[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]A[/su_dropcap]bout 40 miles south of Dallas lies the city of Maypearl and its Panthers, currently 2-0 after trouncing Diamond Hill-Jarvis and Clifton High Schools by a combined 81-6 score in the first two weeks of the 2017 high school football season.
The problem is, because of their proximity — or lack thereof — to the nearest metroplex, you probably haven’t heard of them.
“I think we got missed because we had a bye week in the middle of the preseason,” said Lonnie Brooks, a senior middle linebacker and offensive lineman at Maypearl High School. “Still, not a lot of people outside of the county notice us until we start blowing teams out. We’ve been a good team for a long time, but the ‘Pearl’s small and can be overlooked sometimes. That’s why we do what we do, to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
It’s easy to miss it, little less than 530 acres wide and tucked neatly into a pocket located in the center of Ellis County. The town is quaint, highlighted by its two biggest attractions — Lone Star Pizzaria and W.G. Roesler Field.
Though it’s not surprising that it gets omitted, that doesn’t mean it should continue to be.
“Maypearl isn’t on a major highway so you never go through Maypearl unless you’re intending to come here. A lot of people don’t know where we are at but what’s neat is it’s a hidden place with a tightknit community, good people, and kids that will come out, work hard, and play,” Sanders added. “Traditionally, you haven’t been a big powerhouse school, but this team has improved every year. These kids put the work in over the summer and have been getting after it. I thought we’d be ranked higher than we are. They had [Clifton] picked to beat us by 70 points and we beat them by 28.”
The Panthers are currently unranked by the Associated Press and Lone Star State polling syndicates despite shutting out the Cubs 28-0 and scoring four offensive touchdowns last Friday — three via senior quarterback Gunner Petty.
In Head Coach Tal Sanders bruising, punishing offense, Petty gained 293 yards (84 pass, 209 rush) against Clifton in week two. Senior running back Jagger Dixon ran for 165 yards on 16 carries (10.3 YPC) and found pay dirt once.
Two weeks earlier, its third-string quarterback torched Diamond Hill for 351 yards (157 pass, 194 rush) and seven touchdowns.
No wait — he had eight after scoring on a 60-yard punt return. It was one of two during the game.
“Tariq (Massey) is the fastest kid in the district,” Petty said about the Panthers’ X-factor. “It would be hard for anyone to keep up with him. He is a threat on both sides of the ball.”
Clifton’s Marc Guttierez 513 yards from scrimmage is currently ranked No. 3 in MaxPreps’ UIL 3A Classification statistics. He gained only 108 yards on 25 carries and was held scoreless against Maypearl.
Petty, if not for a missed season opener, may have also been in the top five. When combined, Massey and Petty have accumulated 403 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
And though Massey’s 52-yard TD reception is a way to describe the potency of Maypearl’s diamond in the rough, it’s only one.
Maypearl’s defense, too, may have been the most impressive.
It held Diamond Hill’s runners to 25 yards on 33 carries and almost scored its 59th point after sophomore JJ Brooks’ slick interception. It limited a high-powered, run-and-gun Clifton offense led by Guttierez and quarterback Hutch Kettler to 258 total yards and dropped runners for loss 12 different times.
Three different players — Dixon (1), Petty (1, and sophomore Cooper Maxwell (1) — recorded an interception and combined for 83 return yards.
Still, no love from the AP or well-known ranker Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
In its 3A rankings, DCTF has Lexington (2-0) and East Bernard (2-0) No. 1 and No. 2. The AP has the two No. 5 and No. 9, respectively, with Cameron Yoe and Brock leading both Divisions I and II.
Maypearl is nowhere to be found.
The best pundits in the state have consistently overlooked a Maypearl team won 17 games in three seasons and went toe-to-toe with 6-foot-4, 235-pound current Baylor gunslinger Zack Smith. He was a former 247Sports’ 16th best Texas pro-style quarterback, while at Grandview High School.
“We have a lot more experience with our offense that we didn’t have last year,” Petty said. “Our defense may be one of the most solid and underrated in [District 6-3A-1]. The dedication and chemistry our senior class has this year, as well as our ability to do what’s necessary to get the ‘W’ is what separates us from other teams. Sooner or later, people will start seeing what our town’s seen for years.”
While Friday’s matchup with undefeated Kemp High School may be the first opportunity to shine its light on a Texas-sized stage. Back-to-back meetings with classification powerhouses Grandview and Sunnyvale High Schools, however, may be a better shot at opening the eyes of those that have missed tiny Maypearl on the map of success.
If the smoke clears and Maypearl, not Grandview or Sunnyvale, is proclaimed the victor, Sanders and the Panthers may still be undefeated and a legitimate threat to the 3A state crown. By then, Texas may have missed its ticket on the red and black bandwagon.
Editors Note: This Sunday, officials at FEMA announced they are bracing for a recovery effort they expect to take years. Since the storm, we have been amazed and comforted by the selflessness of countless individuals and organizations stepping up to provide assistance. Unfortunately, this storm’s damage is a long way from over.
To put in perspective, The JJ Watt Foundation which raised $37 million, which is no doubt one of the most amazing fundraising efforts we have ever seen! However, that is just .029% of what FEMA estimates is needed for the recovery of Texas over the next several years.
With the recent devastation in Texas and Florida our country is in need of “all” of us who can to step up in any way possible. We at TexasHSFootball are starting our own fund raising efforts with our footb“ALL” campaign. Below you will see a link to our gear store where you can purchase a t-shirt or hoodie.
TexasHSFootball.com will donate 100% of its earnings from this online store to the American Red Cross. Our goal here is to raise $10,000 for families in need. Please visit the link below, grab a t-shirt or hoodie and help us reach our goal.
Faith, Family, Footb”ALL”.
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