High-SchoolTexas: Allen

Oliver Pierce puts wrestling first, football second at Allen

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
1:36
PM ET
If anyone needs proof that football is king in Texas, look no further than Allen. The school sat atop the national rankings for much of this past season and will open up its highly anticipated, state-of-the-art stadium (think Cowboys Stadium) in the fall.

Oliver Pierce is expected to be a key part to the Eagles' squad that takes the field next season, but for this junior, wrestling is where he gets his rush. Pierce's status as one of top grapplers in the world is impressive, considering "Texas" and "wrestling" aren't exactly the peanut butter and jelly of high school sports.

Check out this well-done story from the folks at ESPN Dallas on Pierce and his push to shine in two sports.

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

Marcus re-enters top 10 in POWERADE FAB 50

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
4:18
PM ET
After games on Sunday, Jan. 8

The new year brought the same results for the Marcus basketball team. The Marauders opened Region 1, District 8 play with two wins against Plano and Allen, pushing them back into the top 10 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Prestonwood Christian looked just as impressive, shaking off a 1-2 showing at the Beach Ball Classic with a close in against No. 4 Westbury Christian. Both teams remain ranked nationally, as the Lions sit at No. 19 and Westbury Christian comes in at No. 33. Prestonwood Christian stands to move up even more should it be able to knock off national No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) during Saturday's action at the HoopHall Classic.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings in parentheses):

1. Grace Prep (Arlington) 12-2 (1)
Lions cruised to wins against Pantego Christian and Fort Worth Christian as they prepare to face undefeated Trinity Christian on Friday.

2. Marcus (Flower Mound) 21-2 (2)
Marauders re-enter top 10 of POWERADE FAB 50 with wins against Plano and Allen.

3. Prestonwood Christian (Plano) 14-3 (3)
Lions squeaked by No. 4 Westbury Christian, notching a quality win in preparation for contest against national No. 2 Oak Hill Academy on Saturday at HoopHall Classic.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas basketball rankings

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.

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.

Katy takes over top spot after Allen falls to Trinity

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
1:18
PM ET
Texas, we have a new No. 1.

The Katy Tigers (12-0) have muscled their way atop this week’s Texas state rankings. The Houston-area power defeated Woods (Cypress) 44-30 in a Class 5A Division II area playoff game Friday night. Katy takes over the top spot that Allen held the previous 13 weeks of the season.

On Saturday, Allen’s season ended at the hands of 12-0 Trinity (Euless), 28-21, in a Class 5A Division I area playoff at Cowboys Stadium. As a result, Katy moves up to No. 3 in the latest POWERADE FAB 50, while Trinity takes over the No. 5 slot in the national rankings.

Katy, ranked No. 2 throughout the season, is four playoff wins away from the school’s seventh state championship. The Tigers’ most recent state titles came in 2007 and 2008. The Tigers have made five other state final appearances, the most recent a loss to Abilene in 2009. In the last 11 seasons, Katy’s playoff record is remarkable 42-6. Only in two games this season has Katy trailed. It has outscored opponents 547-88.

Allen (11-1) was unable to contain the power running game of Trinity, which moves up a rung in the rankings to No. 2. Trinity also ended Allen’s 2010 season in the area round.

In another Saturday area playoff showdown of Top 25 teams, 12-0 Skyline (Dallas) prevailed over 10-2 DeSoto, 41-31. Skyline stopped DeSoto on two crucial fourth downs while converting on fourth down for the clinching touchdown.

Here's the top 25 two rounds into the state playoffs. (Last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Katy 12-0 (2)
Freshman Rodney Anderson rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-30 victory over 9-3 Woods (Cypress). Katy will play in the regional round for the 10th straight season (Vince Young was the opponent’s quarterback the last time it lost in area) against 11-1 La Porte at 6 p.m. Saturday at Houston’s Tully Stadium.

2. Euless Trinity 12-0 (3)
Running back Joel Kimpela carried 32 times for 345 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-21 triumph over 11-1 Allen in a Class 5A Division I area playoff at Cowboys Stadium. Up next is 11-1 Martin (Arlington) at noon Saturday at Bedford’s Pennington Field, the third consecutive season the two have met in a regional playoff. Trinity’s playoff record in the last eight years is 31-4.

3. Skyline 12-0 (5)
Junior quarterback DeVante Kincade threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 92 yards and three scores in a 41-31 elimination of 10-2 DeSoto in a Class 5A Division I area playoff in front of a capacity crowd of 11,500 fans in Irving. The Raiders advance to a regional playoff against 9-3 Klein Oak (Spring) 7 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings
Allen versus Euless Trinity. It's not every day or year that a matchup like this happens in the second round of all times in the playoffs. Only in Texas.

