High School: 2011 UIL state semifinals

City Council member: Refs caused Skyline loss

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
2:38
PM CT

You can count Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway among those who believe Dallas Skyline got a raw deal from the referees during Saturday's Class 5A Division I state semifinal loss to Southlake Carroll.

Caraway issued a statement Tuesday calling on the UIL to investigate calls that went against Skyline, notably the onside kick recovered by Carroll that led to the winning touchdown in the Dragons' 28-24 come-from-behind victory. Skyline supporters have argued that the kick did not travel the required 10 yards before Carroll's Ray Crockett recovered. (Click here for video of the disputed play.)

Here is the full text of Caraway's statement:
I, Dwaine R. Caraway am calling upon the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to investigate referee’s calls that cost the Skyline High School football team an opportunity to compete in the state championship game.

Having been present at the game and after carefully reviewing the film of the matchup between Skyline and Southlake Carroll, I can confidently say that the level of officiating was absolutely below the standards of what is required for such an important game. In the final minutes, there were several blatantly blown calls, which completely changed the outcome of the game.

One of those calls occurred with just a few minutes left in the game when Skyline was ahead. Southlake Carroll made an onside kick to try to take the lead kicking the ball from the 40 yard line. The rules say the ball must travel 10 yards. The referee said the ball crossed the plane of the 48 yard line. In this case, I believe, the referee made the wrong call by ruling that Southlake Carroll’s player fell on the 49 yard line. In another case, the flag thrown for pass interference was not even close. These bad calls make me question the motives of the officiating crew.

I understand that mistakes happen, but for a group of officials to decide the outcome of that game, rather than allowing the players to do so is completely unacceptable. High School athletics are part of our childrens curriculum and the lesson that Skyline learned on Friday was that no matter how hard you work and how well you perform, someone can break the rules and take it all away from you.

I am asking the public to encourage the Director of the UIL to investigate this matter so that a future group of students aren't subjected to what our Skyline students were on Friday. In my opinion, Skyline won that game and all of the players are champions. It is unfortunate that a few bad calls took away their dream. The UIL can restore faith in these young people by doing the right thing which is to review the film of the game and publicly report and explain their findings.

On Monday, Skyline principal Harold Wright said the school would file a complaint with the Austin Football Officials Association, whose referees worked the game.

Update: New video of controversial onside kick

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
3:41
PM CT


Here are four different looks at the controversial onside kick from the 5A Division I state semifinal between Dallas Skyline and Southlake Carroll. You make the call.

Carroll's Crockett rises to occasion, snags kick

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
7:02
PM CT

Of all the clutch plays that allowed Southlake Carroll to steal a 28-24 victory from Dallas Skyline on Saturday, none were bigger than Ray Crockett’s onside kick recovery with 1:07 left in the game.

Carroll (15-0) had just trimmed Skyline’s lead to 24-21 with a 3-yard touchdown run by Kenny Hill but needed the ball back.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

The Dragons lined for an onside kick with five players on each side. Ty Cummings kicked it to the right side. The ball started coming down right at the 50-yard line where Crockett came down with it.

Hill scored on a 35-yard touchdown run four plays later to give Carroll the win.

“He’s a basketball player,” said Carroll head coach Hal Wasson of Crockett. “We needed his leverage to go up and snag that ball.”

Skyline fans went home grumbling about the officiating, particularly the call that the onside kick went the necessary 10 yards before Crockett touched it. Bad call or not, Crockett was credited for the recovery and Carroll made the plays at the end of the game to win it.

Wasson actually said after the game that he thought the ball went 11 yards.

“I thought it went a yard further, but we got it.” he said. “What a great play. That will go down in Dragon history.”

The recovery helped Crockett make up for a fumble after Skyline had taken a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff return, Crockett was absolutely drilled by two Raiders and lost the ball. Skyline recovered at the Carroll 28.

Fortunately for Crockett, his defense bailed him out as the Dragons forced a turnover on downs.

