High School: 2011 Week 10 previews

Playoffs could await Grapevine-Richland winner

November, 2, 2011
GRAPEVINE (5-4, 4-3 6-5A) vs. RICHLAND (4-5, 3-4)
7:30 p.m. Friday at North Richland Hills‘ Birdville Fine Arts/Athletic Complex

When we saw them last: With a big defensive effort, Grapevine limited 3-6 Irving MacArthur to two first downs and won, 10-7. Meanwhile, quarterback Walker Burns rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns in Richland’s 42-14 victory over 2-7 Irving Nimitz.

2010 result: Grapevine led 7-3 at halftime, then went on a 34-point scoring spree in the second half to defeat Richland, 41-23.

What’s at stake: The final available playoff berth in District 6-5A. Grapevine gets the spot with a win. Richland needs a win as well as a Euless Trinity victory over Irving MacArthur and a Colleyville Heritage win over Haltom.

Key matchup: Grapevine has scored only 10 points the last two weeks, while Richland has allowed only 20 points. The Mustangs’ Brett Harbin to Bryan Popp passing connection has resulted in 53 completions for 454 yards and three touchdowns. But in the last two games, they have connected only five times for 22 yards. Richland’s pass defense allows only 119 passing yards per game.

Players to watch: Harbin, a senior, has thrown for 1,070 yards and rushed for 491. Riley Albus has rushed for 453 yards for the Mustangs. For the Rebels, quarterback Burns is a bigger threat with his running. He leads the team with 957 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns and has yet to throw a touchdown pass. The Rebels' defense is led by linebacker Jeremiah Tshimanga.

Prediction: In what should be a defensive struggle, a slight edge to Grapevine with a better passing attack: Grapevine 16, Richland 15.

Cedar Hill-Duncanville could be offensive show

November, 2, 2011
No. 9 CEDAR HILL (7-2, 6-0 5-5A) vs. DUNCANVILLE (6-3, 4-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Duncanville’s Panther Stadium

When we saw them last: With Jared Rayford leading the way with 191 yards, Cedar Hill rolled up 421 rushing yards and averaged 11 yards per rush in a 49-16 rout of 3-6 South Grand Prairie. Meanwhile, Duncanville quarterback Deandre Grimes threw for five touchdowns and ran for another in a wild 64-50 shootout win over 2-7 Mansfield Legacy.

2010 result: Since-graduated quarterback Driphus Jackson threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the last one with 32 seconds remaining, in a 35-31 Cedar Hill victory at Longhorn Stadium.

What’s at stake: Both teams have secured playoff berths, but bragging rights for the two rivals that share a South Dallas County boundary line can never be overlooked.

Key matchup: Duncanville’s defense, which struggled in the second half of the Legacy win, has to find a way to slow down Cedar Hill’s big-play run game. Since Damion Hobbs took over at quarterback when district play began, the Longhorns have averaged 44.5 points per game.

Players to watch: Laquvionte Gonzalez and Rayford are a dangerous tandem of runners for the Longhorns and Hobbs is a threat as well. Jaquan Cole has already gone over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for Duncanville and receiver Jeff Thomas is Grimes’ favorite with 45 catches for 693 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Prediction: Cedar Hill is playing the better defense of the two teams and a couple of stops can go a long way when so much offensive talent is on the field: Cedar Hill 38, Duncanville 28.

Keller Central, Coppell battle for playoff spot

November, 2, 2011
COPPELL (6-3, 3-3 7-5A) vs. KELLER CENTRAL (7-2, 4-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium

When we saw them last: Coppell kept its playoff hopes alive with a 35-17 win over Keller in which the Cowboys outscored the Indians 21-0 in the second half. Coppell threw the ball just six times. Keller Central’s defense smothered Justin Northwest in a 36-6 win. Northwest gained less than 200 yards in the game.

2010 result: Coppell thumped Central, 41-7, en route to finishing with an undefeated season.

What’s at stake: The winner of this game makes the playoffs. Both Coppell and Central can still get in with a loss if Keller Fossil Ridge loses to Keller on Thursday. If Fossil Ridge wins, it clinches a playoff spot and the winner between Coppell and Central gets the last spot.

Key matchup: With quarterback Jake Larson out for the year, Coppell has staked its season on its running game. Since their loss to Denton Guyer, the Cowboys average 37.3 carries and 208.5 rushing yards per game and have thrown the ball more than 10 times just twice in four games.

Players to watch: Running back Luke Jenner has become the focal point of Coppell’s offense. He’s rushed for 994 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Keller Central WR/DB Zach Sanchez almost single-handedly beat Denton Guyer earlier this year by scoring all three Central touchdowns in a 21-14 win. That included two as a receiver and one as defensive back.

