High-SchoolTexas: Lake Travis

Top 10 Stories of the Year in Texas

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:10
AM ET
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.

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.

Amy Neal named Gatorade Texas Volleyball POY

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
12:19
PM ET
Amy Neal of Lake Travis has been named Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year in Texas.

The senior outside hitter racked up 538 kills, 287 digs, and 63 service aces to lead the Cavaliers to a Texas-record 50-0 season and the No. 2 national ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50. Neal was also named tournament MVP for the second time en route to this year's Class 4A state title.

Click here to read more about Neal's award.

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' underclass football stars

December, 13, 2011
12/13/11
12:35
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: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are winding down and the Class of 2012 had their run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Texas next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.
5. Brice Gunter (JR), Stephenville, WR
Credentials: 69 catches, 1,099 yards, 15 touchdowns, finalist for Gatorade State Player of the Year

4. Jake Oliver (JR), Dallas Jesuit, WR
Credentials: 108 catches, 1,637 yards, 24 touchdowns

3. Baker Mayfield (JR), Lake Travis, QB
Credentials: 3,512 passing yards, 44 touchdowns, five interceptions, 765 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, led Cavaliers to Class 4A, Division I title game in first year as starter

2. Kenny Hill (JR), Southlake Carroll, QB
Credentials:2,713 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 1,267 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, led Dragons to Class 5A, Division I title game

1. Devante Kincade (JR), Skyline, QB
Credentials: 3,231 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, four interceptions, led team to Class 5A, Division I semifinals

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

Tomorrow: POWERADE state hoops rankings

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

Southlake Carroll knocks off Skyline to take over top spot

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
12:30
PM ET
The new No. 1 team in POWERADE ESPNHS Texas football team rankings, Southlake Carroll, has an opportunity to become No. 1 in another category -- most Texas state football championships won.

Carroll is one of five schools currently tied with seven state titles and the Dragons can step to the top by defeating Fort Bend Hightower in Saturday’s 4 p.m. Class 5A Division I state title game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. An eighth state title for Carroll would be one more than Abilene, Brownwood, Celina and Plano.

Carroll needed every bit of playoff magic it could muster in a 28-24 victory over former No. 1, Skyline on Saturday in a Class 5A Division I state semifinal. Touchdown runs of 3 and 35 yards by junior quarterback Kenny Hill in the final 1:07 enabled Carroll to overcome a 10-point deficit. Skyline (14-1) outgained Carroll by 143 yards in the showdown, but had three turnovers and three failed fourth-down gambles.

Three other state finals this weekend will involve teams attempting to repeat as state champions. Steele tries to defend its Class 5A Division II state title against 13-2 Dekaney. Aledo and record-setting running back Johnathan Gray have a chance to win a third straight state title in Class 4A Division II, but standing in the way is unbeaten Manvel. And Lake Travis will try to complete its “Drive for Five,’’ an unprecedented fifth straight state title, in a Class 4A Division I match-up against Midway.

Nationally, three Texas teams are in the top 15, led by Carroll at No. 7. Fort Bend Hightower also moved into the POWERADE FAB 50, debuting at No. 46.

Here's the top 25 going into the final week of the state playoffs. (Last week's ranking in
parentheses):

1. Southlake Carroll 15-0 (2)
Junior quarterback Kenny Hill capped an amazing comeback by scoring two touchdowns in the final 1:07 of a 28-24 victory over 14-1 Skyline (Dallas) in a Class 5A Division I state semifinal Saturday at SMU‘s Ford Stadium. In between the Hill touchdowns, Carroll recovered an onside kick. The Dragons meet Fort Bend Hightower (Missouri City) in the state title game set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

2. Lake Travis (Austin) 15-0 (3)
Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for four touchdowns and Colin Lagasse scored four times in the Cavaliers’ 45-14 bashing of 12-3 Dawson (Pearland) in a Class 4A Division I semifinal Friday night in San Antonio’s Alamodome. The Cavaliers, winners of 29 consecutive playoff games, go for their fifth straight state title against 13-2 Midway (Waco) at 8 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

3. Steele (Cibolo) 15-0 (4)
Tommy Armstrong, a Nebraska commit, rushed for four touchdowns and passed for another in a 51-31 bashing of 13-2 Memorial (Port Arthur) Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. The Knights, winners of 28 straight, will attempt to defend their Class 5A Division II state title against 13-2 Dekaney (Spring) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football 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.

