High-SchoolTexas: Thomas Johnson

Edwards, the nation's top recruit, signs with Florida State

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
12:06
PM ET


Florida State put the proverbial cherry on top of one of the nation's top recruiting classes by officially reeling in Mario Edwards. The No. 1 player in the ESPNU 150 had committed to Florida State before his senior season but spent much of the fall exploring other options in Oklahoma and LSU before signing with the Seminoles on Wednesday.

The Denton Ryan senior defensive lineman headlined a busy day among Texas-based recruits. Here are a few of the highlights so far:

-Skyline WR Thomas Johnson, the nation's No. 33 recruit who decommitted from Texas last month, signed with Texas A&M.

-Fort Bend Hightower WR/QB Bralon Addison decommitted from Texas A&M and committed to Oregon.

Of course, National Signing Day is a 24-hour affair, so click here to stay updated on every major signing across the nation.

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.

Edwards, Gray make ESPNHS All-American team

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
1:18
PM ET
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.

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, 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
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.

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