My stomach is so full! After all that turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and so much more (really the relatives and family did a smashing job) my stomach hurts worst than the Dallas Cowboys blowout (yes, I’m a Cowboys fan). While I have been loving the playoff action, I hate the fact that the season is winding down. Plus, we are in that weird transition period. The football playoffs are going strong, some Central Texas area teams are playing in the State Volleyball Tourney, and basketball season (que Kurtis Blow) just tipped off. Also, it can make it a little difficult to write these previews. With the benefit of getting to go to so many games throughout the year, I was able to see many of the area’s teams first hand. Now that we are deeper into the playoffs I am looking for tapes and reading stat sheets of teams out of the area we cover. So with the sweet KVUE set up (see it here), I scourge the internet to give you something worthy.
I have to admit, I thought we would have at least one Class 6A team around at this juncture in the playoffs. Round Rock and Bowie both played tough against their respective Klein schools. Meanwhile, Lake Travis could not complete the comeback against Spring as they lost 34-28. The Cavs were able to shutout Spring in the final quarter but could only score six points themselves. Out in Houston, Henderickson fell to Spring Westfield 24-7. Granted, all these games were played on the Saturday of what equated to a monsoon. There were many delays in these games, and I am sure it was tough to stay loose and focused for the game. However, both teams had to content with the delays. Considering their respective offenses, Lake Travis with their preference to throw, would of been the most likely to be effected by the weather. I was hoping for at least one more week of 6A football for the central area teams, but now we really will have to wait till next year. On to Friday the night’s games…
Friday, November 28
Vandegrift vs. Flour Bluff: @ San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium
In the 42-13 victory last week over Lockhart, Vandegrift’s defense finally showed up this season. That is not a total knock on Vandy, everyone’s defense in 25-5A took a beating during the district portion of the season. People were talking up the Vipers defense before the season began. However it has been the tandem of QB Jamie Hudson and RB Travis Brannan that make this team scary. You know that this team will put up points, and keep scoring them. Again, the question is if their defense can hold it together for a full four quarters, or the fourth quarter.
Flour Bluff has big 6’6 QB Cody Brewer, which the Hornets attack is built around. FB has been averaging about 40 points per contest this season. Although I would not put too much stock in the victory over Mission Veterans. I am not dogging where I come from, but player for player Vandy will show a type of athleticism which Mission Vets could not display (for the record, I will say that RGV teams player for player are the toughest teams around).
The consensus around the water cooler is that this will be a showcase of offensive fireworks. When Vandy is playing, there is always a chance of it going into overtime (I swear Vandy has probably played in the most overtime games out of any team this season). There are a few things I would look for in this, what should be, a tight contest. While special teams is always a wild card in close games, I think this game will be decided by the defenses. More specifically which defense will make the big play. I don’t think that either defense can shutdown the other’s offense. But I do believe one of them is capable of forcing a fumble or making a interception late in the game. We saw that Vandy is capable of just that against Lockhart, but Flour Bluff is a different animal. Surely this will be the hype game in area and rightfully so.
Cedar Park vs. Mission Sharyland: @ SA’s Heroes Stadium
All I can say is, wow! We knew all new that the Cedar Park vs. Borene-Champion was going to be the game to watch. I doubt anyone out there had pikc Cedar Park to roll. BC was unstoppable all season long. The Chargers were easily one of the best teams in the state going into the contest. Cedar Park was starting to turn the corner before their second playoff game. They finished the regular season off with a share of the 25-5A district title, and crushed Reagan in the opening round. I heard the words Black Rain Defense thrown around, many area pundits wondering if this team had it. Well after what Cedar Park did to Borene-Champion, I think it is safe to say, if there is a team wanting to get to the state title game, they will need more than a rain coat to survive the Black Rain. Cedar Park is loaded with athletes on both sides of the ball, but are a dominate team with when their superstar, Thomas Hutchings, is playing his best ball. He had 177 yards rushing and forced a fumble on defense. My only concern is that there are key other key guys like Myles Cheatum playing heavy snaps on both sides of the ball. Those concerns are curved as Cedar Park has won five-straight, scoring more than 40 points in each victory. Yes, the Timberwovles stumbled out of the gate this season, but they are hitting their stride at the perfect time.