The No. 1 Eagles face their greatest test of the year in No. 3 Trinity, pitting an explosive offense against a defense that hasn't broken — let alone bent — this season. The Trojans actually enter this matchup with the momentum and upper hand for several reasons:

-Trinity ended Allen's season last year in the second round with a 37-35 decision.
-Allen has had to put together late-game rallies in each of its last six games.
-The Trojans D isn't much for allowing comebacks, as it's given up less than 12 points per game this year.

Still, there's a reason Allen has been able to avoid so many upset bids. Having the likes of RB Jonathan Williams and efficient QB Alec Morris leading the offense makes it hard for defenses to hold down the Eagles, who can score in bunches and in a hurry. The Trojans love to eat up the clock behind their running back Joel Kimplea, and it's safe to say they will do the same to reduce Allen's offensive opportunities.

The onus will be on Allen's defense to slow down Trinity's run game and make sure the Eagles' offense can take control of the contest. Should be another classic matchup.
My pick: Allen 38, Trinity 35

Skyline vs. DeSoto
These two also met in the playoffs last year, but it was far from a barnburner as DeSoto shut out Skyline, 38-0. Like most, I'm expecting a much closer game this time around. Division I talent will be all over the field in this matchup, from Skyline WR Thomas Johnson and LB Peter Jinkens to DeSoto DB Bryson Echols and OL Curtis Riser. On paper, Skyline has the advantage from the offensive firepower wielded by Johnson and QB Devante Kincaide along with a nasty defense that's surrendered just 5.7 points per game this year. But DeSoto has played a slightly tougher schedule, facing the likes of Longview and Cedar Hill. This could be a shootout, leaving it up to one of the defenses to assert itself as the X-factor.
My pick: Skyline 35, DeSoto 31

Southlake Carroll vs. Cedar Hill
After struggling in their first-round contests, these two face off with high offensive hopes. Quarterback Kenny Hill leads the way for Southlake Carroll, as he's capable of making plays with his arms and legs. Cedar Hill gets most of its yards behind junior running back Laquvionte Gonzalez, who averages almost 10 yards per carry. Neither defense has been great this season, but Cedar Hill showed signs by allowing less than 200 yards in last week's win against L.D. Bell.
My pick: Southlake Carroll 24, Cedar Hill 20

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

Several heavyweights survive scare in first round of Texas football playoffs

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
12:24
PM ET
Since that November evening in 2010 when Trinity (Euless) ended the season of Allen in a 37-35 playoff classic, it almost seemed a matter of course that the two powerhouse programs would meet again.

That wait ends at 2 p.m. Saturday. In the second game of a Cowboys Stadium high school quadruple-header, Allen (11-0) will face Trinity (11-0) in a Class 5A Division I area playoff rematch.

Allen has occupied the top spot in the Texas rankings all season. No. 3 Trinity has been yapping at its heels. The position of the teams in the rankings was reversed last year. Trinity was No. 1 and Allen was No. 9 going into the area playoff that drew an estimated 40,000 at Cowboys Stadium. Allen’s upset bid was slowed by three fumbles and the inability to contain Trinity star Brandon Carter, now a freshman at TCU.

Both programs know what it is like to finish on top. Trinity won Class 5A Division I state championships in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The Trojans lost to Pearland in the finals last season. Allen won the 5A DI state title in 2008, knocking out Trinity along the way in a state quarterfinal.

There is another intriguing area-round rematch on Saturday matching No. 5 Skyline (Dallas) against No. 12 DeSoto at 5 p.m. Saturday at Irving Schools Stadium in Irving. It will be the fourth consecutive year for Skyline (11-0) and DeSoto (10-1) to face off in the area round. Skyline took the first two and DeSoto got revenge with a lopsided shutout last year.

Should DeSoto get the win, the Eagles will most certainly enter the POWERADE FAB 50 after receiving votes in this week's national rankings.

Here's the top 25 one round into the state playoffs (last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Allen 11-0 (1)
Alec Morris threw for a touchdown and ran for another in a 17-point fourth quarter as the Eagles came from behind yet again to defeat 8-3 Central (Keller), 30-17, in a Class 5A Division I bi-district playoff at Cowboys Stadium. The Eagles also trailed in the second half of four of their last five district games. Up next is an area playoff against 11-0 Trinity (Euless) 2 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

2. Katy 11-0 (2)
The Tigers dominated in all phases of a 63-7 dismantling of 6-5 Madison (Houston). Freshman Rodney Anderson rushed for 91 yards and four touchdowns. Up next is 9-2 Woods (Cypress) in a Class 5A Division II area playoff Friday at the Berry Center in Cypress.

