High-SchoolTexas: Aledo

Top 10 Stories of the Year in Texas

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:10
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The year 2011 is winding down to an end and what a year it was in the world of sports. Here are the top 10 stories from the Texas high school sports scene:

10. Double Dip
All Craig Nowak and Daniel Vertiz did in the last two months of the year was run — and run well. After winning the 5A state championship, Nowak of Cypress Woods took third at the NXN and 14th at Foot Locker Nationals in consecutive weeks. Vertiz of S.A. Reagan performed the same gauntlet, taking second at the state meet, second at NXN and fifth at Foot Locker Nationals. Vertiz and Nowak finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the DyeStat rankings.

9. Ballers 'R Us
Texas has always been known for football but with the talent brimming from the hardwood this year, basketball has stepped into the spotlight. Led by the likes Isaiah Austin, Cameron Ridley, Marcus Smart and Rasheed Sulaimon, 13 players made the ESPNU 100.

8. Dragons Net Crown
For the second straight season, a Class 5A team went unbeaten en route to the state crown. This time it was Southlake Carroll, which finished 28-0-3 behind tournament MVP Oshick Sams' dominant play in goal.

7. Watch the Throne
As you've already seen and will find out later (see No. 2), Southlake Carroll had a good year, to say the least. After winning in soccer, the Dragons went on to make noise in cross country by dethroning five-time Class 5A champ The Woodlands by scoring a meet-record 20 points. The Dragons nearly completed a perfect season but finished second behind CBA at Nike Cross Nationals.

6. Lions Shine at City of Palms
Just a few days after suffering a loss to Grace Prep in front of a national TV audience, Prestonwood Christian got even in a big way at the City of Palms tournament in Florida. The Lions knocked off Bishop Gorman (Nev.) and nationally ranked Riverside (Calif.) before beating Grace Prep by 20 points to become the first Texas team to win the City of Palms.

5. Super Mario
A year after being named Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year, Denton Ryan's Mario Edwards Jr. left little doubt as to who was the nation's top player. As for where the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 150 will head to college, that isn't so sure. Edwards is committed to Florida State but is still strongly considering Oklahoma, among other schools.

4. Drive for Five
Lake Travis' push for a fifth straight Class 4A football title appeared to take a hit when QB Colin Lagasse went down in the first game. But junior Baker Mayfield stepped up big, throwing for 3,788 yards, 45 touchdowns and just five interceptions to lead the Cavaliers to a 16-0 record and another championship. The Cavs are the first 11-man team to win five straight titles.

3. Marcus Makes its Mark in Hoops
Almost a year to the day after shedding tears of sadness over losing in the Class 5A state semis, Marcus Smart and FM Marcus hoops team shed tears of joy this past winter when they capped a 38-1 campaign with the Class 5A crown. Smart sits as the reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year in the Marauders' drive to repeat this season.

2. Gridiron Kings
Southlake Carroll had quite a ride to the Class 5A, Division I title. The Dragons have to come back in every playoff game, had some question whether a late onside kick travelled 10 yards in the semifinal against Skyline and saw a fox join the action during Kenny Hill's game-winning TD run in the same game. Hill, not the fox, proved to be the star of the 36-29, title-game win against Fort Bend Hightower as the junior QB totaled 345 yards and four scores to earn offensive MVP honors. The Dragons are now tied with Celina for the most football titles in state history.

1. Gray's Anatomy
It's safe to say that no football player boasts a better rèsumè than Johnathan Gray. The Aledo senior tailback broke the national record for career touchdowns with 206, won Gatorade National Player of the Year, repeated as Gatorade State Player of the Year and Mr. Football USA, won a second Class 4A, Division II title and finished in the top five nationally in career rushing yards, points, carries and 100-yard games. Texas Longhorn fans are more than happy that UT hooked this legend.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Edwards, Gray make ESPNHS All-American team

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
1:18
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Trust me, we don't look for ways to write about Johnathan Gray — the guy just keeps earning accolades. What can you do?

The Aledo tailback's latest honor is being named to the ESPNHS All-American first team along with the nation's top recruit, Mario Edwards Jr. of Denton Ryan. Arlington Martin's Devonte Fields and Brenham's Malcolm Brown also represented Texas on the second team. Griffin Gilbert from the five-time Class 4A champ Lake Travis and Thomas Johnson of Skyline earned spots on the third team.

