By Senior Writer, Adam Ogburn / Twitter: @aogburn00
It was yet another action-packed slate of high school football in Texas this past weekend. Four six-man teams punched their tickets to the state title games, teams in Conferences 2A-4A battled for a spot in the state semifinals, and 5A and 6A teams squared off for playoff spots and district titles in their final regular-season game.
All told, there was plenty to choose from for the top moments of week 15. Without further ado, here is the best of the best from this past weekend of Texas high school football.
- Plano West earns first playoff berth in six years after edging Plano in rivalry matchup
Heading into its annual crosstown showdown against Plano, Plano West controlled its own destiny, knowing that a win would clinch its first playoff berth since 2014. The game started with Plano looking to play spoiler as two short rushing touchdowns by quarterback Oliver Townes had the Wildcats up 14-3 in the second quarter. Plano West came roaring back with two short rushing touchdowns of its own as quarterback Vance Feuerbacher and receiver Tyler Harrell each found paydirt either side of a Plano field goal to even proceedings at 17 early in the fourth quarter. With its playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Plano West rose to the occasion. After an interception by linebacker Trevor Sessions, the Wolves took their first lead of the night as running back Tabren Yates punched Plano in the mouth, slipping two tackles en route to a 36-yard rushing score to put Plano West in front 24-17. Plano was unfazed. After a huge kick return, the Wildcats burned five minutes on a 31-yard drive that was finished off by a one-yard touchdown run by Kameron Jones to tie the game at 24. However, the final word on the night belonged to the Wolves. Just a minute later, Harrell broke free on yet another end around by Plano West, sprinting down the sideline for a 57-yard score to put Plano West up for good 31-24, sealing its spot in the playoffs. The reward for Plano West? A tough matchup against state powerhouse Allen, meaning the Wolves will need to be at their best if they want to live to see round two.
Harrell’s game-winning touchdown run (Courtesy of Matt Welch): https://twitter.com/MWelchSLM/status/1335071443940466689
- Seguin overcomes Cameron O’Banan’s historic night in shootout to remember
Dripping Springs wide receiver Cameron O’Banan had a game for the ages as he racked up 410 receiving yards and six touchdowns from distances of 25, 75, 51, 65, 16, and 11 yards this past Friday against Seguin. His 410 yards were the third most ever by a receiver in a Texas high school football game. Unfortunately for him and his Dripping Springs Tigers, the Seguin offense was firing on all cylinders as well as the Matadors leaned on their backfield duo of quarterback Micah Rodriguez and running back Marques Washington to match the Tigers blow-for-blow. Rodriguez threw for 268 yards and five touchdowns on the night and added 85 yards and an additional two touchdowns on the ground, while Washington rushed for 264 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. The biggest momentum swing came began late in the third quarter and carried into the fourth as Seguin rattled off 21straight points to turn a 49-42 deficit into a 63-49 lead. Dripping Springs responded with two touchdowns from O’Banan, from 16 and 11 yards out, but a 13-yard run by Washington in between those two O’Banan scores proved the difference as Seguin held on for a 70-63 victory. After two offensive performances like this, both teams will certainly have momentum and confidence heading into their first round playoff matchups as Dripping Springs faces Georgetown, while Seguin will square off with Pflugerville Hendrickson.
- Eddie Lee Marburger leads Sharyland Pioneer to second consecutive district title
UTSA commit Eddie Lee Marburger has put up some video game numbers this season, and he delivered yet again this past Friday with a district title on the line as Sharyland Pioneer battled Mercedes. Mercedes hung tight in the first half thanks to four total touchdowns from its quarterback Michael Cisneros, who would finish the night with 292 yards passing and 55 yards rushing. However, the second half belonged to Marburger and the Diamondbacks. He hit his receiver Joseph Graham Jr. for a four yard score to open the third quarter before adding a 12-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession. To open the fourth, it was much the same as Marburger delivered a bullet to receiver J.J. Snyman for an 18-yard score to put Pioneer up 49-28. After Cisneros scored his fifth and final touchdown on the night, Marburger added another touchdown for good measure, hitting Graham Jr. for an 88-yard score down the sideline to ice the game for the Diamondbacks as they went on to win 59-40. With another district title in hand, Pioneer will have high hopes for a deep playoff run thanks to its prolific offense led by Marburger. The first test for the Diamondbacks will come this Friday when they square off against 4-5 Medina Valley for a spot in the second round.