Skyline to file complaint over onside kick call

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
6:20
PM CT

The principal at Dallas Skyline said a complaint will be filed with the Austin Football Officials Association over a call in Saturday’s 28-24 loss to Southlake Carroll in the Class 5A Division I state semifinal at SMU’s Ford Stadium.

The complaint won’t have a bearing on the outcome, but it is a way of expressing Skyline’s displeasure.

The seven-man officiating crew that worked the game are members of the Austin chapter.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

“It is not about sour grapes,’’ Skyline principal Harold Wright said Monday. “We’re going to be men about it. But people need to know that a mistake was made. Our community is upset and we felt compelled to do this.’’

Wright said he hasn’t seen this kind of reaction from Skyline supporters before.

“They are really angry,‘’ Wright said. “The community feels so bad for our kids.’’

Wright said he received more than 100 calls and emails Monday. He said callers are upset because they don’t believe Southlake Carroll’s onside kick that led to the winning touchdown traveled the required 10 yards. They also believe video evidence backs them up.

Wright, who was on the field at the time, said he is positive the football never crossed the 50-yard line, which was 10 yards from where the ball was kicked. And, he added, the officials didn’t communicate with each other after the play.

As an assistant football coach at Tyler John Tyler in 1994, Wright was involved in one of Texas’ most famous games involving onside kicks when Plano East successfully executed three of them in the final three minutes.

“I know something about onside kicks,’’ said Wright.

The principal said he spent time on Monday consoling the Skyline football players.

“They were starting to bounce around a little bit today,’’ Wright said. “We’ve got great kids. My message was to stand up, stand strong and for those coming back, to do better next year.’’

UPDATE: Click here for video showing a different angle of the play.

Turnovers on downs fuel Southlake Carroll's D

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
6:00
PM CT
Lost in the frenzy surrounding the last two minutes of Southlake Carroll’s 28-24 comeback win Saturday was the fantastic job the Dragon defense did against Dallas Skyline.

Carroll (15-0) held Skyline’s explosive offense to 24 points, which was a season low for the Raiders by a touchdown.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

“I think our defense did a great job,” said Carroll linebacker Will Davis after the game. “They have a lot of athletes over there, so we played to the best of our ability tonight.”

Turnovers were the key. Skyline totaled nearly 450 yards of offense – 150 more than the Dragons – but Carroll made big plays at key times to force turnovers and turnovers on downs.

The Dragons stuffed Skyline on fourth down three times, intercepted two Devante Kincade passes and recovered a Skyline fumble, but the turnovers on downs may have been the most important to Carroll’s win because all three came as Skyline was threatening to score.

On the first play of the second quarter, Carroll forced an incompletion on a pass to Thomas Johnson on fourth-and-4 from the Carroll 18-yard line to preserve a scoreless tie.

In the third quarter, Matt Swoyer tackled Johnson for no gain on a fourth-and-1 at midfield when Skyline held a 14-7 lead.

And early in the fourth quarter, a mob of Dragons hit Ellis Onic well shy of the first down on fourth-and-4 at the Carroll 22.

Forcing turnovers on downs is becoming a trend for Carroll. The Dragons stopped Arlington Martin on fourth down three times the week before.

Looking back at epic Carroll-Skyline semifinal

December, 11, 2011
12/11/11
9:38
PM CT

ESPN Dallas' Travis L. Brown and ESPN Midlands recruiting coordinator Damon Sayles break down Southlake Carroll's 5A Division I state semifinal win over Dallas Skyline.

SL Carroll draws inspiration from injured WR

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
10:02
PM CT
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- The sight of Southlake Carroll receiver Peyton Williams on the sidelines in a wheelchair for three-fourths of the Dragons' 5A Division I state semifinal was a hard one for the Southlake faithful to endure.

Williams, one of Carroll’s top receivers, went down in the first quarter and had to be carried off the field after injuring his left knee.

[+] EnlargePeyton Williams
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comSouthlake Carroll wide receiver Peyton Williams had to be carried off the field after injuring his knee in the first quarter, but he provided moral support for his team.
“It just kind of gave out on me,” Williams said.

