Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at IHSS!
The area round delivered a ton of close, competitive games. I attended two games and both went to overtime. Our own Professor Diggs attended three games, and two of those were decided by five total points. We’re at that point in the Texas high school football season where every team is talented, and most have expectations of practicing on Thanksgiving. The teams that won over the weekend will get that coveted Thanksgiving Day practice ahead of next weekend’s regional semifinal matchups. Let’s recap the area round and preview the best regional semifinal games in the metroplex.
Allen eliminates Arlington Martin
I attended two different overtime thrillers over the weekend, the first of which was Allen’s thrilling 36-33 win over Arlington Martin in overtime. I said last week that this game would look a lot different than Allen’s 51-31 win over the Warriors earlier in the season, and that ended up being true. Allen did most of its damage on the ground with starting quarterback Brady Bricker out with an injury. The Eagles rushed for 290 yards and scored all of its touchdowns on the ground, including the game winner in overtime from Micah Ellis. Allen’s physicality impressed me in this game. Coach Lee Wiginton told me after the game he knew his team would have to be the more physical team to win the game, and that isn’t always easy to accomplish against a team like Arlington Martin.
Allen quarterback Dylan Chapman completed 13 of his 28 passes for 142 yards. As much as the ground game carried Allen, Chapman was able to deliver enough big plays when the Eagles needed it. Ellis was the leading rusher with 17 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns. Quinton House-Hammonds carried the ball nine times for 94 yards and a score and Amir McDowell added 14 yards and a touchdown on six carries. House-Hammonds led the receivers with five receptions for 54 yards and Messiah Washington added two receptions for 44 yards.
Arlington Martin quarterback Tristan Bittle completed 11 of his 23 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Logan Baresh led the receivers with four receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The two Baresh touchdown receptions gave the Warriors their largest lead of the game at 17-7 in the 2nd quarter. Daylon Cobb led the ground attack with five carries for 43 yards and Brooks Brigance added 12 carries for 36 yards and a score. The Brigance touchdown run came from 12 yards out after Allen muffed a punt to set Arlington Martin up in the red zone. The Warriors had a chance to win the game in regulation but missed a 44-yard field goal from Harry Davidson sent the game to overtime instead.
Allen has a regional semifinal date with Midland Legacy as a result of the overtime win over Arlington Martin. The Rebels were winners in the other game I attended over the weekend, hanging on for a 57-55 win over Trinity in double overtime. Allen will need to contain running back Damien Johnson better than Trinity did. Allen will need defensive end Zina Umeozulu to have a big game against a good Midland Legacy offensive line. Rebels quarterback Marcos Davila can spin it as well. Slowing down the Midland Legacy offense will prove to be a tougher task than scoring on its defense, but I think Allen will find a way to win against a tough west Texas squad.
Forney eliminates Frisco Lone Star
Our own Professor Diggs was on hand for Forney’s 26-24 win over Frisco Lone Star last weekend. Forney out-gained Frisco Lone Star 417-175, but turned the ball over five times to keep the Rangers in it. Frisco Lone Star is a good program that is tough to beat, but Forney will be lucky to win any playoff game the rest of the way if it makes a habit of turning the ball over that often. The Jackrabbits have a ton of talent on both sides of the football, but cleaning up the turnovers is paramount to determining how the rest of Forney’s season plays out.
Forney quarterback Kyle Crawford completed 14 of his 24 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown. Kofi Eduful led the receivers with five receptions for 90 yards, and Imari Jehiel added three receptions for 58 yards and a score. Javian Osborne carried the ground game, gaining 200 yards and scoring two touchdown on 32 attempts. Only scoring three touchdowns despite gaining nearly 500 yards of offense is a tad disappointing in my estimation, but that goes to show how talented Forney is and how out of hand this game could have been had the Jackrabbits taken better care of the football.
Frisco Lone Star quarterback Collin Blackstock completed 10 of his 24 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Davian Groce led the receivers and the rushers with four receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown, and nine carries for 35 yards and two scores on the ground. The next leading receiver was Dekhari Dean with two receptions for 22 yards, and the next leading rusher, aside from Groce and Blackstock, was Isaiah Massey, who gained four yards on a single carry. The Rangers offense will need to be more diverse next season if they want to advance past the area round. Blackstock and Groce are good players, but Blackstock graduates and will need to be replaced, and other players will need to step up around Groce for Frisco Lone Star to take the next step.
Forney advances to the regional semifinal to take on a Richland squad I saw in person in the bi-district round. The Royals dominated Frisco, but advanced to the regional semifinal in much different fashion. Richland trailed Barbers Hill 34-9 at halftime before reeling off 25 unanswered points to open the second half to tie the game. Richland ultimately eliminated Barbers Hill 48-47 thanks to 309 yards and five total touchdown from running back Michael Turner. Richland will be tough to eliminate, and something tells me Forney might not be able to survive another multiple turnover game from the offense. At the end of the day, I am picking Forney to win this one, but don’t be surprised if Richland wins it if the Royals can force some turnovers.