Showdown on tap between Skyline and new No. 2 Southlake Carroll

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
4:51
PM ET
It's a matchup sure to catch the fancy of Dallas/Fort Worth high school football fans. Skyline vs. Southlake Carroll, No. 1 against No. 2, collide in the Class 5A Division I state semifinal set for 4 p.m. Saturday at SMU’s Ford Stadium.

There’s no doubting either team’s fifth-round playoff legitimacy, as each sports a 14-0 record. But there are differences, too. Not since 1950 has a Dallas ISD school won a state football champion. On the other hand, in a span of five seasons from 2002 to 2006, Carroll won four of its seven state football championships.

Each team is led by a versatile junior quarterback —Devante Kincade of Skyline and Kenny Hill of Carroll. Skyline is loaded with speed that college programs crave. Carroll is gritty, having outscored opponents in the second half of its four playoff games 59-8. To the winner, a date in the state championship game on Dec. 17 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Nationally, Port Arthur Memorial debuted in the POWERADE FAB 50 at No. 39 after beating La Porte, 34-6, to advance to the Class 5A, Division II semifinals. Meanwhile, La Porte, Katy and Euless Trinity dropped out, leaving six Texas teams in the national rankings with Skyline leading the way at No. 8.

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

1. Skyline (Dallas) 14-0 (1)
Down 24-14 at halftime, the Raiders came roaring back in the second half behind Devante Kincade. The junior quarterback threw for a touchdown and ran one yard for the game-winner with 2:59 remaining in a 35-31 victory over 12-2 The Woodlands Saturday in Waco. The Raiders will meet 14-0 Carroll (Southlake) in a Class 5A, Division I state semifinal set for 4 p.m. Saturday at SMU’s Ford Stadium in University Park.

2. Southlake Carroll 14-0 (3)
Junior quarterback Kenny Hill, the son of former Major League pitcher Ken Hill, threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two in a 31-14 victory over 12-2 Martin (Arlington) in a Class 5A, Division I, Region I title game Saturday evening at SMU‘s Ford Stadium. Up next for the Dragons, four-time state champions in the 2000s, is 14-0 Skyline (Dallas) in a Class 5A, Division I state semifinal set for 4 p.m. Saturday back at Ford Stadium.

3. Lake Travis 14-0 (2)
Dane Balazs and Brock Kenyon had second half interceptions, the latter with 52 seconds remaining, to allow the Cavaliers to hold off 11-3 Cedar Park, 14-9, Friday night at Austin’s Royal-Memorial Stadium in the Class 4A, Division I, Region IV title game. The Cavaliers will shoot for their 29th consecutive playoff victory in a state semifinal against 12-2 Dawson (Pearland) set for 8 p.m. Friday at San Antonio’s Alamodome.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football state rankings

Katy, Trinity topple in third round; Skyline takes top spot

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
3:49
PM ET
It was a disastrous playoff weekend for five previously unbeaten teams in the Texas rankings. Katy, Trinity (Euless), Ryan (Denton), Cypress-Fairbanks (Cypress) and Highland Park entered the regional playoff round with 12-0 records. All suffered elimination defeats.

Katy lasted only one week atop the rankings, taken down by La Porte, 9-7 in the Class 5A Division II bracket. It marked the first time in 10 years Katy failed to reach the fourth round of the playoffs. The last time it happened, Vince Young was the quarterback of the opponent.

One week after knocking off previous No. 1 Allen, Trinity was stonewalled by Martin (Arlington), 19-7. Like all the games in North Texas on Saturday, the game was played in winds that gusted to 35 mph.

An unbeaten team that avoided a calamity was 13-0 Skyline (Dallas), the new No. 1 team this week. The Raiders reached the Class 5A Division I title game in Region II with a 42-24 elimination of Klein Oak (Spring).

The POWERADE FAB 50 also saw a major reshuffle, as a result. Skyline is now the top-ranked Texas team at No. 9 while La Porte and Arlington Martin joined the national list.

