High School: Keller Central

A year has passed, but not much has changed in the North Texas softball landscape.

Plano again enters the playoffs highly ranked nationally and a favorite to return to Austin to contend for a 5A state title. For its players, Friday’s bi-district opener against Denton Guyer couldn’t come any sooner after last season’s loss in the state semifinals.

“They’re so excited to finally get to the playoffs after such a hard district, finally getting to the playoff part,” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said.

The opening rounds of the playoffs could easily be thought as a brief reprieve from the gauntlet the team faced through district play, which included the area’s other highly ranked team, Plano East.

Plano didn’t run away with a district title this season as it did in 2011. It fell twice to Plano East, surrendering the championship to their cross-town rivals by heads-up tiebreaker. All but two of their District 8-5A competitors finished above .500.

However, there will be little time for Plano to catch its breath, with one of the toughest roads to state ahead of them. Denton Guyer finished third in District 7-5A behind strong competitors Keller and Keller Central.

If Plano pushes on to the area round, it could face ESPN Fab 50 No. 35 Mansfield Legacy, then Fab 50 honorable mention Keller in the third round.

“Our region, the North Texas region, in the last three or four years has really stepped up our game,” Zea said. “It used to be just he Houstons and the Austins. Now, I think softball is so strong that definitely someone from our region is going to Austin to represent us well. We just hope it’s us.”

Plano East has a slightly easier path through the introductory rounds of the playoffs, with District 7-5A runner-up Keller Central not an option until the third round.

In 4A, District 9-4A champion Frisco Wakeland could be a serious threat to make a long district run through a majority of Dallas ISD schools, with third-place finisher Frisco as a challenge in the third round. Wakeland took the season series from Frisco, winning 11-6 and 12-0.

Regardless of the district, what every coach has to deal with is a new set of challenges presented from teams across the state.

“They present a whole different set of challenges, but our girls just have to get up there hit the ball and play good defense and we’ll be fine,” Zea said.

Hebron boys shock 7-5A champ Keller Central

February, 22, 2012
Hebron's boys have a chance to advance past the area round for the first time as a 5A team with a win over Cedar Hill this weekend.

The Hawks (22-10) won't be favored, but they've already pulled one big upset in the playoffs.

Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
As the No. 4 seed out of District 8-5A, Hebron blasted 7-5A champion Keller Central 58-43 in bi-district play.

Central had been enjoying a dream season as the trio of Joel Bolomboy, Joel Engulu and Warren Sledge had the Chargers thinking of a potential playoff run.

Point guard Ridge Shipley (21 points) and forward Drew Nelson (13) paced Hebron against Central as they've done all season. Nelson leads the team in scoring with 15 points per game while Shipley averages 13 points and five assists.

Cedar Hill comes out of a brutal District 5-5A where it battled No. 2-ranked South Grand Prairie, traditional power Duncanville and a Mansfield Timberview team that pulled the biggest upset of the playoffs so far against Richland.

Hebron's upset highlighted a great Tuesday night for 8-5A, which went 3-1 against 7-5A. Flower Mound Marcus beat Justin Northwest and Plano West beat Keller.

District 7-5A's only win was Coppell's victory over Allen. The Cowboys needed overtime but eventually won, 43-41.
COPPELL, Texas -- Keller Central has never been mistaken for a school with dominant athletics programs.

The young school's accomplishments have been few and far between, but after the 2011-12 school year, the Chargers may be hanging more than their fair share of banners.

On the heels of the football team's first playoff berth in school history, the boys basketball team has put together not just a good year, but a great year.

The highlight of that year may have occurred Tuesday when the Chargers clinched the District 7-5A title with a 43-41 win over rival Coppell, and they did it on Coppell's home court.

"It's surreal," said Central head coach Kit Pehl of clinching district. "To get it done tonight on their floor is a big deal to us. Coppell to us is a measuring stick. To do it at their place, we're ecstatic."

