Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Emil Lippe
We are well into October and the stretch run of the regular season is officially here. Most teams across the state have played six or seven games out of 10 and have just a few games left to make a playoff push, lock down a playoff spot, or gain momentum heading into next year. The playoff picture is beginning to take shape, and, for some teams, there are some serious ramifications. Some teams will be making a playoff push while other 6A teams anxiously watch other district scores in hopes of going Division II instead of Division I. Let’s recap the week seven action and preview week eight.
Flower Mound Marcus outlasts Coppell in Overtime
Coppell and Flower Mound Marcus squared off on Friday night with Coppell looking to stay undefeated in district play and Marcus looking to improve its district record to a winning record and avoid dropping to a losing record.
Jaxxon Warren found Ashton Cozart for a score to start the 4th quarter and give the Marauders a 17-14 lead. Coppell answered with a field goal on its ensuing drive before Cole Welliver connected with Cozart for a 70-yard touchdown pass to give Marcus a 24-17 lead with 3:34 remaining in the game. Coppell didn’t take long to answer as Jack Fishpaw found Charlie Baker for a 76-yard score a few plays later. Marcus and Coppell each scored on the ground in the first overtime to bring the score to 31-31. Gabe Espinoza started the scoring in the second overtime and Warren connected with Connor Vaughn for a two-point conversion to give Marcus a 39-31 lead. Coppell answered with a Fishpaw touchdown pass to Luca Grosoli but Chance Sautter would intercept Fishpaw’s pass on Coppell’s two-point conversion to give Marcus a 39-37 win.
There are currently four definitive playoff teams in District 6-6A. Hebron and Lewisville are each 3-0 and Coppell and Flower Mound Marcus are now both 2-1. Flower Mound and Plano East are each 1-2 and looking to unseat one of the playoff teams with Plano and Plano West all but out of the playoff picture sitting at 0-3. Marcus will host Plano West next before playing at Hebron. Coppell plays Hebron this weekend and gets Lewisville next week.
Grand Prairie beats South Grand Prairie
Another game that turned a district playoff race on its head was Grand Prairie’s come-from-behind win over South Grand Prairie on Friday night. Grand Prairie beat South Grand Prairie 34-33 on a touchdown pass from Adrian Wilson to Kijon Anderson with :49 seconds remaining in the game. Grand Prairie trailed 26-7 at halftime but took momentum back as Drew Damper returned the kickoff coming out of halftime for a touchdown.
Wilson completed nine of his 12 passes for 132 yards and two scores. Damper rushed 15 times for 88 yards and two scores- and that doesn’t count his kickoff return. Savion Red led the receivers with 86 yards and a score and Kijon Anderson finished with 46 yards and the game-winning touchdown reception. Michael Stallworth passed for 236 yards and four touchdowns for South Grand Prairie and Matthew Ramirez was the leading receiver with 76 yards and a score. A.J. Newberry rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Grand Prairie remains undefeated in District 8-6A with the win. Arlington Martin is the only other team in District 8-6A that is still undefeated in district play. Arlington Lamar is 1-1 and currently in the playoff picture and will have to hold off South Grand Prairie and Arlington for a playoff spot. Arlington and South Grand Prairie are both 1-2 but if Martin, Grand Prairie and Lamar all make the playoffs, only one of Arlington and South Grand Prairie can make the playoffs.
Cedar Hill sneaks past Waxahachie
Cedar Hill downed Waxahachie 14-10 on a last-minute touchdown run from quarterback Cedric Harden Jr. on Friday night. Cedar Hill hasn’t scored 14 points or less in a win since a 10-7 win over Mansfield back in 2018. The box score indicates Cedar Hill should have won this game by a few touchdowns. The Longhorns out gained the Indians 337-218 and neither team turned the ball over. Penalties ultimately killed Cedar Hill as the Horns were penalized 10 times for 99 yards against just three penalties for 25 yards on Waxahachie.
