissa and 2nd-ranked Lovejoy, and they held their class’s #1 ranking for the remainder of the regular season. Their wins haven’t all been lopsided; they won a 7-0 defensive struggle over Wichita Falls Rider in their second round playoff game, and were tied 14-14 going into the 4th quarter of last week’s Region I final against Abilene Wylie before winning 35-28.
Argyle and SOC had a pair of mutual opponents this season. SOC beat Melissa in last week’s Region II final 30-16, and two weeks earlier beat Lovejoy 42-37 in a game that it led 42-10 going into the 4th quarter. Argyle played those teams in its first two non-district games, beating Melissa 37-18 and Lovejoy 56-49. The winner of the Argyle-SOC semifinal will play in next Friday’s 5A Division II state championship game against either Port Neches-Groves or Liberty Hill, the latter of whom SOC beat 23-14 to win last year’s state final.
2023 EDGE Colton Vasek — Austin Westlake
Last week: Made 7 tackles and 1 sack in a 47-7 win over San Antonio Brennan in the Region IV final of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 10 at 3:00, vs. Galena Park North Shore (at Houston’s Rice Stadium) in the semifinals of the Class 6A Division I playoffs
The Westlake Chaparrals won their 54th consecutive game in a fashion similar to most of the 53 that game before it: utterly dominating. They used timely defense to get stops nearly every time the 14th-ranked Brennan Bears threatened, and scored 47 points despite being without star receiver Jaden Greathouse (who was injured the previous week) and with starting QB Paxton Land playing at less than 100% due to a thumb injury.
Brennan’s only touchdown of the game came with 8:30 left in regulation. Brennan had scored 41 or more points in ten of its first 13 games, and its previous scoring low for the season was 33 before Westlake held them to just 7.
The win by Westlake set up a state semifinal matchup between the two titans of Class 6A over the past few years: Westlake and Galena Park North Shore. Westlake is the winner of three consecutive state championships, and North Shore has won three in the past four seasons. Westlake won the 6A Division II title in 2019 and 2021, and the Division I crown in 2020. North Shore won 6A Division I championships in 2018, 2019, and 2021, winning in the title game in each of those years over Duncanville, who will be playing in the other 6A Division I semifinal.
Westlake, whose enrollment is over 2,800, is a large school but not huge by Class 6A standards. It has appeared in different playoff divisions in different years because of how the 6A playoffs are organized. The two playoff qualifiers from each 6A district with the highest enrollment go to Division I, and the two playoff qualifiers from each district with the lower enrollments to Division II. Schools with an enrollment that isn’t among the two highest in their district thus end up in one playoff division or another not because of their own level of play but based on how their enrollment compares with the other three playoff teams from their district.
Back in 2015, a Westlake team led by then-junior Sam Ehlinger had one of the two largest enrollments in its district and went to the playoffs in the Division I bracket. They made it all the way to the state championship game before losing to North Shore in overtime. Westlake’s district arch-rival Lake Travis, which at that time had a smaller enrollment, went to the Division II playoffs and would reach that year’s state final before losing to a historically great Katy team, whose school had several hundred more students than Westlake but happened to share a district with several schools that had enrollments north of 3,000.
In subsequent years, as Lake Travis’s enrollment started to outpace Westlake’s by a considerable margin and Austin Bowie was usually the only other school in their district with more students than Westlake, the Chaparrals’ playoff bracket was determined by whether or not Bowie reached the postseason. In 2020, Bowie missed the playoffs because of a one-point loss to Austin High, which meant Division I for Westlake. The Chaparrals won that year’s championship over Southlake Carroll, a school whose enrollment is similar to Westlake’s and which was in the 6A Division II bracket this year but has played for multiple state championships in both brackets in the past. Meanwhile, the 2020 6A Division II championship was won by Katy, which actually had a higher enrollment than either of that season’s Division I finalists.
Westlake beat the two-time defending state champions from North Shore in the 6A Division I state semifinals in 2020 before beating Carroll for the championship a week later. In an alternate universe where Austin Bowie beats Austin High instead of losing by one point in 2020, Bowie qualifies for the playoffs and gets a spot in the Division I bracket while Westlake goes to Division II instead, and had that happened there’s a very good chance that North Shore would have gone into this season as the winner of four straight state championships. In that universe, this Saturday’s North Shore-Westlake matchup would be a game between the four-time defending 6A Division I champion and the three-time defending 6A Division II champion!
