High School: Rowlett

DeSoto defense shuts down Rowlett in rout

February, 25, 2012
2/25/12
4:59
PM CT
DALLAS -- Matt Jones and the rest of the offensive weapons get all the attention, but DeSoto is advancing in the playoffs because of its defense.

UIL BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS
Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
The latest example came against Rowlett on Saturday.

DeSoto shut down Jeffrey Carroll and an offense that averaged more than 63 points per game to take a convincing 63-46 win at the American Airlines Center.

DeSoto (31-5) advances to face Richardson Berkner in the Class 5A Region II quarterfinals.

"You have to work hard against great players," DeSoto head coach Chris Dyer said. "They have a couple guys who are going to be highly, highly, highly recruited. You just try to make them catch the ball where they don't want to and shoot the shots they don't want to."

Rowlett (22-9) led by as many as four in the second quarter before DeSoto pulled away.

After Albert Coleman gave Rowlett a 20-17 lead with a layup, DeSoto went on a 13-3 run in which Jones scored nine points, including a four-point play. DeSoto took a 35-25 lead into halftime.

After holding a 10-point lead for much of the third quarter, DeSoto pulled away for good behind the play of guard Benquan Petty. He scored eight straight points for DeSoto to open the final frame, helping his team extend its lead to 20 by the end of the fourth.

"We just played defense," Dyer said. "Our guys battled inside. It's what we've been trying to do the last couple weeks."

Jones lead all scorers with 21 points while Petty was right behind him with 20. Franklyne Okeke had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Conversely, Carroll never got going against DeSoto's stingy defense, finishing with 10 points. Nathan Hawkins led Rowlett with 19 points while Austin Luke had 11 points and five assists.

AAC to host four boys playoff games Saturday

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
3:20
PM CT
American Airlines Center will host an all-day boys basketball playoff extravaganza Saturday, with four area-round games on the schedule.

Of the eight teams who will be in action, five were ranked in ESPN Dallas' final 4A and 5A area top 10s. Here are the matchups:
  • 1 p.m.: 4A No. 2 South Oak Cliff vs. McKinney
  • 3 p.m.: 5A No. 5 DeSoto vs. Rowlett
  • 5 p.m.: 4A No. 8 Arlington Seguin vs. Fort Worth Arlington Heights
  • 7 p.m.: 5A No. 2 South Grand Prairie vs. No. 8 Plano West

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster for $25 courtside, $15 lower level and $10 upper level. Parking will be available in all American Airlines Center parking lots for $10.

Four 5A districts in area undergo little change

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
2:32
PM CT
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- The makeup changed very little or not at all in four of the area’s nine Class 5A districts at Thursday's UIL reclassification and realignment.

*The current District 4-5A (five Arlington schools, Fort Worth Paschal, North Crowley and Weatherford) remained intact but, because of district consolidation in West Texas, changed its number to 3-5A.

That’s an agreeable change, said Anthony Criss, football coach at Arlington Sam Houston and former Arlington ISD assistant athletic director.

“It’s great for Arlington because it means we stay in the area for first-round playoff games instead of going to West Texas,’’ Criss said. “We’d still go west once, but not until the second round.''

*The current District 5-5A retained seven of its eight members in the new District 7-5A: Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville, Grand Prairie, South Grand Prairie, Mansfield and Mansfield Timberview. The only change is Mansfield Legacy drops down to Class 4A and powerhouse DeSoto takes its place.

“A tough district just got tougher,’’ said Grand Prairie coach Gary Bartel.

*In District 9-5A, Dallas Samuell dropped to Class 4A and was replaced by Richardson Pearce, which is moving back up to 5A. The other seven members are unchanged: Dallas Jesuit, Dallas Skyline, Dallas Sunset, Dallas W.T. White, Richardson, Richardson Berkner and Lake Highlands.

“I wasn’t sure Jesuit would stay in,’’ said Skyline coach Reginald Samples. “In fact, we had agreed to play them in a nondistrict game if they weren’t in our district.’’