3. Euless Trinity 11-0 (3)
The Trojans led by only six points at halftime, but stepped on the gas in the second half as Joel Kimpela finished with 269 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 55-36 Class 5A Division I bi-district win over 7-4 Duncanville. The Trojans face 11-0 Allen in an area playoff Saturday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings.

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

Longview hands DeSoto first loss to start Week 10 Texas football

November, 4, 2011
11/04/11
4:14
PM ET
To say Longview faced a tall task in No. 5 DeSoto on Thursday is probably an understatement. DeSoto entered the contest 9-0 and averaging nearly 50 points per game. Plus, after No. 1 Allen had its way at Longview earlier this year, some thought the Lobos' huge homefield advantage wasn't such a big deal anymore.

Today, most are singing a different tune about the No. 12 Lobos, thanks to their defense.

While holding DeSoto to its lowest point total of the year, Longview DL Jalen Porter forced DeSoto QB Desmon White to fumble in the end zone with 1:49 to go, resulting in the decisive safety in the Lobos' 23-21 win. The result was Longview's eighth straight District 11-5A crown and huge momentum boost entering the playoffs.

If that's a taste of a weekend filled with district-deciding contests, this should be fun.

No. 2 Katy (9-0) vs. No. 25 Cinco Ranch (8-1)
Cinco Ranch made its debut in our state rankings this week. So what's the Cougars' reward? Oh, just a date with rival and No. 2 Katy. Katy has been inching closer and closer to Allen in the rankings and another district title could certainly help its case. Ricky Bickham and all of his 5-5, 145-pound frame stepped up last week for Tigers, rushing for 149 yards and three scores. But Cinco Ranch has a set of playmakers in RB Jamel James and QB Cole Thomas.
My pick: Katy 38, Cinco Ranch 21

No. 4 Lake Travis (9-0) at Cedar Park (8-1)
The last time these two met to close the season, Cedar Park knocked off the Cavaliers for the District 25-4A title. Mix this bit of vengeance with a Lake Travis squad that's averaging 51 points per game this season and led by the ever-improving start QB Baker Mayfield, and you figure it could be a long night for Cedar Park.
My pick: Lake Travis 42, Cedar Park 24

No. 17 Manvel (9-0) at No. 24 Dawson (8-1)
The District 24-4A title will be on the line in this contest with Manvel clinging to a one-game lead. Dawson is coming off a tough loss to La Marque, which saw its furious comeback from three touchdowns behind vanish in the final two minutes. Meanwhile, Manvel had its way against winless Ball behind Selwyn Green's three scores.
My pick: Manvel 31, Dawson 28

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

La Porte, Cinco Ranch enter Week 10 Texas football rankings

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
6:12
PM ET
After games ending Saturday, Oct. 29

The playoff field in Texas has grown steadily since the days prior to 1982 when only district champions were allowed entry. When the playoffs begin next week, each district will send four teams into postseason play.

Not many argue that more is better now, but change comes with a downside. A district championship doesn't carry as much significance these days beyond a less dangerous first-round playoff opponent, on paper anyway.

Still, for many, "district champion'' has a nice ring and isn't taken lightly.

This week there are three showdowns for district titles involving ranked Texas teams.

On Friday, No. 5 DeSoto will pay a visit to No. 12 Longview for the District 11-5A crown while No. 17 Manvel goes on the road with a one-game lead to face No. 24 Dawson (Pearland) for District 24-4A honors.

In the Houston area, No. 2 Katy will face No. 25 Cinco Ranch (Katy) in a Saturday morning start at Rhodes Stadium for the District 19-5A title.

Nationally, while Allen still holds the No. 3 spot, Katy moved into a tie in the points category with 236 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here are this week's rankings (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Allen 9-0 (1)
The Eagles came from behind yet again, scoring the game's final 21 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to diffuse the upset bid of 6-3 Hebron (Carrollton), 28-21. Jonathan Williams scored the game-winner on a five-yard run with 1:25 remaining. Allen faces 3-6 Flower Mound in the regular-season finale on Friday.

