Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ John F. Rhodes
Teams to remember win in December. That is how the saying goes, right? In all honesty, just making it to December is a massive victory. I know a lot of coaches and players across the state that want no part of a moral victory this weekend, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment. Before we look ahead to the regional final matchups across the metroplex, let’s take a look at some of the results in the regional semifinal round.
Southlake Carroll eliminates McKinney
Southlake Carroll got arguably its toughest test of the season on Friday afternoon against McKinney. Sure, Keller technically played the Dragons closer, losing 38-35 instead of 42-35, but a trip to the regional final was on the line in this game. McKinney hadn’t appeared in the regional semifinal round since 1993 while Southlake Carroll has advanced at least this far in the playoffs the last handful of years. Ultimately, the Dragons prevailed thanks to a big fourth quarter to “Protect the Tradition.”
Southlake Carroll quarterback Graham Knowles completed 25 of his 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was Jacob Jordan, who led the Dragons in receiving with 214 yards and a score on seven receptions. Caden Jackson caught 11 passes for 87 yards while Clayton Wayland caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. Owen Allen turned in another signature playoff performance, carrying the ball 34 times for 221 yards and four touchdowns.
McKinney quarterback Keldric Luster completed seven of his 12 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns and also lead the Lions in rushing with 139 yards on 19 attempts. Bryan Jackson carried the ball 16 times for 96 yards and a touchdown and also threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Stanley on a trick play. D’Kedrion Abrams carried the ball six times for 20 yards and a score. Stanley led the Lions in receiving with three receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Khali Best caught a 53-yard touchdown pass from Luster to close out the first half.
Southlake Carroll outscored McKinney 21-7 in the fourth quarter to secure the win. McKinney will look to build off of its most successful season since the 1990’s next year while the Dragons continue their playoff march.
Denton Guyer eliminates Byron Nelson
An offensive shootout was the only possible outcome of these two teams meeting in the playoffs. Denton Guyer and Byron Nelson had two of the most prolific offensive attacks in the metroplex this season and didn’t disappoint as Denton Guyer eliminated the Bobcats 59-41. Denton Guyer led 28-21 at halftime and 38-28 heading to the fourth quarter. The two schools combined for 996 yards of offense with the Wildcats outgaining Byron Nelson 520-476.
Denton Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold completed eight of his 16 passes for 162 yards and added 154 yards and three touchdowns on 23 attempts on the ground. Trey Joyner rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries and Ahmed Yussuf added 63 yards and a score on 19 attempts. Landon Sides led the receivers with two receptions for 58 yards and Si Stovall added two receptions for 46 yards.
Byron Nelson quarterback Jake Wilson completed 26 of his 41 passes for 386 yards and five touchdowns. Gavin McCurley led the receivers with four receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Kurt Ippolito added six receptions for 100 yards and two scores and Landon Ransom- Goelz caught seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Darden led the rushing attack with 14 carries for 60 yards. Darden also logged five receptions for 43 yards.
The Byron Nelson offense was one of the most exciting to watch this season and that held true all the way to its final game. Wilson and his receivers went out slinging after two seasons terrorizing secondaries across the metroplex. Denton Guyer has done much of the same of the last several years but chose to get it done on the ground against the Bobcats. The Wildcats have made a bit of a home at the Ford Center, winning playoff games the last two weeks in the Dallas Cowboys headquarters.
Aledo eliminates Midlothian
Aledo trailed Midlothian heading into the fourth quarter before outscoring the Panthers by two touchdowns in the final frame to clinch a 27-21 win. Touchdown runs from Hawk Patrick- Daniels and Davhon Keys powered Aledo back to the regional final after a short hiatus.
Aledo quarterback Hauss Hejny completed 12 of his 18 passes for 120 yards and carried the ball 15 times for 112 yards and a touchdown to lead the Bearcats in rushing. Patrick- Daniels carried the ball nine times for 72 yards and two touchdowns and Davhon Keys added three carries for 26 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jalen Pope led Aledo in receiving with five receptions for 76 yards.
Midlothian quarterback Chad Ragle completed two of his six passes for 44 yards as the Panthers elected to get it done on the ground. Ragle carried the ball 17 times for 52 yards while Michael Garber led the Panthers rushing attack with 17 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns. De’ago Benson added seven carries for 83 yards and a touchdown and Jordon Richburg carried the ball seven times for 63 yards. Bryant Wesco was the only Panther receiver to catch a pass, catching both completed passes for 44 yards.
Midlothian had a fantastic season and almost made it to the regional final. The Benson touchdown run gave the Panthers a 21-14 lead late in the third quarter and made it 21 unanswered points for Midlothian before Aledo responded in the fourth quarter. The Bearcats will get a shot at a regional championship thanks to that fourth quarter shutout.
Games to Watch
DeSoto (11-2) vs Killeen Harker Heights (12-1)
DeSoto takes on Killeen Harker Heights for the 6A DII Region II Championship on Friday night at 7:00 at Waco’s McLane Stadium. The Eagles eliminated Tomball 38-14 behind a big game from quarterback Darius Bailey and receiver Johntay Cook. Harker Heights is returning to familiar confines after eliminating Spring Dekaney 63-35 at McLane Stadium last weekend.
These two teams have a pair of common opponents. DeSoto beat Mansfield 28-16 while Harker Heights eliminated the Tigers from the playoffs 26-2. Harker Heights beat Pflugerville Weiss 21-14 back in September while DeSoto eliminated the Wolves 37-20. This should be a good game, but I don’t think Harker Heights will be able to keep up with the DeSoto offense. I’m taking the Eagles in this one.