All Williams could do for the remainder of the game was sit bundled up on the sidelines in a wheelchair and scream at the top of his lungs in support of his team.

“I was just telling the guys, ‘Lets go,’ and I kept praying,” Williams said.

With Williams out, Carroll had to rely on Sabian Holmes to carry the weight of Carroll’s receiving game.

Williams' absence was evident in the stats, as Carroll spread 13 completions among a committee of receivers for just 98 yards, with no pass over 14 yards from the line of scrimmage. Skyline held Carroll, which averages 200 yards per game passing, to its second-lowest total through the air this season.

However, William’s absence allowed sophomore running back A.J. Ezzard to step into the spotlight and run around a very athletic Skyline defense for 140 yards and a touchdown in the 28-24 win.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

“Obviously, when we lost Peyton that hurt us, and you hate that for a great player like Peyton Williams," Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "But we challenged our team that someone else would have to step up and play, and they did that.”

And in the final minutes of the game, when Southlake had to have a touchdown to stay alive, quarterback Kenny Hill heard the cries of his fallen teammate and answered the call with a 35-yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the game.

“He was screaming and getting loud for all of us,” Hill said. “He’s a great team player and we love him.”

After the game, Williams was still unsure what was wrong with his knee, but he was there celebrating with his teammates on the field on crutches and with tears in his eyes.

The uncertainty of the damage leaves his availability for Saturday's state title game up in the air.

So Williams may have to do what he did on Saturday: be the best leader he can be on the sidelines this week during practice.

When forced to think about the possibility of not playing in his final high school football game in the 5A Division I state championship, Williams took a moment to think through his response and gather his emotions.

“We’re going to win,” he simply said.

Late rally lifts Southlake Carroll over Skyline

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
9:19
PM CT


UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas -- Southlake Carroll will have plenty of choices for the most memorable image of its comeback win over Dallas Skyline at SMU's Ford Stadium on Saturday.

It's hard to settle on just one with so many good options -- Ray Crockett recovering an onside kick with 1:07 left in the game, Kenny Hill dodging an endless number of Skyline defenders on his 35-yard game-winning touchdown run, the fox dashing across the field during Hill's amazing run.

[+] EnlargeSouthlake Carroll
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comSouthlake Carroll players celebrate after their comeback win over Skyline.
OK, maybe the fox wasn't the most memorable image, but it was certainly the most bizarre.

"Yeah I saw it run by," Hill said of the fox. "That was just weird."

But in 10 years, the Dragons may just remember the final score -- 28-24 -- a score that will go down in Dragon lore to signify one of Carroll's best victories, even with all its rich tradition.

"Emotions are just going every, flying through my body, flying through all of our bodies," said Carroll linebacker Will Davis. "The team was going crazy. We knew we had it in us with two minutes left to still win the game and we pulled it out."

Carroll (15-0) advances to play Fort Bend Hightower (13-2) in the 5A Division I state title game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

"We talked about climbing a mountain [this week]," said Carroll head coach Hal Wasson, who's son Chase nicknamed his dad "the Silver Fox" and has "silver fox swag" embroidered on his Carroll baseball hat. "We told them the oxygen would get a lot thinner up on top. I tell you what, it got pretty thin during the fourth-quarter stretch. This was the greatest comeback I've ever been a part of."

Skyline (14-1) took a 24-14 lead with 2:26 left in the game on a 34-yard field goal by Juan Ramos, and the Raider faithful began celebrating what would have been its first state title appearance in school history.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Enter Kenny Hill. On the ensuing drive, the junior quarterback worked the ball down the field to receivers Sabian Holmes, Tyler Barnes and Ben Sego -- the latter two of which had to step up in the place of the injured Peyton Williams.

A pass interference call moved the ball down to the Skyline 3-yard line where Hill dove in to cut Skyline's lead to 24-21.