Click here to see the full list of players.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Gray wins second Mr. Football USA award

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
1:10
PM ET
Johnathan Gray isn't even out of his teenage years, but he can already say that he's done something that Peyton Manning, Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, Vince Young and several other big names never did.

The Aledo tailback became the first player to win the Mr. Football USA award twice Wednesday, just one year after becoming the first junior to earn the honor.

Click here to read more about yet another achievement for Gray.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

2011 Final Texas football rankings

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
1:23
PM ET
The resilient Dragons of Southlake Carroll came from behind three times to edge Fort Bend Hightower 36-29 in the Class 5A Division I state title game Saturday in front of 42,822 at Cowboys Stadium to finish the 2011 season atop the POWERADE ESPNHS Texas football team rankings.

In five of its six playoff games, Carroll (16-0) had to overcome deficits. Against Hightower (13-3), the Dragons trailed by nine points in the third quarter. Junior quarterback Kenny Hill, the son of former major league pitcher Ken Hill, threw touchdown passes to Sabian Holmes and Corey Kemp, then put his team ahead for good with a six-yard touchdown run with nine minutes remaining. Hill was named the game’s offensive MVP. Carroll linebacker Will Davis made two key defensive plays in the second half, stuffing Hightower quarterback Bralon Addison on a fourth-down run and later forcing and recovering a fumble that led to the winning touchdown.

The state title was the eighth for Carroll, best in the Class 5A division, and the school's first since 2006. Class 3A Celina also has won eight state titles. Nationally, the Dragons move to No. 6 in the final POWERADE FAB 50 and were joined by six other teams from Texas.

In Class 4A, Lake Travis won its fifth consecutive state title, defeating Midway 22-7 to cap a 16-0 season. The Cavaliers are the first Texas 11-man team to win five straight state titles. In the Division II final, Aledo won its third straight crown, spoiling Manvel’s bid for an undefeated season, 49-28. Aledo senior running back Johnathan Gray broke the national record for career touchdowns with a 37-yard run on a draw play in the fourth quarter, his 205th career touchdown.

With the 2011 season reaching the end, here's the final top 25:

1. Southlake Carroll 16-0 (1)
Junior quarterback Kenny Hill accounted 345 total yards and had a hand in all four of his team's touchdowns as the Dragons defeated 13-3 Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City) 36-29 in the Class 5A Division I state title game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Hill was named the game's offensive MVP and linebacker Will Davis took the defensive honor.

2. Lake Travis (Austin) 16-0 (2)
The Cavaliers completed their "Drive for Five'' by winning a fifth straight Class 4A state title, taking down 13-3 Midway (Waco) 22-7 Friday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Baker Mayfield threw for 294 yards and a touchdown and senior Colin Lagasse had 209 total yards. The win was the 30th consecutive playoff victory for the Cavs.

3. Skyline (Dallas) 14-1 (4)
Junior quarterback Devante Kincade threw for 3,270 yards and 37 touchdowns and rushed for 857 yards and 17 touchdowns in a season that ended in a 28-24 state semifinal loss to eventual Class 5A Division I state champion Southlake Carroll.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings.

Johnathan Gray is the new touchdown king

December, 17, 2011
12/17/11
8:03
PM ET
Even when Johnathan Gray "only" scores one touchdown, it can be a special game.

The Aledo senior tailback became the national high school career leader for touchdowns Saturday when he registered his lone score in the Class 4A, Division II championship. A 37-yard draw play resulted in Gray's 205th career touchdown, moving him past Mike Hart on the all-time list.

More importantly, the score helped the Bearcats secure their third straight state championship with a 49-28 win against Manvel in Gray's final high school game.

