Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Elías Valverde II
Happy Thanksgiving! This week is about spending time with family, enjoying good food and watching plenty of football. The Dallas Cowboys kickoff the football weekend against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day before a seemingly endless amount of #txhsfb playoff football and rivalry weekend college football throughout the day on Friday and Saturday.
Practicing on Thanksgiving is a big deal to teams throughout the state. Just ask Keller. The Indians are practicing on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1966. The McKinney Lions will experience the joy of a Thanksgiving practice for the first time since 1993. It’s a blessing to make it to the regional semifinal round of the playoffs. I hope all the teams practicing on Thanksgiving Day have a great practice and a day full of memories with teammates and coaches sharing a special day with their football families. Now, let’s close the book on the area round and take a look ahead at the best round three playoff games on Friday and Saturday.
South Oak Cliff eliminates Lovejoy
South Oak Cliff beat Lovejoy 42-37 to advance to the regional semifinal round! The game was never as close as the final score suggests. Lovejoy outscored the Golden Bears 27-0 in the 4th quarter, due in part to several recovered onside kicks. The Leopards needed one too many onside kicks to complete the comeback as South Oak Cliff recovered the last attempted onside kick with under two minutes left in the game.
The Golden Bears put to rest any concern about the offense by putting up 553 yards of offense, including 139 yards through the air. That balance helped South Oak Cliff jump out to a 28-10 halftime lead and a 42-10 lead heading into the final frame.
South Oak Cliff quarterback William Little completed nine of his 14 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Jamyri Cauley led the receivers with two receptions for 54 yards. Joshua Manley caught the lone touchdown pass from 25 yards out. Danny Green led the ground attack with 15 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown. Tedrick Williams added 133 yards and two scores on 12 carries. Jayvon Thomas got three carries and gained 95 yards and scored two touchdowns
Four players attempted a pass for Lovejoy. Alexander Franklin got the start and completed 12 of his 25 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Austin Gonzalez completed seven of his eight passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Brayden Hagle passed for 70 yards and receiver Kyle Parker threw a touchdown pass on his only attempt. Franklin and Gonzalez led the Leopards in rushing with 46 yards and 29 yards on the ground respectively. Hagle scored the lone touchdown on the ground for Lovejoy. Kyle Parker led the receivers with 12 receptions for 255 yards and two touchdowns- in addition to his touchdown pass. Jaxson Lavender caught four passes for 114 yards and a score in the loss.
Denton Guyer eliminates Highland Park
Denton Guyer continued its climb to try to get back to the 6A DII State Championship Game with a 63-42 win over Highland Park. The Scots scored the most points on the Denton Guyer defense of any other team so far this season. Lancaster put up 27 points on the Wildcats back in September. The game was tied 28-28 at halftime before Denton Guyer pulled away with a 21-0 run in the third quarter.
Denton Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold completed 19 of his 21 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns and added 110 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to lead the Wildcats in rushing. Trey Joyner nearly outdid Arnold on the ground, rushing for 109 yards and a score on 19 carries. Ahmed Yussuf added 57 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Landon Sides led the receivers with six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Sutton Lee added nine receptions for 88 yards.
Highland Park quarterback Brennan Storer played one of his best games as a Scot in the last game of his high school career, completing 17 of his 28 passes for 394 yards and two touchdowns. Storer led the Scots in rushing with 91 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Jay Cox added 35 yards and a score on 13 carries. Grayson Schrank led Highland Park in receiving with eight receptions for 178 yards. Jackson Heis caught two passes for 68 yards and a score and Cox caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Highland Park capped its first season back in 6A with an 11-1 record and a playoff win over Arlington Bowie. The Scots will have to navigate a 6A schedule without Storer next year. Denton Guyer needs three more wins to get to Arlington for a third time in four years.