This year’s North Shore team isn’t overloaded with high-rated talent in its senior class, as its top 2023 prospects are all three-star recruits. North Shore has no offensive linemen in any upcoming class with so much as a 247Sports profile, so Colton Vasek may not have to contend with any future FBS linemen on Saturday. But North Shore has five-star talent in its lower classes, and the highest-rated recruits at the school right now are a pair of sophomores: cornerback Devin Sanchez and wide receiver Deion Deblanc. Both are currently among the five highest-rated recruits in Texas for their class, according to 247Sports.
The last two North Shore-Westlake playoff meetings were classics, and there’s no reason to expect this one won’t be as well. The winner of this game will play for the 6A Division I state championship on the night of Saturday December 17 against either Duncanville or Prosper.
2024 CB Jaden Allen — Aledo
Last week: Team beat Burleson Centennial 42-21 in the Region I final of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
This week: Saturday, December 10 at 2:00, vs. Longview (at Dallas’s Kincaide Stadium) in the semifinals of the Class 5A Division I playoffs
In last week’s Region I final against a Burleson Centennial team they had beaten 64-21 seven weeks earlier, the Aledo Bearcats did not win quite as lopsidedly as in their first matchup, but still left with a more-than-solid 21-point victory to advance to the state semifinals for the 12th time in the span of 14 seasons.
The Bearcats’ 2021 season ended in the third round of the 5A Division II playoffs with a 33-28 loss to eventual state champion South Oak Cliff. After moving up to 5A Division I following last February’s realignment, the Bearcats were 3rd in the 2022 preseason rankings. They fell out of the rankings for the first time in many years after starting the season with losses to Dallas Parish Episcopal (the eventual TAPPS Division I state champion) and Denton Guyer (currently undefeated and a 6A Division II semifinalist), but two weeks later Aledo re-joined the 5A Division I rankings and remained there for the rest of the regular season as they won eight straight games and clinched their 15th straight district title. Going into the 5A Division I playoffs Aledo held the #3 ranking.
Longview had a record of 9-4 last season and lost in the third round of the 5A Division I playoffs to defending state champion Denton Ryan. This year, Longview began and ended the regular season as Class 5A Division I’s top-ranked team, and the Lobos have outscored their opponents by 37 points per game in compiling a 14-0 record. Longview’s top offensive stars who Jaden Allen and the Aledo defense will have to contend with are senior wide receiver Jalen Hale, a four-star Alabama commit, and four-star junior running back Taylor Tatum. Tatum gained 220 yards from scrimmage and scored 5 touchdowns on 31 touches in Longview’s 37-21 win over 2nd-ranked Mansfield Timberview last week, then added Texas to his growing list of offers on Monday of this week. According to Longview’s MaxPreps page, Tatum has exactly 2,000 yards from scrimmage and has scored 36 total touchdowns in the team’s 14 games, while Hale (who the 247Sports Composite rates as the #2 wide receiver prospect in Texas for the 2023 class, behind only Johntay Cook) has averaged just under 21 yards per catch and has scored 16 total touchdowns.
Longview has had just one game this season decided by a one-possession margin, a 21-13 win on September 23 over district opponent Lancaster, which was 5A Division I’s 4th-ranked team going into the playoffs. Aside from that win over Lancaster and the 37-21 win over 2nd-ranked Timberview last week, all of Longview’s other wins came by 21 points or more.
Longview now has the seventh-most all-time wins (769) of any Texas high school football program, it has reached the playoffs in 22 consecutive seasons, and it has two state championships to its name, one in 1937 and the 6A Division II state title in 2018. Longview is also one of UT football’s all-time top ten pipeline schools, and at least one Longview alum has won a football letter at Texas in every decade going back to the 1930s.