To clinch its district title, Central (25-7, 11-1 in 7-5A) had to survive a game between two smash-mouth, half-court teams, as Pehl put it.

The Cowboys (22-8, 8-4 in 7-5A) held a lead for much of the second quarter but coughed it up when Central guard Zach Sanchez hit a 3-pointer late in third quarter to put the Chargers ahead, 35-33, going into the fourth.

The two teams stared each other down for the final eight minutes before missed free throws by Central and a bucket by point guard Warren Oishi put Coppell within striking distance.

On the final possession of the game, Coppell dished it to big man Jeff Raines inside, but his shot went wide of the net to give Central the win.

"It was a scramble," said Central forward Joel Bolomboy of the last play of the game. "We had to step up on defense. Everybody was crazy and scrambling, but we ended up getting it done."

In the anticipated matchup between two of the area's 5A leading scorers among forwards, Raines scored eight and Bolomboy had 10.

"They kind of negated each other," Pehl said.

Coppell, always one of the toughest defensive teams in the area under coach Brad Chasteen, also limited Central's other two stars -- point guard Warren Sledge (five points) and Joel Engulu (four points).

Central guard J.R. Rogers ended up filling the void, scoring a team-high 12 points.

"He was huge tonight," Pehl said. "He made tons of big shots. If there was an X-factor tonight, it was J.R. Rogers without question."

Just as it was the entire game, the two teams fought to a standstill in the first half as no team held a lead of more than the six Coppell led by briefly in the second quarter.

With its array of defensive looks, Coppell ran man defense after running nothing but zone in its first meeting with Central -- a 54-49 Chargers win. That allowed Central to employ the motion offense it's most comfortable with, but Coppell's physicality still limited the Chargers.

They finally broke through with a 7-0 run that began in the third quarter and ended in the fourth. It gave Central the lead to set up Coppell's final possession.

"I figured it would come down to a defensive stand and sure enough that's what happened," Pehl said.

Keller Central star WR/DB signs with Sooners

February, 1, 2012
Keller Central's Zach Sanchez was one of the few athletes not playing quarterback or running back who could take over a game by himself.

Now Sanchez will try to do the same in the Big 12.

The receiver/defensive back signed a national letter of intent to play for Oklahoma on Wednesday, finishing a career that may leave him as the best player in Central's short history.

Sanchez caught 45 balls for 994 yards and 13 touchdowns in addition to his work on the defensive side of the ball, where he was one of the most feared DBs in the area.

The senior's defining performance came against Denton Guyer. He caught two touchdown passes and returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown in Central's 21-14 win.

That win went a long way toward solidifying Central's first playoff berth in school history. Central beat Coppell in Week 10 in what amounted to a playoff play-in game, and the Chargers put a scare into top-ranked Allen in bi-district before losing 30-17 at Cowboys Stadium.

Sanchez was originally committed to Baylor but switched late in the process.

Central offensive lineman Simon Goines also signed on Wednesday. He joins Jim Mora's first class at UCLA.

Keller Central opens up two-game lead in 7-5A

January, 26, 2012
Keller Central's rise to the top of the District 7-5A standings may have come as a surprise to some observers, but a quick look at their roster shows that there's no secret to their success.

The Chargers (21-7, 7-1 in 7-5A) have experienced and talented seniors leading their team at key positions, and head coach Kit Pehl is getting the most out of them by taking advantage of their versatility.

"We've played everything and been competitive with everything," Pehl said. " I think we have a chance to beat anyone we play just because we're a flexible group that's capable of playing any type of defense."

Center Joel Bolomboy, small forward Joel Engulu and point guard Warren Sledge have guided the Chargers to their best season since 2008-09, the last time they made the playoffs.

Not only do the Chargers lead the district, but they opened up a two-game lead in 7-5A by virtue of a win over Denton Guyer on Tuesday and losses by Coppell and Justin Northwest.

