The Cooldown: Week 1

Another football season is upon us, which means we have officially reached the end of the sports summer-long black hole! There’s nothing like football season in Texas and week one of football in the Greater Houston Area didn’t disappoint.

Check back here each week for a recap of the previous weeks’ action, highlights and player-of-the-week.

Stratford impresses against Tomball

Tomball made a surprise run to the state semifinals in 2021, powered by a terrific trio of runners in QB Cale Hellums and running backs Christian Womack and Evan Alaniz. With Hellums and Alaniz gone, the Cougars have tons of production to replace.

The biggest problem for Tomball was having to face Stratford senior QB Nash Rankin, who complted 17-of-20 passes for 390 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers are preposterous. The Cougars still produced good offensive output, with Womack running 19 times for 149 yards and a score and QB Carter Noyes tacking on 141 yards through the air.

It wasn’t near enough to match the Spartans, who outgained Tomball 600-358 and won the game 46-28. The Spartans are shaping to up to potentially have a season similar to 2021, when they started 9-0 before a narrow loss to Jersey Village in the season finale. Stratford won two playoff games before falling to Katy in round three.

Shadow Creek shows out on TV

It’s rare that high school football is televised during the regular season. Houston teams have appeared on occasion on ESPN during the regular season, and this year Bally Sports’ regional network chose Manvel-Shadow Creek for its’ opening weekend “Texas Football Days” telecast. I believe it is the first time Houston area teams have been chosen for TFD in its short existence.

Shadow Creek did not disappoint. The Sharks looked dominant all game long, leading start to finish. QB Duke Butler finished with 253 yards, three touchdowns and an INT on 14-of-26 passing. Tylik Burton had a breakout game on the ground, running 11 times for 135 yards and a score. Jacorey Washington and Caleb Washington finished with a TD apiece and 88 and 87 yards, respectively. Dane Jones caught the other Butler TD pass.

The senior-laden Mavs struggled to move the ball against a top-notch Sharks defense. Manvel ran 22 times as a team for just 81 yards (and both touchdowns). Kaeden Smith had a nice junior season, but was limited to 115 yards on 14-of-29 passing for his senior season debut.

Of course, it is important to remember that Shadow Creek is a 6A team while Manvel is in 5A. The Mavs may not play a team as talented as Shadow Creek, who won the game 32-13, for the rest of the season. Each will have a chance to make a serious run in the playoffs.

Shadow Creek will play Clear Springs next while Manvel plays another 6A squad in Beaumont West Brook on the road.

Klein Forest and Alief Taylor face off in a battle of similar programs

Klein Forest and Alief Taylor remind me of each other. Each plays in a good district where each team typically is trying to fight for one of the final playoff spots. Each showed improvement last season and each return a key player on offense.

Alief Taylor brings back senior quarterback Chase Jenkins, who is committed to Rice. Jenkisn finished with 168 yards and an INT on 18-of-25 passing, and added 17 carries for 138 yards and three scores on the ground. Both a talented passer and runner, AT will rely on Jenkins for loads of offensive output this season.

For Klein Forest, it’s Houston commit Parker Jenkins who keys the offense from his spot at running back – at least usually. Jenkins ran for 55 yards and three touchdowns, but it was a quarterback-receiver duo who stole the show for the Eagles in week one.

Junior quarterback Jaylen Bragg finished with 288 yards and two touchdowns through the air on 16-of-25 passing; he added 51 yards on the ground. Junior receiver Jelani Watkins was the main beneficiary of Bragg’s brillance at quarterback, going for 168 yards and two scores on just five catches.

Klein Forest put up video game numbers en route to a 42-21 win. The Eagles take on Humble on the road next while Alief Taylor gets Westside on the road.

News and Notes

In this section each week, I’ll do some bullet points to highlight the other games that caught my eye but didn’t have time to discuss in full detail like the games mentioned above.

  • Atascocita shut out a typically dominant Dickinson squad, 37-0
  • Spring has to replace a ton of talent from last season, but was able to beat a similarly depleted Travis squad, 36-14
  • North Shore dominated a solid The Woodlands team, so… book your hotels in Arlington, Mustang fans??
  • Mayde Creek shut out Westside, its first shut out since 2019
  • Tompkins survived a nice back-and-forth game against Cy Ranch, 31-23
  • A usually explosive Marshall offense scored just 14 points in a win against Klein
  • Paetow scored just 14 points in a win against Conroe
  • Cy Woods “fetty-wapped” Katy Taylor, 38-17
  • Hightower shocked a good Dawson squad, 29-17
  • Clear Falls squeaked by Pearland, 20-17
  • Richmond Randle picked up its first ever win against Pasadena Memorial, 53-17

Player of the Week

I typically give this weekly award to one player, but I’m going with a dynamic duo this week. My player(s)-of-the-week are the QB-WR duo of Lucas Scheerhorn and Kaleb Black of Klein Oak!

Those two connected for two touchdowns – including a go-ahead score with less than two minutes left – as Oak beat Dekaney, 32-25. Scheerhorn finished 9-for-11 with 103 yards and two scores as Oak tried out a three quarterbacks, all of whom performed well. Black caught six passes for 124 yards and two scores.

What to look forward to

Here are some of the games I’m looking forward to this week. We’ll continue to learn more and more about these teams as we get closer to the start of district play, so it should be a good week of “calibration” as our own Professor Diggs puts it.

  • Manvel looks to bounce back against West Brook (TH)
  • Hightower faces another high-powered 6A challenger in Westfield (TH)
  • Cinco Ranch takes its explosive offense to face Klein Oak (TH)
  • Marshall and Crosby face off in a battle of 5A powers (TH)
  • C.E. King represents H-Town against DFW power Allen on the road (F)
  • Bridgeland takes on Tompkins in a battle of area powers (F)
  • Dickinson looks to bounce back against Ridge Point (F)
  • Foster looks to keep momentum rolling against Travis (F)
  • The Woodlands looks to rebound against Lamar (F)
  • Dawson takes on Klein Collins after an upset loss to Hightower (F)
  • Willis travels north to battle Temple (F)
  • El Campo looks to bounce back against Corpus Christi Miller (F)
  • Terry and Lamar Consolidated battle in a matchup of hot programs (F)
  • North Shore continues its march to Arlington against Spring (SAT)
  • Paetow faces off against Cy Ranch (SAT)

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