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

1. Skyline 13-0 (4)
Receiver Thomas Johnson, a Texas Longhorns commit, broke touchdown runs of 64 and 41 yards in a 21-point third period to help the Raiders to a 42-24 win over 9-4 Klein Oak (Spring) in a Class 5A Division I regional playoff. The Raiders play for the Region II title against 12-1 The Woodlands at 4 p.m. Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium.

2. Lake Travis 13-0 (3)
The Cavaliers scored on all seven of their first half possessions and then cleared the bench in a 58-15 rout of 8-5 Flour Bluff (Corpus Christi) in a Class 4A Division I regional playoff, their 27th consecutive playoff victory. It sets up a rematch against District 25-4A foe Cedar Park (11-2) in a state semifinal set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Austin’s Royal-Memorial Stadium.

3. Southlake Carroll 13-0 (7)
Junior quarterback Kenny Hill ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to help the Dragons overcome a 17-point deficit in a 21-17 defeat of 9-4 Bowie (Arlington) in a Class 5A Division I regional playoff. Next is a Region I title game against 12-1 Martin (Arlington) set for 6 p.m. Saturday at SMU’s Ford Stadium in University Park.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas football rankings

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.

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.

Read More »

Skyline rises, Pearland falls in new rankings

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
2:17
AM ET
Allen and Lake Travis (Austin), No. 1 and No. 5 respectively in the ESPNHS Texas High School Rankings, proved worthy of high standing with convincing road wins on Friday against ranked foes.

Allen went to 3-0 with a 42-23 win in Longview, where Lobos losses are rarer than rain these days.

Lake Travis unveiled a passing attack featuring junior Baker Mayfield that had Aledo on its heels all evening. The Cavaliers proved a fifth straight state title is doable after a 62-35 blowout.

Running back Johnathan Gray did give the Aledo fans reason to cheer when he broke the state’s all-time career touchdown record. He now has 148 after scoring four times against Lake Travis.

Defending Class 5A Division I state champion Pearland was the first casualty among top five ranked teams, losing to 2-1 Memorial, 17-14. The Oilers slipped 16 slots to No. 20.

Nationally, Steele moved into the final slot of the POWERADE FAB 50, leaving the number of Texas teams on the list at eight with Pearland dropping out.

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

1. Allen 3-0 (1)
Senior quarterback Alec Morris threw for 368 yards and five touchdowns and Andrew Rodriguez made 11 catches for 212 yards and two scores in a 42-23 rout of 2-1 Longview. The Eagles, after an open week, begin District 8-5A play at 3-0 Plano on Sept. 23.

2. Katy 2-0 (2)
The Tigers enjoyed an open date and return to face 3-0 West Brook (Beaumont) on Saturday.

3. Euless Trinity 3-0 (3)
The Trojans out-gained Richland (North Richland Hills) 523 yards to 57 and rang up a 25-4 first down edge in a 64-0 landslide in a District 6-5A opener. Up next is a road trip to 0-3 Irving.

Click here for full POWERADE Weekly State Rankings

Lake Travis routs Aledo in clash of 4A powers; Gray sets record

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
2:43
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A mix of revenge, momentum and pride fueled Lake Travis in its Friday matchup against Aledo. The result was a stunning statement, a 62-35 victory for the Cavaliers and a 1-2 mark for the defending Class 4A, Division II champs.

The contest began as expected, with each team trading touchdowns on their way to a 14-14 tie in the first quarter. But the Cavaliers took over from there, using a high-powered passing offense behind once-backup, now-starter Baker Mayfield (434 yards and sixh touchdowns) to keep the Bearcats at bay. Griffin Gilbert did his usual damage, with seven catches for 116 yards and four TDs, and Zach Austin continued his emergence, snagging seven passes for 194 yards and two scores.

Even Colin Lagasse, who hasn't started at quarterback since Mayfield took over in the opener, got into the action, rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. With so many weapons at their disposal, the Cavaliers look primed for a fifth straight 4A state title.

Aledo, meanwhile, continues to struggle despite getting the typical production from Johnathan Gray. The Bearcats tailback finished with 263 yards and four touchdowns, moving him into first on the Texas career scoring list with 148. But the record was overshadowed by the loss, as an Aledo defense that's surrendered 39 points per game continued its struggles.