Still needing the ball, Carroll executed a perfect onside kick. The ball just went 10 yards and then bounced back toward Crockett, who leaped up to pull the ball away from Skyline, giving Carroll the ball at the 50 with 1:07 left.

"He's a basketball player," Wasson said of Crockett. "We needed his leverage to go up and snag that ball. What a great play. That will go down in Dragon history."

It only took 20 seconds for Carroll to score. One play after AJ Ezzard moved Carroll down to the Skyline 35, Hill went down the right sideline on a long run, but instead stepping out of bounds, he cut back inside and got into the north end zone by the time the fox had made it to the south end zone.

Skyline still had 46 seconds to retake the lead, but Matt Swoyer, who's made numerous big plays throughout the playoffs, stepped in front of a Devante Kincade pass on fourth down to end the game.

The win was even more miraculous given what little Carroll did on offense. Hill finished with just 98 passing yards. Ezzard had 140 rushing yards, but 127 of that came on five carries.

Skyline turnovers helped keep Carroll in the game. The Dragons tied the score at 7 late in the second quarter after a Kincade interception. They tied the game at 14 in the third quarter following a Skyline turnover on downs at midfield.

Kincade had a spectacular touchdown run of his own -- a 37-yarder late in the third that gave Skyline a 21-14 lead that would have been the difference in the game, if not for Hill.

And the fox.

Mansfield Timberview's run ends in state semis

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
5:58
PM CT
AUSTIN -- Mansfield Timberview looked good for the first four minutes of the second half in its game against Spring Dekaney on Saturday afternoon.

Spring Dekaney’s Trey Williams looked great for the entire game.

The Texas A&M-bound running back rushed for 259 yards and six touchdowns to help lead the Wildcats to a 56-19 win over Mansfield Timberview in a 5A Division II state semifinal. Spring Dekaney, which is making its first-ever playoff appearance, will now play for a state championship next week at Cowboys Stadium.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Mansfield Timberview, which had advanced to the state semifinals in its first playoff appearance since the 2008 season, had its nine-game winning streak snapped Saturday. The Wolves had won seven of those games after the October death of offensive coordinator Cody McCarty.

“It was actually a good season that we had with all the things we’ve been through,” Mansfield Timberview quarterback Charles Taylor said. “We got so close we were expecting to get to that ring, but it didn’t happen that way.”

Timberview received the opening kickoff, but the Wolves’ first three drives ended in a lost fumble, a deflected punt and a failed fake punt from inside their own 20. A Timberview offense that was averaging 36.8 points per game was shut out in the first half and the Wolves’ two trips inside the Dekaney 25 yielded no points.

Dekaney, on the other hand, had no problem putting up points.

Dekaney’s first 10 offensive snaps led to three touchdowns and the Wildcats scored on six of their seven first-half drives. Dekaney’s only non-scoring possession was a drive at the end of the half in which D’Juan Hines took a first-down knee with a 42-0 lead on the scoreboard.

Williams rushed for 150 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries in the first half.

“It was a bad mood, a mood it shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t up like it always is,” said Taylor of the halftime atmosphere in the locker room at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex. “We came out good [in the second half], but we shouldn’t have started off like that.

Mansfield Timberview recovered an onside kick and forced Dekaney’s first punt within the first two minutes of the second half. The Wolves followed both of those changes in possessions with Taylor touchdown runs.

Trailing 42-12, Timberview recovered another onside kick after Taylor’s second touchdown run. But Taylor was called for an intentional grounding penalty and the senior quarterback ended the drive with three consecutive incomplete passes.

After the turnover on downs, Dekaney gave the ball to Williams on eight straight plays and Williams capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.

“The biggest thing is finishing. We’ve got to have pride in who we are and what we do,” Mansfield Timberview coach Mark Walker said. “We came out and played a bad first half and so I told them that’s the challenge and we’ve got to get it done [in the second half]. Our kids did, and I’ve very proud of them.”

Mansfield Timberview was led by Taylor’s two touchdowns, and the Wolves scored the game’s final points on a 28-yard rumble by Daniel Ramos in the fourth quarter.

