The Cooldown- Week Nine
Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Matt Strasen.
Believe it or not there are just two weeks remaining in the 2021 regular season. The next two weeks will decide which teams get to continue into the playoffs and which teams will watch the playoffs from home. Here’s a quick recap of last weekend’s action and a preview of the upcoming football weekend and how the playoff picture in some districts might take shape with certain outcomes.
Lovejoy beats Frisco
It’s time to start talking about Lovejoy as a team that could make it to Arlington again. The Leopards lost a heartbreaker to Aledo in the playoffs last year, but Lovejoy has the talent to make another run at a State Championship Game appearance. Lovejoy handled Frisco 38-15 to send a message to the rest of state that it is for real.
Quarterback Alexander Franklin passed for 213 yards and four touchdowns with all 14 completions going to one of Lovejoy’s fantastic three receivers. Jaxson Lavender led the way with nine receptions for 128 yards and two scores. Parker Livingstone added 69 yards and a touchdown and Kyle Parker finished with 16 yards and a score on three receptions. Noah Naidoo had another big night on the ground with 133 yards and a touchdown.
The Lovejoy defense was impressive as well, holding a potent Frisco offense to just 126 yards and seven first downs on the night. Brandon Miyazono scored a touchdown on the ground and Aaron Jamison- Johnson returned a kickoff 74 yards for a score. Lovejoy allowed just one offensive touchdown against a team that had scored no less than 28 points in a game before last Friday night.
Frisco Wakeland bounces back against Frisco Reedy
Frisco Wakeland needed a win over Frisco Reedy after a loss to Lone Star in order to lock down the third playoff spot in District 5-5A DI. Denton Ryan and Frisco Lone Star will be the top two teams in the district and Frisco Wakeland has all but locked up the third playoff spot. That leaves Reedy and The Colony to compete for the last playoff spot in the district.
Wakeland quarterback Brennan Myer passed for 101 yards and a touchdown in the win. Davion Woolen led the receivers with three receptions for 64 yards and a score while Jared White gained 123 yards and scored three touchdowns on 17 carries.
Frisco Reedy’s furious comeback attempt fell just short after the Lions trailed 28-6 to start the fourth quarter. The Lions outgained Wakeland 456-226 but couldn’t recover from five turnovers. AJ Padgett passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns and Erik Barr led the receivers with nine receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown. AJ Jayroe also had a big night with eight receptions for 113 yards and a score. Reedy will face The Colony on the last week of the season in a game that could very well decide which team gets the last playoff spot in District 5-5A DI.
Flower Mound Marcus beats Hebron
Flower Mound Marcus has also just about locked up a playoff in District 6-6A. The Marauders knocked off Hebron from the ranks of the undefeated in district play with a 28-14 victory last weekend. Marcus will attempt to do it again this weekend in the Battle of the Axe against Lewisville- the last remaining undefeated team in District 6-6A play.
Marcus is still deploying two quarterbacks but Jaxxon Warren has been attempting more passes than Cole Welliver each week. Warren completed 11 of his 23 passes for 144 yards. Welliver completed five of his seven passes for 78 yards. Dallas Dudley led the receivers with eight receptions for 123 yards. Gabe Espinoza rushed for 81 yards and three touchdowns to power Marcus to the win.
Hebron couldn’t get much going on the ground, but Jacob Buniff passed for 351 yards and two scores and Takoda Bridges caught 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Hebron falls to 4-1 in district play- tied with Marcus for the second playoff spot. Of course, Marcus holds the tiebreaker with the win- putting Hebron firmly in the third playoff spot. Coppell and Flower Mound are each 2-3 and competing for the last district spot.
Games to Watch
Thursday, October 28
Byron Nelson @ Keller
Keller’s 36-35 loss to Keller Fossil Ridge makes the race for the last two playoff spots in District 4-6A a little more interesting. Keller still hasn’t had a bye week- and won’t until the last week of the regular season. The Indians might be experiencing some fatigue at this point of the season but can’t afford to play poorly against Byron Nelson. A loss would drop Keller to the fourth playoff spot and put the Indians' in jeopardy of missing the playoffs altogether. After a 5-0 start, it would be one of the biggest collapses in recent memory.
