Game Ball Honors: Best Texas High School Players of the Regional Semifinal Round

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Photo: Prentice James/TexasHSFootball

EDITORS NOTE: Every week, TexasHSFootball will present their official game ball honors to those that were the most impactful under the Friday Night Lights. Our experts watched numerous games and decided on the very best that the UIL Regional Semifinal round had to offer.

Please post your game ball honorees below and tag @texashsfootball and use the hashtag #GameBallHonors through our various social media channels. Readers can also submit suggestions via email at [email protected] (no later than 4 p.m. each Sunday). 

We’ll be sure to keep an eye on all suggestions — and possibly name them a Texas HS Football Game Ball Honoree or an Honorable Mention.

Jordan Moore (RB, Yoakum)

Yoakum’s Jordan Moore dominated in a rematch with District 14-3A opponent Van Vleck as he rushed for 236 yards and reached the end zone four times during the Bulldogs’ 43-19 commanding win in the Class 3A Division 1 Region 4 semifinal game Saturday at Legacy Stadium in Katy.

Moore, a Texas A&M commit, continued his outstanding postseason play and is averaging 210 yards on the ground per game in these 2017 playoffs.  Next up for Yoakum (12-1) is a match with Goliad (11-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin. — Prentice James

Finn Corwin  (WR, Highland Park)

Lauren Landes/TexasHSFootball

Highland Park once again had a tremendous outing in their quest for back-to-back state titles. A 31-point first quarter allowed Highland Park to dispose of Mansfield Summit in a 52-20 manner highlighted by Finn Corwin’s offensive production in the receiving department.

Corwin finished with 185 receiving yards on nine receptions and three touchdowns. It didn’t take him long to start off his night as he scored on Highland Park’s third play from scrimmage on a 60-yard touchdown reception and proved to be a force the rest of the night. — Jonathan Rodriguez

Dylan Jantz (RB, Gunter)

Blake Wood/TexasHSFootball
The Gunter Tigers are loaded with quality rushers, but Jantz, in particular, stole the show in delivering the defending state champs a win over Holliday last week in a high-scoring affair.
The junior led the deep unit with 162 yards and five touchdowns on just 12 carries — his total yardage was more than that of Holliday’s tally as a team. Both teams combined for less than 10 pass attempts, but the Tigers completed both of theirs with Jantz hauling in each.
Jantz is just one cog of an offensive behemoth. It was he who shined the brightest last week, but it could be another who dominates the stat sheet in their next outing. Knowing this should strike a sense of intimidation into opposing defenses. — Blake Wood

De’Modrick Anderson (RB, College Station)

Vance Valentine/TexasHSFootball

In an offensive shootout, “DaDa” Anderson put College Station over the top against Port Neches-Groves.

He finished with 232 yards and three touchdowns on 17 touches, with a jaw-dropping average of 13.64 yards per carry through three and a half quarters and before College Station pulled their first-string offense. Anderson’s performance helped the Cougars overcome Port Neches-Groves’ quarterback Roschon Johnson’s 400-plus-yard, five-touchdown performance and pull out the 66-30 win.

As College Station heads into a matchup against Fort Bend Marshall, the Cougars will have to once again depend on the dangerous backfield duo of quarterback Marquez Perez and Anderson to advance to the state semifinals. — Tim Verghese

Tanner Mordecai (QB, Waco Midway), Trevius Hodges (FS, Waco Midway)

James Ellis/TexasHSFootball

The Waco Midway Panthers took care of business last week, with a dominating 48-17 victory over the Mansfield Tigers. The Panthers looked great in all three phases of the game, but key contributors to the win on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball were quarterback Tanner Mordecai and safety Trevius Hodges.

Tanner Mordecai displayed his greatness that caught the attention of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Mordecai was 20-of-26 for 245 yards and three touchdowns through the air and he also produced 90 yards rushing on 17 carries with three touchdowns.

