Playoffs! We're talking about playoffs!
Another regular season has come and gone. It took 11 weeks to eliminate half of the teams across the state of Texas. The next six weeks will determine which teams achieve the ultimate goal of winning a state championship. There are plenty of storylines heading into the playoffs, but first we need to look at how we got here. Let’s recap a few games from the last week of the regular season.
Trinity beats LD Bell
We’ll once again start off with the game I was at last week. Trinity kept its 25-year winning streak against LD Bell alive with a 27-24 victory in overtime. The win also clinched a playoff spot for the Trojans, who will face Keller in the first round for the second year in a row. Trinity hosted the Indians last year and beat Keller 47-21 to advance to the area round.
A Gary Maddox touchdown run clinched the game for Trinity in overtime after holding LD Bell to a field goal. LD Bell had a chance to go up 28-14 in the fourth quarter, but a touchdown was called back due to holding and the Blue Raiders would end up missing a field goal on that drive. Trinity scored a touchdown to tie the game 21-21 before LD Bell lost a fumble on its final drive in regulation.
Trinity quarterback TJ Tupou completed nine of his 17 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Jarvis Heimuli led the Trojans in receiving with three receptions for 49 yards. Fullback Buddy Leota added three receptions for 46 yards and a score and hurdled a defender on the sideline on an impressive catch and run. Maddox led Trinity in rushing, gaining 198 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Leota added 36 yards on the ground on five carries.
LD bell quarterback Landen Garcia completed six of his 18 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Jalen David caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Garcia that ended up being one of the more impressive plays of the night. Maddox Olatunde carried the ball 14 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive, physical performance. Gracien Anto added 82 yards on 16 carries. LD Bell finishes the season 6-4 and just misses out on the playoffs. This season was a big step in the right direction for the Blue Raiders. A sold-out Pennington Field with playoff implications on the line for a Trinity- LD Bell game hasn’t happened since the 1980’s, but it was nice to see on Thursday night as the crowd was electric from start to finish.
Melissa defeats Lovejoy
Melissa got off to an 0-2 start this season with losses to Argyle and China Spring. The Cardinals proceeded to rip off eight straight wins en route to a District 7-5A DII Championship. It all culminated on Thursday when the Cardinals took down Lovejoy 36-35. Melissa will host Hallsville in the first round of the playoffs on Friday night.
The Cardinals trailed Lovejoy 35-21 entering the fourth quarter, though that score didn’t stand long. Melissa scored a few plays into the quarter on a Trever Ham touchdown pass to Karson Maynard. That duo connected again with :52 seconds remaining in the game and Ham found Gunnar Wilson for the two-point conversion to give Melissa its first lead of the game.
Melissa quarterback Trever Ham completed 30 of his 48 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Karson Maynard was the main beneficiary of the Cardinals air attack, catching 13 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns. Gunnar Wilson caught six passes for 60 yards, including the most important reception of the night to give Melissa the lead. Jacob Fields led Melissa in rushing with 80 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Nathan Adejokun added 44 yards and a score on the ground.
Lovejoy quarterback Brayden Hagle completed 13 of his 21 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Parker Livingstone caught four passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Parker added five receptions for 35 yards and also carried the ball six times for 63 yards and two scores. Matthew Mainord led the Leopards in rushing with 22 carries for 135 yards. Lovejoy finished the regular season at 7-3 and will host Whitehouse in the first round of the playoffs.
Frisco Wakeland takes down Frisco
Three teams finished tied for third place in District 6-5A DI at 5-3. Frisco is the odd team out after Frisco Wakeland defeated the Raccoons 31-6 in the final game of the regular season. Frisco Wakeland and Frisco Heritage are the two 5-3 teams that made it to the postseason behind Frisco Reedy (8-0) and Frisco Lone Star (6-2). Frisco Wakeland will travel to play Birdville on the road in the first round of the playoffs on Thursday night.
Frisco Wakeland quarterback Brennan Myer completed 18 of his 29 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Cooper Snyder led the rushing attack, carrying the ball 24 times for 119 yards and Myer added two touchdowns on the ground. Hayden O’Neal led the Wolverines in receiving with six receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Ashdyn Kahouch added four receptions for 40 yards and Tripp Riordan caught two passes for 22 yards and a score.