Click here to read more about Gray's feat and here to read about the game.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Five days of List-Mas: Texas' A-list

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
3:17
PM ET
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: A-Listers

In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But who are the A-Listers in Texas? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state. Can you think of an A-Lister we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

5. Daniel Vertiz (SR), S.A. Reagan, Cross Country
Credentials: NXN runner-up, fifth at Foot Locker Nationals, second at 5A state meet

4. Marcus Smart (SR), Flower Mound Marcus, Basketball
Credentials: Oklahoma State recruit, nation's No. 11 player in ESPNU 100, reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year, led Marauders to Class 5A state title, adidas Super 64 MVP

3. Julius Randle (JR), Prestonwood Christian, Basketball
Credentials: Nation's No. 3 player in ESPNU 60, 2011 Elite 24 participant, tweeted by Kevin Durant

2. Mario Edwards Jr. (SR), Denton Ryan, Football
Credentials: Nation's No. 1 player in ESPNU 150, Florida State commit, 2010 Class 4A Defensive POY

1. Johnathan Gray (SR), Aledo, Football
Credentials: Texas recruit, No. 5 player in ESPNU 150, two-time Gatorade State POY, 2011 Gatorade National POY, 2010 Mr. Football USA, two-time Class 4A, Division II champion, nation's all-time career TD co-leader, state record holder in carries, touchdowns, points, 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Gray ties national TD record, Aledo gets win

December, 10, 2011
12/10/11
3:51
PM ET
Another record for Jonathan Gray, another trip to the state championship for Aledo.

Indeed, it was business as usual for Aledo and its star tailback Friday, as the Bearcats downed Corsicana 61-28 to reach its third straight Class 4A, Division II title game. Meanwhile, Gray scored five touchdowns to move into a tie with Mike Hart atop the national career touchdowns list with 204 and just 20 points behind Hart for career points.

Click here to read the ESPNDallas story on Aledo's big win and Gray's big night.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Skyline and Southlake Carroll face off while Gray chases records

December, 9, 2011
12/09/11
12:56
PM ET
It'd be hard to top the slate of games and storylines featured in this weekend's Texas state football playoffs — and these are only the semifinals.

Here's what to watch for:

Skyline vs. Southlake Carroll
For the second time in the Class 5A, Division I playoffs, the top two teams in the bracket will face off. Before it was Allen battling Euless Trinity. Now that they're both gone, we're left with Skyline and Southlake Carroll, slotted one and two, respectively, in the ESPNHS rankings. Both teams possess talented junior quarterbacks who can change the game in a hurry. Skyline is led by Devante Kincaide, a dual-threat QB who has a big target in Thomas Johnson. On the other hand, the Dragons feature Kenny Hill, who totaled four touchdowns last week and has carried his team to this point. Skyline's defense has the edge in this game, but the Dragons could gain some pointers watching last week's film when The Woodlands built a 24-14 lead on the Raiders and nearly pulled off the upset.
My pick: Skyline 28, Southlake Carroll 24

Aledo vs. Corsicana
It's not often that Johnathan Gray enters a contest in which the opposing tailback has produced nearly as many yards as he has. But so is the case Friday when Corsicana's Cameron Washington and his 3,045 yards match up against Johnathan Gray and his 3,446 yards. Gray, who won his second Tom Landry award Thursday as the top Dallas-Fort Worth football player, going to get his regardless, as was evidenced by his production in Aledo's two losses this year. But the Aledo defense will focus on slowing Washington, who had just 76 rushing yards in the team's lone defeat this season. Not only is a third trip to the Class 4A, Division II title on the line for the Bearcats, but Gray has a chance to beat the national career mark for touchdowns (199) and points (1,196).
My pick: Aledo 31, Corsicana 21

Steele vs. Port Arthur Memorial
Steele is looking for a repeat trip to the Class 5A, Division II title game but standing in its way is a Port Arthur Memorial squad with plenty of playmakers. There's Baylor-bound QB Terrence Singleton and Arkansas recruit Nate Holmes at running back. Steele has a star of its own in QB Tommy Armstrong, who had four touchdowns last week, but the defense could be the story of this game. The Knights are giving up less than 12 points per game and have a sack machine in Eric Maus (9.5 sacks).
My pick: Steele 27, Memorial 20

Lake Travis vs. Dawson
Lake Travis has won 28 straight playoff games and four straight Class 4A titles. The Cavaliers are again the favorite to win the Class 4A, Division I crown — just don't tell Dawson that. James White and Tony Upchurch have thoughts of a major upset and the skills to do just that. Lake Travis' offense sputtered last week in a 14-9 win against Cedar Park, but its defense has given up 15.1 points this season and came up with two big turnovers last week.
My pick: Lake Travis 26, Dawson 14

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Johnathan Gray named Gatorade National Football POY

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
1:00
PM ET
A slew of state and national records. Numerous awards. Two state championships. Johnathan Gray has earned more than his fair share of honors during his Aledo football career. Now the senior tailback can add Gatorade National Player of the Year to his already impressive résumé.

