High-SchoolTexas: Hebron

Texas football playoffs get under way

November, 11, 2011
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.

La Porte, Cinco Ranch enter Week 10 Texas football rankings

October, 31, 2011
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
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

Marcus, Flower Mound renew gridiron rivalry

September, 29, 2011
A few weeks ago, as I talked with Flower Mound quarterback Marshall Williams for the feature that ran in this space, he told me that one of his favorite things about Texas high school football is playing rival Marcus.

"There's two schools in Flower Mound — us and our rival, Flower Mound Marcus," Williams said. "Half the town is on our side, half the town is on the other. I love it. I love being around that atmosphere. There's nothing like it."

The two will meet again Friday at Marcus, and even though their records vastly differ, the stakes remain high. Marcus, which has started 4-0 and currently sits at No. 23 in the state rankings, will look to avenge last year's 52-49 loss, while 1-3 Flower Mound hopes to get its offense in gear again after scoring just 15 points last week against Hebron.

Check out the above video from our guys at ESPN Dallas for more on this rivalry game as well as big contests this weekend.

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

Caraway, Trinity defense reach new heights on gridiron

September, 22, 2011
In this week's Texas All-State Football Stock Watch, we'll look at a quarterback who helped his team rebound from its first loss to a defense that went from very good to downright scary.

UP —Bivins Caraway, Longview QB
Just a week after suffering a rare home loss (albeit to No. 1 Allen), the Lobos bounced back behind Carraway. In a 24-10 win against rival and previously ranked Lufkin, the junior threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns to push his squad up to the No. 16 spot in the state.

DOWN — Aiavion Edwards, Stephenville DB/RB
The Yellowjackets lost their first game of the season and Edwards is a big reason why. Not that it was the senior's fault; he injured his foot in a loss to Hebron and is expected to miss some games. As a result, Stephenville had its worst offensive output of the year, putting up just six points, and without their star senior at safety, the Yellowjackets gave up the decisive TD pass with 28 seconds left. Edwards had already totaled 535 yards and eight touchdowns in three games, leaving the Yellowjackets with quite a void while he recovers.

UP — Brian Nance & Polo Manukainiu, Euless Trinity LB & DL
The Trojans have given up an average of six points per contest, and get this — they've put together 64-0 shutouts in consecutive games. But what's even scarier is that the Trojans wasn't even at full strength until last week. That's when All-State defenders Nance and Manukainiu played about 15 plays each, easing their way back into the mix while freshening up for Friday's big district matchup against 4-0 Coleyville Heritage.

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

Southlake Carroll XC ranks second in POWERADE FAB 50

August, 30, 2011
The love — and expectations — just keep coming for Southlake Carroll's cross country team. The Dragons opened the season No. 2 behind New Jersey's Christian Brothers Academy in the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings. Obviously, that's what happens when you return all seven runners from a squad that finished second at the Class 5A state meet.

Of course, not too far behind the Dragons is The Woodlands, the reigning state champs for the past five years. Their in-state battle should have quite an effect on national rankings, as the Highlanders currently sit in the No. 8 spot. Click here to read more about Southlake Carroll's power squad and here to see who else made the national rankings.

Texas also has some star power on the individual side. Now that Craig Lutz has graduated, Daniel Vertiz of S.A. Reagan is a favorite in 5A after finishing third in the state last season. Likewise, Hebron's Kevyn Hoyos will have many eyes on him after taking fourth at the 5A state meet and NXN South Regional. Check out where these two landed on the DyeStat top 25 boys rankings.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.
Lake Travis entered this weekend with hopes of adding a Pearland Volleyball Classic title to its extensive list of achievements. In the end, the Cavaliers not only accomplished this feat; they did so in dominating fashion.

Without dropping a set, the defending Class 4A champs easily won the Pearland Classic, improving their record to 26-0 while extending their unbeaten streak in sets this season.

Senior Amy Neal earned MVP honors, as she led her team to victories against Lovejoy (the nation's fifth-ranked team), Cypress Woods (a Class 5A semifinalist in 2010) and College Park in the final match of the 84-team tournament.

Scary thing is, though, with the Cavaliers currently ranked second in the POWERADE FAB 50 behind Nebraska's Papillion-La Vista South, there's still room for the Cavaliers to improve.

Click here to see how College Park, Cypress Woods and Hebron fared at the prestigious event.

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

Texas cross country preview

August, 25, 2011
Today we'll branch out to cross country — you know, the sport that makes most of us look ridiculously out of shape.

For the last five years, The Woodlands has refused to give up the Class 5A state crown, but a loaded Southlake Carroll might change that this season. The Dragons enter the season ranked second in the nation. (Stay tuned for the October edition of ESPNHS magazine for more on Southlake Caroll's squad.) Here's what DyeStat's Marc Bloom has to say about the upcoming season:
Last year’s see-saw battles from the Nike South Invitational to the state championships to the NXN South Regional may well continue between rivals Southlake Carroll and The Woodlands, state 5A defender. The Woodlands returns 5 of 7, but the two losses are paramount. Carroll has everyone from its regional runner-up squad after a track season in which its top man, Trevor Gilley, ran a 4:09.37 mile as a sophomore, while the next 4 runners clocked 4:20 to 4:25. This is a team that comes on late, knows how to peak and could win NXN when all is said and done.

The Woodlands is also led by a super-soph from last year, Brigham Hedges, a 4:14/9:17 trackman. Other top individuals include 5A 3rd-placer Daniel Vertiz (San Antonio Reagan), who ran a 9:00.22 runner-up 3200 in state 5A; the 4th-placer, Kevyn Hoyos (Hebron), 4th in the state 3200 in 9:10.66; and the 6th-placer, Craig Nowak (Cypress Woods), state 1600 champion in 4:08.67.

Click here to get the cross country scoop on all 50 states and here to get an idea of how the girls competition could shake out.

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