I know I have mentioned it before, that I am from the Rio Grande Valley. While I played my football at Donna High School, I am pretty familiar with Sharyland High School has become athletically speaking. To give Central Texas readers an idea of what Sharyland is like, all you have to do is look at Lake Travis. Sharyland is located in Mission, Texas and was founded as the second school on the more affluent side of town. Similar to how Lake Travis started off, they were lacking in the sports department. Somewhere in the early 2000’s Sharyland started investing in their athletic programs. Eventually their teams started improving and find on the field success. Speaking honestly, the kids in the RGV are at disadvantage. While I was playing we were always the smaller and slower team going against schools from Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin. I am not sure what is in the water in the RGV now, but the area is starting to produce some big athletic kids. Sharyland has taken advantage of this good fortune and has been making some deep playoff runs in the past few years. Sharyland has something that most valley schools lack, they have speed. The fact that they shutout Corpus Christi Calallen is a testament to that. I never thought I would see the day that an RGV team would dominate a school with the pedigree like Calallen.
Harlingen was able to make it round three (which San Antonio schools jokingly refer to as Valley week) a couple of years ago. Sharyland is looking for the same. Although, Sharyland has not faced the athleticism of the likes of Cedar Park. I am aware that Shary is coming into the contest off of three-straight shutouts. I am aware that they have only lost once this season. But like I said before, Cedar Park is looking great right now and I do not think Sharyland has the proper protection from the Black Rain.
Burnet vs. Waco Robinson: @ Waco’s McLane Stadium
Burnet has been cursing all season long. Last Friday night saw them take a big bite out of Kingsville King 56-27. Wideouts, Cody Jones and Joel Johnson, are the favorite targets of QB1 Austin Moore. Moore has thrown for just under 3,000 yards on the season, to go along with his 34 TD’s. Rain or shine the aerial attack of the Bulldogs is difficult to stop. On the other hand, Robinson barley squeaked by a very good La Vernia 31-28 last week. You have to give the Rockets credit as they were the underdog going into that game, just as they are going into Friday night’s contest.
We have precedent when it come to these two teams. Burnet and Robinson clashed back on October 17. That contest was tight one, as it was tied at 10 at the half. The third quarter saw an offensive explosion as Burnet put up 21, Robinson hung 13 of their own. For as great as the Burnet offense can be, it was the defense that pitched the shutout in the final quarter of play. The final score ended up 45-23. I expect the offense for Burnet to come out guns blazing, it really is the Bulldogs game to lose.
La Grange vs. Hardin-Jefferson: @ Shenandoah’s Woodforest Bank Stadium
La Grange has been dominate all year. I wanted to have this published for y’all, but apparently I enjoy my Thanksgiving a little too much. But hey, it is always worth it. Hardin-Jefferson should be the toughest task to date for the Leopards. HJ has only had one loss on the season, but they looked sloppy in their win last 20-10 over Bellville. On the other hand La Grange has just been destroying people. I expected this game to be toughly fought, considering the early start time on the day after Thanksgiving. Once both teams get into the groove I expect La Grange to pull away.
I understand I missed the publishing time I wanted to get this post up by. In order to try to make up for it, I am submitting myself to some sub-par broadcasting so I can give you an idea of what happened in the fourth quarter.
At the end of the 3rd it is La Grange 28, Hardin-Jefferrson 21.
9:54- La Grange gets another score and the XP is good, 36-21.
-So the Hawks have the ball and are staying on the ground.
-9:10 remaining, the Hawks get a big run of about 26 yards. But they need to score on this drive.
– I apparently have the Hawks home feed. The broadcasters keep saying that the just need to throw it up to Blaine Paggent. That kid is a Division I player for them. They tried to go with a throwback pass, but the La Grange defense was already there.
-Turnover on downs, and La Grange offense will just try to keep the ball on the ground. I expect Dobbins to get the ball for the most part.
7:13- 2nd and 16 for the Leopards, big FUMBLE and La Grange gets it back but with a six yard loss. 3rd and 22.