Timberview, which finishes its season 12-3, also got 102 receiving yards from Rickey Gross.

Gray ties national TD record in Aledo's blowout

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
12:27
AM CT


MESQUITE, Texas -- Aledo’s Johnathan Gray is so elusive, even his coach lost track of him.

In the third quarter of Friday night's 4A Division II state semifinal against Corsicana, Gray -- having already scored four touchdowns -- was sitting on the sideline.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comJohnathan Gray scored five touchdowns in Aledo's state semifinal win over Corsicana to tie the national high school career touchdown record.
While a four-touchdown night might be a career outing for any other running back, Gray needed one more to tie the national career touchdown record set by former Michigan star Mike Hart, who scored 204 touchdowns while at Onondaga Central High School, just outside of Syracuse, N.Y.

Gray had gotten banged up on a play at the end of the third quarter and limped off the field. Aledo coach Tim Buchanan told Gray he was keeping him on the bench for the time being, but that he would eventually put him back in the game.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, with Aledo up 61-28, Buchanan looked up from talking with his defensive coordinator to find Gray in the game and scoring his record-tying fifth touchdown.

“I told him, ‘Your not done. You may go back in in the fourth quarter,’ " Buchanan said of his earlier conversation with Gray. "I guess he thought that meant go back in in the fourth quarter.”

Gray had his own version of the conversation.

“Coach said, 'Hey you’re not done, I’m going to give [Caleb] Frysinger a few plays,' " Gray said with a laugh. "I thought in my head that I don’t want him to yell at me, so in a couple of plays I’ll go in. I didn’t know.”

Whatever the case, both were happy that Gray was able to nab his 204th career touchdown on a night where he was held to just 218 yards. Yes, just 218 yards.

But more important, Aledo beat Corsicana 68-28 to advance to the 4A Division II state championship.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Gray notched the first three touchdowns of the game, scoring from 16, one and 23 yards out, respectively.

Corsicana mounted a small second-quarter rush and put up 14 points, but Aledo had the last laugh.

After a flag gave Aledo an untimed down before the half, quarterback Matthew Bishop threw up a Hail Mary prayer to the back of the end zone. The pass was tipped by Aledo’s Willie Gibson and fell right into the open arms of wide receiver Michael Mann for the score, sending Aledo to the locker room with a 28-14 lead.

“We didn’t think it was going to work, but it worked and Mike came down with it,” Gray said. “Anything is possible -- that’s why they call it a Hail Mary.”

The Bearcats began the second half exactly how they ended the first -- with a score.

Aledo’s Jonny Carter took the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.

But Aledo wasn't finished coming up with spectacular plays.

In the third, Bishop connected with Mann on a 44-yard touchdown pass on a throw off his back foot as a Corsicana defender pounded him. Mann made one slick move and found the goal line.

Aledo’s defense shut down Corsicana's 3,000-yard rusher, Cameron Washington, allowing him only 91 yards on 16 carries. But that did not come as much of a surprise to Corsicana head coach Phil Castles.

“They just played good defense against everyone they’ve played lately and they’re getting better and better," Castles said. "For us, that meant we had to throw it. We threw it some successfully, but not enough.”

And Gray backed up the hype that surrounded him coming into the semifinal match, Castles said.

In his typical humble nature, Gray had little to say about the record he is on the verge of breaking, but echoed the sentiment of his coach -- who said there is still more for his team to achieve than records.

“We’ll worry about records later," Buchanan said. "We just want to go win another state championship. We really don’t keep up with it, to be honest with you. That’s for you guys. We just go with the flow and Johnathan can look back on that when he’s my age, but right now it really doesn’t mean much to him.”

What matters most is Aledo's date Saturday at noon with the winner of the Manvel and Corpus Christi Calallen semifinal.

“We have to win it now," Gray said of the state title game. "We’re not satisfied with just getting there again. We have to win it, and after that we’ll be satisfied with that for high school and move on to college football.”

Three straight 4A state titles would have to be satisfying.

