Posts Tagged With: High School

Cedar Hill vs. Waco Midway Quarterfinal

Cedar Hill and Carthage 12-9 036

I don’t know if I have ever seen an offense click as much as Cedar Hill’s the past two weeks. After a dominating game against Arlington in round three, it seemed that the ceiling should have been reached. But this week against Waco Midway, the Longhorn offense took things to a new level. The Cedar Hill offense was almost flawless in their execution.  It’s a given that Cedar Hill has a lot of speed and will make big, athletic plays. What’s missed in watching the highlights is the consistency of this unit. With 56 offensive plays, Cedar Hill had zero penalties, were 4 for 4 on 4th down conversions, quarterback Damion Hobbs was 18-20 and 199 yards. On the ground Hobbs, Larry Hill and Laquvionte Gonzalez combined for 239 yards on 39 carries. They were sharp, clean and versatile, hurting the Panthers with long passes, screens, pounding the ball inside and getting to the edge.

For all that, the big play of the game was made by the ‘Horn defense. Leading 21-14 in the second, the Panthers had a first and goal from the 2. A bad snap set up a 3rd down from 20. Attempting to pass, the Panther quarterback was hit from behind, losing the ball. Bulldog linebacker, Jonathan Buffin  scooped up the loose ball and ran 80 yards for his second defensive score in two weeks, giving the ‘Horns a 28-14 lead.

The Panthers battled back, closing the score to 28-21 with 1:38 in the half, setting up the 2nd big Longhorn drive. A good return and an amazing catch by Quincy Adeboyejo put the ball on the Panther 2. With the clock running, the Hill offense kept their composure and scored on a 2 yard run with 4 seconds in the half.

The next big point came on the Longhorns first possession of the second half. Cedar Hill converted three times on 4th down on a 14 play drive that ended with a 28 yard touchdown pass to Adeboyejo.

Leading by eight, the ‘Horns hammered the final nail in the Panthers coffin in the 4th quarter. Taking the ball on  their own 14, the Longhorns faced a 3rd and 1 when Larry Hill broke the line and went 49 yards for the final score with 1:37 remaining, final score: 49-34 Cedar Hill.

I have to give credit to Midway. They are a great team and would never go away, but made a few mistakes and this was fatal against a team playing such a clean game.  At this level and by this round of playoffs, the remaining teams are so good that the margin of error is tiny. Midway played well, but several letdowns cost them in a game that Cedar Hill played almost perfectly.

The win sends Cedar Hill to Waco for a semifinal showdown against Austin Westlake. This is the 1st time the ‘Horns have gone beyond the quarterfinals since winning state in 2006. It’s been exciting to watch this team for the past 5 weeks and I look forward to Saturday in Waco. As I said last week, if this team keeps playing this well, they are very hard to stop.

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Carthage vs. El Campo State Semifinal

Cedar Hill and Carthage 12-9 013

The Carthage Bulldogs looked like they were in complete control Friday night in Beaumont. But the Bulldogs couldn’t come up with the one play they needed to finish off the undefeated El Campo Ricebirds. Something the Texas high school playoffs have taught me is, with teams this good, the ability to finish is often the difference between advancing and going home. Those still playing are so disciplined and dangerous, situations that would make an ordinary team fold up and start thinking about the offseason are often overcome; if the team on top can’t put a boot on the neck and finish the job.

After taking a 25-14 early in the 4th, the Carthage Bulldogs had many chances to put that boot on the neck but kept letting the Ricebirds up. The next two El Campo possessions ended in turnovers. The Bulldogs failed to capitalize on either one.  Still, when El Campo took possession with 7:10 left, deep in their own territory and down by 11, the game felt under control. El Campo, had thrown just 80 passes the entire season, down by two scores with time running out, it seemed unlikely the Ricebirds could put together two scores quickly enough. Though ineffective throwing the ball, El Campo did a great job moving the ball on the ground, scoring a touchdown with 3:37 left. A successful 2 point conversion made the score 25-22 Carthage.