Hodges was the catalyst behind a strong defensive performance for the Panthers. The junior safety forced two fumbles and returned one of those for a 90-yard touchdown. He was also able to come up with a huge stop on 4th and 7 when absolutely blew up Theo Owens four yards short of the Mansfield first down. — Garrett Ross

Tamerik Williams (RB, Angleton), B.J. Foster (RB, Angleton)

Angleton running back B.J. Foster. Mo Ortega/TexasHSFootball

Angleton used its two-headed monster of Williams and Foster to run over Flour Bluff 56-14 on Friday in the Class 5A Div. I Regional Semifinals.

Foster, who will be suiting up for Texas next fall, had 155 yards and two touchdowns on eight totes in his first game back from an injury that sidelined him for four weeks. Though it didn’t result in a score, this was one of Foster’s best runs:

Williams, a Southern Methodist University commit, rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. — Steven Ryan

Colton Moore, (QB, Bushland)

Jay Crain/TexasHSFootball

The Bushland senior quarterback shined in West Texas on Friday night, lighting up a strong Seminole squad for 493 total yards and six total touchdowns to get back to the regional finals for the first time since 2009.

Moore and his team will face their biggest test of the season when they take on Graham in Lubbock in the Class 4A Division II regional semifinals on Friday night. — Tony Venegas

Jackson Sampson (QB, New Diana), TJ Rogers (WR, New Diana)

Sherry Milliken/TexasHSFootball

Jacksboro High School and its run-first, run-often aficionados came in on a tear, winning 11 of its 12 games before Friday’s matchup with New Diana. To beat the Tigers, an effort of Herculean proportions was needed to derail them from a run to the state quarterfinals and a head-to-head matchup with championship favorite Gunter.

New Diana got two.

Sherry Milliken/TexasHSFootball

Sampson, a senior quarterback, shredded Jacksboro through the air, completing 29 of 41 of his passes (70 percent) for 441 yards and six touchdowns and added 23 yards rushing. His primary target that night, Rogers, caught three of those touchdowns as well as eight total receptions for a stat-stuffing 131 yards.

While New Diana will again be labeled an underdog when it meets Gunter, a second straight week of Sampson and Rogers brilliance could tip the scales and help the Eagles become bracket busters again. — Marcus Matthews-Marion

Braden Durst (QB, Panhandle)

The junior quarterback wasn’t even the starter at the beginning of the year but he’s come up big for the Panthers during the postseason on both sides of the football.

Photo courtesy HUDL

As a quarterback, he finished with 515 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. As one of the team’s starting defensive backs, he also finished with two interceptions as Panhandle took down Stamford 63-29. The Panthers will take on district rival Stratford in the regional finals in Amarillo. — Tony Venegas

DJ Kirven (RB, Kennedale), Landon Ledbetter (QB, Midlothian Heritage)

Only a junior, Ledbetter has thrown for almost 6,000 yards and 80 touchdowns in two seasons. Staci Otts/TexasHSFootball

In a rematch of the 2016 UIL 4A Regional Semifinals, Kennedale and upstart, second-year varsity program Midlothian Heritage High Schools been blow-for-blow for 48 minutes of a high school football classic.

DJ Kirven ran for 141 yards and an eye-popping five touchdowns — three in the first half. Wildcat Head Coach Richard Barret unleashed the 5-foot-7, 166-pound senior back 20 times during last Friday’s matchup and watched him gain an astounding 6.9 yards per carry against one of the better run defenses in Class 4A football. His five scores also helped him top 30 touchdowns in 2017.

He was the best of three backs — Jaden Knowles (14 rush, 98 yards, TD) and David Roper (4 rush, 70 yards, TD) and quarterback Evan Jowers (4 rush, 53 yards) —that rushed for 50 or more yards. As eye-opening Kirven’s performance was in the first half, Ledbetter’s accuracy, arm strength, field vision, and scrambling ability was equally so in the second that caused a fair amount of fist shaking and hand-wringing from opposing fans in green.

Kennedale running back DJ Kirven has 34 touchdowns rushing in 2017 and 68 in his career as a Wildcat. Charlton Gladden/TexasHSFootball

The Jaguar gunslinger completed 70 percent of his passes to six different receivers for 497 yards and five touchdowns to five different in his junior season finale — not including the near game-winning 2-point conversion strike in the corner of the end zone.