Byron Nelson, on the other hand, has been trending in the right direction with back-to-back wins and is coming off a bye week so they'll have fresh legs for this one. The Bobcats are 2-2 in District 4-6A and have two winnable games remaining on the schedule. A win over Keller would lock up the third playoff spot in the district.
Little Elm @ Denton Guyer
Denton Guyer’s fate in District 5-6A is pretty much sealed. A loss to Allen determined the Wildcats would finish in second place in the district. Little Elm desperately needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Even a win over Denton Guyer wouldn’t guarantee Little Elm a playoff spot. Having a high-powered offense will certainly help the Lobos but the defense will need to get a few stops.
Friday, October 29
Lewisville @ Flower Mound Marcus
It’s the 36th edition of the Battle of the Axe and Lewisville will be looking to reclaim the Axe from Marcus after the Marauders took down the Fighting Farmers in Lewisville last year. A win for Marcus would put it into a tie for first place in District 6-6A with Lewisville at 5-1 and it would hold the tiebreaker with the head-to-head win. Lewisville would remain undefeated in district play with a win but would still have to beat Hebron on the last week of the season to clinch the district championship outright.
Arlington Martin @ Grand Prairie
Grand Prairie just keeps winning. The Gophers are 5-0 in District 8-6A but will face their toughest district opponent yet. Arlington Martin is 4-0 and is the traditional powerhouse program in the district- and I know Bob Wager isn’t going to let his team overlook this Grand Prairie squad. Even if Grand Prairie losses on Friday- it can finish no worse than second place in the district. Regardless of Friday’s outcome- these two teams will likely finish in the top two spots in District 8-6A.
Arlington Lamar @ Arlington
Keeping it in District 8-6A- Lamar will Arlington on Friday in a game that is crucial for playoff positioning. South Grand Prairie (3-2) is in third place in the district and still has a game against Arlington Lamar left. The Vikings are currently the fourth-place team in the district and Arlington (1-3) will be its only challenger for that final playoff spot. If Arlington beats Lamar, both teams will be 2-3 and Arlington would hold the tiebreaker. Arlington’s final district game is against an 0-4 Bowie squad, making this a must win game for both teams in order to decide the last playoff spot.
Flower Mound @ Plano
All three Plano schools are 1-4 in District 6-6A play and all are technically still alive for a playoff spot. Plano has the easiest schedule of those three schools and has the best chance to make the playoffs as a result. Still, there is ground to be made up as the Wildcats trail both Coppell and Flower Mound (2-3) for the last playoff spot. Flower Mound has Plano and Coppell left on the schedule and can clinch a playoff spot if it wins both games. Plano and Coppell can eliminate the Jaguars with wins. The winner of Friday night’s game will be well positioned for a playoff spot while the loser will likely be eliminated from playoff contention.
Weatherford @ North Crowley
Weatherford and North Crowley are each 4-1 in District 3-6A play and this game will decide which team locks up second place in the district. Trinity will win the district and Haltom (3-2) will try to hold off Boswell (2-3) for the final playoff spot. Weatherford and North Crowley will likely end up as the two teams between Trinity and the final playoff spot- making this game that much more important.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Player of the Week is The Colony running back Kamden Wesley! The Colony got a much needed 44-32 win over Frisco Independence with Frisco Lone Star still on the schedule. We’re barreling towards a matchup between Frisco Reedy and The Colony on November 5th with the winner going to the playoffs and the loser going home. Wesley rushed for 259 yards and four touchdowns in the win and will need to have a similar performance in two weeks to help The Colony clinch a playoff spot!
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Player of the Week is Frisco Wakeland linebacker Michael Flanagan! Frisco Wakeland essentially clinched the third playoff spot in District 5-5A DI with a 35-28 win over Frisco Reedy. Flanagan played a big role in the win with seven tackles and two interceptions- including a pick six! Flanagan also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. In all, Flanagan accounted for three of the five turnovers the Frisco Wakeland defense forced on Frisco Reedy!
Cover Photo of Lovejoy receivers Parker Livingstone and Kyle Park courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Special Contributor Matt Strasen.