"I knew we'd be in the race for the playoffs," Pehl said. "It would have been a ridiculous disappointment if we didn't, but to be a game into the second round and be two games up in the district race, you could only hope for that. We're pretty pleased with where things are."

Bolomboy is a 6-foot-8 center who leads the Dallas-Fort Worth area in scoring and rebounding in Class 5A with 18 points and 13 rebounds per game. Not many teams get the best of Central in the paint.

Sledge is among the area's leaders in assists, and Pehl calls him a second coach on the floor who runs Central's motion offense to perfection.

Throw in Engulu, an inside/outside player who can score from anywhere on the court, and the Chargers have a core group that excels individually and compliments each other collectively.

"It's a really nice mix of kids," Pehl said. "They're all selfless and they play their tails off. That combination has just come together really well to this point.

Many of the same players returned from last year's team, but the results weren't the same. The Chargers finished a game out of the playoffs in a district that was heavily senior-laden. Pehl said that team lacked focus and toughness to compete against teams that were more experienced.

This year, focus and toughness hasn't been a problem, to say the least.

"I knew we'd be talented but I didn't know we'd be as tough as we are," Pehl said. "That was the question, but they've been real consistent on that front."

Allen breaks away from Keller Central in fourth

November, 13, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Keller Central nearly ended Allen's assumed championship run before Euless Trinity even got the chance.

With a ball-control game plan and a mistake-free performance, the Chargers held a four-point lead in the fourth quarter and all the momentum.

[+] EnlargeAlec Morris
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comQuarterback Alec Morris finds the end zone in Allen's bi-district win over Keller Central.
But in typical fashion, Allen rallied in the final frame, scoring on all three of its fourth-quarter possessions en route to a 30-17 Class 5A Division I bi-district win Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

Allen (11-0) advances to face Trinity (11-0) at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

"We knew there was one team that was going to stop us and that was ourselves," said Allen quarterback Alec Morris. "We were making mental mistakes from the get-go. In the fourth quarter, we got drives together and we knew how to finish it. We got it done."

Following an Allen fourth-down attempt that fell about two inches short, Central (8-3) took a 17-13 lead late in the third quarter when Martin Alvarez took a Tanner Tausch screen pass for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Allen didn't let the Chargers enjoy the lead for very long. Two minutes later, receiver Cortland Tolbert found the end zone on a 15-yard reception to put Allen back on top, 20-17.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

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

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

That score opened the flood gates. Central had a 26-yard gain on third down negated by a penalty and was forced to punt. Allen kicked a field goal six plays later. Following a Central interception, the Eagles found the end zone again, this time on a 1-yard Morris run that put the game way with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the game.

"The momentum swung a little bit and we knew we had to make some plays to get it back," said Allen head coach Tom Westerberg. "Our kids have done it all year long. Hopefully we'll keep rolling."

Central came into the game as an overwhelming underdog but played Allen as good as anyone has this year up until the fourth quarter.

The Chargers went 9-for-15 on third down, scored all 17 of their points off three Allen turnovers -- one a forced fumble on a vicious hit by Alvarez on Allen's Jonathan Williams -- and held Allen to field goals on three red zone attempts.

Charger quarterback Tanner Tausch played one of the best games of his career, going 18-for-25 for 299 yards, although he threw two interceptions in the second half.

Zach Sanchez, a two-way player at receiver and defensive back, caught four balls for 57 yards in addition to a touchdown pass, and his play against Allen receiver Andrew Rodriguez was instrumental to slowing down Allen's offense.

"They were blitzing a whole lot," Westerberg said. "We just had to find a couple of creases and do some more zone blocking. The guys did a good job. We ran the ball well in the fourth quarter when we had to."

But Allen recommitted to Williams and the run in the second half, but Williams, who rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, fumbled after the hit by Alvarez in third quarter.

Central answered with a field goal and then took the lead after Allen's failed fourth-down attempt, but like it's done to so many opponents this year, Allen stormed back to break Central's heart.

