High-SchoolTexas: James White

Skyline and Southlake Carroll face off while Gray chases records

December, 9, 2011
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, Birdville face off on ESPNU in Week 9 Texas football

October, 27, 2011
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.