It was still Carthage’s game to lose, if they could just pick up a few first downs the game would be over. On second and long, the Bulldogs attempted a trick play and fumbled on their own 9 yard line. Four plays later, on 4th and 2 from the 2, the Ricebirds took their first lead of the night, 29-25 with 1:50 remaining.

The Bulldogs quickly took their last possession to the El Campo 30 yard line, but two incomplete passes set up a 4th and 2.  A quarterback draw took the ball to the marker; the chains were brought out, short by an inch and suddenly, the game and the Bulldog season is over.

At its best football, for a brief moment, feels like the most important thing in the world to the men who coach it and the kids who play it. For the past five months thousands of hours have been dedicated and the people involved have spent more time with each other than their families. In the playoffs, everything is elevated, the highs of winning and moving on are amazing, but the lows are devastating. Suddenly, everything is taken away and all that work feels like it’s been for nothing. Players realize they had just played their last game, many their last ever. After a playoff loss is the only time you’ll see teenage boys openly cry.

In the end, football is really about the life lessons it teaches the students who play it. How to deal with the crushing end of a season is the final lesson and Coach Surratt and the Carthage staff set a great example of how to lose with dignity. Coach Surratt gathered his team for the final time and told them he would take the blame for the loss because that’s what adults do instead of pointing fingers. He admonished the few who couldn’t control their emotions enough to represent Carthage in defeat. He let his team know he was proud of them and thanked them for their effort. It will be a long offseason for the Bulldog coaches and returning players, this was the type of loss that haunts you.

Carthage will return ten of eleven offensive starters in 2013. This is an excellent program and does things the right way, they will be back. I enjoyed my time in Carthage and with the Bulldog staff and players. I’m disappointment that the loss means I won’t be seeing them again for my project and it’s sad that my last time with them was watching them handle a tough loss. But, unfortunately, that’s how it usually ends in the playoffs.

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Cedar Hill vs. Arlington 3rd Round Playoff

 

3rd Round playoffs, La Marque and Cedar Hill 024

The Arlington Colts came out with a lot of swagger before their 3rd round matchup with Cedar Hill yesterday in Mansfield. Several Colts broke pregame etiquette, crossing midfield and taunting Longhorn players. I’m not sure it would be accurate to say the move backfired, because I’m not sure the attempt to get Cedar Hill off their game and into their heads fazed the ‘Horns at all.  The Longhorns may have played their best game of the season, dominating on both sides of the ball to win 49-14.

The big play of the game occurred early. Late in the first quarter, with the score tied at 7, Safety Jonathan Buffin intercepted a Colt pass and took it back 64 yards for a Longhorn score. From there on out it was all Cedar Hill, scoring the next 35 points before Arlington finally scored a meaningless touchdown in the final minutes against Cedar Hill backups. It’s encouraging that Cedar Hill seems to be playing better every week. As I’ve heard a few times this week, “There are no more turkeys after turkey day”, and the Longhorns will need to keep playing well next week against an undefeated Hewitt Midway in the regional championship next Saturday. That said, if they play as well as they did against Arlington, the Longhorns will be very hard to beat.

In doing this, I’ve become very invested in the teams I’ve spend time with. I’ve grown to know and respect the coaches, kids and other people I’ve met at each of my eleven schools. So, for me, the bad part of yesterday had nothing to do with Cedar Hill but with what was occurring up the road between Midway and Abilene High. An Eagle win would have set up a meeting between Cedar Hill and Abilene, two teams I know very well and rematch of an epic game between these two schools during the 2009 playoffs. It looked great until the end when Midway came from behind in an improbable comeback in the final seconds. Heartbreaking lose for the Eagles, but it takes nothing away from their program. I met great coaches and people in the city of Abilene, I’m just sorry that I won’t a chance to see them play again this season.

Of my original 11 programs, 4 will be playing next weekend, as well as Stamford and Cedar Hill, Carthage advanced to the 3A-DI semifinal and Throckmorton to the 6-man semi. This coming Friday, I will be in Beaumont to see Carthage play El Campo for a spot in the state championship. Saturday, I’ll return to the Metroplex to see Cedar Hill play against Hewitt Midway at Midlothian.

