High School: Week 8 Class 5A notes

1-4 teams aren't without playoff hope in 6-5A

October, 17, 2011
A remarkable drive to the playoffs by Irving Nimitz a year ago should serve as an example not to give up hope for a playoff spot in District 6-5A, where in the middle of the pack parity reigns.

A year ago, Nimitz was 1-4 in district play, won its final three games to match Grapevine with a 4-4 record and gained the final berth based on its earlier victory over the Mustangs.

If the season ended today, Grapevine (4-3, 3-2) would be the fourth playoff qualifier. The Mustangs travel to Euless Trinity this week and finish with Irving MacArthur at home and Richland on the road. Two wins in the final three should be enough for Grapevine. Two losses and the Mustangs might be out.

MacArthur (2-5, 2-3) and Haltom (3-4, 2-3) trail Grapevine by just a game. MacArthur has Nimitz, Grapevine and Trinity on its schedule. Haltom closes with Richland, Irving and Colleyville Heritage.

Nimitz is back at its familiar 1-4 this year and faces city rivals MacArthur and Irving sandwiched around a home game against Richland.

Richland is also 1-4 and concludes with rival Haltom, Nimitz and Grapevine.

It is a different story at the top of 6-5A. With two regular-season games remaining, Trinity (8-0, 6-0) has clinched its 14th consecutive playoff appearance.

Colleyville Heritage (7-1, 5-1) is close to clinching. The Panthers’ record is marred only by an overtime loss to Trinity.

Hurst L.D. Bell (5-3, 4-2) is well-positioned in third but still has to play Colleyville Heritage next week.

If the district finishes in the order of the present standings, Trinity and Bell would advance to Division I while Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine would go to Division II.

Many key matchups remaining in District 10-5A

October, 17, 2011
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.
All of Keller Fossil Ridge’s success this season has come with a caveat.

Its nondistrict wins were against weak competition. Its near upset of Southlake Carroll was because the Dragons fell asleep after halftime. The Panthers pushed Coppell only because the Cowboys didn’t have their quarterback.

But critics may have to put the caution signs away after Fossil Ridge’s win over previously unbeaten Keller Central last week. The Panthers scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take a 24-16 win that puts them in the hunt for a playoff spot in District 7-5A.

“We felt like we wouldn’t really define ourselves as a team until we beat somebody we weren’t suppose to beat,” said Fossil Ridge head coach Tony Baccarini. “We got close with Southlake and Coppell and had our chances at the end of those games.”

A closer look at the Panthers (4-3, 2-2 in 7-5A) shows that there are more than a few reasons to think they can make the postseason.

Quarterback Sheldon Neuse has proved to be one of the better junior signal-callers in the area. He’s thrown for 1,414 yards with 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions.

He’s a legitimate dual threat as well, tallying 421 yards on the ground.

“He’s a great competitor and leader,” Baccarini said of Neuse. “You have to account for him for run and pass, which puts a lot more pressure on defensive coordinators. He makes good decisions and stays within the offense. We don’t’ take a lot of chances as far as turnovers go.”

Fossil Ridge hasn’t had a lot of success in recent years. One reason is the program's numbers dropped after the opening of Keller Timber Creek, leaving the team with fewer bodies to fill holes.

“We’re barely in 5A and have been for the last four years,” Baccarini said. “Numbers always help. When you get people injured, there’s more depth when you have bigger numbers.”

With the effect of that fading away, Fossil Ridge’s numbers are stabilizing, making it a young team that has a chance to compete not only this year, but next year as well.

Neuse is a junior, leading rusher Chaylon Bowman (461 yards, seven touchdowns) is a sophomore and the team starts nine sophomores and a freshman.

“We have some great young kids,” Baccarini said. “They need to continue to work to get better.”

Fossil Ridge currently sits fifth in 7-5A, but with the toughest part of its schedule behind them, it’s conceivable that the Panthers can make up ground and get into the postseason.

And other teams fighting for playoff spots appear vulnerable. Coppell (5-2, 2-2), which owns the tiebreaker over Fossil Ridge, lost its quarterback for the year. Denton Guyer (5-2, 3-1) lost to a Central team that Fossil Ridge beat, and Central (6-1, 3-1) still has games against Carroll (7-0, 4-0) and Coppell.