*The seven Garland ISD schools that made up 10-5A in the last realignment are now without McKinney Boyd as they go forward as District 11-5A with this lineup: Garland, Garland Lakeview, Garland Naaman Forest, North Garland, Rowlett, Sachse and South Garland.

Two area quarterbacks find new home at UTEP

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
4:22
PM CT
Two area quarterbacks will compete for playing time against each other after signing with UTEP on Wednesday.

Coppell's Jake Larson and The Colony's Garrett Simpson inked letters of intent to play for the Miners, but their senior seasons couldn't have gone much differently.

In his third season as The Colony's starter, Simpson was among the area's leading passers through the first three games before finishing with 1,886 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year.

Larson wasn't as lucky. Playing in his first year as a starter, Larson tore his ACL midway through the year and didn't play another down.

The quarterbacks join Rowlett linebacker Chester Egbim as Miner signees.

Coppell had three other players sign. Offensive lineman Sam Rice signed with SMU after decommitting from North Texas, where DB David Busby signed. Kicker Nick Jordan signed with Texas.

The Colony had one other player sign with an FBS school -- receiver Gerald Thomas, who capped his stellar high school career by signing with Colorado.

Rowlett holds off Copperas Cove to advance

November, 19, 2011
11/19/11
12:48
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas – Mesquite Horn learned not to let Copperas Cove stay in a game the hard way last week, losing 48-47 in the 5A Division II bi-district round.

Rowlett refused to give Copperas Cove the same chance Friday by successfully running a reverse on fourth-and-1 near midfield with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. That risky call not only picked up the first down, but it moved the ball deep into Copperas Cove territory, leading to a 24-yard field goal and a 48-38 area-round 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

At first, Rowlett tried unsuccessfully to draw Copperas Cove offside on the fourth-and-1. After a timeout, Rowlett sent out the punt team, which would have given Copperas Cove the ball with a seven-point deficit. Instead, Rowlett coach Kiff Hardin used his second timeout to implement the surprise play.

Out of the pistol, quarterback Grant Bothun faked the handoff to halfback Jalen Rhodes and hit Corey Chappell with a pitch has he ran a jet sweep that wouldn’t end until he was brought down at the Copperas Cove 10-yard line.

Rhodes was an effective decoy on the play after scoring two touchdowns in the second half on runs of 4 and 7 yards.

Bothun accounted for three of Rowlett’s touchdowns through the air. His best came on a 34-yard fade to Rashid Turner, who had beaten his defender badly on the line of scrimmage, leaving him wide open down field.

Rowlett (8-4) and Copperas Cove (10-2) traded blows from the second quarter to the fourth, with the Eagles leading 37-31 after three quarters.

Copperas Cove carried momentum into the fourth after Brandon Hamilton took a Rowlett kickoff 100 yards for a score to bring his team to within six.

Copperas Cove fumbled halfway through the fourth, which lead to the second of Rhodes' touchdown runs, and then threw an interception with 39 seconds left in the game to end any hope of a comeback.

Rowlett advances to face the Spring Westfield-Leander winner in the regional round of the 5A Division II playoffs.

Live area-round chat: Huge games all weekend

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
5:45
PM CT
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's only the area round, but we're getting some of the most anticipated matchups of the playoffs this weekend.

Our chat kicks off Friday night with the Mesquite-Garland matchup starting at 6 p.m., which will be followed at Cowboys Stadium by Rowlett-Sulphur Springs. We'll also have coverage from some big Class 4A games, with Johnathan Gray and Aledo being challenged by Mansfield Summit, Rockwall-Heath taking on Dallas Kimball and Highland Park facing Dallas Woodrow Wilson.

We also have special guest Randy Jackson, coach at Mesquite Poteet, providing updates from the Corsicana-Sulphur Springs game.

