Week 10 of the high school football season may have been the wildest yet.
From colossal upsets and rankings shakeups to more shown strength at the top of each classification and a clearer picture of each district’s championships, teams like Smithson Valley and players like Kirby Bennett made last week’s “Friday Night Lights” brighter than before in the Lone Star State.
1. Upset alert — There was an upset heard around the state this weekend as Smithson Valley knocked off state title favorite Converse Judson in overtime, 40-37. Led by TCU commit Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, who made plays on offense, defense and special teams, Smithson Valley made a statement and is now a team to watch heading into the playoffs. It is important to note that Converse Judson was without star quarterback Julon Williams and should bounce back strong in the postseason. However, Smithson Valley racked up more than 400 yards of total offense and was able to score at will. Converse Judson will need to patch up its defense. Meanwhile, Smithson Valley’s offense is downright scary.
2. Mav Madness — After looking less than stellar in scrimmages and dropping its first four games of the season, Marshall bounced back in a major way. The Mavericks rattled off six straight victories to close the regular season, including Friday night’s 28-17 win over Longview Pine Tree, and captured the 16-5A district title. New head coach Claude Mathis deserves all the credit in the world after returning to the high school ranks following a short stint as running backs coach at SMU. Texas high school fans should remember Mathis from his time at DeSoto, where he built a state power. It looks like Marshall is well on its way.
3. Comeback story — It’s been quite the bumpy road for Frisco Lone Star running back Kirby Bennett. He starred for powerhouse Allen as a sophomore and was heralded as one of the top ball carriers in the nation. However, Bennett saw his recruiting stock drop as a junior while splitting time. He transferred to Bishop Gorman is Nevada over the offseason but was dismissed from the team. He eventually landed at Frisco Lone Star, where he has reemerged as a tremendous offensive weapon. Bennett racked up 115 yards and a touchdown in Lone Star’s win over previously unbeaten Frisco Reedy.
— Noah Bullard (@noah_bullard) November 4, 2017
4. Gaining steam — Last week, we mentioned Temple as a scary team heading into the playoffs. But maybe we should have mentioned College Station. In one of the biggest games in the state, College Station knocked off Temple in overtime, 26-20, to capture the 5A-18 district title. College Station began the year 1-2 but has quietly put together a seven-game win streak. During that span, the Cougars won four games by 35 or more points. This is not a team you want to face in the playoffs. College Station is red-hot heading into the postseason.
5. Playoff-bound — The drought is finally over. Grand Prairie is heading to the playoffs for the first time since 1989 after knocking off Irving, 43-16, to lock up District 7-6A’s final postseason spot. Grand Prairie got a boost when it was awarded a forfeit win over Cedar Hill, which used an ineligible player when the two teams squared off last week. Still, that doesn’t take away from this tremendous accomplishment for the Gophers, who play in one of the toughest districts in the state. Grand Prairie coach Gary Bartel definitely deserves Coach of the Year consideration in DFW.
6. Playoff misses — As hard as it is to believe, both Cedar Hill and Lancaster will be watching the playoffs from home this season. Cedar Hill is just a few years removed from winning back-to-back state titles, while Lancaster appeared in the 4A DII title in 2012 and is considered one of the Dallas-area’s most talented programs year in and year out. Cedar Hill never found its groove under new head coach Carlos Lynn and was hindered by the aforementioned forfeit loss to Grand Prairie. Lancaster suffered from inconsistency and critical turnovers in close losses. It’s going to be a long offseason for both programs.
7. CenTex showdown — In one of the most anticipated matchups of the weekend, AP No. 5 Cedar Park and its ‘Black Rain’ defense took on AP No. 10 Hutto and its high-powered offense. But as the old cliché goes, defense wins championships. While Hutto quarterback Chase Griffin threw for more than 300 yards, Cedar Park stymied the Hippos as a whole in a 35-25 victory. Cedar Park isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing team to watch, but the Timberwolves win with defense and are always a threat to make a title run. This year is no different.
8. Another key upset — Kaufman and Van traded blow after blow in one of the state’s best small school games. But it was Kaufman that came out victorious over AP No. 8 Van, 43-35. The Lions really rose to the occasion in the second half as quarterback Trey Collier and running back Jay Gasper helped the team rack up more than 200 yards of offense. The defense was up and down all night but came up with some key stops down the stretch to help seal the upset and the 8-4A DI district championship. Van is still a dangerous team, but Friday belonged to Kaufman.
9. RGV shout out — How about some love for Brownsville Hanna down in the Rio Grande Valley. The Eagles pulled off an upset against area power Harlingen and clinched their first playoff berth since 2009. After a slow start, Brownsville Hanna scored 29 second half points, forced multiple turnovers and kept the Harlingen offense in check. The victory also marked Brownsville Hanna’s first win over Harlingen since 1983.
10. Have a day — Beaumont West Brook quarterback L’Ravien Elia had one of the best individual performances of the weekend as he threw for 330 yards, rushed for 185 yards and scored an eye-popping nine total touchdowns en route to leading the Bruins to a 70-43 victory over Conroe Oak Ridge. Elia literally willed his team into the playoffs and has established himself as one of the most feared offensive weapons in the Golden Triangle.
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