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La Marque vs. Navasota 3rd Round

3rd Round playoffs, La Marque and Cedar Hill 014

The La Marque Cougars learned some tough lessons Friday night in Houston. Unfortunately, lessons learned during the playoffs are most often season ending. After a year where the Cougars were usually talented enough to overcome their mistakes, Cougar physical, mental and emotional errors were just too much to overcome against top ranked Navasota. The Cougars season ended with a 31-20 loss.

The physical: Two bad snaps by La Marque’s punt team led to two Rattler touchdowns and a fumble on the five stopped the Cougars final comeback bid in the 4th quarter.

The mental: Eleven penalties stalled La Marque’s offense repeatedly. The turning point of the game was early in the 2nd quarter. With the Cougars trailing 7-6, 1st and goal from the 3, La Marque failed to score on four attempts. On third down, from the one yard line, a La Marque lineman jumped early, moving the ball to the six. The inability to score on this drive set really set off a momentum shift that the Cougars couldn’t overcome.

The emotional: La Marque had never been in this situation at halftime during this season, trailing by 11 there was plenty of time for them to get things together. But the focus was not where is should have been. Expectations can be a double edged sword. La Marque kids are taught their whole lives that anything short of State is a failure. When things started going against them, several players didn’t have the mental toughness to keep their composure. The situation wasn’t helped by the La Marque stands where many turned on the team and coaches very quickly, adding fuel to the fire. The correct football mentality is a fine line between intensity and control. It only takes a few players crossing that line for a situation to spiral out of control. La Marque’s coaches did an outstanding job at the half trying to halt the panic and drama that had infected their team. It might have worked if La Marque had gotten a momentum changing play after the break, but they didn’t and the poor behavior couldn’t be stopped.

On the message boards I’ve seen a lot of second guessing from La Marque supporters about the coaching. If any of you are reading this, a few things to consider. The game plan the La Marque coaches implemented would have worked, against an outstanding team, if they had been able to execute on the punt team and/or score from the two. The Cougars did not lose because they didn’t pass enough or ran the wrong defense, they lost because they didn’t execute. The game plan was sound and so are the offensive and defensive philosophies. The bottom line was that the Cougars did not play well, if they had, they would have beat Navasota, and beat them with the plays and defenses they ran.

Second; It’s easy to blame coaches for the lack of discipline on the field, I’m sure nobody was more disappointed than Coach Jackson and his staff with the way some of the kids responded to adversity. La Marque is a very tough place to coach, opinions being yelled from the stands, incredibly high expectations and second guessing from all sides have an impact on the coaches’ ability to reach the kids. I hope people in La Marque look at those things before putting the entire fault on the coaches.

It’s sad to see each season end, especially when expectations are so high. Leaving Houston after this game was tough, knowing I won’t get a chance to see these people again. Hopefully the lessons this game should have taught will be learned and the Cougars will be back and improved in 2013.

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3rd Round Stamford vs. Quanah

Stamford and Abilene 11-30 031

Tonight in Wichita Falls the Stamford Bulldogs convincingly showed they may be the team to beat in 1A-Division I.  The 12-1 Bulldogs looked dominating at times in their victory over the Quanah Indians, 48-22. The impressive thing about this game is that, despite the score, it didn’t look like Stamford played close to their best football. Stamford started very poorly giving up a 70 yard touchdown run on the second play to fall behind 8-0. Their first offensive possession was no better, a three and out including two penalties and a dropped pass. The Indians led 8-6 at the end of the 1st.

The 2nd quarter was a different story; The defense stiffened and Stamford scored four touchdowns, mostly on the arm and legs of quarterback Hagen Hutchinson giving the Bulldogs a commanding lead at the half. The Indians drove the ball early in the 3rd, but an interception and 102 yard return by defensive back James Washington essentially ended the game.  The Bulldogs added several more scores to win 48-22 and advance to the quarterfinals next week.

That Stamford could play a somewhat sloppy game against a team that had won two playoff games and win by 4 touchdowns says a lot about the talent on this team. If Stamford plays 4 quarters like they played the 2nd, it’s hard to imagine the team that can play with them.