Harden Jr. scored both of Cedar Hill’s touchdowns and both came on the ground as Harden Jr. rushed 13 times for 89 yards. Jaylen Jenkins carried the ball 17 times for 122 yards as well. Harden Jr. passed for 122 yards Jairrus Nicholson caught two passes for 83 yards to lead the receivers. Roderick Hartsfield Jr. was impressive for Waxahachie, completing nine of his 18 passes for 116 yards and a score. Joseph Lankford caught two passes for 58 yards and a touchdown to lead the Waxahachie receivers.
Cedar Hill remains undefeated in district play at 3-0 but has a tough stretch of games ahead. A big rivalry game with DeSoto awaits Cedar Hill on Friday before the Horns take on Duncanville the week after. Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Duncanville all figure to make the playoffs, leaving Waxahachie and Mansfield to fight for the last playoff spot.
Highland Park beats Longview
Highland Park won the de-facto District 7-5A DI Championship Game over Longview 21-16. The Scots have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way and should be riding a 9-1 record and a nine-game winning streak into the playoffs. Longview should also cruise through the rest of its schedule and head into the playoffs at 8-2.
Brennan Storer passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns for Highland Park and John Rutledge led the receivers with 96 yards and a score. Jay Cox added five receptions for 90 yards as the ground game struggled to get going. Jordan Allen passed for 156 yards and a score for Longview. Jalen Hale was his favorite target as Hale caught five passes for 55 yards. Taylor Tatum only caught one pass, but it went for a touchdown.
Highland Park flexed its muscles once again and has proven that it is a title contender in 5A Division I. The Scots have several wins over 6A teams and will likely end up undefeated in district play after a convincing win over Longview.
Games to Watch
Thursday, October 14
Denton Braswell @ McKinney
There are two clear cut playoff teams in District 5-6A. Allen and Denton Guyer are both undefeated in district play, at least until Friday. McKinney Boyd is 1-1 and every other team has a losing district record. Denton Braswell is tied with Little Elm and Prosper for the final playoff spot at 1-2 and McKinney is the only winless team in District 5-6A play at 0-2. That makes Thursday night’s game against Braswell a must-win for McKinney. Braswell really needs to win as well as a loss for either team would result in a third loss in district play. I have Braswell in a close one but wouldn’t be surprised to see McKinney get a win at home to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Garland @ Sachse
This game should feature a lot of points. Garland is undefeated and has scored no less than 41 points in a game so far this season. Sachse is 4-2 and scored 28 points in both of its losses while scoring at least 42 points in each of its wins. Garland and Sachse appear to be the best two teams in District 9-6A, although Naaman Forest shouldn’t be slept on. A showdown between Sachse and Naaman Forest on the last week of the regular season could be for the second playoff seed, if Sachse loses to Garland on Thursday night. Those three teams give District 9-6A three strong playoff teams while Wylie (2-1) and North Garland and Rowlett (1-2) compete for the last playoff spot. This game doesn’t have big playoff implications but should be a ton of fun anyway.
South Grand Prairie @ Sam Houston
This game is a must-win for both teams as far as the playoffs go. Arlington Martin and Grand Prairie will likely finish in the top two spots in District 8-6A. That leaves just two playoff spots. Sam Houston won three non-district games in a row heading into district play. An 0-2 start to district play with a heartbreaking loss to Arlington is not what Sam Houston had in mind. The Texans will need to win each of their next three games before ending the season with a game against Arlington Martin. South Grand Prairie’s two losses are both to the top two teams in the district. The Warriors should lock up a playoff spot with a strong finish against Sam Houston, Arlington and Arlington Lamar.
Friday, October 15
Cedar Hill @ DeSoto
The Battle of Beltline never disappoints. DeSoto has put up two strong performances in wins over Mansfield and Waco the last two weeks. The Eagles offense has been impressive, scoring 56 and 72 points in the wins. The Cedar Hill offense scored 36 points against Waco and just 14 points against Waxahachie last week. The Horns will likely have to score at a more efficient rate to have a chance to beat DeSoto on Friday. I can’t wait to see how the latest edition of this fierce rivalry unfolds.
