Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Tom Fox
The 2023 Texas high school football season has kicked off and that means the Cooldown is back for another year to give a brief recap of games from around the metroplex, preview the upcoming football weekend, and handout offensive and defensive players of the week awards each week! With that being said, lets recap some of the best games from the opening weekend of football in the metroplex.
Duncanville defeats South Oak Cliff
There’s no better way to start off the season than with a matchup between two defending state champions. Duncanville had the clear advantage as the larger school, but these two programs figure to be right back in the mix for state titles this year. The Panthers came out on top with a 34-13 win over South Oak Cliff on Friday night at SMU’s Ford Stadium. If there was any takeaway from this game, Duncanville’s three-headed monster of Keelon Russell, Caden Durham and Dakorien Moore are going to be tough to stop this year.
Russell completed 12 of his 20 passing attempts for 366 yards and four touchdowns. The majority of the targets went to Moore, who finished with seven receptions for 281 yards and three scores. That’s an average of just over 40 yards-per-reception. Durham carried the ball 11 times for 108 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for those three, I don’t see too many games on the schedule that I truly believe will allow them to play into the fourth quarter. That could mean more work for JaQualon Armstrong, who carried the ball four times for 13 yards, and Ayson Theus, who caught two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
South Oak Cliff quarterback William Little completed 16 of his 24 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. That’s a good sign for the Golden Bears. South Oak Cliff struggled to run the ball, which makes sense given that Colin Simmons was lined up on the other side of the ball in this game. Running the ball won’t be as much of an issue as South Oak Cliff gets deeper into its schedule. The passing numbers against a good defense are encouraging though. Rickey Evans caught seven passes for 116 yards and Trey Jackson caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Little. Duncanville takes on Rockledge High School from Florida this weekend, while South Oak Cliff faces Lancaster in week two.
Melissa takes down Argyle
Melissa christened its brand new stadium with a big 50-14 win over Argyle. The Eagles scored the first touchdown in Kenny Deel Stadium, but Melissa rolled after going down 7-0 in the first quarter. The Cardinals scored 36 unanswered points between the second and third quarters to put the game out of reach. Melissa outgained Argyle by just over 200 yards, but both teams will need to clean up penalties going forward as the two teams combined for 26 penalties.
Melissa quarterback Trever Ham completed nine of 12 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals didn’t go to the air often, opting instead to hand it off to Nathan Adejokun 31 times for 231 yards and a touchdown. Adejokun’s successful night set up DK Abrams to score three touchdowns on just seven carries for 30 yards. Lincoln Dunn led the Cardinals in receiving with three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. Karson Maynard added three receptions for 46 yards and a score.
Prosper sneaks by Trinity
Prosper and Trinity have been involved in two thrillers in the last year. A year ago, Prosper beat Trinity 17-13 in a low scoring game filled with turnovers. This season, the Eagles outlasted the Trojans 42-41 in a high scoring affair dominated by the ground game. That’s right, Prosper beat Trinity at its own game, outgaining the Trojans 430-322 on the ground. The Eagles jumped out to a big lead, but a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter allowed Trinity to score two touchdowns and come a two-point conversion away from winning the game.
Prosper quarterback Nathan TenBarge completed 11 of his 18 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. TenBarge did the majority of his damage on the ground, rushing for 137 yards and four touchdowns on just eight carries. Josh Martinez led the Eagles on the ground with 22 carries for 172 yards and a touchdown. Blake Summers led the receivers with five receptions for 49 yards. Lathan Latiolais caught two passes for 21 yards and a score in the win.
Trinity quarterback TJ Tupou finished with nearly an identical line to Tenbarge’s, completing 12 of his 18 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown through the air, as well as one on the ground. Josh Bell led the Trojans on the ground with 16 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns. JT Harries carried the ball 12 times for 111 yards with all 12 carries coming in the second half. Buddy Leota added five carries for 60 yards and a score on the ground. Jarvis Heimuli caught four passes for 46 yards and a touchdown to lead the Trojans in receiving.
Games to Watch
Thursday, August 31
Denton Braswell (0-1) @ Keller Fossil Ridge (0-1)
Denton Braswell and Keller Fossil Ridge both opened up the season with a loss, though both games were decided by one score. The Bengals fell to Eaton 28-22 and the Panthers lost to Flower Mound 38-31. Both teams out gained its opponents in week one. I think these teams are evenly matched and I am excited to see how this one turns out. We’re still in non-district play so there aren’t any significant consequences to this game but starting 1-1 is a lot better than starting 0-2.