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Cedar Hill-Denton Ryan, rant about the state of the game and 8 minutes with T’rock

 

Cedar Hill advanced to the third round yesterday, on a perfect day for football at Dragon Stadium in Southlake, outlasting Denton Ryan, 48-35. It was a very entertaining game and, as always, I’m just amazed by the talent I see in Texas and 5A football in the metroplex takes the usual Texas talent to another level.  Ryan had no answer for the Cedar Hill offense. On the ground and through the air, the Longhorns scored quickly and almost every time they touched the ball. I’ve had the pleasure to watch this team three weeks in a row, and each time they have looked a little better on offense. They seem to be clicking at the right time and they look like a very confident group. Cedar Hill took a 14-0 lead before the Raiders ever touched the ball; recovering an onside kick after scoring on their first possession, the ‘Horns quickly scored again.  From there it was a track meet with both teams trading touchdowns. Ryan scored on some broken coverages and several trick plays to stay in the game until the final minutes. In the end, Cedar Hill’s defense made three stops, one in the first half and two in the second, and that made the difference.

The win sets up a third round game between Cedar Hill and Arlington High next Saturday.

As entertaining as all the football was this weekend, I’m not sure about the current trend of the game. This was the second game in a row I saw WITHOUT A PUNT. Not that anyone gets excited about watching punts, but the balance between offense and defense has gotten out of whack.

Football has always been kind of a pendulum between offensive and defensive tactics.  Offense coaches find new ways to move the ball down the field, other coaches copy those methods and scoring goes up. Defensive coaches than come up with new ways to attack the offense, coaches’ copy and scoring goes back down.

The problem is, nobody has yet figured out a consistent way to shut down the spread. This offense spreads the field vertically and horizontally, simplifies assignments, gives the quarterback the ability to take advantage of mismatches and puts the best athletes in open field where defenders have to make decisions that can never be right. Play aggressive and this offense will kill you with screens, hang back and the quarterback will have time to pick apart your coverage and find a receiver. ‘Backers read keys and the QB reads (options where the QB can either hand off the ball or pull it out and run.) will blow up. I don’t have an answer, it will take a defensive coach a lot smarter than me to come up with the next big evolution and I don’t see it on the horizon.

After the game I drive to Early, about 2 hours southwest of the Metroplex, hoping to get there in time for the 2nd half of the Throckmorton game against undefeated Water Valley. Fortunately/unfortunately this game was, unexpectedly, a blowout. Throckmorton was up, 46-8 when I arrived at the half. The mercy rule ended the game a few minutes into the 3rd quarter as the Greyhounds won 62-16.

I’m going to be tying up loose ends in West Texas; then to Wichita Falls on Thursday for Stamford- Quanah in their 1A game. Stamford has been playing very well; I’m looking forward to seeing them again. From there it’s down to Houston to see La Marque play the undefeated and top ranked team in the 3A, Navasota. This coming Saturday will be a tough decision; Cedar Hill-Arlington and Abilene-Hewitt Midway are both in the metroplex and at the same time. I hate to miss either one of them. Also have to miss Carthage and Throckmorton again. Hopefully they all will keep winning and keep giving me tough choices to make.

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Area Playoff: Abilene vs. Arlington Lamar

Of the four games I decided to watch this weekend, this was the one I thought might be a blowout. On paper, 11-0 Abilene, going in against a 6-5 Lamar looked like a mismatch. This is the amazing thing about 5A football in Texas, like the NFL, teams with poor records are still dangerous and can knock off a powerhouse if the favorite gets complacent. The Abilene Eagles did advance to the 3rd round with a 53-34 victory at the University of Texas-Arlington, but not before getting a scare from the Vikings.

Abilene took an early lead with 2 quick scores to go up 14-0, but Lamar came right back scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the 2nd quarter, to take the momentum and the lead, 20-14. Both were short lived, as the Eagles put together a drive late in the half, capping it with a 22 yard touchdown pass from Evin Abbe to Nate Kittley with 33 seconds left, to make the score 21-20 at the half.