- Late Waskom field goal edges Elysian Fields in high-scoring affair
Waskom and Elysian Fields met for the second time this season with a state semifinal berth on the line. Both teams found the end zone plenty of times in the first half, but it was by contrasting styles. Waskom was powered by four rushing touchdowns from its flexbone offense in the opening 24 minutes, two by DJ Feaster and one apiece for Tesean Hamilton and Markus Gonzalez. Elysian Fields, however, countered with a rushing score by William Goodnight and three passing touchdowns by quarterback Ryan Wilkerson to give itself a 28-27 lead heading into the half thanks to a missed Waskom extra point. In the second half, Waskom got the start it wanted coming out of the locker room as Feaster took a pitch to the outside, and, thanks to a key block by Kye Willett down field, raced down the sideline for an 81-yard score to put Waskom up 34-28 with just a minute gone in the third quarter. Two drives later, it was Wilkerson again for the Yellow Jackets as he broke free for a 58-yard touchdown that tied the game up at 34 as Waskom came up with a blocked extra point. Just a minute later, it appeared that momentum had swung fully to the Yellow Jackets sideline as Elysian Fields turned a Waskom fumble into points as Goodnight put his team back up 41-34 on an 11-yard touchdown scamper. Then after the teams traded turnovers, Waskom did what a triple option offense does best as it methodically marched down the field and yet again tied the game up with just under six minutes to go on a four-yard touchdown run by Hamilton. On a night full of offensive fireworks, it was ironic that the two game-deciding plays in the final minutes belonged to the defense and special teams. First, after Elysian Fields had driven into Waskom territory, Carter Watson tipped a screen pass into the air before coming down with the interception and barreling his way to the Elysian Fields 24-yard line with just over a minute to go. This set the stage for Waskom kicker Jose Meza, who kept his nerve and converted a 37-yard field goal with just under 20 seconds to go to send Waskom to the state semifinals. With this thrilling victory, Waskom sets up a date with Franklin, a rematch of a 2015 state title game, in Tyler this Friday for a spot in this year’s 3A Division II state title game.
- Richland Springs holds off Strawn for 11th title game appearance
Richland Springs has been a six-man football dynasty under the direction of head coach Jerry Burkhart, earning nine state titles under his two tenures from 2003-2017 and from 2019 onwards. The Coyotes looked well on their way to another state title game appearance up 45-34 heading into the fourth thanks to four total touchdowns from Landon Burkhart and two more from Zane Capps. The game looked even further secure with just under eight minutes to go as Jadeyn Bryant returned a fumble 45 yards for a Coyote score to extend his team’s lead to 53-34. Strawn wasn’t done just yet though as a three-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Garcia was followed by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Kadin Parsons to Kyler Tunnell to cut the deficit to 53-50 with just three minutes to go. Richland Springs looked like it had sealed the game though just a minute later as Capps broke free for a 23-yard touchdown for his third score of the night, extending the Coyotes lead to a nine point advantage. Yet again, the Greyhounds responded as Luke Eli scored his fifth touchdown on the night as he took a screen pass 17 yards to the house to put Strawn back within three, 59-56, with just over a minute remaining. A huge twist followed as Eli then came up with a huge defensive interception on the ensuing Coyote possession on fourth down to give the Greyhounds one last prayer. The Greyhounds knocked on the door of the Richland Springs end zone, but, on the final play of the game, Eli was forced out of bounds eight yards short of the end zone, preserving a thrilling 59-56 victory for Richland Springs. This victory means the Coyotes will play for their record 10th state title next Wednesday against Balmorhea at the famous home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium.