Frisco Reedy eliminates Lancaster
The box score might suggest Lancaster won this game by a few touchdowns. The Tigers outgained Frisco Reedy 402-190. The Lions forced four turnovers but coughed up three turnovers of their own. Frisco Reedy struggled to get much going on offense. Despite all of that, Frisco Reedy beat Lancaster 30-27 in overtime. Two Lancaster interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Frisco Reedy’s Cade Hebel and Cooper Clabo. Connor McGrath also returned a kickoff for a touchdown, giving the Lions three touchdowns with the offense on the sideline.
Frisco Reedy quarterback Caleb Deal completed six of his 16 passes for 58 yards. Dennis Moody was the offensive star of the night for the Lions, rushing 21 times for 147 yards. Kahlil Smith got two carries for 13 yards and a score. Moody also caught two passes for 19 yards and AJ Jayroe’s lone reception for 30 yards was enough to lead the team in receiving.
Lancaster quarterback JaQuavius Pipkin completed 15 of his 33 passes for 141 yards. Ti’Erick Martin led the receivers with six receptions for 73 yards. Most of the Lancaster offense came on the ground. Kyson Brown carried the ball 16 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Kewan Lacy carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards and a score while Mar’Kel Porter added nine carries for 29 yards and a touchdown.
It doesn’t matter how you win in the playoffs. All that matters is winning by whatever means necessary. For Frisco Reedy, that meant scoring a few touchdowns on special teams and defense. It may not be a sustainable way to win, but the Lions are practicing on Thanksgiving Day. Right now, that’s all that matters.
Games to Watch
Southlake Carroll (12-0) vs McKinney (8-4)
Southlake Carroll takes on McKinney Friday afternoon at 3:15 at Arlington’s Choctaw Stadium. The Dragons are coming off a 69-14 shellacking of Wolfforth Frenship. McKinney put an end to Jesuit’s season with a 42-7 win in the area round. McKinney has one of the better offensive attacks Southlake Carroll will see all season. The last time I doubted the Dragons defense, Southlake Carroll clinched another district championship with a 38-23 win over Byron Nelson. I won’t doubt the Dragons defense this time and pick Southlake Carroll to win a relatively close game.
Argyle (12-0) vs Grapevine (11-1)
Argyle faces Grapevine at Dragon Stadium in Southlake on Friday night at 6:00. The Mustangs will pack up the locker room and head just across highway 26 to get to Dragon Stadium. Grapevine defeated Abilene Cooper 38-21 in the area round while Argyle beat Wichita Falls Rider 7-0 in a low scoring thriller. The Eagles have impressed in their first season in 5A and have passed every test with flying colors. Argyle beat Grapevine 31-15 back in September but beating the same team twice in one season is never easy. This should be a great game and I am going to go with Argyle in a closer game than the one played between these two teams earlier this season.
Aledo (10-2) @ Midlothian 12-0)
Aledo takes on Midlothian at 6:00 on Friday night at Midlothian ISD Stadium. Aledo started the season 0-2 against a tough schedule but hasn’t played in a particularly close game since then. Midlothian has close wins over Killeen Shoemaker and Lake Belton so far this season. South Oak Cliff proved the Bearcats are beatable in the playoffs with a win in the regional semifinals last year en route to a state championship. Midlothian will hope to follow that same path this season. I am taking Aledo in a close one.
Frisco Reedy (12-0) vs Mansfield Timberview (12-0)
Frisco Reedy faces Mansfield Timberview on Friday afternoon at 3:00 at Pennington Field in Bedford. Frisco Reedy beat Lancaster 30-27 while Mansfield Timberview took down Barbers Hill 35-17. Frisco Reedy struggled to stop the run against Lancaster and relied on forcing turnovers to pull off a come-from-behind win. Mansfield Timberview is particularly good at running the football. I am taking Mansfield Timberview over Frisco Reedy behind a dominate rushing attack.