Allen 42, Longview 23
The Eagles did what seemed to be the impossible, not only winning but blowing out Longview on its homefield Friday. Alec Morris again led the way, putting up 368 passing yards and five touchdowns in the rout. Andrew Rodriguez was Morris' biggest target, catching 11 passes for 212 yards and two scores. Jonathan Williams missed his second straight game with back problems, but with a bye week on the horizon, chances are good that the senior RB can finally return and add yet another weapon to the loaded Eagles.

Pearland 17, Memorial 14
The defending Class 5A, Division I champs went down to Memorial in surprising fashion. The Oilers held on to a 14-10 lead with less than two minutes remaining, but Memorial marched down the field with ease before Justin White punctuated the drive and victory on an 11-yard score. White finished 209 total yards on the night.

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

Aledo vs. Lake Travis highlights Week 2 Texas football

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
4:37
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Class 4A supremacy is on the line as No. 6 Aledo (1-1) and No 14 Lake Travis (2-0) face off in a highly anticipated battle.

Aledo, the two-time defending Division II champs, looks well past its season-opening loss to a Stephenville team that appears to be no slouch. Johnathan Gray has been his normal self through it all, rushing for 556 yards and nine touchdowns. The Texas commit sits just three touchdowns away breaking the state record for career scores, a mark that most expect him to break tonight.

Also on the Bearcats’ side is a home win streak that dates back to 2007 and momentum from last year’s meeting, when Aledo snapped Lake Travis’ 48-game win streak. (The Cavaliers still went on to win their fourth straight Class 4A title and third consecutive Division I crown.)

This year’s contest could take on a feel similar to 2010. Back then, the Cavaliers were without injured star quarterback Michael Brewer, who is now at Texas Tech. This time around, a shoulder injury could keep starting QB Colin Lagasse out of the lineup. Even so, the Cavaliers won't be too worried. Junior Baker Mayfield has stepped in nicely during the last two weeks, scoring nine total touchdowns. Who they will need, though, is leading wideout Griffin Gilbert. The senior missed last week’s win against Hendrickson with an injury but is expected to play.

This game will be plenty physical and should include tons of scoring, as both teams are anchored by their offense. Lake Travis has the better defense, holding its opponents to less than three yards a carry and 10.5 points a game, but neither team will be depending on its defensive unit to pull out the win.
Prediction: Aledo 35, Lake Travis 31

No. 1 Allen (2-0) at No. 11 Longview (2-0)
The top-ranked Eagles face their first test of the season on the road against an emerging Longview squad. Injuries could play a role in this game, as both starting tailbacks have struggled to recover this year. Allen's Jonathan Williams missed last week's game with back spasms, while J'Haston Faggans missed the Lobos' week two contest with a concussion. In the Eagles' case, quarterback Alec Morris has picked up the slack, throwing for six touchdowns last week in their experienced, high-powered offense. The Lobos, on the other hand, discovered a treasure at tailback, as Tory White filled in and ran for 172 yards last week. An upset isn't out of the question, what with Longview known for its intense home atmosphere. But the wisdom and skilled players that fill Allen's roster are hard to go against, so...
Prediction: Allen 28, Longview 24

No. 8 DeSoto (2-0) vs. No. 22 Cedar Hill (1-1) at Kincaide Stadium in Dallas
A heated rivalry renews itself tonight, when these two Southern Dallas teams face off. DeSoto's defense has yet to allow a touchdown this season, but that will likely change against an explosive Cedar Hill squad. Andre Anderson threw for three touchdowns to help the Horns bounce back from an opening loss and down a solid Denton Guyer program. Still, Cedar Hill will need to play mistake-free football to get past DeSoto.
Prediction: DeSoto 28, Cedar Hill 14

No. 18 Skyline (2-0) vs. No. 20 Bowie (2-0)
Both teams looked impressive in the Herbstreit Classic last weekend, with each putting up 36 points in their victories. Thing is, Skyline's win proved bigger with the Raiders knocking off a talented but reeling Cocoa squad from Florida. Bowie will need another big game from Russell Hansbrough (172 rushing yards and two scores last week) and Devin Williams (two forced fumbles) to pull out a win.
Prediction: Skyline 31, Bowie 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.

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