- Llano advances to first ever state semifinal with late touchdown
Llano quarterback Case Kuykendall evidently plays with ice in his veins. He rose to the moment yet again this past Friday as Llano looked to keep its season alive against district rival Lago Vista. Kuykendall set the tone in the first quarter as he scampered away from the Lago Vista defense on an 80-yard touchdown run down the sideline to answer Lago Vista’s opening score. However, the teams stayed neck-and-neck throughout the contest. Llano led 14-13 at halftime, but Lago Vista running back Layne Powers opened the second half with an 11-yard score to put the Vikings up 19-14. Kuykendall answered yet again, finding paydirt from seventeen yards out to put Llano back in front 20-19 midway through the third quarter. Llano tacked on a field goal with just over seven minutes to go, but Lago Vista responded with a sucker punch as quarterback Adrian Hernandez hit his receiver Bowen Stobb in stride across the middle for a 48-yard touchdown to restore the Vikings lead, 25-23, with just over four minutes to go. That set the stage for Kuykendall and the Yellow Jacket offense. They delivered, marching down the field into the Lago Vista red zone. Unsurprisingly, it was Kuykendall who came up with the crucial score with a three-yard rushing touchdown with just 33 seconds to go. A two-point conversion by receiver Quincy Prince on the ensuing play sealed a 31-25 victory for Llano, clinching its first ever state semifinal appearance. That state semifinal will be a good one too as Kuykendall leads Llano against Hallettsville, which is powered by Texas commit running back Jonathon Brooks.
- Miracle 4th and 24 conversion sees Graham take down Celina
Graham and Celina was a thrilling game from literally the first kick of the football to the last. Graham defensive back Zach Martin started off the game in an exciting fashion as he found a seam and outran the Celina kick coverage unit for a 96-yard touchdown to put Graham up 7-0 just twelve seconds into the game. It was a lead that Graham would go on to extend to 14-0 thanks to a touchdown reception by tight end Reagan Carter. And after Celina got on the board on a five-yard touchdown catch by its tight end Caden Mitchell, Graham kicker Chandler Dyer converted two field goals on either side of halftime s to push the lead back to a two-score advantage, 20-7. Celina’s passing game found some success after that as a 35-yard touchdown catch by receiver DJ Dell’Anno midway through the third quarter and another short touchdown catch by Mitchell to open the fourth quarter gave the Bobcats their first lead of the night, 21-20. The teams traded a turnover on downs and a punt after that, giving Graham one last shot with the ball. After initially moving the ball into Celina territory, the Steers seemed to be staring elimination in the face as they faced a 4th-and-24 with just over thirty seconds to play. Graham quarterback Hunter Lanham scrambled left to buy himself some time before heaving what was essentially a Hail Mary up towards the first down marker. Improbably, Tre Alveraz was able to get in front of the Celina defenders to come down with the catch, giving Graham the 24 yards exactly that it needed to convert for the first down. This set up yet another Dyer field goal attempt, and yet again, he delivered, booting his thirty-seven-yard field goal attempt through the uprights to earn Graham a spot in the state semifinals. That semifinal matchup one will be a hotly contested affair as Graham squares off with fellow one-loss team Gilmer this Friday in Prosper for a spot in the Conference 4A Division II state championship game.
Graham’s fourth-and-24 conversion (Courtesy of Lauren A Roberts): https://twitter.com/LaurenAlisabeth/status/1335066052200370178
- PSJA Southwest secures first ever playoff appearance in win-or-go-home showdown
PSJA Southwest had its first-ever playoff berth within reach as it squared off against Sharyland last Saturday to determine one of the final playoff spots in District 16-5A Division II. The defenses dominated the first half except for one moment of magic by Southwest running back Cesar Bocanegra. Bocanegra took a pitch to the right before reversing across the entire field and shrugging off a Sharyland tackler for an impressive 64-yard touchdown run to put his team up 7-0. Midway through the third quarter, PSJA Southwest struck again as Eric Malpica rumbled up the middle for a six-yard score to put the Javelinas up 14-0. Sharyland answered with a touchdown on a 10-yard run by quarterback Benji Valdivia late in the third quarter, but this day belonged to PSJA Southwest. Edgar Villarreal made the result certain as he barreled into the end zone from one yard out on a handoff to put PSJA Southwest up 21-7 with just four minutes ago. Neither team added to that score in the final four minutes as PSJA Southwest secured its first playoff berth in its ninth year as a varsity program thanks to its ground game and defense. The PSJA Southwest triple-option attack finished with 255 yards rushing on 56 rushes, while Sharyland was held to under 200 yards of total offense by the Javelina defense. The Javelinas now will look to earn their first-ever playoff win this Friday in New Braunfels against Alamo Heights.