South Oak Cliff (9-3) vs Midlothian Heritage (11-1)
South Oak Cliff meets Midlothian Heritage on Friday afternoon at 3:00 at Mansfield’s Vernon Newsom Stadium. South Oak Cliff flexed its muscles against Lovejoy in a 42-37 win in the area round while Midlothian Heritage continued to impress with a 45-37 win over Crandall. Midlothian Heritage has had a great season, but I don’t think it’s going to continue. I am taking South Oak Cliff to beat Midlothian Heritage and advance to the fourth round of the playoffs.
Denton Guyer (12-0) vs Byron Nelson (11-1)
Denton Guyer meets Byron Nelson on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 at the Ford Center in Frisco. Denton Guyer’s offense has looked like the best in the state at times this season, and that continued in a 63-42 win over Highland Park. Byron Nelson has had one of the best offensive attacks in the metroplex this season and defeated El Paso Eastwood 35-28 in the area round. The Bobcats haven’t faced a defense the caliber of Denton Guyer’s so far this season. Even if Byron Nelson does put up a lot of points, I’m not sure it will be enough to keep up with the Wildcat offense. I am taking Denton Guyer in this one.
Keller (10-2) vs Lewisville (11-1)
Keller will take on Lewisville Saturday morning at 11:00 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. The Indians are in the regional semifinal round for the first time since 1966 after beating Midland Legacy 23-21. Lewisville defeated Arlington Martin 10-0 after eliminating Allen from the playoffs. The Fighting Farmers have had one of the most impressive playoff runs in the state so far, eliminating two traditional powerhouses in the metroplex. Lewisville has shown it can win any type of game this season. I am taking Lewisville over Keller for that reason.
Prosper (11-1) vs North Crowley (12-0)
Prosper takes on North Crowley Saturday afternoon at 3:00 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. Prosper and North Crowley are both familiar with winning playoff games in Choctaw Stadium with Prosper doing it as recently as last week. Prosper beat South Grand Prairie 38-26 while North Crowley took down El Paso Pebble Hills 49-42 to advance. I am taking Prosper to beat North Crowley in what should be a close game.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Player of the Week is South Oak Cliff’s Tedrick Williams! South Oak Cliff impressed in a close win over Lovejoy and the offensive attack- led in part by Williams- was a big reason why! Williams rushed for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns to help power the Golden Bears to the regional semifinal! South Oak Cliff will rely on its dynamic duo of Williams and Danny Green on the ground as the playoffs roll on.
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Players of the Week are Lewisville linebacker Mark Cooper and Keller linebacker Parker Knowles! Lewisville and Keller will face one another in the regional semifinal and a pair of linebackers played a big role in that matchup coming to fruition.
Cooper recorded seven tackles and a tackle-for-loss to go with an interception and a forced fumble to help the Lewisville defense pitch a shutout in a 10-0 win against Arlington Martin! The Warriors had scored no less than 16 points in a game this season before Cooper and the Fighting Farmers defense held Arlington Martin without a point to eliminate the Warriors from the playoffs.
Knowles recorded 10 tackles and came up with the game sealing interception in a 23-21 win over Midland Legacy. That interception ended any hope Midland Legacy had of a come-from-behind win and allowed Keller to advance to its first regional semifinal game since 1966. Knowles and Cooper will each need big games on Saturday as only one can advance to the regional final.
College Player of the Week
My College Player of the Week is TCU kicker Griffin Kell! The former Arlington High School standout kept TCU’s College Football Playoff hopes alive by drilling a 40-yard field goal time expired to lift the No. 4 Horned Frogs past Baylor 29-28! It was a unique situation as the clock was running and Kell had to run on and rush the kick. TCU takes on Iowa State at home before facing either Kansas State or Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 3.
Thanksgiving Day practice is one of my favorite #txhsfb traditions! To celebrate Thanksgiving Day, enjoy these messages from teams that got together to practice today!
Cover Photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Staff Photographer Elías Valverde II.