– This play-by-play guy is chatty. He has a few good jokes, but no flow on the game action. I think they have three people in the booth, this has proven tough to decipher. Anyways, 4th and 17, La Grange is in punt formation.
5:34- Broussard is quickly downed at the 27-yardline on their own field. They are asking for this DeSean Morrow kid to break one. Apparently, that was the right call has he gets all the way down to the Leopards 30-yardline. What a run. Dobbins chases him down to save the touchdown. Broadcasters called Dobbins superhuman.
4:59- 1st and 12 Leps 32-yardline There was a foul, and one of their better players for the Hawks, Jacks, is out. Three running backs in the backfield, Morrow gets stuffed going up the middle.
4:45- 2nd and 11. Double tightend, and Morrow gets around the left hand side and gets into the end zone. Morrow with the 27-yard run. Important xp coming up… and it is good! Flag down though. Penalty against La Grange, 15-yards will be enforced on the kickoff. Seems like HJ has the momentum.
-Huttcherson picks up the ball at the seven yard line. Gets it all the way to the Hawks 47. Impressive return. J.K. Dobbins will probably be asked to run the ball again. Two Hawks colided and are down, but after the nine yard run.
3:28- 2nd & 1, La Grange letting the play clock wind down, and they get the Hawks to jump offside. Hawks players back in the game. 1st & 10 at the Hawks 33. 3:01, no hurry for La Grange. Penalty flag, illegal procedure on La Grange 1st & 15. 2:45 remains as now they have to call timeout.
– I swear poor clock management frustrates me to no end. 2nd & 9, the Hawks use their first timeout. Time is a factor. Announcer say that Dobbins will carry it and he does. Holding penalty against La Grange.
2:15- a pick up of about ten at the Hawks 33. Timeout taken by HJ. It will bring up about 3rd & 10. It will be four down territory for La Grange. No reason to try a field goal.
2:02- La Grange is close to the first down. It was a run to the left, refs are still speculating. Refs signal first down! That should be the game barring any fumbles.
1:42- Straight victory formation for the Leopards. The crowd goes loud and La Grange moves on.
It was a sloppy game for La Grange, I think I heard that there were at least three fumbles, but La Grange was able to move pass the hiccups. La Grange is thinking about getting a ring, they might just get it.
Thorndale vs. Refugio: @ San Antonio’s Farris Stadium
Talk about a tough task. Thorndale is an excellent football team. The last time the Bulldogs tasted defeat was back in the middle of September. Ever since then all they do is win. Their last two wins in the regular season were tight ones over Holland then at home against Moody. After the first round bye, the Bulldogs looked legit saying, “Badgers, we don’t need no stinking Badgers” in the way they handled Ben Bolt, winning 56-23. However, the win came with a cost. Reports show that the game was marred with ugly play from Ben Bolt towards the end of the game. Thorndale WR Colton Austin, had four touchdowns on the night and the Badgers took apparently took exception to the Austin’s stellar play. Austin was taken out on the Ben Bolt sidelines injuring his leg. That action proved to be the breaking point, as the referees called the game with 2:43 remaining and awarded the contest to Thorndale. A quick Google and Twitter check will show that Ben Bolt had no class. I am all for swagger, even cockiness, I am a showman myself. But I have no respect for dirty and cheap football. I am not sure Badgers Head Coach, Jeff LeFevre, teaches at his program, but I would not want to play for him.
I do not have any word if Austin is available for Friday night. Which is a shame, because against Refugio the Bulldogs need all the help they can get. Thorndale does actually match up well against the Bobcats. They both play a similar style game on offense, both choosing to air it out. However there are two things that concern when it comes Thorndale’s chances. Refugio’s defense is probably going to be the best unit that the Bulldogs have faced all year. The most points that Refugio has allowed all year were 28, and those came against a good Shiner team. Then Refugio has the pedigree. This is one of the best programs in the state. Last year they were playing in old 2A. With the new 6A this year and realignment, Refugio was put into the new 2A which is the classification size of the old 1A (confusing, I know). Basically, they are a bigger in a smaller classification which is another great advantage to have.