Prediction: Keller Central 28, Coppell 24.
WYLIE (4-5, 2-4 10-4A) AT MCKINNEY NORTH (5-4, 3-3)
7:30 p.m. Friday at McKinney’s Ron Poe Stadium

When we saw them last: McKinney North was notching its third win in district play over Rockwall, 22-14. McKinney North was aided by four interceptions thrown by Rockwall. Wylie beat Richardson J. J. Pearce, 23-14, by jumping on the Mustangs early, scoring 20 points in the first half.

2010 result: Wylie crushed McKinney North, 40-10, to give the Pirates the No. 2 spot in District 10-4A. Wylie simply out ran McKinney north, racking up almost 200 more total yards on the night. McKinney North finished No. 4 in the district and made the playoffs.

What’s at stake: District 10-4A’s final playoff spot. Both McKinney North and Wylie sit on the bubble at 3-3 and 2-4 respectively. A Wylie win would tie the two, and give the final playoff spot to the Pirates with the heads-up win. If McKinney North wins it rises to 4-3 and takes the spot outright. Wylie also needs Rockwall to lose to Richardson J.J. Pearce as Rockwall would take the final spot over Wylie because of a heads-up victory in district play this season.

Key matchup: McKinney North’s offense vs. Wylie’s defense. Wylie came into the season with one of the best returning defenses, but has failed to turn experience into success this season. Behind quarterback Hunter Walling, McKinney North has an outstanding passing attack that can move the ball down field and set up short-yardage rushes for touchdowns by a committee of running backs. This, more than any, needs to be the game Wylie’s defense catches a glimmer of the squad it was last season to stop a strong McKinney North offense.

Players to watch: In the passing and receiving games, McKinney North spreads the ball around between an extensive number of athletes. Wylie quarterback Donald Slay is the team’s leading scorer with eight touchdowns passing and three rushing. Offensive lineman Kyle Fuller and linebacker Sean Watts are team leaders who will be the motivational forces on the field.

Prediction: Wylie 27, McKinney North 14

Flower Mound Marcus, Hebron vie for top seed

November, 2, 2011
HEBRON (6-3, 4-2 8-5A) at FLOWER MOUND MARCUS (8-1, 5-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Marauder Stadium

When we saw them last: Hebron became the latest victim of an Allen comeback when its 14-point lead slipped away in the second half en route to a 28-21 loss. Flower Mound Marcus rebounded from its own loss to Allen by handily defeating Lewisville, 42-14. Jeff Smiley and Harvey Giddens scored two touchdowns a piece in the win.

2010 result: Marcus converted a two-point conversion in the final minute of the game to escape with a 22-21 win that ended Hebron’s playoff hopes. The Marauders outscored Hebron 15-7 in the fourth quarter.

What’s at stake: The winner will get District 8-5A’s top seed in the Division II bracket. The loser gets the bottom seed. Seeding may not matter though, at least for the first round, because virtually nothing has been decided in District 7-5A. Win or lose, both teams could face Denton Guyer in the first round.

Key matchup: There’s no secret to what Marcus wants to do on offense -- run the ball. Smiley, Giddens and Deion Sanders give the Marauders three excellent running options. Hebron did a decent job of limiting Allen’s running game last week, but it will need to another strong performance to get past the Marauders.

Players to watch: There are certainly more technically refined quarterbacks in the area than Herbon’s Joseph Farley, but no one can argue with the results. He does a great job of spreading the ball around and can make plays with his feet, as well. When Marcus throws the ball, receiver Cody Apfel is more than likely the target. He had just two receptions last year but has tallied 38 catches for 416 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.

Prediction: Flower Mound Marcus 31, Hebron 21.

7:30 p.m. Friday at Richardson’s Eagle-Mustang Stadium

When we saw them last: Lake Highlands fell to undefeated District 9-5A champion Skyline, 37-0. Skyline held Lake Highlands to 150 yards of total offense. Richardson handled 2-4 W.T. White, 59-39.

2010 result: Lake Highlands edged Richardson by a field goal, 17-14. The win gave Lake Highlands the No. 2 spot in the district, and despite the loss, Richardson still made the playoffs with the last seed.

What’s at stake: Win and you’re in. The winner of this game will claim the last District 9-5A playoff spot and the other will have its season come to an abrupt end.

Key matchup: Which offense will show up ready for the playoffs a week early. Lake Highlands’ offense is centered around running back DeVonte Sunwenghan. Stop him and Richardson has a good chance to outscore Lake Highlands with a very similar run game and short-yardage passing game.

Players to watch: Richardson’s all purpose offensive standout is quarterback Parker Smith, who leads the team in both passing yards and rushing yards. Lake Highlands starts Michael Ketchmark under center, but will bring in athlete Trent Jones to change up the pace in the run attack.

Prediction: Richardson can’t find a way to stop Sunwenghan, and Lake Highlands sneaks into the playoffs, 24-17.