The Texas recruit learned of the news Tuesday in a phone call from current New York Jets running back LaDanian Tomlinson, who played at Waco's University High. Gray, who is ranked fifth in the ESPNU 150, has rushed for 3,435 yards and 59 touchdowns entering this Friday's Class 4A, Division II semifinal against Corsicana.

Click here to read more about Gray's latest honor.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Aledo looks for revenge against Stephenville in state quarterfinals

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
2:43
PM ET
The outcome was a shocker to most, a 48-47 upset of the defending Class 4A, Division II champ Aledo by Stephenville, which had lost to the Bearcats in their last four meetings. But based on the way history played out the last two years, with the teams facing off in the playoffs, most figured they'd meet again.

Some fourteen weeks later, here we are: Aledo vs. Stephenville, Vol. 2.

Both teams enter Saturday's contest at 11-2, but only Aledo possesses Johnathan Gray. Fresh off winning the state Gatorade Player of the Year award for the second straight year, Gray enters the contest with an insane 3,236 yards and 58 touchdowns. The senior had his way in the season opener (222 yards, four scores), but he was stuffed on a critical two-point conversion try and the Aledo defense had trouble slowing down Stephenville's offense. Another high-scoring game is likely, as both teams have surpassed the 40-point mark during their current playoff run.
My pick: Aledo 38, Stephenville 35

Southlake Carroll vs. Arlington Martin
Most (including me) had left Arlington Martin for dead last week when it went up against powerhouse Euless Trinity. But the Warriors' defense played out of its mind, limiting the Trojans to three first downs and 134 total yards just a week after putting up 28 points on Allen the week before. A similar effort will be key against Southlake Carroll, which has plenty of offensive firepower against Kenny Hill and is prone to put together late rallies.
My pick: Southlake Carroll 21, Arlington Martin 17

Skyline vs. The Woodlands
The new No. 1 team in the ESPNS Texas rankings will put its undefeated record on the line against a surging The Woodlands squad. The Woodlands put together a strong defensive effort last round, using constant pressure and turnovers to down Mesquite, 24-6. But Skyline will pose quite a different challenge, what with QB Devante Kincaide getting better with each week and his favorite target WR Thomas Johnson (two TDs last week) apparently back to full strength.
My pick: Skyline 35, The Woodlands 21

La Porte vs. Port Arthur Memorial
Count La Porte as another squad that was supposed to be at home by this point. The Bulldogs pulled off one of the many shocking upsets of these playoffs by downing previous No. 1 Katy, 9-7, on a late field goal. Defense was again the key, as La Porte has allowed just 20 points through three playoff games. Terrence Singleton will be the focus this week after he rushed for 181 yards and two scores last round.
My pick: La Porte 20, Port Arthur Memorial 14

Steele. vs. S.A. Reagan
Steele continues to look poised to repeat as champs, but the Knights certainly (should) know better than to assume anything in the playoffs. Last week, QB Tommy Armstrong used his usual play (three total scores) to mesh with a shutdown defense (six turnovers) in a 28-0 win against Alexander. Is S.A. Reagan cut out for an upset? The potential is there, what with the Rattlers able to light up the scoreboard (40-plus points six times this year) and riding a 12-game win streak.
My pick: Steele 34, S.A. Reagan 28

Pearland vs. Fort Bend Hightower
While favorites Trinity and Allen have been eliminated, defending Class 5A, Division I champ Pearland remains in the hunt. Jackie Robinson has been a huge catalyst for the Oilers, rushing for 241 yards in last week's win against Lamar. But Fort Bend Hightower has quite a threat in QB Bralon Addison, who can hurt teams with his arm and legs (and on punt returns, as he did in last week's win). Putting up points isn't a problem for the Hurricanes but their defensive play will have to better to win this one.
My pick: Pearland 28, Fort Bend Hightower 27

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Johnathan Gray repeats as Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
11:52
AM ET
For the second straight year, Johnathan Gray has been named Gatorade Texas Football Player of the Year.

The Aledo senior running back has rushed for 3,236 yards and and 58 touchdowns in leading the Bearcats to an 11-2 record and a berth in this weekend's Class 4A, Division II quarterfinals. Gray is committed to play at Texas next fall.