"This [being down late in games] isn't unfamiliar territory for this team," Morris said. "We knew how to finish the ball game and go get a win."

5A-I preview: Reg. 1 loaded with powerhouses

November, 7, 2011

Overview: It would almost be a surprise in six weeks time if this region does not produce the 5A Division I state champion.

Five of the 16 teams in this loaded field are district champions and two others are co-champions. Three own perfect 10-0 records: Allen, Euless Trinity and Southlake Carroll. All three have won at least one state title in the last six years.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

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

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

Except for Abilene’s state title run in 2009, the balance of power in Region I has clearly swung away from West Texas, where it rested for decades, and to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The two District 4-5A representatives, Arlington Bowie and Arlington Martin, have the opportunity to play West Texas teams in the opening two rounds. Martin used that route to reach the third round of the 2010 playoffs for the second consecutive season. On each occasion, the Warriors were eliminated by Trinity.

Favorite: Allen. The Eagles survived some close calls to go 7-0 in the always-difficult District 8-5A. Being forced to come from behind so many times in the late stages of games could serve the Eagles well in the playoffs when games figure to be tight.

The Eagles are solid and experienced at the skill positions with quarterback Alec Morris, running back Jonathan Williams and wide receiver Andrew Rodriguez.

Allen has proven itself in unfriendly environments with road wins at Longview and Flower Mound Marcus. Both opponents finished the regular season with 9-1 records.

Watch out for: Cedar Hill. The Longhorns landed in the easier half of the bracket and, provided they can shake off a 56-55 overtime loss to Duncanville in Week 10, their speed could possibly carry them to a regional final. The Longhorns' 7-3 record is deceptive because of a tough schedule that included losses to Allen and DeSoto in the first three weeks. The Longhorns have notable wins over playoff teams Denton Guyer, Mansfield Timberview and Mansfield.

Can’t wait to see: Euless Trinity-Duncanville (7:30 p.m. Friday, Irving Schools Stadium). The bi-district contest is an interesting clash of styles. Trinity is better than 4-to-1 run to pass in its offensive play selection and loves to grind out long drives. Defensively, the Trojans are among the best in the area, allowing an average of 191 yards per game. Duncanville counters with an offense that averages 429 yards per game, led by the running and passing of Deandre Grimes, who comes into the playoffs off his best game. In a 56-55 overtime win over Cedar Hill in Week 10, Grimes threw for 166 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 245 yards and two scores.

We hope to see: Allen-Euless Trinity. If this rematch happens, unfortunately, it will come in the second round, just as it did last season when Trinity squeezed out a 37-35 victory at Cowboys Stadium in one of the best spectator games of the postseason. Since losing to Allen 35-28 in a nondistrict game in 2009, Trinity’s record is 38-1. Allen’s record since that game is 28-3. Trinity won state championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009, while Allen won a state title in 2008.

Talent pool (FBS recruits): Abilene Cooper: QB Clayton Nicholas (Texas Tech). Allen: QB Alec Morris (Alabama), RB Jonathan Williams (Missouri), LB Thaddeus LaGrone (Baylor). Arlington Bowie: QB/WR Kolby Listenbee (TCU), RB Russell Hansbrough (Arizona State), DE Jesse Rogers (North Carolina). Arlington Martin: DE Devonte Fields (TCU), K Jaden Oberkrom (TCU), OL Steven Baggett (Boise State), DB Stephen Amoako (Oregon), DB Eric Amoako (Oregon). Cedar Hill: OL Aderius Epps (Kansas State). Duncanville: OL Adam Butler (Vanderbilt), WR Jeffrey Thomas (Colorado). Euless Trinity: DE Polo Manukainiu (Oklahoma), OL Hiva Lutui (UCLA). Hurst L.D. Bell: OL Kimo Tipoti (Texas A&M). Keller Central: DB Zack Sanchez (Baylor), OL Simon Goines (Missouri). Mansfield: DE Hassan Ridgeway (Texas). Southlake Carroll: WR Sabian Holmes (Baylor), WR Peyton Williams (Colorado), LB Will Davis (Kansas State).