Aledo defense holds Corsicana to season low

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
11:49
PM CT
MESQUITE, Texas -- All eyes were on Johnathan Gray -- and rightfully so -- as Aledo routed Corsicana, 68-28, in the Class 4A Division II state semifinals Friday night. The superstar running back had 218 yards and five touchdowns and tied former University of Michigan running back Mike Hart for all-time career high school touchdowns with 204.

On a lesser-appreciated scale, Aledo’s defense put on one of its best shows of the year. The team allowed 28 points, but keep in mind this is a Corsicana team that has scored 40 or more points in 11 of 15 games.

[+] EnlargeCameron Washington
Travis L. Brown for ESPNDallas.comAledo held Corsicana's 3,000-yard rusher Cameron Washington to 91 yards in the game and just 10 in the first quarter.
Aledo can celebrate one major defensive milestone: Corsicana’s 28 points was the fewest it’s had all season. Give the young Bearcat defense -- one with only five seniors starting -- a lot of credit.

“The biggest thing is they’ve matured,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. “We have a bunch of young kids, and I told all the sophomores after Week 10, you’re no longer sophomores; you’re juniors. You tell the juniors that they’re seniors now. It’s time to start acting like leaders, and they did.”

Aledo may have set the tone in the game’s first minute. On the first two plays, Aledo held Corsicana to negative yards combined. Cameron Washington, Corsicana’s electrifying, 3,000-yard running back, was held to 10 rushing yards in the first quarter.

“Our defense came out with a lot of heart, and we were able to shut them down the first few plays,” said junior linebacker Gunner Johnson, who made the first big play of the night for the defense, a tackle for a 1-yard loss on Corsicana quarterback DeVontay Bell.

“The first few games, we didn’t know each other. Honestly, we’re like brothers now,” Johnson said. “We’re a big family. We play for each other and have each other’s backs.”

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Aledo’s defense isn’t the same defense from earlier this season. Against Stephenville and Lake Travis in the first and third games, respectively, Aledo gave up a combined 110 points. In five playoff games, the Bearcats have given up 75 points. This includes a shutout victory against Stephenville last week.

To make matters sweeter for Aledo, Washington was held to 91 yards for the game -- a rarity for him to be held under triple-digit yardage.

“We knew if we came out and made a few stops early, we could win games,” junior defensive end Jared Hinsley said. “There’s a lot of intensity in practice, and Coach [Buchanan] really gets us fired up. We’ve been preparing ourselves for this. It was huge.”

Sophomore linebacker Jordan Mittie added: “Just knowing that any week we can go home has pushed us. Definitely holding Stephenville to zero points last week was a big moment for us. Now, we’re going to play for state.”

The defense will be feeling confident heading into Cowboys Stadium next Saturday, as Aledo looks for its third consecutive state title. It will face either Manvel or Corpus Christi Calallen, two teams that play a Saturday afternoon semifinal in San Antonio.

And if all goes in the Aledo defense’s favor, it will share the limelight with Gray next week.

“We’re going into the state championship game with a lot of confidence on the offensive side,” Johnson said, “and now we’re going in with confidence on the defensive side, too. It’s awesome.”

Playoff chat: Live updates from Fri.-Sat. games

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
7:00
PM CT
We'll have live coverage from three state semifinal football games and one state championship game this weekend.

On Friday at 7:30 p.m., Aledo and Corsicana battle it out for a berth in the Class 4A Division II state final. At the same time, Alvarado will take on Tyler Chapel Hill at Cowboys Stadium for the 3A Division I crown.

Class 5A takes the spotlight Saturday. Mansfield Timberview and Spring Dekaney compete in a Division II semifinal starting at 2 p.m., and Dallas Skyline takes on Southlake Carroll in a Division I semifinal starting at 4 p.m.

You can follow all the action right here.

Last Saturday, in the second quarter of Mansfield Timberview’s Class 5A Division II region final win over Abilene, Wolves quarterback Chuck Taylor continued to make a name for him self.