For the breakdown of Gray's award, click here.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Texas football playoffs get under way

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
2:55
PM ET
Thursday marked the first day of yet another football postseason for Texas. There was the expected (Johnathan Gray rushing for 196 yards and three scores as Aledo racked up 671 total yards of offense in a 59-10 win against FW Dunbar), the thrilling (a blocked PAT by FW Arlington Heights secured a 14-13 win against Birdville) and the impressive (Hector Peralez intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble to lead Kilgore 44-6 win against Royse City).

Much more of the same is bound to happen in the first round and beyond, so here are a few games to watch out for:

Denton Guyer at Hebron
A year ago, Denton Guyer blazed through the Class 5A, Division II playoffs before losing in the title game. Many of the stars from that squad are now graduated, but the Wildcats have shown promise in wins against quality opponents like Coppell. Hebron enters the postseason on a two-game losing streak, but the Hawks are battle-tested and nearly knocked off Allen two weeks ago. Hebron DB Kiante' Griffin leads a solid defense that will be key to pulling out a win against a Guyer squad that can pile up the yards and thrives off physical play.
My pick: Denton Guyer: 21, Hebron 18

Euless Trinity vs. Duncanville
Something's gotta give in this matchup. Led by All-State LB Brian Nance, Euless Trinity's defensive has been stifling all season, allowing just 191 total yards per game. Meanwhile, Duncanville's offensive has been explosive, riding the dual-threat ability of QB Deandre Grimes to the tune of 429 yards per game. Trinity's rich history and band of standout players gives it the edge in this contest, but with Trojans potentially facing No. 1 Allen in the next round, they could be in trouble if they find themselves looking ahead.
My pick: Euless Trinity 35, Duncanville 20

FW Southwest vs. FW Boswell
Last year, Fort Worth Southwest won its first-ever playoff game. This year, the Raiders are District 6-4A champs with hopes for a deep postseason run. Standing in their way this weekend is a Fort Worth Boswell team that's no pushover. Thing is, Boswell will not only have to bring its 'A' game but also plenty of offensive firepower to hang with the Raiders. Remember, it was Southwest WR Robbie Rhodes who tied a national record with eight touchdown catches and QB Wesley Harris who threw for a state record nine TDs in the same game.
My pick: FW Southwest 38, FW Boswell 24

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Four new teams enter final regular season Texas football rankings

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
3:02
PM ET
The UIL state football playoff begin this week with no shortage of storylines involving the ranked teams in Texas

For example:

*Lake Travis (Austin) is attempting to win its fifth straight football title in Class 4A. The Cavaliers, in the Division I bracket this season, can be the first in Texas to accomplish that feat in 11-man football.

*Aledo running back Johnathan Gray is chasing state and national records in touchdowns, points, and career rushing yardage. His chances are enhanced with every Bearcat win. Aledo is shooting for its third straight Class 4A title in Division II.

*Here’s an odd stat about Trinity (Euless). The Trojans have won state championships in the last three odd-numbered years, 2005, 2007 and 2009. The Trojans bring a 10-0 record to this season’s Class 5A Division I bracket and are well-aware 2011 is an odd-numbered year.

*There is no chance our No. 1 and 2 ranked teams all season, Allen and Katy, will meet. Allen landed in the Division I bracket of Class 5A and Katy is in Division II.

But fear not, the playoff road offers no shortage of competition for both.

Projected match-ups include Allen-Trinity in the second round and Katy-Steele (Cibolo) in a state semifinal.

Six playoff wins are required to win a state title in Texas. It is a span that tests talent, depth, coaching, yes, and even luck. There’s no better time in Texas for the high school football fan.

Nationally, two new Texas teams entered the POWERADE FAB 50 with Southlake Carroll at No. 46 and Longview right behind at No. 47.

Here's the top 25 at the completion of the regular season (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Allen 10-0 (1)
A new $60 million stadium is scheduled to open in the fall, but the Eagles closed out their 35-year-old facility by overcoming an early 10-point deficit with six consecutive touchdowns in a 59-30 thumping of 3-7 Flower Mound. The Eagles face 8-2 Central (Keller) in the opening round of the Class 5A, Division I playoffs Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

2. Katy 10-0 (2)
The Tigers completed their sixth perfect regular season in the last nine years as their defense limited 8-2 Cinco Ranch (Katy) to a negative 16 rushing yards on 22 attempts in a 38-7 victory. Katy will face 6-4 Madison (Houston) in a Class 5A, Division II bi-district game Friday night at Butler Stadium in Houston.