Frisco struggled to get much going on offense in its final game of the season. Quarterback Camren Gibson completed five of his 10 passes for 22 yards. Jordon Hamilton caught two passes for 11 yards to lead the receivers. Hamilton also led the rushing attack with 24 yards and a score on 11 carries. Kam Pendergraph got three carries and gained 11 yards. Frisco will have to improve on the offensive side of the football next year in order to make the playoffs.
Games to Watch
Lake Dallas (7-3) @ Grapevine (9-1)
District 4-5A Div. II Champion Grapevine hosts the Falcons from Lake Dallas on Thursday night. Lake Dallas didn’t make it into the playoffs until the last day of the regular season with a win over Denton. The one opponent these two teams have in common is Argyle. Lake Dallas lost to the Eagles 30-14 in district play while Grapevine lost to Argyle 31-15 in non-district play.
Allen (7-3) @ Lewisville (9-1)
Congratulations to the Fighting Farmers in Lewisville for winning District 6-6A! The reward? Getting to play the school with the largest enrollment in the state of Texas. District 5-6A and District 6-6A are loaded with talent, creating some fantastic first round playoff matchups. It’s a shame either Allen or Lewisville won’t make it past the first round when both teams have enough talent to be practicing on Thanksgiving. This is the best game of the bi-district round with so much talent on the field. The winner will face the winner of Arlington Martin and Richardson Berkner.
McKinney (6-4) @ Coppell (9-1)
Speaking of great bi-district round matchups between District 5-6A and District 6-6A, Coppell and McKinney is another game that could go either way. McKinney quarterback Keldric Luster and running back Bryan Jackson II are a dynamic duo capable of putting up a ton of points. Coppell can keep pace on offense with quarterback Jack Fishpaw spreading the ball around to a number of players. This should be a fantastic game. The winner of this game will face the winner of Jesuit and Arlington.
Colleyville Heritage (7-3) @ Frisco Emerson (9-1)
Frisco Emerson will go for its first playoff win in program history in its first season in program history. Colleyville Heritage is a much more established program, though young on both sides of the ball. The Panthers are experienced at quarterback with Weston Smith, but Colleyville Heritage will need other playmakers to step up against Frisco Emerson. The winner of this game will face the winner of El Paso and Abilene Wylie.
Denton Ryan (6-3) @ Red Oak (8-2)
Red Oak is another team that drew a short stick after a fantastic regular season. The Hawks finished second in their district and will get to host a playoff game as a result. Having to play a team as talented and established as Denton Ryan is tough. The Raiders have had a down year by program standards, but that will be forgiven and forgotten with a deep playoff run.
Trinity (4-6) @ Keller (8-2)
Keller has made plenty of trips to the playoffs recently but hasn’t been able to get out of the bi-district round. The Indians faced the Trojans in the bi-district round and lost last year. Stopping Gary Maddox won’t be easy, but it might be a little easier than stopping Ollie Gordon, something Keller failed to do a year ago. Trinity has some momentum after a strong close to the year, but slowing down Tre Guerra, Amarion Henry and Tre’ Griffiths won’t be easy, and the Trinity secondary isn’t exactly Fort Knox.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Players of the Week is Melissa wide receiver Karson Maynard! Melissa rallied to beat Lovejoy 36-35 and Maynard’s performance and connection with quarterback Trever Ham helped Melissa rally for the win! Maynard caught 13 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute remaining, in the win! Melissa won a District Championship thanks to Maynard’s big performance!
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Player of the Week is Lewisville defensive back Tony-Louis Nkuba! Lewisville defeated Hebron 31-17 to cap an undefeated run through District 6-6A! Nkuba recorded five tackles, including three solo tackles, from his cornerback position. He also came up with two interceptions and a pass break-up in the win! Lewisville will need Nkuba to help lock down Allen’s receivers and tight end Davon Mitchell on Friday night.
College Player of the Week
My College Player of the Week is Kansas quarterback Jason Bean! The former Mansfield Lake Ridge quarterback didn’t start the season off as the starter but replaced injured starter Jalon Daniels a few weeks ago and helped Kansas clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008 with a 37-16 win over Oklahoma State! Bean passed for 203 yards and two touchdowns and added 93 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run, on the ground. Kansas is 6-3 thanks to Bean’s heroics last weekend!