Abilene increased their lead when Kittley took the 2nd half kickoff 99 yards for a TD and a 28-20 Eagle lead. Lamar wouldn’t go away, trading scores and staying on the heels Abilene through the 3rd quarter. Abilene finally pulled away in the 4th quarter when the Viking offense sputtered and the Eagles continued to put points on the board. The Abilene offensive line did an outstanding job and running back Marcell Porter ran for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Impressive crowd of maybe 4,000 from Abilene made the over 100 mile trip to see their team, easily tripling the attendance on the home side. Another good example of what I talked about last week when writing about the importance of support from the fans and how it leads to success.

I’m looking forward to watching Abilene again next week, who along with La Marque, Carthage and Stamford advanced today to the 3rd round. I’ll be hoping for my other teams, Cedar Hill and Throckmorton to win their games tomorrow and will let you know how those go.

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Area Playoff: Aledo Vs. Denton Guyer

 

For the first time in four years the Aledo Bearcats ended a season without a championship, falling in their 2nd round game to Denton Guyer, 42-30. With the wind at their back, Guyer dominated the 1st quarter jumping out to a 21-0 lead. The Bearcats got on the board in the 2nd quarter on a 15 yard pass from Pate Davis to Willie Gibson. Aledo added a safety on a bad snap by the Wildcats early in the 3rd quarter to make the score 21-9 and it looked as though the Bearcats might make a run. Unfortunately for Aledo, whenever they started to look like they were getting something going they found a way to shoot themselves in the foot.  Dropped passes, overthrown balls & big defensive letdowns all kept the Bearcats from climbing out of the hole they found themselves in.

Not to take anything away from Guyer, they are an outstanding team and outplayed Aledo. Guyer quarterback Jarred Heard, a University of Texas commit, was the best player on the field and hurt the Bearcats both through the air and on the ground. Aledo could have won, but would have had to play a lot better than they did, and on this day they just made too many mistakes to beat a team as good as Guyer.

Sad to say goodbye to Aledo, Idalou, Port Lavaca Calhoun and Harlingen; they are all great programs I spent time with and all went down today.

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Second Round Playoffs

With ten teams that I spent time with still playing, I had a good problem but also a tough time coming up with who to watch in the 2nd round this weekend.  I’m very tempted to head down to Houston and see the La Marque- Coldspring game, the Sandcrabs from Calhoun are going to be in San Antonio, and that was also tempting, but I got to stay with the way to see the biggest number of my teams during the weekend, and that means staying in the Metroplex.

I’m gambling that La Marque will get by Coldspring this time and hope to get down for the Navasota game next weekend. Friday, I’ll be at the match between two great 4A schools Aledo vs. Denton Guyer. Afterwards I’ll head down the road to Arlington to catch the game between Abilene High and Lamar. On Saturday, I’ll be at Dragon Stadium in Southlake to see the Cedar Hill Longhorns play Denton Ryan and finally I’ll drive out to Early to try to catch some of Throckmorton’s game against Water Valley.

I sure wish there was a way I could see the rest of my teams, I just got to hope they all keep winning so I can see more of them in the 3rd round. There are just too many good games to see, there have got to be a lot of Texas HS football fans with tough choices to make.

 

 

 

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Cedar Hill vs. Copperas Cove Bi-District

 

The Cedar Hill Longhorns began their playoff run at Hewitt Midway near Waco defeating the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs 35-28. The ‘Horns came out very strong, running the score to 35-7 late in 3rd quarter. The ‘Dawgs showed some fight in the 4th quarter,, scoring 3 unanswered touchdowns and getting a failed onside kick away from having a shot for a tie in the final minutes. Copperas Cove deserves credit for the comeback, but the bottom line is that Cedar Hill was, by far, the superior team.They have so many ways to hurt you that, I‘m guessing, they will go as far as their execution takes them. When they play their best football they are very hard to beat.

I’m heading home to Reno in a few hours I’m very excited to spend a few days with my wife, daughter, granddaughter and dogs after spending 4 months living in motels. I will be returning to Texas on Thanksgiving, in time for the second round. All ten of the playoff teams I’ve followed this year survived to the 2nd round, so I have some decisions to make about where to go. Make suggestions or check back later in the week if you want to know where I’ll be.

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