We'll be back with coverage from all of Saturday's biggest matchups. There's the Cowboys Stadium quadruple-header with Cedar Hill-Southlake Carroll (11 a.m.), Euless Trinity-Allen (2 p.m.) Mansfield Timberview-Flower Mound Marcus (5 p.m.) and Mansfield-Denton Guyer (8 p.m.). We'll also be on hand at the DeSoto-Dallas Skyline clash at 5 p.m.

This will be your spot for the timeliest updates and best insight all weekend.

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.

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

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.
CLASS 5A DIVISION II REGION 2 PREVIEW

Overview: Most of top-tier teams from the area in the 5A Division II bracket come from Region I, so there shouldn’t be many surprises out of Region II. Don’t expect any Metroplex teams to make it much further than the area round in this region.

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

Two teams from the AP state top 10 are in this region: No. 6 Longview and No. 9 Lufkin. Copperas Cove also received votes in the last AP poll of the regular season.

Favorite: Longview. With a final-game win over DeSoto to take the District 11-5A championship, the Lobos set themselves apart as the front-runner in this region. Longview went 9-1 on the season (5-0 in district), with its only loss coming against a 5A Division I favorite, Allen.

Watch out for: Mesquite Horn. It would be a long shot, but if you are looking for an area team to pull for out of this region, it would have to be the Jaguars (4-6). Horn opens up the playoffs against Copperas Cove, which could be one of the best bi-district matchups in this region. If Horn can withstand this test, it should be fine against the Rowlett-Dallas Lake Highlands winner. Horn went through Copperas Cove and Rowlett last season in route to a quarterfinal loss to Longview. Horn could follow the same path back to the quarterfinals it traveled last year.

Can’t wait to see: Dallas Jesuit vs. Sachse (7:30 p.m. Friday, Mesquite Memorial Stadium). This is the best bi-district matchup with two teams from the area in this region and would rival Horn-Copperas Cove as the region's best game this weekend. Jesuit (8-2) had a quality team throughout the regular season, even after losing its starting quarterback to injury in the third game of the season, and finished second to powerhouse Dallas Skyline in District 9-5A. Sachse (7-3) was a surprise at the beginning of the season, starting 4-0 before taking its first lost to Rowlett. Sachse quarterback Trent White is a beast in the passing game, racking up just under 3,000 yards through the air this season.

We hope to see: Longview-Lufkin. This would a great game if both reach the regional final, with two high-scoring teams.

Talent pool (FBS recruits): Longview: WR Eric Hawkins (Arkansas). Spring Dekaney: RB Trey Williams (Texas A&M), TE Armand Nance (Boise State), DB Jarrett Irving (Houston). Copperas Cove: ATH Orlando Thomas (Texas). Mesquite Horn: DB DeVante Harris (Oklahoma). Lufkin: DT Tomme Mark (offers: Michigan State, Tulsa, Utah, Kansas, SMU, Stephen F. Austin). Spring Westfield: DT Anthony Smith (Texas Tech). Leander: CB Martel Summers (offers: Arizona, New Mexico, Northwestern, Texas State, UTEP). Austin: WR Cayleb Jones (Texas).

RICHARDSON, Texas – A massive gust of wind surely must have pushed across the Metroplex around 10 p.m. Friday night originating from Lake Highlands.

The gust was from the entire community letting out a sigh of relief after the Wildcats slipped into the playoffs with a 21-14 win over Richardson at Eagle-Mustang Stadium.

The first person to let out a breath after holding it for a week in anticipation of this win-and-you’re-in matchup was Lake Highlands coach Scott Smith.

[+] EnlargeLake Highlands football
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comJacobi Johnson, playing in place of the injured starting running back, scored two of Lake Highlands' three touchdowns against Richardson.
“Yes, yes we can [finally breath],” Smith said with a big grin. “Our kids worked our tails off this week and pulled out all the stops.”

Lake Highlands running back Jacobi Johnson was unexpectedly thrust into the role as the feature back in the team’s most critical game of the season after starter DeVonte Sunwenghan was sidelined with an injury.