His near half-thousand single-game performance made him one of the most accurate quarterbacks in high school football regardless of classification with 2,466 yards, 33 touchdowns, and only three interceptions.

He’s thrown for 5,767 and 76 touchdowns in his two-year varsity career under offensive wunderkind and Head Coach Lee Wiginton. — Marcus Matthews-Marion

Katy’s Defense

Vance Valentine/TexasHSFootball

Katy’s defense manhandled Jack Roe and the Atascocita offense. A team that entered the game 10-1 was held to just 59 yards at halftime and only crossed midfield and reached 100 yards in the last 9 minutes of the fourth quarter when Katy’s backups were in.

Cornerback Keshon Rowe credited the defensive line led by Arizona State defensive end commit Michael Mautus and defensive lineman Moro Ojomo for pressuring Roe all night, forcing him to make mistakes which the secondary pounced on, they picked off Roe three times one for a touchdown and almost had a fourth, as a 102-yard interception return was called back due to a penalty.

The typically stout Atascocita offense was overmatched and held to zero points. Against top 2020 running back Zachary Evans and the North Shore Mustangs this week, the Tiger defense will need to bring their A-game once again as they trudge down the road for a ninth state championship. — Tim Verghese

Carson White (WR, Southlake Carroll)

Lauren Landes/TexasHSFootball

Southlake Carroll edged out Arlington 28-24 in a classic playoff bout that saw clutch plays and resilience from both squads. With this back-and-forth affair that came down to the wire, it was Southlake Carroll’s willingness to gamble and their ability to perform in the clutch that became a decisive factor in this game.

Down 24-21 and a 4th & goal situation from the 3-yard on their hands, Carson White hauled in the go-ahead score with two defenders hot on his trail that gave Southlake Carroll the 28-24 lead with 9:57 left in the game and the edge needed in order to defeat a talented Arlington squad. White’s ability to perform in the clutch allowed Southlake Carroll to continue its march towards Arlington. — Jonathan Rodriguez

Longview’s Defense

Photo courtesy Brandon Smith/Twitter

The Longview Lobos were able to shut down Klein Collins and Oklahoma commit running back Isaiah Spiller and continue their playoff run 30-24 last Saturday at McLane Stadium.

The Tigers entered the game outscoring their opponents 470-95 on the season, but the Longview defense “Loboed Up” and held Klein Collins to 155 total rushing yards. The Lobos were in the Tigers backfield all night long and were able to record 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Longview also forced two turnovers and had two sacks on Klein Collins quarterback Carter Rhyne. — Garrett Ross

Rashee Rice (WR, Richland)

Jay Crain/TexasHSFootball

The junior receiver did a little bit of everything for the Rebels against El Paso Parkland, finishing with over 100 yards receiving and a 61-yard punt return to set up another touchdown for his team.

Along with fellow receiver Shamar Johnson and quarterback Drew Trent, Rice will have to be big time again when they face Aledo on Saturday in the school’s first regional final appearance in school history. — Tony Venegas

MJ Rivers (QB, Frisco Lone Star)

Sherry Milliken/TexasHSFootball

As the best player on the field Rivers was a man among boys for Frisco Lone Star High School against a defense that thoroughly embarrassed Everman and South Oak Cliff High Schools during the UIL 5A bi-district and area rounds.

Whether it was outmuscling defensive ends and tackles for extra yardage or evading swarming pass rushers with a combination of balance and power or dropping the ball into the waiting hands of striding receivers with a simple flick of his wrist, the University of Illinois commit not only helped power Frisco Lone Star to 425 yards of total offense.

He also helped it win the time of possession battle and keep the ball out of the sneakily dangerous hands of Bryse Salik, Jarreth Sterns, Demani Richardson, and Keshawn Anderson and schemes of the brilliant mind of Offensive Coordinator Aaron Woods. Rivers eclipsed the century mark in both passing and rushing, completing 10 of his 14 attempts and throwing for 146 yards and a touchdown and ran 15 times for 103 yards and a trio of scores.

He now has more than 2,600 yards passing with a 28:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is 50 yards shy of breaking through the 1,000-yard barrier in 2017. — Marcus Matthews-Marion

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