3. Euless Trinity 10-0 (3)
The Trojans completed their third 10-0 regular season in the last four years as running back Joel Kimpela rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-7 manhandling of 3-7 MacArthur (Irving). The Trojans return to Irving Schools Stadium Friday for the fourth time this season to face 7-3 Duncanville in the opening round of the Class 5A, Division I playoffs.

Click here for the full POWERADE FAB 50 weekly Texas football rankings

Aledo, Birdville face off on ESPNU in Week 9 Texas football

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
3:40
PM ET
When it was announced that Aledo would be playing Birdville on national TV this season, most figured Bearcats tailback Johnathan Gray would be on the verge of breaking yet another record. What they probably didn't imagine was that Birdville (7-1) would have a better record than Aledo (6-2).

Both are true, for the moment, entering their 7 p.m. Thursday matchup at Birdville on ESPNU, but Aledo is still in the driver's seat. The Bearcats are 5-0 in District 5-4A play and can clinch the title with a win tonight. What's more, Gray needs 24 more points to move into second place on the all-time national career scoring list. Doing so, would punctuate a big week for Gray, who received his honorary Under Armour All-America Game jersey and met Sugar Land legend Ken Hall, who holds many of the records that Gray has broken and looks to surpass.

The last time these two met, Gray had 313 yards and six scores. It could be much of the same against a Birdville squad that hasn't scored less than 21 points in a game this season and doesn't mind getting in a shootout.
My pick: Aledo 42, Birdville 28

No. 11 Highland Park (8-0) at Rockwall-Heath (8-0)
The District 10-4A title will likely be decided Friday when these two teams meet up. Running back Preston Miller leads Highland Park after racking up 117 yards and three scores in last week's win against McKinney North. Rockwall-Heath has a playmaker of its own in dual threat QB Cody Court, but the onus will be on Hawks defense to take control of this games.
My pick: Highland Park 28, Rockwall-Heath 20

No. 22 Dawson (8-0) at La Marque (7-2)
La Marque started slow but has come on of late, winning its last four games behind the rushing of All-State back Tim Wright (1,365 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns). The Cougars will need a win to keep pace in the District 24-4A race, but in this case two stars may be better than one.

Dawson features a two-headed monster in the backfield of QB Garry Kimble (1,825 passing yards and 18 TDs) and RB James White (1,104 rushing yards, 14 scores) that has been nearly unstoppable this season.
My pick: Dawson 35, La Marque 24

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Gray headlines ESPNHS Texas midseason football awards

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
1:05
PM ET
Before the season starts, everybody's an expert, making predictions here and there about which teams will make noise in the rankings and which players will dominate on the gridiron. But with the midway point of the Texas football season upon us, now it's time to see who has really lived up to their billing, along with a few surprises.

And what better way to commemorate this time than with awards? So I now present to you the ESPNHS Texas midseason football awards (Feel free to offer your thoughts because, like I said, everybody has an opinion):

Player of the Year: Johnathan Gray, Aledo RB
Were you expecting anyone else? There's really not much needed to justify Gray's name here except:
-93 carries, 1,384 yards (that's 14.88 yards per carry) 24 touchdowns.
-He's rushed for at least 209 yards and four touchdowns in all five of Aledo's games.
-He's the new state career leader in total points (932 and counting) and touchdowns (160 and counting), and he's moving up the national lists for total yards and touchdowns.

Offensive MVP: Alec Morris, Allen QB
This spring, Morris had zero college offers. Now, with Allen sitting as the nation's No. 3 team at 5-0, the senior has a commitment to BCS power Alabama under his belt and plenty of national attention (This Thursday, the Eagles play Plano East on ESPN2). Morris has thrown for 1,387 yards, 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions, completed more than 61 percent of his passes and also rushed for two scores. Mind you, most of this production came as standout RB Jonathan Williams missed most of the first four games with a back injury. Perhaps his biggest performance came on the road in a tough Longview environment, where he threw for 368 yards and five scores in a 42-23 win.

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