The Cooldown: Week 10

Just one more week left in the regular season. On Sunday morning, roughly half the teams in the state will pack up the pads for the winter. So I, for one, will soak in this last weekend of regular season football. Not to mention, there is plenty left to be decided as far as playoff pictures go.

Let’s have a weekend, shall we?

North Shore routs Atascocita for a statement win

One of the most anticipated regular season matchups of the year provided the type of game we’ve been waiting to see from North Shore. I won’t lie, a 38-24 win against Humble was perhaps a little eyebrow raising. That’s the type of game a team like North Shore might not take entirely seriously, but it is the kind of game where a 14-point win makes you wonder about a team like North Shore heading into a game against a team like Atascocita. So naturally, the Mustangs beat Atascocita by 26.

Now, North Shore hasn’t had an issue scoring points this year. But putting 61 on a top 10 team in the state, especially in a 61-35 win; it’s not like the Mustangs were in a shootout where they needed to keep scoring, is what you’d like to see when the aspiration is a state championship.

Kaleb Bailey showed off his dual threat talent, throwing for 251 yards and four scores while adding 95 yards and another score on just nine rushes. D’Andre Hardeman added to the rushing success, totaling 159 yards. Terrence Guillory was the leading receiver with 122 yards, nearly half of Bailey’s passing total.

Atascocita isn’t to be taken lightly. The defense struggled to handle one of the nation’s hottest offenses (North Shore is averaging 46.5 points per game this year) but the Atascocita offense was still up for the challenge. Zion Brown finished with 361 yards and three touchdowns passing and 82 yards and an additional score on the ground.

At this point in time, without seeing the brackets, it feels as if we’re destined for a Region III final between these two in round four of the playoffs. That’s a game we’re used to seeing between these two, and, as I discussed last week, a rematch could go either way regardless of the regular season result. Atascocita has yet to beat North Shore in the playoffs since 2018 when North Shore started a current streak of four state championship appearances in five years.

No need to discuss further playoff ramifications. These two are on a war path toward the state quarterfinals and I’ll be interested in any team stands in the way of North Shore or Atascocita in the first three rounds. These two finish 1-2 in district 21-6A.

Stratford takes a rivalry W against Memorial

Stratford started the season 1-3, albeit against a couple of good teams. It hasn’t lost since. It also gained the upper hand on rival Memorial in the district standings with a 24-10 win last week.

Quarterback Aaron DeLeon was the star of the night, finishing 23-of-33 passing for 279 yards and two touchdowns. That nearly topped Memorial’s 288 yards of total offense. Luke Rives and Hunter Biehl caught the DeLeon touchdown passes; Braxton Wakefield hauled in the most receptions with eight for 59 yards. Biehl ran six times for 32 yards and DeLeon was the leading rusher with 56 yards.

While Stratford had a tough night on the ground, Memorial couldn’t get much going through the air. Jackson Salters finished 8-of-13 passing for just 59 yards; junior Austin Alpe finished 4-of-7 for 40 yards. Cooper Gindorf was the leading rusher with 16 carries for 93 yards.

Stratford has likely locked up the second playoff spot in 17-6A. It holds the tiebreaker over Memorial; both are 5-1 in district. Stratford’s district loss is to Cy-Fair and Memorial will play Cy-Fair in the district finale this week. So the order will be Cy-Fair, Stratford and Memorial for the top three spots unless Memorial upsets Cy-Fair. Then it’s a three-way tie for first unless Stratford loses to Jersey Village, who I believe would push leapfrog Stratford but not Memorial with a win.

Either way, those are the four playoff teams. As discussed last week, it is highly incentivized to avoid playing Lamar in round one, and Heights has been good this year as well. Those two will be the opponents for two of the trio of Stratford, Memorial and Jersey Village, so long as Cy-Fair wins next week as expected. And if we’re not looking at the playoff picture… congratulations to Stratford on rivalry bragging rights! That’s worth a lot as well.

Klein Collins captures district title with win over Tomball

Klein Collins has long been one of the most consistent programs in the area, even in a typically chaotic 15-6A. But the Tigers hit a rough patch, finishing 4-5 in 2020 and 6-5 in 2021. Collins got back to its winning ways last season, sharing a district title with Klein Cain. With a win this week against Klein (2-7, 0-6), Klein Collins can once again capture a district title and do so by going undefeated in district play. The Tigers lost one district game in 2018, 2019 and 2022 when tying for district titles in those years.

Klein Collins topped off the end of a tough stretch of district games with a 31-17 win at Tomball. Tucker Parks finished 11-of-19 for 271 yards and three touchdowns; two interceptions, in addition to 49 yards rushing. Michael Wilson was the leading receiver with three catches for 148 yards and two scores; Wilson also had 57 yards rushing. Elijah Boone caught the other Parks touchdown pass. Ka’Jaun Gathers was the leading rusher with 73 yards and a touchdown.