SOUTHLAKE, Texas -- With just a win separating Keller Central from the playoffs, head coach Bart Helsley told his team to enjoy every moment of its regular-season finale Friday.

After the victory, the Chargers had a historic moment to enjoy.

Helsley didn't try to round up his ecstatic players for the traditional postgame speech.

"We got plenty of time to talk later," he said.

Well after the lights went off at Dragon Stadium, the Chargers were still on the field celebrating the 28-7 victory over Coppell that vaulted them into the playoffs for the first time in school history.

Central (8-2, 5-2 in 7-5A) will play top-ranked Allen (10-0, 7-0 in 8-5A) at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in the first round of the Division I playoffs.

"Seeing the kids excited about the way we played in the second half, it's really gratifying to see that," said Helsley, who's coached Central for all eight of its varsity seasons. "Looking at all the kids and all these fans on the field and the happiness and joy on the field ... you want to see those kids be successful."

A huge second-half performance by running back Martin Alvarez sealed the win for Central. Alvarez ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries -- all in the second half -- breaking what had been a 7-7 tie at halftime.

"Alvarez is a great football player," said Central running back Jammari Morris, who rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown. "I don't even know how to explain how good he is at football."

Meanwhile, Coppell (6-4, 3-4) couldn't get out of its own way. Still reeling from the loss of quarterback Jake Larson, the Cowboys mustered just 250 yards and left points on the field throughout the game.

In the second quarter, Coppell missed a field goal after a bad snap. At the end of the half, the Cowboys couldn't get their field-goal unit on the field in time to attempt a buzzer-beating three-pointer. And on its opening drive of the second half, Coppell kicker Nick Jordan pushed a 44-yard attempt just wide.

From there it was all Central, led by Alvarez. The Chargers needed just five plays to score after the missed field goal and they followed consecutive Coppell three-and-outs with touchdowns by Alvarez.

"Our defense has been good all year," Helsley said. "Several games we've shut people out for a half. Our defensive front was a little undersized to go up against their offensive line, but just like all year, they fought hard and were able to make plays when we needed to."

Neither team got much going in the first half. Coppell opened the scoring with a 1-yard run by quarterback Connor Wilson, who set up the touchdown with an amazing 28-yard pass to Emmanuel Mulumba that occurred after the snap went over Wilson's head.

Central wasn't able to answer until late in the second quarter. Quarterback Tanner Tausch connected with receiver Khari Burns for a 35-yard gain to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by Morris.

In the locker room at halftime, Central didn't have much momentum, but Helsley had a message for his team.

"We just weren't in sync," Helsley said of his team's first-half play. "I made it a point [at halftime] to let them know that we'd come way too far to let this thing slip away."

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.
KELLER, Texas -- Winning has been Southlake Carroll’s MO throughout this season.

[+] EnlargeKenny Hill
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comKenny Hill and unbeaten Southlake Carroll again coasted in the second half but came away with the win.
But so has coasting through the second half and allowing opponents to rally, forcing the Dragons (8-0, 5-0) to make big plays to win games.

Thursday, it took a fourth-and-1 scamper from quarterback Kenny Hill to put a nail in Keller Central’s coffin and give Carroll's the 24-21 victory.

“We kind of get comfortable, kind of complacent. We just kind of lose focus,” Hill said. “When it matters we pick it up again, but we need to be doing that the whole 48 minutes.”

As is the typical Dragons way, Carroll jumped out to an early 17-0 lead. Hill hit Sabian Holmes on a 58-yard touchdown pass and Peyton Williams for a 21-yard score sandwiched around a 25-yard field goal, all in the first quarter.

Central answered in the second on a 5-yard touchdown catch by Zack Sanchez, bringing the score to 17-7, which is where it would stay for much of the remainder of the game.