Mansfield Timberview (13-0) vs Longview (13-0)
Mansfield Timberview takes on Longview for the 5A DI Region II Championship on Friday night at 7:00 at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium. The Wolves eliminated Frisco Reedy 28-26 last week while Longview advanced via a 51-7 win over Port Arthur Memorial. Mansfield Timberview is fast and runs the football well with Jarvis Reed, Cameron Bates, Zuric Humes and Javeon Madison. Longview has a dynamic offense with QB Jordan Allen, RB Taylor Tatum and WR Jalen Hale. The Lobos defense is as stingy as they come. North Mesquite managed to score 19 points on Longview and Frisco Lone Star put up 17 points on the Lobos in the playoffs. Ultimately, I think the Longview defense powers the Lobos to the state semifinals, but don’t be surprised if Mansfield Timberview scores a new season high on the Longview defense in the process.
South Oak Cliff (10-3) vs Melissa (11-2)
South Oak Cliff faces Melissa for the 5A DII Region II Championship on Friday night at 7:30 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington. South Oak Cliff has faced one of the more difficult playoff roads in the state and has proved it is a championship level program. The Golden Bears defeated Midlothian Heritage 33-27 in overtime last week while Melissa eliminated Terrell 42-21. Melissa beat Lovejoy 36-35 to win a district championship while South Oak Cliff eliminated the Leopards 42-37. Melissa is a really good team, but I think South Oak Cliff shows its championship pedigree once again and advances to the state semifinal.
Prosper (12-1) vs Lewisville (12-1)
Prosper takes on Lewisville for the 6A DI Region I Championship on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 at McKinney ISD Stadium. Prosper eliminated North Crowley 35-21 last week after Lewisville eliminated Keller 43-3 as part of a double-header at Choctaw Stadium. Prosper has advanced to the regional final each of the last several years but hasn’t been able to advance to a state semifinal. Harrison Rosar will need to continue spreading the ball around to different receivers and putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. Lewisville’s rushing attack with Viron Ellison and Ethan Terrell is tough to stop and takes a lot of time off the clock. This should be a great game that I wouldn’t be surprised to see go either way, but I have Prosper winning a close one.
Duncanville (12-1) vs Spring Westfield (12-1)
Duncanville faces Spring Westfield for the 6A DI Region II Championship on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 at Georgetown ISD Stadium. The Panthers will look to eliminate a Houston area squad for the second straight week after eliminated The Woodlands 35-3 last weekend. Spring Westfield eliminated Waxahachie 10-7 after QB PJ Hatter engineered a 91-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Duncanville handled Waxahachie 24-7 in the regular season. Spring Westfield is a good team, but not good enough to hang with Duncanville. Give me the Panthers!
Denton Guyer (13-0) vs Southlake Carroll (13-0)
Denton Guyer takes on Southlake Carroll for the 6A DII Region I Championship on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 at Northwest ISD Stadium. Owen Allen has had a legendary career at Southlake Carroll, but it might take a beyond legendary performance from Allen to extend his career and the Dragons season. The Denton Guyer defense allowed Highland Park to score 42 points and Byron Nelson to score 41 points the last two weeks. Southlake Carroll will need to put up a similar number to have a chance. Jackson Arnold and the Denton Guyer offense scored 42 against Flower Mound Marcus in the opening round of the playoffs before scoring 63 on Highland Park and 59 on Byron Nelson. With two football traditions this strong and rosters this talented, anything could happen. I am taking Denton Guyer to win a game similar to how it won the last two weeks- by scoring 50+ points in a close shootout.
Burleson Centennial (12-1) vs Aledo (11-2)
Burleson Centennial faces Aledo for the 5A DI Region I Championship on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 at the Ford Center in Frisco. Burleson Centennial eliminated Abilene 24-14 last week and Aledo won a close game over Midlothian. Check my recap of the Aledo win above. Aledo beat Burleson Centennial 64-21 in district play in what is still the Spartans only loss of the year. Other than blowout wins over Saginaw and Fort Worth South Hills, 64 points is the most Aledo has scored all year. I have Aledo beating Burleson Centennial and advancing to another state semifinal game.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Player of the Week is Prosper quarterback Harrison Rosar! Prosper beat North Crowley 35-21 to advance to another regional final game. Rosar completed 20 of his 30 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns! Rosar completed passes to seven different receivers with his top target, Hunter Summers, out with an injury. Rosar will try to power Prosper past Lewisville and to the state semifinal game this weekend!
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Player of the Week is Argyle safety Devon Owen! Argyle eliminated Grapevine 44-27 in large part thanks to Owen’s big game! Owen finished with nine tackles, two pass break-ups and an interception returned for a touchdown! Argyle (13-0) takes on Abilene Wylie (10-3) for the 5A DII Region I Championship on Friday night at 7:00 at Stephenville’s Memorial Stadium. Argyle should get past Abilene Wylie and I’m sure Owen will play a role in the outcome.
College Player of the Week
My College Player of the Week is Tulsa quarterback Braylon Braxton! The former Frisco Independence star completed 25 of his 43 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns and led the Golden Hurricanes in rushing with 51 yards and a score on 11 carries. Tulsa beat Houston 37-30 to finish the season at 5-7. Asking a redshirt freshman to throw 43 passes and beat a good Houston program is a lot, but Braxton was up to the task. Now that Tulsa’s season is over, Braxton has announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal and would be a great addition to a number of teams across the country looking for a quarterback!
Cover Photo of Southlake Carroll running back Owen Allen courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Special Contributor John F. Rhodes.