Gunter (1-0) @ Prosper Walnut Grove (1-0)
Prosper Walnut Grove is 1-0 in school history. It’s also 1-0 against defending state champions. Lucky for Walnut Grove, it will get a chance to go 2-0 in both categories this weekend. After defeating Malvern (AR) High 57-54, the defending 4A State Champion from Arkansas, Walnut Grove gets a shot at a Gunter team that went 15-0 en route to a state title last year. Gunter hammered San Antonio Cornerstone 53-7 to open the year. As impressive as the programs first win was, I will be interested to see if Walnut Grove can be competitive against an excellent Gunter team.
Friday, September 1
C.E. King (1-0) @ Allen (0-1)
C.E. King comes up from the Houston area to face Allen for a second straight year. Both years Allen suffered a big week one loss. Last year, the Eagles lost to St. John Bosco (CA) High 52-14. This year, it was DeSoto that delivered a 39-7 blow to Allen in week one. C.E. King, meanwhile, beat Crosby 58-22 in week one. Allen bounced back last year to beat the Panthers 49-14. This game should give us a good idea at what Allen’s real potential is this year. I will be in attendance to find out as I help our sister show, IHSS Houston, with coverage.
Aledo (1-0) @ Denton Guyer (1-0)
Aledo and Denton Guyer both got off to strong starts this year. The Bearcats beat Parish Episcopal 50-35 while Denton Guyer trounced Rockwall Heath 42-14. Denton Guyer took it to Aledo last year, beating the Bearcats 44-14 on the road. This year its Aledo that has the experienced quarterback with TCU commit Hauss Hejny returning, while Denton Guyer replaced Jackson Arnold (OU) with Logan McLaughlin. It was an impressive debut for McLaughlin against Heath, passing for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He will need a repeat performance to hang with Hejny this weekend.
Lewisville (1-0) @ Highland Park (1-0)
Lewisville hammered Naaman Forest 50-7 after jumping out to a 50-0 halftime lead last week, while Highland Park flexed its muscles offensively against Flower Mound Marcus in a 56-24 win over Flower Mound Marcus. The Scots almost never lose at home, but Lewisville may come to Highland Park and do just that this weekend. This will be a game to keep an eye on.
Lancaster (1-0) @ South Oak Cliff (0-1)
We know South Oak Cliff tries its best to put together the toughest non-district schedule in the state. That non-district schedule continues with Lancaster this week. We know South Oak Cliff dropped its opener to Duncanville, but this should be a more competitive game as both schools are in the 5A ranks. Lancaster opened its season with a 28-14 win over Dallas Skyline and won the matchup with the Golden Bears last year 21-3. Obviously, South Oak Cliff still went on to win the 5A DII title, so this game doesn’t hold much consequence. This should be a great game between two great teams.
Offensive Player of the Week
My first Offensive Player of the Week award of the 2023 season goes to Lovejoy receiver Parker Livingstone! The Texas commit hauled in 12 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns and also threw a 52-yard touchdown pass in the Leopards’ 50-37 win over College Station! Lovejoy will ask a lot of Livingstone throughout the season, including in its upcoming matchup at Argyle.
Defensive Player of the Week
My first Defensive Player of the Week award of the 2023 season goes to Mesquite Horn defensive lineman Armstrong Nnodim! The Oklahoma State commit dominated against Plano West, racking up eight tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and four sacks. Nnodim’s performance helped hold the Plano West offense to a paltry 12 points in the Jaguars 36-12 win. Nnodim set a Mesquite Horn record for sacks in a career and still has a nine regular seasons games plus a likely trip to the playoffs to continue to add to that record.
College Player of the Week
College football also returned last weekend! The week zero slate might have been slim, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t former metroplex stars performing at a high level. Former Highland Park quarterback Brayden Schager passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns for Hawaii in its 35-28 loss to Vanderbilt. His favorite target was former Trinity receiver Pofele Ashlock, who caught seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Good luck to Schager and Ashlock the rest of the season!
Cover Photo courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Staff Photographer Tom Fox.