High-SchoolTexas: The Woodlands

Texas Week 10 POWERADE baseball rankings: Playoffs underway

May, 9, 2012
After games on Saturday, May 5

Nothing is guaranteed come playoff time, especially in Texas, where eight teams are ranked in the POWERADE FAB 50, meaning some are bound to meet up as the postseason wears on. Previously ranked Bellaire and The Woodlands found out the hard way, falling in the first round of the playoffs to Spring Branch Memorial and Klein Oak, respectively.

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

1. Calallen (Corpus Christi) 30-1 (1)
Wyatt Mathisen took care of business to open the 4A playoffs, pitching a shutout and blasting a home run in a 5-0 win against Hidalgo.

2. Carroll (Corpus Christi ) 24-3 (2)
Tigers drew 12 walks in a 9-0 win against Stevens to open Class 5A postseason.

3. Arlington Martin 28-2-1 (3)
Warriors swept Odessa in their playoff opening best-of-three series. Next up: El Paso Franklin.

Click here for the full POWERADE weekly Texas baseball rankings.

Meet the No.1 team: The Woodlands (Texas)

February, 22, 2012
woodlands 576 index Courtesy of John Mann The Woodlands (Texas) starts the 2012 season as the nation's top team.
What does it take to defend a title? Guts. Perseverance. Skill. Returning all but two players from a loaded team also doesn’t hurt. The Woodlands (The Woodlands, Texas)—which won the state Class 5A championship as well as the national POWERADE FAB 50 softball crown in 2011—welcomes 11 players back as it attempts to protect its turf in 2012. Head coach Richard Jorgenson shares insider intel on the high-flying Highlanders, who again top the preseason Fab 50.

(Top row, left to right)

Faith Bohack | Sr. | SS
Though the infielder is small in stature, her athleticism makes her a threat in every aspect of the game. “She’s not a big girl, but she's our best athlete and one of our most powerful hitters," says Jorgenson. "She's under a lot of pressure but knows the game really well.”

Caitlin Bartsch | So. | RHP
The soph has big cleats to fill as the team’s ace while Paige [McDuffee] recovers, but she went 7-0 (including a perfect game) last season, so she should be up to the task. “She has a great head for the game and doesn’t get rattled,” says Jorgenson. "She's ready for the challenge."

Amy Cimera | So. | OF
Thanks to her ability to advance on the basepaths, and run down balls in the outfield, Cimera adds another dimension to the Highlanders’ lineup. “Without her speed, we wouldn’t have gone as far as we did,” says Jorgenson. "She has a good chance to get into the lineup this season."

Kayla Prater | Sr. | C
A defensive stronghold behind the plate, Prater didn’t make a single error in 2011. What’s even more impressive is her ability to read her pitchers and keep them focused and confident on the mound. “Kayla has an unbelievable arm and knowledge of the game," says Jorgenson. "She calls her own games and has a great repertoire with the pitchers.”

Jessica Snyder | Sr. | 3B
Snyder, a senior who hit a school-record 13 home runs in 2011, will likely bat cleanup for the Highlanders. “She is our most explosive hitter," says Jorgenson. "She also has a good glove and a very strong arm.”

Alyssa Jor­genson | Jr. | 2B
The coach’s kid was a cog for her team both offensively and defensively last season. Now, as an upperclassman, she’ll need to become more vocal. “She does a good job of working her way on base and scored a lot of runs for us,” says her dad. “I’m counting on her to be a leader on the field this year."

Olivia Boutch | Jr. | 1B
Boutch was a utility player last season, but with McDuffee’s bat out of the lineup, the junior will need to step up her game in 2012. "She's strong defensively and has a good bat," says Jorgenson. "“I’m expecting her to step in and play an important role.”

(Bottom row, left to right)

Aubrey Leach | Fr. | OF
The lefty is as big of a threat at the plate as any Woodlands player. A slap hitter blessed with both speed and power, she should make an immediate impact. “She can run anything down in the outfield," says Jorgenson. "She can play anywhere."

Paige McDuffee | Sr. | LHP
The senior southpaw and reigning National Gatorade Player of the Year posted a 62-4 record and a 0.58 ERA—and batted .405—the past two seasons. The UCLA commit is recovering from an injury, but her involvement remains significant. “She’s like another coach on the field.”

Taylor O’Dell | Sr. | OF
The senior played every inning of every game in left field for the Highlanders last year and was solid in the field. Jorgenson calls her “a heck of a player” who has “been a rock in the outfield for us.”

Sydney Salmans | So. | OF
The Woodlands lost its starting center fielder, Kelsey Jolly, to graduation, so Salmans will have an opportunity to fill that role this season. The speedy soph can cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and also will be a threat on the basepaths.

Taylor Vick | Jr. | OF
Coach credits Vick, who gunned down eight base runners at first base from right field last season, with rallying the team at key points. “she has a way of getting everyone fired up," says Jorgenson. "She’s real vocal and inspirational.”

Not pictured:

Abby Langkamp | Fr. | LHP
The team has big expectations for this lefty power pitcher, and her addition to the rotation, combined with Bartsch’s movement, is sure to keep opposing batters guessing. "She's just a freshman, but she has good speed and power as a pitcher," says Jorgenson. "She'll get a lot of time on the mound once she learns the ropes and the dynamic of the team.”

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

December, 5, 2011
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

Aledo looks for revenge against Stephenville in state quarterfinals

December, 1, 2011
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, Trinity topple in third round; Skyline takes top spot

November, 28, 2011
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

Southlake Carroll dethrones The Woodlands as XC state champs

November, 16, 2011
For the first time in six years, a program other than The Woodlands has won the Class 5A cross country state title.

Southlake Carroll cemented its place as the preseason favorite by scoring a state record 20 points and averaging 15:46 as a team to win the crown. The Dragons, who have yet to lose a meet this season, are now the top-ranked team in the latest POWERADE FAB 50. Five runners placed in the top 10, led by Nate Sullivan's fourth-place time of 15:40.30. The Woodlands finished fifth. On the individual side, Cypress Woods senior Craig Nowak captured the 5A crown with a time of 15:16.

In Class 4A, Boerne Champion finished atop the standings for the third time in four years by placing three runners in the top 25. Last year's champ, Cedar Park, finished second. Individually, junior Ryan Teel from Friendswood won gold with a time of 15:42.35.

Click here to read more about the state meet on Dyestat.

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.

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.