Taylor faked a handoff on the Timberview 28-yard line, slipped through the masses at the line of scrimmage and with one quick spin away from a charging safety, he was gone for a 72-yard touchdown run.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

“He’s phenomenal. That … touchdown was just supposed to be a zone read and he breaks it,” Timberview coach Mark Walker said after the game. “Was that a touchdown call? No. That’s Chuck Taylor.”

Taylor also ended Abilene Cooper’s season the week before, running in a game-winning 25-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left to play.

While Taylor’s forte is making plays with his feet, he isn’t shabby throwing the ball either. He’s thrown for 1,681 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior year.

He has all the intangibles and the will to win of a Tim Tebow-type leader.

Yet, no one wants him to play football at the next level.

Taylor has not received a single football scholarship offer despite becoming one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the state.

If playing to honor offensive coordinator Cody McCarty, who died this season, isn’t enough motivation to win a state title, Taylor also carries the chip on his shoulder of being snubbed by college football.

“I want to show them that they missed something,” Taylor said.

It’s a sentiment his current head coach feels as well.

“He got his feelings hurt because no one is recruiting him,” Walker said. “The boy’s phenomenal. I don’t understand why anyone in the state of Texas wouldn’t want him playing for them.”

But it’s not just Taylor who carries that burden with him every time he hits the field or runs the ball. He has the support of his entire team as it fights through the last game or two of the season.

“Kids believe in him because he’s a team player,” Walker said. “It isn’t about him. He deals the ball and got lit up a few times. He could easily be selfish and keep the ball.”

While college football teams were passing on Taylor, University of Texas-Arlington baseball coach Darin Thomas didn't, and he received Taylor's commitment to play outfield for the Mavericks next season.

Thomas was impressed by Taylor in both sports.

“I saw him play football as a sophomore at Cowboys Stadium on Labor Day weekend and asked, ‘Who is this sophomore quarterback they’ve got in the game?’ and was told he plays baseball as well,” Thomas said.

Thomas visited Taylor at his home after Timberview lost to Mansfield in the regular season and talked with him about his football team. At the time, Thomas said, he was a little down because they had lost a few games and he was frustrated by the fact that he wasn’t being recruited for football.

Thomas offered a few encouraging words, and Timberview hasn't lost since the visit.

“I said, ‘Hey, I’ve watched a lot of high school football in the last 12 years around here and you guys are about as talented as anyone I’ve seen. If you start playing good you’ve got a chance to go all the way,’" Thomas said. "Did I mean that? I don’t know, but they haven’t lost a game since.”

So, Taylor will take his talents to Arlington next season to bring an athletic spark to the Mavericks' base-running game in a new era of aluminum bats with much less pop. Once he’s spent a few years training specifically in one sport, Thomas says he could very well move on to the next level via the MLB draft.

But until then, Taylor has two more games to prove to the state and every college coach in it that they missed out.

“He’s felt like he’s got to prove something and I guess we’ve got to state to get it done,” Walker said.

Junior QBs in charge for Skyline, SL Carroll

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
11:34
PM CT
DALLAS SKYLINE (14-0) vs. SOUTHLAKE CARROLL (14-0)
4 p.m. Saturday at SMU's Ford Stadium


What: Class 5A Division I state semifinal.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

When we saw them last: Dallas Skyline found itself in an unfamiliar position at halftime – trailing. But the Raiders rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat The Woodlands 35-31 in the Region 2 final. Quarterback Devante Kincade scored on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with three minutes remaining to give Skyline its first lead of the game. Southlake Carroll overcame a sluggish start offensively to beat Arlington Martin 31-14. The Dragons shut out Martin in the second half while their offense finally got going.