Johnson scored two of the Wildcats three touchdowns on the night, racking up over 170 yards rushing.

“He was a guy coming into the season that we knew he had the capabilities of doing what he did tonight,” Smith said. “A lot of times, because of our offense and how we move it around so much, he didn’t get as many touches sometimes during the week that he wanted. Tonight he had to. Tonight was his night and he had a great night.”

It was Smith’s 5-yard run with seven minutes left that would be enough to send the Wildcats to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

“It feels great to know that you can carry the team with the star player being hurt,” Johnson said. “This week, with grades coming in and everyone having to pass and this game, it’s just been tough.”

Lake Highlands' defense also came up big, stopping speedy Richardson quarterback Parker Smith on a fourth-and-1 try deep in Lake Highlands’ territory.

Lake Highlands (5-5, 4-3 District 9-5A) will face Rowlett, the top Division II seed from District 10-5A, in a bi-district playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium in Garland. Richardson's season ends at 5-5 overall and 3-4 in 9-5A.

Smith said Rowlett is not unlike many teams the Wildcats have faced this year, but has talent spread all over the field.

Smith said they are “counting on” Sunwenghan being available for the bi-district matchup.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Smith said. “We are going to enjoy this tonight but tomorrow morning we’ll be back at it to see what we can bring to the plate for Rowlett.”

Many key matchups remaining in District 10-5A

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
2:33
PM CT
Garland’s win over Rowlett on Friday put the Owls in a strong position to win District 10-5A, but what about the rest of the district?

There’s still a lot to be decided. Sachse, McKinney Boyd and Rowlett are all tied at 3-1 behind Garland (5-2, 4-0), and even South Garland (2-4, 2-2) still has a shot to get in despite a slow start to the season.

As it turns out, many of the key games in the district come at the end of the season, particularly for Sachse, which is trying to make the playoffs for the first time in school history.

Sachse (6-1, 3-1) closes the year at Boyd, at South Garland and at home against Garland, with its one loss of the year coming against Rowlett.

After playing Sachse this Thursday, Boyd (5-2, 3-1) plays at Rowlett and at home against South Garland.

Rowlett (4-3, 3-1) may have the easiest path heading forward. It has games against North Garland and Garland Lakeview Centennial sandwiched around its bout with Boyd.

District 10-5A matches up with 9-5A in the first round of the playoffs. That means someone from the district will get the unenviable position of facing Dallas Skyline (7-0, 4-0 in 9-5A), the No. 2 team in ESPNDallas.com's 5a area rankings, in bi-district.

Boyd is the largest school in the district followed by Garland. Because Garland has already beaten Boyd, the Broncos are more than likely to face Skyline if it gets into the playoffs. If Boyd collapses, the hot potato is passed to Rowlett, the third biggest school.

Rankings: Highland Park bounces back to No. 1

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
11:41
PM CT

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?
GARLAND, Texas – In baseball, the value of a closer is priceless. He’s the man that throws the hard work of his entire team throughout the course of a game on his back to ensure the effort is converted into a victory.

The Garland football team has a man like that in running back Malcolm Miller.

Miller ran for 92 yards and one touchdown in the Owls' 31-21 win over District 10-5A rival Rowlett, carrying the load down the stretch while Garland possessed the ball for a 7-minute, 29-second stretch in the fourth quarter.

[+] EnlargeMalcolm Miller
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.com Malcolm Miller finished with 92 yards rushing and helped Garland run out the clock against Rowlett.
“He’s kind of our Neftali Feliz,” Garland coach Jeff Jordan said. “It’s nice to be able to give it to give it to that guy who throws the 101 mph fastball and it’s nice to give it to that 240-pounder who can run people over.”

Miller is not by any stretch of the imagination a representation of today’s elusive feature back. Rolling onto the field at 5-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Miller bulldozes his way through the defense’s front eight.