Aledo’s ten state championships in football — all of which were won between 1998 and 2020 — are the most any one school can claim. The Bearcats have made two other state championship appearances (1974 and 2017), and in both of those games they lost by a single point. Aledo has not had the long history of success enjoyed by Longview and is not nearly as high on the list of all-time wins, but its win over Burleson Centennial last week was the program’s 600th, and its 292 wins since the start of the 2000 season almost certainly place it very near the top among the winningest Texas high school programs of the current century. There are high schools in the state of Texas that have had football programs since at least the 1930s and don’t have 292 wins in their entire history.
The winner of Saturday afternoon’s state semifinal between #1 Longview and #3 Aledo will play for the 5A Division I state championship on the morning of Saturday, December 17 against either College Station of Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial.
Texas Longhorn commits whose 2022 season is over
2023 QB Arch Manning — New Orleans (Louisiana) Isidore Newman
Isidore Newman lost 49-13 to Baton Rouge (Louisiana) University Lab in the quarterfinal round of the Select Division III playoffs. Newman finished with an overall record of 8-3, and Arch Manning finished his senior season with just over 2,300 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, and just two interceptions, both of which came in his team’s season-ending loss.
2023 RB Cedric Baxter Jr. — Orlando (Florida) Edgewater
Edgewater lost to Orlando (Florida) Jones 42-13 in the regional final round of the FHSAA Class 3M playoffs. The Eagles 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. Hunter Moddon was voted an All-District 24-6A second team cornerback, and a first team “Iron Man”.
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
Randle tore an ACL during a game on Sept. 16 and missed the rest of the season.
2023 TE Spencer Shannon — Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei
Mater Dei lost to Bellflower (California) St. John Bosco 24-22 in the championship of the CIF Southern Section Division I Playoffs, and finished the season with a 12-1 record.
2023 OL Jaydon Chatman — Killeen Harker Heights
Last week: Team lost to DeSoto 60-24 in the Region II final of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
Jaydon Chatman’s senior season ended in a blowout at the hands of 13th-ranked DeSoto last week (as detailed in the section for Johntay Cook and Tre Wisner), but he and his Harker Heights Knight teammates can still claim to be the class that led their school on its longest playoff run ever. Harker Heights went undefeated against its District 12-6A foes to claim its first district title in 20 years, and finished with an overall record of 12-2 and set a new program record for wins in a season.
2023 OL Andre Cojoe — Mansfield Timberview
Last week: Team lost to Longview 37-21 in the Region II final of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Andre Cojoe’s Timberview team was ranked 2nd in Class 5A Division I for the majority of the season, and in last week’s regional final the Wolves went toe-to-toe with top-ranked Longview for a little over two quarters, but Longview got some key second half stops and was able to pull away. The game was tied 14-14 at the half, but the Wolves were outscored 23-7 in the second half.
The two teams exchanged touchdowns on their first possessions of the second half, then Longview took a 28-21 lead after a touchdown scored with 7:42 left in the 3rd quarter. Timberview’s subsequent possessions resulted in a punt, two turnovers on downs, and a drive that got as close as the Longview 29-yard line before the end of regulation.
With the 37-21 loss, Timberview finished the 2022 season with a record of 13-1, setting a new program record for wins in a season. With Timberview’s loss, all playoff teams from District 5-5A Division I have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the all-district team was publicly announced this week. In an exceedingly rare feat for an offensive lineman, Andre Cojoe was voted the district’s MVP. Not Offensive Lineman of the Year or Offensive MVP. The District MVP!
2023 OL Trevor Goosby — Melissa
Last week: Team lost to South Oak Cliff 30-16 in the Region II final of the Class 5A Division II playoffs.
Melissa’s 11-game winning streak came to an end in the fourth round of the playoffs, as the Cardinals fell 30-16 to the defending state champion South Oak Cliff Golden Bears. The game was close for much of its length, as SOC led 12-9 at halftime, and Melissa took a 16-15 lead going into the 4th quarter. But SOC pulled away in the final frame, scoring a pair of touchdowns while keeping Melissa from adding to its total.
Melissa is in a fast-growing area of Collin County and its high school is in its first year as a 5A program. The Cardinals opened their season with losses to Argyle and China Spring, two teams that are now in the 5A Division II and 4A Division I state semifinals. They won their last eight regular season games and won the championship of District 7-5A Division II, then won their first three playoff games before losing to SOC, meaning all three of their losses came against state semifinalists, which is nothing for any team to hang its head about.