- LBJ advances to first-ever state semifinal in game full of offensive fireworks
Andrew Body has been remarkable throughout his high school career, making improbable plays and putting up gaudy numbers for the Corpus Christi Miller Buccaneers. However, he and his Miller teammates finally met their match in the Austin LBJ Jaguars. Body scored all four touchdowns for Miller in the first half, but the LBJ ground game proved to be a formidable counterpart as Daqwon Donaldson and Sedrick Alexander combined for three rushing touchdowns for the Jaguars as they led 38-32 at the half. It was much the same story in the second half as Body alternated touchdowns with the LBJ rushing attack. Body broke a 59-yard run to tie the game at 38 before Alexander put LBJ back up 44-38 with a 46-yard touchdown run right up the middle. Body then scored on a 17-yard run to give Miller a 46-44 advantage thanks to his two-point conversion rush before Donaldson found a gap in the Miller defense and sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown as LBJ retook the lead, 52-46. After an LBJ stop on fourth down, Donaldson came up with the decisive play on the night as he squirted through a hole in the Miller defense into the open field for a 22-yard touchdown scamper, extending LBJ’s advantage to 59-46 with just over five minutes to go. The LBJ defense kept the momentum going with a fourth-down stop on the ensuing Miller possession, giving the Jaguar offense an opportunity to bleed the clock down. The Buccaneers did get the ball back and impressively drove 91 yards for another touchdown as Body found the end zone yet again, this time from three yards out. However, their onside kick attempt was unsuccessful, sealing a 59-54 victory for LBJ. Body rushed for 301 yards on 52 carries and added 183 yards passing, but 176 rushing yards by Donaldson and 145 more by Sedrick Alexander proved to be enough to overcome Body’s exploits and send the Jaguars to their first-ever state semifinals. Expect LBJ’s state semifinal game against Lindale this Friday to be decided on the ground as well as the Jaguar run game will go head-to-head with star Lindale running back and Baylor commit Jordan Jenkins.
- May outlasts Blum in overtime shootout
All four of the six-man state semifinals went down to the wire, but May and Blum took first prize when it came to the best game of the weekend. The scoreboard operator was a busy person in this one as the game quickly turned into a basketball-type shootout. Blum already led 30-24 by the end of the first quarter thanks to four touchdowns from Koby Clinkscales, but May running back Kaden Halk responded with three touchdowns of his own in the second quarter to help May bounce back and tie the game at 52 at halftime. The teams continued to trade scores in rapid succession in the third quarter as four rushing touchdowns by May, three by Halk and another by Isidro Salinas, gave it a 78-72 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Blum, which was looking to get to its second straight state title game, turned the game on its head midway through the fourth quarter. First, Clinkscales scored again, this time on an eight-yard touchdown run, to give Blum an 80-78 lead with five minutes to go. On the ensuing possession, the Bobcats recovered a May fumble and quickly cashed it into points as Clinkscales found Iven Rawls for a 25-yard score to give Blum an 86-78 with four minutes remaining. May needed all of forty-five seconds of game time to answer as Halk broke off a 48-yard run before Korbin Bass finished the drive off with a one-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 86 thanks to a two-point kick by Kaysen King. After both defenses held strong in the waning moments, the game went to overtime. Halk wasted no time in the overtime period as he promptly scored on a 25-yard scamper to put May up 92-86. The Tiger defense took over from there, stopping Blum on fourth down to seal a memorable victory in a game to remember. Clinkscales rushed for 248 yards on the night, but Halk was the man of the hour with 302 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns to propel May to a state title game appearance for the first time since 2014. Its matchup will be a revenge game for the Tigers as they face off with a Sterling City team that defeated them 44-40 all the way back on September 4th.