Talent pool: Dallas Skyline: WR Thomas Johnson, Texas; LB Peter Jinkens, Texas; LB Dominic Spencer, undeclared; WR Tray Rabon, Kansas State; RB David Greene, UNLV; LB Nigel Robertson, undeclared; QB Devante Kincade (junior), undeclared; WR RaShaad Samples (junior, undeclared); DT Kerrick Huggins (junior), undeclared; LB Isaiah Williams (junior), undeclared; DB Cedric Collins (sophomore), undeclared. Southlake Carroll: OL James Prince, undeclared; WR/DB Sabian Holmes, Baylor; LB Will Davis, Kansas State; WR Peyton Williams, Colorado; QB Kenny Hill (junior), undeclared.

What’s at stake: The winner will face the winner of the state semifinals game between Fort Bend Hightower (12-2) and San Antonio Madison (10-4) in the 5A Division I state final.

Key matchup: Both teams boast two FBS-caliber 1,000-yard receivers, meaning both secondaries will be tested. Rashaad Samples and Thomas Johnson have combined to score 31 touchdowns for Skyline. Sabian Holmes and Peyton Williams have combined for 23 touchdowns for Carroll. With Holmes being a two-way player at cornerback, he’ll be charged with shutting down one of the two Skyline receivers as well.

Players to watch: You won’t find a game with two better junior quarterbacks. Carroll’s offense flows through Hill, who leads the team in rushing in addition to his work in the passing game. Kincade is a scoring machine for Skyline. He has 36 passing touchdowns and 16 on the ground.

Prediction: Dallas Skyline 31, Southlake Carroll 28.

Gray adds second Landry Award to trophy case

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
11:32
PM CT


DALLAS – The awards just keep running toward Aledo.

Just days after being named Gatorade National Player of the Year, Aledo running back Johnathan Gray won his second straight Tom Landry Award on Thursday as the top football player in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The other finalists were Allen’s Alec Morris, Denton Ryan’s Mario Edwards Jr., McKinney Boyd’s Bryan Driskell and Dallas Jesuit’s Jake Oliver.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com The Tom Landry Award for Dallas-Fort Worth's best football player has existed for two years, and Aledo's Johnathan Gray has won it two times.
“Going up against this great group of guys, it’s been a great ride,” Gray said. “To win this twice is a really great honor and I’m blessed. It’s something I can share with my team because it’s a team effort.”

Edwards, who is friends with Gray, agreed with the media voters on their selection.

“He’s a great player,” Edwards said. “He’s humble and he works hard and he does whatever it takes to win. He definitely deserves this award.”

Gray’s name remains the only one on the trophy other than that of the award’s namesake. The Landry Award debuted last year.

“Last year I was in shock because he was a junior going against four seniors,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. “I was really surprised again this year because it’s hard to win anything back-to-back, whether it’s a football game or an award. It just shows the character of Johnathan Gray. He’s a great kid and a great football player.”

Thursday night’s ceremony was a nice break for Gray and Buchanan, who have spent the week rigorously preparing for Friday's Class 4A Division II state semifinal against Corsicana.

But it’s a quick turnaround. The Bearcats will hit the field house in Aledo at 8:30 a.m. sharp Friday for a quick team meeting and to pack uniforms. After a day of classes they’ll head out of Aledo at 2 p.m. to get food and head for Mesquite Memorial Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

UIL PLAYOFFS
STAFF PICKS
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

STATE BRACKETS
Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

REGION BRACKETS
5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Once the Bearcats hit the field, it’s time for Gray to put on another show.

“Offensively, we have to get the ball in Johnathan Gray’s hands, whether it be hand it to him, pitch it to him or throw it to him, and get him in the end zone,” Buchanan said.

Aledo will be facing a player that Buchanan calls "their own version of Johnathan Gray" in Cameron Washington, Corsicana's 3,000-yard rusher.

“He’s a real big back, a power back," Gray said. "When he hits the hole, he hits the hole hard, and when he gets a breaking, you’re probably not going to catch him.”

Gray hopes to keep the party going after the Bearcats' battle with Corsicana, but he allowed himself to cut loose and celebrate a historic career at Thursday's ceremony.

“I’m celebrating tonight, but tomorrow I’m staying focused on Corsicana and hopefully go out there and beat those guys,” Gray said.

SPONSORED HEADLINES