“When I get the ball handed to me, I think north and south -- running them over,” Miller said. “I want to see them on their back. That’s all I see.”

His low center of gravity and powerful frame typically ensures the Owls around 3 yards per carry at the least, which is perfect to close out a game.

“He reminds me a lot of Chuck Weatherspoon that played for the University of Houston back in the late 80s and early 90s,” Jordan said. “[Miller] cleaned 370 and squatted over 500 pounds. He is a load. We rode him tonight and he came through.”

Miller's services weren’t needed as much in the beginning of the game, as Garland’s home-run hitters, quarterback Seth Russell and wide receiver Ja’Taveon Green, connected twice in the first half.

Russell hit Green for a 7-yard pass in the first to widen Garland’s lead to 14-0. Green added a spectacular jumping grab over a Rowlett defender on a 10-yard fade, stretching Garland's advantage to 24-7 at the half.

“We’ve been working on [the fade] this past two weeks and we’d been connecting on it really well,” Russell said. “Practice makes perfect.”

Rowlett (4-3, 3-1) caught steam in the second half, scoring on a 42-yard touchdown run by Jalen Rhodes and a 7-yard pass from Colton Kelmus to Rashid Turner. But Miller’s 3-yard touchdown demolition run in the third made it 31-21, and his efforts throughout the fourth quarter kept the lead intact and the ball out of Rowlett’s hands.

The win keeps Garland (5-2, 4-0) on top in District 10-5A and separated it from the 3-1 group of Sachse, McKinney Boyd and Rowlett.

“We’re not done yet. We still have three games to go,” Russell said. “We’re not getting big headed. It’s a big win, but it’s just a win in the pocket and we’ve got three more to go to clinch it.”

Garland knows that if one of those last three games is on the line, Jordan can take some wisdom from Rangers manager Ron Washington and go with his closer, Miller, at the end of the game to pick up the save.

Garland, Rowlett joust for District 10-5A lead

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
2:05
AM CT
ROWLETT (4-2, 3-0 10-5A) at GARLAND (4-2, 3-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Williams Stadium


When we saw them last: Despite being outgained by more than 100 yards, Rowlett beat South Garland, 38-30, last week to extend its winning streak to three games. A 90-yard kickoff return by Corey Chappell in the third quarter proved key. Since dropping its first two games of the season, Garland has won four straight, including three in District 10-5A play by an average margin of victory of 42 points. The Owls pitched their second shutout of district play last week with a 56-0 win over North Garland.

2010 result: Garland outgained Rowlett 386 to 176 but lost the game, 22-11. Rowlett scored on its opening drive and then returned an interception for a touchdown, but couldn’t get much going offensively. But it didn’t matter as Garland didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.

What’s at stake: The pole position in District 10-5A. Rowlett and Garland are the only two remaining teams with an undefeated record in 10-5A play, although Sachse (5-1, 2-1) and McKinney Boyd (4-2, 2-1) are within striking distance.

Key matchup: Garland’s defense has given up just 10 points in its last three games, including two shutouts. While that has something to do with the level of competition, there’s no question the Owls are loaded with talent on defense. Rowlett’s balanced offense is scoring 33 points per game, but Garland may be better than any defense the Eagles have seen this season.

Players to watch: Rowlett quarterback Grant Bothun is quietly putting together a strong season, throwing for 791 yards and rushing for 279. He’s scored 15 total touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions. Garland linebacker Damien Neroes may be a name fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area hear for years to come as he is committed to SMU.

Prediction: Garland 24, Rowlett 20.