Melissa finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 11-3.
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. Stroh was unanimously voted to the All-District 6-5A Division I first team at offensive tackle.
2023 DL Sydir Mitchell — Oradell (New Jersey) Bergen Catholic
Bergen Catholic beat Ramsey (New Jersey) Don Bosco Prep 45-0 to win the championship game of the Non-Public A playoffs. It was the second consecutive Non-Public A state championship for Bergen Catholic, and the school’s tenth Non-Public state title in the thirty seasons since New Jersey began awarding championships in those leagues in 1993.
2023 DL Dylan Spencer — Houston C.E. King
Last week: Team lost to Katy 56-34 in the Region III final of the Class 6A Division II playoffs.
The C.E. King Panthers were very competitive with the 5th-ranked Katy Tigers for just over half of their regional final contest last week, but after trading touchdowns and metaphorical punches with the Tigers for two and a half quarters they were unable to stop Katy as the second half wore on.
King had made its first-ever trip to the fourth round of the playoffs and faced a stiff challenge against the very playoff-tested Katy program. Katy’s senior running back Seth Davis, a Mississippi State commit, had 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns after his first two carries of the game, which gave Katy a 14-0 lead less than a minute into the 1st quarter. But King would fight back and went into halftime trailing 28-27, then they took a brief 34-28 lead on a long touchdown pass on the opening possession of the 3rd quarter. Instead of leaning on their senior running back Keith Willis, who came into the game with 30 rushing touchdowns for the season, the Panthers went to the air and were very effective at it, as senior QB Denim Johnson completed 31 of 47 pass attempts for 472 yards.
After King took a lead in the opening minute of the 3rd quarter, Seth Davis’s fifth touchdown of the game put Katy back ahead 35-34 with 7:14 left in that quarter, and the Tigers kept the Panthers from adding to their total for the rest of the game. Davis finished the game with 6 touchdowns and 293 rushing yards on 23 carries, leaving him just 33 yards shy of Katy’s career record for rushing yardage (6,533), currently held by former Oklahoma Sooners star Rodney Anderson.
King finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 9-4.
2023 EDGE Derion Gullette — Teague
Sat out the 2022 season after suffering a torn ACL
2023 LB S’Maje Burrell — North Crowley
North Crowley lost 35-21 to Prosper in the regional semifinal round of the Class 6A Division I playoffs. The Panthers went undefeated in the regular season for the first time, finished with a record of 12-1, and set a new school record for wins in a season.
2023 LB Liona Lefau — Kahuku (Hawaii)
Kahuku beat Punahou 20-0 to win the Division I-Open state championship for a second consecutive season. Liona Lefau was named the 2022 MaxPreps Hawaii High School Football Player of the Year.
2023 S Derek Williams — New Iberia (Louisiana) Westgate
Last week: Rushed for a touchdown and intercepted a pass in a 21-6 loss to Destrehan in the semifinal round of the Non-Select Division I playoffs.
Derek Williams’s Westgate team made a surprise run to the 2021 Class 4A state championship after going into that year’s playoffs as the 10th seed. The Westgate Tigers were the 10th seed once again in the 2022 playoffs, this time in the newly-formatted Non-Select Division I bracket, which included the best of Louisiana’s public school 5A teams and some from 4A. Westgate had already advanced further than some expected in reaching last week’s state semifinals after upsetting 2nd seed Neville 21-10. But they were unable to conjure any more playoff magic, losing in the semifinals to 3rd seed Destrehan 21-6. The LHSAA’s playoff seedings are determined by a power rating formula, and though Destrehan received the 3rd seed it was actually the only team in the Non-Select Division I field to finish the regular season undefeated, and had been Class 5A’s top-ranked team in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s polls for much of the season.
Derek Williams scored Westgate’s only touchdown in another cameo at running back, and recorded an interception while at his usual safety position, but his team was held to just 159 yards of offense in the loss. Westgate ended its season with an overall record of 10-4.
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 have put this section of the column on pause during the playoffs but will have one more historic Longhorn notable featured next week in the days leading up to the Texas state championships.
Listed below are the former Longhorns who were featured in that section of this column’s posts during the regular 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)