Carroll attempted to cruise through the second half, and it came back to bite them in the fourth after a bad bounce on a punt gave the ball to Central on the Dragons' 30. Three plays later, the Chargers were within three when Sanchez scored on a 3-yard run to the pylon.

Keller Central had a chance to tie it with six minutes to go but missed a 32-yard field goal after recovering a Southlake fumble on the Dragons' 36.

The next drive was all downhill for the Dragons. Hill picked up the key first down on fourth-and-1 and followed with 37-yard run to extend the lead to 10 with 2:26 left.

The junior quarterback said he loves that he is entrusted with the ball at the end of games over the team’s running backs.

“I’m glad they’re putting it in my hands. I want the ball at the end of the games. I’m fine giving it to [the running backs] because they’re solid runners, but I like having the ball.”

Central mounted a last-minute rally and scored on a 19-yard catch by Sanchez but failed to recover the onside kick, allowing Carroll to run out the clock.

While many of Carroll's wins have been fairly ugly, not unlike Thursday’s, Dragons coach Hal Wasson said he will take the victories however they come.

“That’s the way we’ve chosen to win this year,” Wasson said. “At the end of the day, we get that 17-point lead -- Central responded and made a game of it -- and fortunately we were able to get out of it with a win.”

The win allows Carroll to control its own destiny in winning the District 7-5A title, with games against Saginaw and Denton Guyer left in the regular season. But it’s a challenge that has to be met with greater mental fortitude, Wasson said.

When it came down to it, Wasson said it was his players' lack of focus that has kept the Dragons from finishing games early but pointed the finger back toward himself for not preparing his players to have that kind of mental edge.

“We are a team that has to be on edge,” Wasson said. “I probably didn’t do a good enough job getting them ready to play this week. I’ve got to do a better job in that as far as the consistency part -- that mental edge. We have to play with that mental tenacity, that focus level we talk about and I’ve got to do a better job with that.”

SL Carroll puts its perfect record on the line

October, 19, 2011
SOUTHLAKE CARROLL (7-0, 4-0 7-5A) at KELLER CENTRAL (6-1, 3-1)
7 p.m. Thursday at Keller ISD Athletic Complex

When we saw them last: Since struggling late in wins over Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller, Southlake Carroll has tallied two decisive wins, the most recent a 27-10 victory over Coppell. Right when the spotlight finally fell on Keller Central, it wilted. Fossil Ridge tallied 15 points in the fourth quarter to take a 24-16 win over Central to spoil the Chargers’ undefeated record.

2010 result: Central held Fossil Ridge to 13 rushing yards and capitalized on two Panther interceptions in a dominating 45-14 win. CJ Kirk scored four touchdowns for Central.

What’s at stake: Central finally got some recognition for its great season when it beat Denton Guyer, but that all went bust after it lost to Fossil Ridge. A win over undefeated Carroll would put the Chargers right back into the conversation again, not to mention in first place in 7-5A.

Key matchup: Central WR/DB Zach Sanchez vs. Carroll WR/DB Sabian Holmes. It’s conceivable that these two two-way players will be lined up against each other for the entire game. Given that they’re two of the best in the district at their respective positions, it could turn into great theater in addition to a key matchup.

Players to watch: Receiver Peyton Williams had a game-high 14 receptions in Carroll’s win over Coppell last week, giving him 53 receptions on the year. With so much star power in the district at quarterback, Central’s Tanner Tausch often gets overlooked. He shouldn’t. He’s thrown for 1,445 yards and 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

Prediction: Southlake Carroll 31, Keller Central 21.

Rankings: Highland Park bounces back to No. 1

October, 16, 2011

What we got right: The majority of the teams in the 5A poll took care of business this week, leaving the top seven unchanged. Aledo and Waxahachie remained unmoved after wins this weekend in 4A. Waxahachie has proven it belongs at the top of one of the deepest districts in the area, 15-4A, but it will be interesting to see if it has what it takes to move up any further.

