High School: Area round Class 5A notes

Rowlett looks to move beyond the area round

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
5:26
PM CT
Rowlett has a chance to reach a milestone of sorts with a win over Copperas Cove on Friday.

The Eagles (7-4) have long had trouble getting out of the area round of the playoffs, losing to Mesquite Horn last year and Dallas Skyline in 2007 in their last trips to the second round.

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Bi-district »   Area round »
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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

But Copperas Cove (10-1) provides a tough matchup for Rowlett. The Eagles have given up 100 yards rushing to eight different players this season, and the Bulldawgs have three runners capable of eclipsing the century mark in Chans Colbert, Brandon Hamilton and Orlando Thomas.

However, the Eagles may be better equipped to make a run than any year in recent memory. They have a 1,000-yard rusher in Jalen Rhodes, and quarterback Grant Bothun is a three-year starter who doesn’t make big mistakes.

Rowlett crushed Dallas Lake Highlands 53-14 in the bi-district round behind those two players. Rhodes rushed for 116 yards and four touchdowns while Bothun threw two touchdown passes. The Eagles didn’t turn the ball over in the game.

Copperas Cove is coming off an emotional 48-47 win over Mesquite Horn. The Bulldawgs trailed by 21 points in the third quarter and won after a failed two-point conversion attempt by Horn in the final minute of the game.

Rowlett plays Copperas Cove at 9 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium.

Mesquite rides QB Cooper's hot hand in playoffs

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
5:20
PM CT
A quarterback with a hot hand is a nice card to hold in the playoffs, and Mesquite seems to have just that in junior Alex Cooper.

In Friday’s 35-23 bi-district victory over 8-3 Belton, Cooper completed 28-of-35 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

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Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
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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

“We’ve seen flashes of that throughout the season,’’ said Mesquite coach Robbie Robinson. “I don’t know that we anticipated that kind of a game from Alex, but the previous week he played lights out against [Mesquite] Horn, too.

“The big thing we tried to emphasize was that we had not put together a complete game all year,’’ Robinson said. “Our rushing numbers weren’t big because we had an emphasis on throwing the ball against Belton, but overall everything came together.’’

Senior receiver Kavaski Ervin was Cooper’s target with 13 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Cooper led the Skeeters basketball team in scoring last season as a sophomore.

Mesquite (6-5), fourth-place finisher in District 11-5A, will face old rival Garland (9-2), champion of District 10-5A, in a Class 5A Division I area playoff 6 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. It is the first time the schools have met since when they were in the same district in 2003.

“Fast and physical, that’s how I describe Garland,’’ Robinson said. “They’ve got kids that can run and run well.’’

Robinson, who grew up in Mesquite, recalls the days when the Skeeters and Owls were district rivals in one-school towns.

“We had a game recently at Williams Stadium in Garland and our bus driver was unsure which end was our locker room,’’ Robinson said. “It made me think, has it really been that long? We used to play over there two or three times a season.’’

Mes. Horn sending Harris to All-American game

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
5:11
PM CT

Despite Mesquite Horn's 48-47 bi-district playoff loss to Copperas Cove on Saturday, the football season isn't over for for one Jaguar.

Horn cornerback De'Vante Harris accepted his jersey to play in the Under Armour All-American game Friday and will represent his community Jan. 5 at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field and on ESPN.

Click here for my story for ESPN Recruiting on Harris' journey -- which took him from being an undersized freshman to a national All-American -- and his future at Oklahoma.

QB Heard's development key for Denton Guyer

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
5:06
PM CT
Denton Guyer still possesses many of the qualities that made it a state title contender over the past three years.

The Wildcats have a well-coached defense and tons of talent in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Running back Sebastian Williams and receiver Conner Crane are gifted weapons.

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Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
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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 one thing Guyer (8-3) didn’t have, at least according to popular perception, was a quarterback.

Even critics might have to concede that that’s changing. Sophomore Jerrod Heard put together one of the best performances of his career in Guyer’s 41-35 double-overtime win over Hebron on Saturday as he threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns in addition to rushing for 105.