South Oak Cliff eliminates Melissa
South Oak Cliff eliminated Melissa 38-30 to keep its title defense alive another week. Two years ago I picked Aledo to beat South Oak Cliff because I needed to see the Bearcats lose to believe it. Aledo had more than earned that type of respect. Now, South Oak Cliff is in that same position. Melissa had a lot of talent and a great season. The same could be said about Lovejoy. Ultimately, the exciting prospect of seeing a new team at state this year distracts from how good and how well-coached South Oak Cliff is. I picked Lovejoy to win 5A DII a few weeks ago and I probably should not have done that. I still think South Oak Cliff meets Lovejoy in what will essentially be the state title game, but South Oak Cliff has earned its respect as a championship level program. Until I see it, I won’t believe the Golden Bears will lose in the playoffs. I should have kept that in mind a few weeks ago when making my state championship predictions.
South Oak Cliff quarterback William Little completed nine of his 15 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Daveon Ennis caught three passes for 53 yards to lead the receivers. Trey Jackson added a 35 yard reception and Elijah Baesa caught a 30 yard touchdown pass. Danny Green led the offense with 22 carries for 128 yards and three touchdowns. Khalil Ewell supplemented Green’s production with 18 carries for 55 yards and a score.
Melissa quarterback Trever Ham completed 22 of his 35 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Ham and receiver Karson Maynard delivered one last mega performance with Maynard catching nine passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Lincoln Dunn added five receptions for 61 yards. Nathan Adejokun led the ground attack with 16 carries for 60 yards and a score. As great of a season as Melissa had, sometimes you just run into a championship level program in the playoffs, and that is exactly what South Oak Cliff is.
Midlothian Heritage won’t be easy to beat. The Jaguars are 12-0 for a reason, but tough playoff runs are exactly what South Oak Cliff is used to. 5A DII Region II has been one of the toughest playoff regions over the last few seasons, and this year is no different. The Golden Bears already sent Melissa packing, and there is no reason South Oak Cliff can’t do the same to Midlothian Heritage.
Games to Watch
Friday, November 24
Highland Park (11-1) @ Southlake Carroll (11-1)
Southlake Carroll meets Highland Park in the regional semifinal on Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. Highland Park eliminated McKinney 22-21 in a come-from-behind victory while Southlake Carroll beat up on Wolfforth Frenship 49-14 to advance. I think Southlake Carroll has too much offense for Highland Park to keep up with and should win this one to advance to the state semifinal.
Red Oak (12-0) @ Aledo (12-0)
Aledo and Red Oak each carry undefeated records into a regional semifinal matchup at Choctaw Stadium at 7:30 on Friday night. This game follows the Southlake Carroll vs Highland Park matchup. Red Oak eliminated Amarillo 35-28 last weekend while Aledo eliminated Lubbock Cooper 48-31. As I mentioned earlier, Aledo earned its respect as a dominant 5A DII program. The Bearcats are at that level in 5A DI with a 26-2 record and a state title since making the jump up a level in 2022. I am picking Aledo in this one.
Forney (11-1) @ Richland (12-0)
Forney travels to Richland to take on the Rebels on Friday night at 6 at Birdville ISD’s FAAC. Richland eliminated Barbers Hill 48-47 in a big come-from-behind win last weekend. The Royals can thank running back Michael Turner and the offensive line for advancing to face Forney. The Jackrabbits eliminated a good Frisco Lone Star squad as outlined above. Richland has had a great season, but so has Forney. As impressed as I have been with Richland this season, I’m taking Forney in a close one.
Saturday, November 25
Prosper (11-1) @ North Crowley (12-0)
North Crowley takes on Prosper on Saturday afternoon at 2 at the Star in Frisco. Our own Professor Diggs will be on hand with live coverage from this one. North Crowley eliminated Odessa Permian 63-10 in the area round, while Prosper advanced by way of a 44-24 win over Lake Highlands. I think this game will be close, and Prosper is never an easy team to eliminate, but I think North Crowley is too good on offense for the Eagles to keep up. Give me North Crowley.
Coppell (12-0) @ Byron Nelson (12-0)
Byron Nelson takes on Coppell Saturday afternoon at 3:30 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. Both of these teams have impressed this season. Coppell eliminates Jesuit 42-23 in the area round while Byron Nelson smothered Midland 35-7. I am interested to see how this game plays out. I really like the playmakers on the Cowboys offense, but I also think Byron Nelson has a better defense than Coppell’s seen all season. I am taking Byron Nelson in a game that might as well be a coin flip and could come down to the final few possessions.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Player of the Week is Rockwall running back Ashten Emory! Rockwall eliminated Waxahachie 46-43 behind Emory’s big performance! Emory carried the ball 31 times for 270 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Rockwall faces Spring Westfield on Saturday afternoon at 3 at the Pfield in Pflugerville. The winner advances to face the winner of Duncanville and The Woodlands in the 6A DI Region II Final.
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Player of the Week is Prosper defensive back Andrew Ward! Prosper eliminated Lake Highlands 44-24 and Ward contributed to the win in a multitude of ways! Ward finished with eight tackles, two assisted tackles, three sacks, three tackles-for-loss and a QB hurry in the win! Prosper will need another impressive defensive performance this weekend against a dynamic North Crowley offense.