Allen @ Denton Guyer
The de-facto District 5-6A Championship Game will take place in Denton on Friday night as Denton Guyer hosts the Allen Eagles. The only opponent these two teams have in common so far this season is Humble Atascocita out of the Houston area. Allen lost to Atascocita 41-20 and Guyer topped Atascocita two weeks later 46-35. Allen has looked much better since that loss to Atascocita, particularly on the offensive side of the ball as sophomore quarterback Mike Hawkins Jr. has adjusted to varsity football. I have Denton Guyer in a close, high-scoring game.
Frisco Lone Star @ Frisco Wakeland
District 5-5A DII has three strong playoff contenders. Denton Ryan and Frisco Lone Star are the powerhouses in the district while Frisco Wakeland has been a pleasant surprise this season. Denton Ryan and Frisco Lone Star are undefeated in district play while Wakeland’s lone district loss came to Denton Ryan 27-3. The Wolverines will need to score much more than three points to hang with Lone Star on Friday night, but this will be a good chance for Wakeland to see how much it has improved since the loss to Denton Ryan a few weeks back.
Keller Timber Creek @ Keller
Both Timber Creek and Keller are coming off losses heading into Friday night’s game. One team will break its losing streak while the other’s will continue. Keller’s off to a 1-2 start in district play after a 5-0 start to the season. The Indians lost to the top two teams in District 4-6A, Southlake Carroll and Eaton, and still have a shot to finish 8-2 and in third place in District 4-6A. Timber Creek is 1-1 in district play but lost to Byron Nelson 49-28 last week. Both teams need a win and I have Keller beating Timber Creek to snap its losing streak and climb back in the playoff picture.
McKinney Boyd @ Little Elm
McKinney Boyd and Little Elm are both square in the playoff hunt. McKinney Boyd lost its first game of the season two weeks ago to Allen 37-24 before taking a bye week last weekend. Little Elm lost its second district game to Allen last weekend 71-29. The Lobos also allowed Denton Braswell to score 63 points and Prosper to score 56 points in its other two district games. McKinney Boyd doesn’t have the most impressive offense in the district, but the Broncos are capable of putting up some points. I have McKinney Boyd in a shootout as the Bronco defense comes up with a stop when needed.
Rowlett @ North Garland
Both teams are 1-2 in district play and need a win this weekend to remain in the playoff hunt. North Garland still has a date with Garland while Rowlett still has to play both Naaman Forest and Garland, not to mention a tough Lakeview Centennial team to close out its schedule. North Garland has a better shot at making the playoffs of these two teams because of its remaining schedule. Those odds become very slim if North Garland losses to Rowlett on Friday night. I have North Garland in a close one and remaining in the hunt for the final playoff spot in District 9-6A.
Offensive Player of the Week
My Offensive Player of the Week is Plano East running back Ismail Mahdi! Plano East defeated Plano West 31-14 for its first win in district play this season. Mahdi rushed for 201 yards and a touchdown against Plano West and has been having a great season so far. If Plano East is able to make a playoff push- Mahdi will be the player that leads the Panthers back to the playoffs. It won’t be easy and a win at Flower Mound this weekend would go a long way to making a playoff appearance happen for Plano East.
Defensive Player of the Week
My Defensive Player of the Week is Cedar Hill linebacker Donovan Malone! Cedar Hill edged Waxahachie 14-10 to remain undefeated in district play. Malone finished with 13 tackles and was responsible for three stops on fourth down, according to the Dallas Morning News. Malone will need to have another big game this weekend against DeSoto to get the Eagles off the field and keep the Cedar Hill offense on the field.
Cover Photo of Grand Prairie's Savion Red Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Special Contributor Emil Lippe.