If Austin can go, he give Thorndale a chance, but they will need to protect the football all night. Refugio can take the ball away on defense, and you better believe they will reign down the points.
Mason vs. Three Rivers: @ Buda
It is safe to say that Mason has looked unstoppable. So much so, I want to speculate that this may be a special season for the Punchers. Mason’s philosophy is simple: Line up on offense and ram the football down the opposing team’s throat. Line up on defense, smash the opposite team’s offense in its mouth. Score more points than the other team. Wash, rinse, repeat. Three Rivers is a good squad, and they have had a terrific season. But I am telling y’all, this Mason defense is just destroying teams this year. I though the games against Johnson City and Shiner were going to be close, and that was far from the case. Three Rivers runs the wing-t, and unfortunately for TR, the Mason defense is made to stop exactly that type of attack. I think the Punchers roll big, but in the playoffs you never know.
Blanco vs. East Bernard: @ Gidding’s Buffalo Stadium
Blanco has shown that they can win any type of ball game they are in this season. They beat Randolph 8-6 early in the season. Since that point it has been nothing but a series of blowouts. In playoffs Blanco hung 60 on Boling and then 54 on Taft. While the offense certainly deserve credit for scoring the points, it has been the Panthers defense that has them rolling. Three kids that you need to know about, Aikman Elrod, Alex Juarez, and Jake Breeding are the backbone of this stout defense.
East Bernard’s defense has been shutting out opponents as of late. In their last five games they have only given up a total of 13 points. I could not find out much more about East Bernard, but all sings point to a defensive stalemate. Or that is what I would say until I saw EB’s score in the Boling game. The was a EB victory 26-14, but I got a chance to see parts of that game where Blanco dominated Boling. If Boling is the benchmark for both of these teams, then you have believe that Blanco should win this one too.
Saturday November, 29
LBJ vs. Victoria West: @ San Marcos’ Rattler Stadium
LBJ’s run through the 2014 playoffs has been nothing short of amazing. The tragedy that struck the squad with the loss of their teammate the week before playoffs started has seem to have sparked this squad. Many people who follow high school football in the Austin area will be the first to lament the problems of the Austin ISD football schools. This year showed again how dominate Round Rock ISD based 13-6A and Leander ISD 25-5A could be. The trend has shown the AISD schools struggle when it comes playoff time. I do not think there was an AISD based school besides Bowie picked to advance past the first round. So believe me when I tell you that LBJ was not supposed to win against Vista Ridge. Granted they squeaked by, but still they pulled the upset. Surely they could not beat Alamo Heights. Alamo Heights entered the contest on a seven-game win streak and had not scored less than 30 points since September. Despite the rain the Jaguars got the job done again and walked away with the 20-13 victory. Everyone should know about athletic QB Avery Jackson by now. He keeps the offense flowing, but it has been the play of guys like Ashton Williams and the rest of the defense that have won games for the Jags. Williams’ forced fumble, then scoop and score, were the catalysts in the win over Alamo Heights.
Victoria West also won a tight one last week over Edinburg Vela. For those of you who have read my column of the year season (thanks again), you know I am from the Rio Grande Valley, which is the area of Texas were Vela is located. They are newer high school (was not around when I played), but Edinburg has produced some college talent. However, I did not think that Victoria West would struggle with them. Instead the Sabercats actually struck first and kept the upset alive till the fourth quarter where they eventually fell 61-45. I could go back and look through the stats of the season to give you an idea of what to expect, but you really only have to look at this game. Remember this name, Gamarquis Girdy. Girdy is Victoria West’s QB and accounted for seven touchdowns. Yes, seven. He had six rushing touchdowns and returned a kickoff 98-yards for another. That is some scary good athleticism right there.