The Tiger defense put the clamps on Tomball. The Cougars finished with just 42 yards on 18 rushes; quarterback Carter Noyes was an efficient 17-of-26 passing for 131 yards. However, that’s just 173 yards of offense.

Klein Collins will likely wrap up a solo district championship this week after guaranteeing at least a share of a district championship against Tomball last week. Tomball Memorial will face Waller (2-7, 1-5) this week and will wrap up second place with a win. Klein Cain and Tomball face off in the season finale, one of my top games to watch this week, to decide the third and fourth-place seeds in 15-6A. Heck, Tomball might want to be fourth. It made a magical run to the state semifinals in 2021 from the fourth playoff spot in the district, upsetting Cy Park in round one that year.

Player of the Week

My player-of-the-week has long been deserving of this weekly honor, and what better time to hand it out than after one of the biggest (and one of the last) games of his senior season.

My player-of-the-week is Katy Tompkins do-it-all offensive weapon Wyatt Young! Young has done basically whatever has been asked of him of offense the last three years for the Falcons, with over 1,000 career passing yards, more than 1,700 rushing yards and more than 800 career receiving yards, at least according to Maxpreps.

Last week was no different. Young finished with 57 yards passing and a touchdown and 16 carries for 235 yards and three more touchdowns in a 49-24 win against a good Jordan squad.

What to Watch for

While there are several intriguing tilts on tap for week 11, here’s a preview of the four games I’m most looking forward to.

Cy Springs (8-1, 5-1) at Bridgeland (8-1, 6-0) – Thursday

This one has big time ramifications that could shake up the top three spots in 16-6A. A Cy Springs win could mean a three-way tie for first between these two and Cy Falls, who could still drop to fourth place with a loss to Cy Ranch (6-3, 4-2). If Cy Ranch wins that game, the four playoff teams in this district will have each won at least seven games which is insane.

Cy Springs has been one of the darling teams of the area all year, but the Panthers are no Cinderella. Timothy Saunders has been outstanding all year at running back and Cy Springs has hung tough – one district loss by four points – in one of the deepest districts in the state. It doesn’t have state title caliber talent at the top, but there are five teams capable of winning at a high level. Cy Springs hasn’t faltered much through a tough district slate.

Meanwhile, Bridgeland has largely slugged its way through its first nine games. The Bears have scored at least 30 points in seven of its nine games so far and has marquee wins against Cy-Fair and Katy Tompkins. It has won every district game by double digits save for a 12-10 win against Cy Falls in what was Bridgeland’s most out-of-character game this season.

I am not smart enough to figure out what the scenarios are for each situation this weekend. As of right now, it’s Bridgeland, Cy Falls, Cy Springs and Cy Ranch in that order. Those four are locked in; each has clinched the playoffs. How will the standings look come Saturday night? That’s anyone’s guess.

Summer Creek (8-1, 5-1) at Atascocita (8-1, 5-1) – Friday

I know I did all this writing earlier about being destined for a fourth round showdown between Atascocita and North Shore. Well, Summer Creek gave North Shore a better game than Atascocita did, and the Bulldogs have a chance to raise some eyebrows, though they will be in the 6A-II bracket and likely won’t affect that potential fourth round date between the Eagles and Mustangs. However, losing the final two games of the season isn’t the way Atascocita wants to go into the playoffs.

As listed above, both teams have the same record and the same loss – North Shore. The deep dive on Atascocita’s loss to the Mustangs is documented above; Summer Creek lost to North Shore 31-21 back on Oct. 5. Summer Creek actually ranks above Atascocita in the statewide 6A rankings this week, No. 9 for the Bulldogs and No. 11 for the Eagles.

This will likely be the best game of the entire week and could tell us something about how these teams might fare in the post season. Atascocita might be capped at state quarterfinals appearance by virtue of facing a team it has already lost to by 26. However, if Summer Creek wins, it wouldn’t be out of the question that the Bulldogs could beat Katy (likely to be the top competition in the 6A-II bracket) and make a run at the state semifinals or state championship.

Tomball (6-3, 4-2) at Klein Cain (6-3, 4-2) – Saturday

The playoff ramifications here are quite clear. Klein Collins has won the district and Tomball Memorial faces Waller (2-7, 1-5) this week. Those two will finish 1-2 in the district. The winner of this game will finish third and the loser finishes fourth.

Now, I’m not sure of who goes 6A-I and who goes 6A-II in this district, but I do know it will be fun to watch. All of these programs have won multiple playoff games in the last few years and 15-6A is always one of my favorites to keep tabs on in Houston.

Playoff ramifications aside, this is going to be a good game. Carter Noyes has been solid at Tomball all year, going up against a Cain offense featuring Darius Rodgers at running back. Keep an eye on this one.

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