2. Katy 9-0 (2)
Ricky Bickham, a 5-5, 145-pound junior, rushed for 149 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers' 52-14 blowout of 1-8 Taylor (Katy). Katy goes for the outright District 19-5A title and a perfect regular season against 8-1 Cinco Ranch (Katy) on Saturday.

3. Euless Trinity 9-0 (3)
Nothing fancy about the way the Trojans win. Running back Joel Kimpela averages over 10 yards per carry with 1,218 yards and 14 touchdowns. Coming off a bye, Trinity risks its 26-game regular-season winning streak against 3-6 MacArthur (Irving) on Thursday.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings.

Week 9 Texas football rankings stand pat as Allen survives another scare

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
12:31
PM ET
Results as of Sunday, October 23

It has been a perilous three weeks for No. 1 Allen. The Eagles (8-0) have trailed in three consecutive games, but somehow found ways to remain unbeaten thanks to clutch comebacks. Allen couldn’t have cut it much closer than in its latest victory, 38-35 over 7-1 Marcus (Flower Mound) on Friday. With eight seconds on the clock, Eagles quarterback Alec Morris threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Oliver Pierce for the winning score.

Although it hasn’t cost Allen yet, opponents are averaging 34 points a game over the last three games, a number the Eagles need to lower come playoff time. With one slip by Allen, No. 2 Katy is poised to take over the top spot. The Tigers (8-0) have outscored opponents, 350-30. Seven points is the most surrendered by Katy in a game this season. Allen could have its hands full again on Friday when it goes on the road to play another strong District 8-5A team, 6-2 Hebron (Carrollton) at Hawks Stadium.

Allen-Marcus was one of three district showdowns matching top 25 ranked teams last weekend. In the San Antonio area, No. 7 Steele (Cibolo) prevailed over No. 23 Judson (Converse) 34-20 and in North Texas, No. 24 Cedar Hill held off No. 25 Mansfield, 42-34.

Nationally, Steele moved up one spot to No. 38 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Here's this week's top 25 (Last week's ranking in parentheses):

1. Allen 8-0 (1)
The Eagles used only 90 seconds on their winning drive that ended in a 16-yard Alec Morris to Oliver Pierce touchdown pass with eight seconds remaining for a 38-35 win over 7-1 Marcus (Flower Mound). Morris, an Alabama commit, threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns. Allen visits 6-2 Hebron (Carrollton) on Friday.

2. Katy 8-0 (2)
Freshman Rodney Anderson rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Brooks Haack threw for two scores in the Tigers' 45-0 rout of 5-3 Memorial (Houston). On Saturday, the Tigers face 1-7 Taylor (Katy).

3. Euless Trinity 9-0 (3)
Trinity's defense limited 4-4 Grapevine to 156 total yards in a 38-0 whitewash, its third shutout of the season and its 26th consecutive regular season victory. The Trojans, open this week, close the regular season on the road against MacArthur (Irving) on Nov. 3.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings

Allen vs. FM Marcus, Steele vs. Judson highlight Week 8 Texas football

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
11:34
AM ET
After a relatively normal week of Texas football, plenty of fireworks could take place in some big weekend showdowns.

Let's start with the state's top team, 7-0 Allen, which battles a surging FM Marcus squad (7-0) that's reached No. 14 in the rankings. Both teams are coming off cardiac wins. Allen needed 13 points in the fourth quarter to complete a come-from-behind, 40-28 win against Plano West. Likewise, if not for a 14-yard touchdown run by Jeff Smiley with 24 seconds left, Marcus wouldn't have escaped with a 28-24 victory against Plano.

Offense won't be a problem for either team. Allen boasts quarterback Alec Morris (five total TDs last week) and has benefited from the return of tailback Jonathan Williams. On the other side, Smiley paced the Marauders last week with 103 rushing yards and three scores.

One team will leave the field with its first loss and the X-factor will be the Marcus defense, which has struggled of late, allowing an average of 36.3 points in its last three games against high-powered offenses.
My pick: Allen 42, FM Marcus 31

No. 7 Steele (7-0) at No. 23 Judson (6-1)
It's been 20 games since Steele lost a game, and with the way quarterback Tommy Armstrong has been playing, the defending Class 5A, Division II champs seemed primed for another title run. The Nebraska commit had five touchdowns (three passing, two scoring) in last week's win against New Braunfels.

But the Knights will enter a hostile environment Thursday night when they travel to face Judson. After falling to Wagner, the Rockets got back to their winning ways last week with a 45-6 victory against Seguin. RB Quaylon Jones serves as the Rockets' sparkplug, as he had 170 yards and two scores last week.