What we got wrong: We can't make up our mind who is the best team in 4A. Denton Ryan and Highland Park have very comparable results through 2011, and both pass a similar eye test. However, Highland Park has proven it has depth on offense, finding players to replace standout wide receiver Dalton Stogner. Garland has flown under the radar for the majority of the season but had a big win against Rowlett this weekend, showcasing skill in all phases of the game. Fort Worth Southwest taught Fort Worth Arlington Heights a lesson it did not learn in years past -- how to lose in district play. That blowout was more than enough to give Southwest the No. 10 spot in the 4A poll.

Say hello to: 5A -- Garland, Cedar Hill; 4A --Fort Worth Southwest

Say goodbye to: 5A -- Keller Central, Hebron; 4A -- Everman

Watch out for: 5A -- Arlington Lamar; 4A -- Frisco

Tell us: How would you rank teams differently and who did we leave out?

Rankings: Skyline rises over DeSoto to No. 2

October, 9, 2011

What we got right: Most of the teams in the top 10 remained the same, but Week 6 might have shuffled the deck more than any week to date. The 4A poll remained mostly the same with the exception of Waxahachie jumping to the No. 4 position after its win over Corsicana.

What we got wrong: Skyline proved itself with a decisive win over Dallas Jesuit on Friday, which shot the Raiders over DeSoto, who struggled for a victory over North Mesquite, for the first time this year. Keller Central more than proved it belonged among the best in the area with a 6-0 record and a win over previous No. 8 Denton Guyer. Everman comes in at No. 10, with several weeks of quality play after taking a Zero Week loss from Highland Park.

Say hello to: 5A -- Keller Central; 4A --Everman

Say goodbye to: 5A --Denton Guyer; 4A -- Mesquite Poteet

Watch out for: 5A Arlington Lamar; 4A -- Fort Worth Southwest

What to watch for: Big Frisco showdown, more

October, 6, 2011

Travis L. Brown interviews Frisco Centennial coach Mark Howard and previews the Frisco Liberty-Centennial, Dallas Jesuit-Dallas Skyline and Denton Guyer-Keller Central games.

Keller Central can prove it belongs with win

October, 5, 2011
No. 8 DENTON GUYER (4-1, 2-0 7-5A) at KELLER CENTRAL (5-0, 2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Keller ISD Athletic Complex

When we saw them last: Denton Guyer made a huge statement last week with a 31-7 walloping of Coppell. After losing a stellar senior class last season, many questioned whether Guyer could reload. The win over Coppell is the clearest evidence yet that the Wildcats are here to stay. Central made short work of a Saginaw team still trying to find its footing at the 5A level. A fumble returned for a touchdown by Trevor Demerson late in the fourth quarter sealed the 41-20 win.

2010 result: Guyer had run up a 22-point lead by halftime and coasted to a 47-20 win. Treavon Walton helped overcome an uncharacteristically inefficient performance from quarterback J.W. Walsh with 138 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

What’s at stake: Win for Keller Central would prove that it belongs among the other undefeated 5A teams in the area, but a loss would only prove that Central is a solid team that’s played a weak schedule. The game serves as nothing but a trap game for Guyer, which doesn’t want to lose the momentum it gained from beating Coppell.

Key matchup: Central’s offensive line, led by Zach Britton and Simon Goines, has allowed the Charger offense to be remarkably balanced, but it’s facing what’s likely the best defensive front it’s seen this season. Since their rise to power, the Wildcats have always been strong up front on defense and this year is no different with Cody Henessee, Dan Kottman and Diontre Thomas.

Players to watch: Guyer sophomore quarterback Jerrod Heard had a breakout performance against Coppell last week and should continue progressing throughout the year. More than a third of Central receiver Zach Sanchez’s receptions have gone for touchdowns as he has eight scores on 21 catches. He averages more than 25 yards per catch and has developed into one of the best big-play threats in the area.

Prediction: Denton Guyer 27, Keller Central 17.