District 10-5A football season preview

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
12:01
AM CT

DISTRICT 10-5A

  • Garland (7-4, 5-2), lost in DI bi-district. Coach: Jeff Jordan.
  • Garland Lakeview Centennial (3-7, 0-6 in 10-5A). Coach: Don Willis.
  • Garland Naaman Forest (2-8, 1-6). Coach: Mark Elam.
  • McKinney Boyd (9-3, 6-1), lost in DI area. Coach: Don Drake.
  • North Garland (1-9, 1-6). Coach: David Farris.
  • Rowlett (9-3, 6-1), lost in DII area. Coach: Kiff Hardin.
  • Sachse (5-5, 3-4). Coach: Mark Behrens.
  • South Garland (8-4, 5-2), lost in DII area. Coach: Mark Cox.
THE BIG QUESTION: Can Garland rebound after a subpar 2010?

[+] EnlargeSeth Russell
Travis L. Brown/ESPN.comQB Seth Russell looks to lift Garland back among the elite in 2011.
Winning seven games and making the playoffs would constitute a successful season for many area football teams.

Not for Garland.

The tradition-rich Owls stumbled last season, at least by Garland standards, finishing fourth in District 10-5A before bowing out to Dallas Skyline in bi-district.

But with quarterback Seth Russell returning and a stacked defense, Garland could find itself back among the elite in 2011.

Russell, a Kansas commit, will look to build on his junior season, which statistically did not go well -- 779 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

Even with an experienced quarterback, Garland will look to recommit to the power running game behind a new stable of running backs.

The Owls could have one of the better defenses in the district, as the unit returns several college recruits, including Damien Neroes and London Dial.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

QB Seth Russell, LB Damien Neroes, WR Ja’Taveon Green, Garland; WR Jarvis Baxter, WR Sherrod Haynes, DB Deonte Morrison, Garland Lakeview Centennial; DE Lionel Phillips, LB Andrew Schobelock, WR Marcus Perkins, Garland Naaman Forrest; DE Jamal Palmer, WR Cameron Decell, RB Bryan Driskell, McKinney Boyd; WR Dai'Qwan Washington, DB Thomas Trimble, DE Derrick Phillips, North Garland; QB Grant Bothun, QB Colton Kalmus, WR Corey Chappell, Rowlett; QB Trent White, TE Jeff Guckenberg, OL Shane Weeks, Sachse; QB Trey Porter, DB Brice Brooks, OL Daniel Gutierrez, South Garland.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mark Cox takes over as head coach of South Garland after the retirement of Keith Wright. … Sachse has yet to make the playoffs in its seven years of existence. … Boyd RB Bryan Driskell is the younger brother of former Boyd standout James Driskell.

PROJECTED PLAYOFF TEAMS

  1. Garland
  2. Rowlett
  3. South Garland
  4. McKinney Boyd
FORT WORTH, Texas – Three incoming SMU freshman have the rare opportunity to showcase their talents one more time for their new coach before donning the blue and red.

Former Sachse offensive lineman Kris Weeks, former Rowlett defensive lineman Zach Wood and former Brenham defensive back Rodney Hubert were selected to play in the Texas High School Coaches Association football All-Star game Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium in front of many of the high school coaches they played for and against and the coach of their new team, June Jones.

Wood and Weeks especially have Jones’ eye and could do something toward earning a spot in the Mustangs' starting lineup with a big performance Tuesday after Jones gushed about the trio’s potential at the THSCA Coaching School on Monday.

“I think all of them have a chance to potentially be starters for us,” Jones said. “[Kris Weeks and Zach Wood] have a chance to get on the field this year for us.”

Jones said from the beginning of recruiting the class of 2011, Weeks was one of SMU's top prospects.

Wood’s playing time could be limited in the All-Star game due to a back issue that has kept him from doing offseason lifting at SMU, but if he does see the field, Jones is confident he’ll have a good showing.

“I know the defensive end has a back issue right now,” Jones said. “He’s been limited with what he can do lifting and stuff so he may not even play, but if he does I’m sure he’ll play as hard as he did in high school.”

Regardless of the players' showing at Cowboys Stadium, Jones said he always encourages his recruits to take part in high school All-Star games if selected and said it will be fun getting to see his new Mustangs in action.

SPONSORED HEADLINES