Whether Judson can stop Armstrong from opening up the field with his dual threat will be key in deciding this District 25-5A showdown.
My pick: Steele 35, Judson 27

No. 9 Southlake Carroll (7-0) at Keller Central (6-1)
An upstart Fossil Ridge squad that nearly knocked off Southlake Carroll handed Keller Central its first loss of the season last week, leaving the Chargers in search of redemption entering this week's big Division 7-5A matchup.

The quarterbacks and top receivers for each squad will be the focus in this contest. For Southlake Carroll, Kenny Hill can make plays with his arm (1,584 passing yards and 13 TDs) and legs (nine rushing scores), but he's most proficient when hooking up with WR/DB Sabian Holmes through the air. The senior wideout has 584 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Holmes will also likely be lined up against Keller Central's top WR, Zach Sanchez, who has 28 catches, 769 yards and eight TDs. The Dragons defense will be tasked with slowing down Central QB Tanner Tausch, one of the area's top gunslingers with 1,445 yards, 15 scores and just three picks.

Southlake Carroll's defense was stout last week against Coppell, allowing just 10 points, and a similar effort will be needed versus Keller Central's slew of weapons.
My pick: Southlake Carroll 27, Keller Central 20

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

Week 8 Texas football rankings remain steady as big contests loom

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
2:15
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Results as of Saturday, Oct. 15.

With few upsets in Week 7, there was very little movement in the state rankings. But that could change this week. Three Week 8 games pit Top 25 teams against each other in district contests.

Heading the list, No. 1 Allen visits No. 14 Marcus (Flower Mound). Both teams are 7-0 and the winner will take command of the contentious District 8-5A race in North Texas.

San Antonio area powers Steele (Cibolo) and Judson (Converse) meet in a District 25-5A showdown on Thursday night. No. 7 Steele (7-0), the defending Class 5A Division II state champion, has won 20 games in a row, dating back to the third game of the 2010 season. No. 23 Judson (6-1), has a rich tradition, having won six state championship titles.

Debuting in the rankings this week at No. 25 is Mansfield. The Tigers are 7-0 for the first time in 41 years and will host No. 24 Cedar Hill (5-2) with the District 5-5A lead at stake. Cedar Hill’s losses have come at the hands of Allen and No. 5 DeSoto.

Nationally, Southlake Carroll is now knocking on the POWERADE FAB 50 doorstep, as the Dragons received votes for the first time this season.

Here's this week's top 25 (last week's rankings are in parentheses):

1. Allen 7-0 (1)
The Eagles survived a scare for the second straight week, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter of a come-from-behind 40-28 triumph over 4-3 Plano West (Plano). Alabama-bound quarterback Alec Morris, who threw for four scores, put Allen ahead with an 18-yard touchdown run. Next is a road showdown with 7-0 Marcus (Flower Mound) for the District 8-5A lead on Friday.

2. Katy 7-0 (2)
The Tigers took care of business quickly, reeling off five touchdowns in the first 14 minutes of a 52-0 pasting of 1-6 Mayde Creek (Houston). Quarterback Brooks Haack threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another. On Friday, the Tigers face 5-2 Memorial (Houston).

3. Euless Trinity 8-0 (3)
The Trojans took command early with 42 points in the first 13 minutes of a 49-9 sinking of 2-5 Nimitz (Irving). On Friday, Trinity goes for its 26th consecutive regular season win at 4-3 Grapevine.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings

Jonathan Williams, Zack Sanchez are on the rise in Texas

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
2:14
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It's time for this week's Texas All-State football stock watch, but we're going to switch things up for the rest of the season. Instead of charting a player who had an off week or injury, we're going to highlight On The Rise (OTR) players who didn't make the preseason team but are making a case to gain some postseason recognition.

UP — Jonathan Williams, Allen RB
Now that his back problems are behind him, the senior tailback is showing why he's considered one of the nation's top running backs. Two weeks ago, in his first full game back, Williams ran for 233 yards and one score in a win against Lewisville. Then last week, the Missouri commit helped the Eagles avoid an upset on national TV, totaling 108 yards and three scores in a 42-38 comeback win against Plano East.

OTR — Zack Sanchez, Keller Central WR/S
No doubt this two-way starter deserves OTR status after his recent performance. In a game against then-No. 15 Denton Guyer, Sanchez had this sick stat line: five catches, 206 yards, two scores; three interceptions, one TD. In other words, the Baylor commit singlehandedly led the Chargers to their 21-14 win to remain undefeated.

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

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