Let us talk about Saturday. Y’all know how superstitious I am, and I think it is a good omen that the Jags are playing on Saturday with the 2pm start time (they have won their last two playoff games on the same day and start time). While many will overlook that superstitious thing as silly, there has to be some sort of payoff for maintaining routine schedule. Other than that, this game is really a toss up. The Jags offense has not been great in the playoffs, but Jackson is a dynamic athlete who can change things with one play. The Jags defense has been top notch. They will need another great defensive effort if they want to win. That means having to contain Gamarquis Girdy. If Vic-West is thinking victory they will need another stellar perfomance from Girdy. However, I think the biggest question mark is the Warriors defense. They gave up 45 points to a less athletic Vela squad. LBJ has much more speed on both sides of the football. I’m glad to see some football pride restored to the Austin’s Eastside, I think the Jags have a good match-up in this game.
Hutto vs. Angleton: @ Cypress’ Berry Center
Maybe Hutto has it. They won a nail-biter in the opening round against College Station. Against Waller it was a much easier affair to handle with the 39-14 win. QB Tyler Herrick is the real deal. Via my Twitter (@theSmashSimmons) according to Friday Night Fanstand’s iReporter @libby7397, Herrick has accepted an invitation to the Army All American Combine.While his talent drives the offense, as he is a threat on every play, Herrick gets plenty of help from other offensive playmakers like Davion Davis. I have seen what Davis can do first hand, when took on Temple. Davis had blazing speed and that was because he had a hurt hamstring. Now it looks like he has blinding speed. If he is truly healthy Davis will be option number one for Herrick and the Hippos. The defense has started to find its form, and just at the perfect time.
Unfortunately, Hutto has struggles against powered based running attacks this season. Temple and Elgin both ran the spread option, and it proved difficult for the Hippos to defend. Angleton has three guys K’vonte Jackson, Robbie Hall and Dayshawn Franklin, who will form the rushing attack. Between the three, they average near 300 yards per game on the ground. Their plan is to limit Hutto’s snaps and control the clock and tempo of the game. I am not sure how they will perform after the gut-check game they had against Dayton. Either they will ride the emotional wave or they burn in the afterglow of close win. I like to think that a team that guts out close games has the mental edge. If Herrick keeps playing as fantastic as he has of lately, the Hippos defense will only have to make a stop or two to win this one.
Liberty Hill vs. Rockport-Fulton: @ SA’s Alamo Stadium
What we have here is a game that Vince Lombardi and Darrel K Royal could appreciate. When the Panthers and Pirates meet up it will be Wing-T galore. These two teams run it to near perfection. For those not familiar with the offensive stylings of this match-up, it is truly poetry in motion. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a perfectly executed option play. When it comes to the excellence of execution Liberty Hill Head Coach, Jerry Vance, is one of the best at teaching it. Look for RB Jon Shannon and Hunter Lindsay to lead the rushing attack for Liberty Hill. QB Nick Hernandez is the trigger man has he will make the call on who runs the rock.
This game comes with an extra twist as Rockport-Fulton Head Coach, Jay Siebert, comes from the Jerry Vance coaching tree. This is a game between teacher versus student. RF has an more than able QB in their own right with Anthony Resendez. He will be the point-man in the Pirates running game. While the offenses might be consider a push, the Liberty Hill defense is much more talented. The Panthers defense could be the deciding factor in this game. Although, if the defenses cancel each other out, it will be all about clock management and ball control. Did Siebert learn enough and added enough twist to beat his mentor? Or did Master Vance not give up all of his Wing-T secrets? This should be smashmouth of a football game.
Wimberley vs. Sinton: @ San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium
The playoffs have been a roller coaster for the Wimberley Texans. They were feeling the mojo in the first round against Pearsall with their 48-0 win. Against Orange Grove, things were not as smooth. The game against the Bulldogs was one possession game until the fourth quarter, when Wimberley was able to but the game away. While the offensive is explosive with the backfield tandem of West Lambert and Sam Drew, the credit for the playoff success needs to go to the defense. The Texans defense will have a tough test when it faces Sinton’s dual-threat QB Tyler Handson. Sinton has a simple gameplan. They like to take an early two or three score lead going into the half. In the second part of the game, the offense likes to control the clock with their running game. The only drawback for Sinton is that they have not had to play a complete game in a while. The last time Sinton could not jump out to an early lead was in a October 17, loss against Yoakum. Wimberly can keep it close early, it will be anyone’s game to win in the second half.