For Guyer, the key to making another run will be Heard’s continued development under center. As a young player at a demanding position, Heard has understandably committed mistakes and turnovers in Guyer’s complex offense

“What I’ve said over and over again about Jerrod is that he’s mature beyond his years,” said Guyer head coach John Walsh. “Yeah, he makes sophomore, silly mistakes, but when he makes mistakes he’s got a calm look on his face like a coach’s kid. Our offense is a quarterback-generated offense. We’re not going to back off on it. We’re going to let him roll.”

Sophomore quarterbacks coming of age in the playoffs is not unheard of. J.W. Walsh, Heard’s predecessor, blossomed during the postseason in 2008, leading Guyer all the way to the state semifinals after the team went 1-19 in its first two years of varsity play.

Just last year, Southlake Carroll’s Kenny Hill went from a player limited to draws up the middle in bi-district to an impressive pocket passer by the end of Carroll’s season.

Even with his periodic struggles, Heard has put together a strong season for a quarterback at any stage of development. He’s thrown for a little over 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. He’s also a gifted runner, tallying 600 yards on the ground.

With no clear favorite in the 5A Division II Region I bracket, the opportunity certainly exists for Guyer to make another run. The Wildcats play Mansfield (10-1) at 9 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

Another West Texas trip for Arlington Bowie

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
5:04
PM CT
Arlington Bowie makes its second playoff excursion to West Texas in eight days, this time to Midland's Grande Communications Stadium to face El Paso Franklin in a Class 5A Division I area playoff at 1 p.m. Friday.

Last week’s trip to San Angelo turned out very well for Bowie (8-3). The Vols in a bi-district playoff eliminated the renowned Odessa Permian Panthers of “Friday Night Lights'' fame 42-7.

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

Bowie’s versatile quarterback Kolby Listenbee, a TCU commit, rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown and threw for 133 yards while completing 16-of-20 throws.

The only negative was a bus ride home that didn’t end until 2:45 a.m.

“I’ve spent enough time on a bus this season to get a license,’’ said Bowie coach Kenny Perry, reflecting on an earlier Zero Week non-district trip to Odessa. “Doing it once isn’t bad, but back-to-back weeks can be an issue.’’

The team will leave Thursday and spend the night in advance of the Franklin game.

“The guys out in West Texas don’t think anything about travel," Perry said. “They’ve been doing it for 70 years. They have a routine. It’s different for us.’’

Franklin (10-1) depends heavily on the passing arm of senior quarterback Brandon Layne, who has thrown for 2,525 yards and 26 touchdowns while being intercepted only five times.

Layne’s favorite receiver is senior Justin Holliday with 42 receptions for 716 yards and nine touchdowns. The Volunteers' secondary, headed by senior Diquan Rogers, will be tested.

Franklin’s only loss came in a nondistrict road game against San Angelo Central, 41-35.

“The quarterback is very accurate and they don’t make many mistakes, a lot like [Arlington] Lamar,’’ Perry said. “We’re definitely going against the best team in El Paso.’’

As for his own team, Perry said he noticed practices improving about three weeks ago.

“Peaking at the right time is something a coach can’t control,’’ Perry said. “But we’re playing our best right now.’’

ARLINGTON, Texas – Last week was a wild one for Allen running back Jonathan Williams, and it had nothing to do with the Eagles' bi-district close call against Keller Central.

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

After decommitting from Missouri earlier in the week, Williams quickly made a verbal pledge Friday to play football for Arkansas.

Williams’ main reason for the switch was Arkansas’ proximity to his home in Texas, but also cited his respect for the Razorbacks' offense as a key factor.

“I like their offense,” Williams said. “They’re a pro-style offense and with Bobby Petrino as the head coach, he’s going to have a good offense year-in and year-out. I feel like I can prosper in that type of offense.”

Williams took a recruiting trip to Fayetteville after Allen’s national TV win over Plano East the weekend of Oct. 6 and said, on returning home, his family agreed Arkansas would be a better fit for Williams than Missouri.

Williams has rushed for over a 1,000 yards this season despite missing several games due to injury. Williams sat out most of the second half of Allen’s bi-district game Saturday after taking a big hit but returned for Allen’s final drive of the game.

Williams said he is fine and the rest was just precautionary to help him recover from a few small injuries he has acquired throughout the season.

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