The first season is over and now it’s time for the second season. Roughly half of Houston-area teams are hanging up the pads for another year while others begin their quest to break streaks, records and maybe even win a state title.
We’ll recap three games just like we do every week here on The Cooldown and explain their significance, but stick around for the playoff preview below.
Brazoswood is playoff bound for the first time in 10 years
Ten years is a long time to wait. Fortunately for Brazoswood, that wait is over and the class of 2023 should be proud to be the ones to break the streak to make it back into the playoffs.
The Buccaneers took down Clear Lake convincingly, 52-24, to clinch a playoff spot. They started off 6-0 a didn’t lose a game until the calendar turned to October. Three tough district losses followed and the Bucs needed a win on the final night of the season to clinch.
Isaac Ponce guided the Brazoswood efficiently, finishing 9-of-12 for 63 yards passing. He added 81 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries to bring his total to 22 touches for 141 yards. They’ll get rewarded with a first round showdown against Shadow Creek. But a playoff appearance is still a playoff appearance and a 7-3 record is the best Brazoswood has seen in a while. The Bucs were 2-27 from 2018-20 and 6-33 over the past four seasons including 4-6 last year.
Morton Ranch survives Jordan to clinch playoffs
After trailing 17-0 at the half, Jordan made a furious rally that fell just short. Morton Ranch hung on for a 36-33 win to officially secure a playoff spot for the Mavs in what has been a fantastic season.
Santana Scott had another sublime performance, running for 194 yards and two scores on 27 carries. Scott has been great for Morton Ranch all season and he’ll need to be at his best in the playoffs. Josh Johnson finished with 125 yards, a touchdown and an INT on 5-of-14 passing. Johnson also carried 12 times for 63 yards and a score.
The Mavs will face Hightower in the one of the most intriguing first round matchups in the area. It is Hightower’s first year in 6A while Morton Ranch hasn’t made the playoffs in a few years; each boast explosive offenses.
Bridgeland wins; creates 16-6A chaos
Every single playoff team in district 16-6A finished with identical 5-2 district records. That has to be the first time that has ever happened, right? Surely?
Part of the reason for that was Bridgeland’s 27-10 win against Cy Springs. The future is pretty bright at quarterback for the Bears as well. Sophomore Jett Lewis finished 13-of-22 passing for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Jordan Wooden was the leading rusher, carrying 18 times for 97 yards. Noah Allen-Cuellar scored the lone Bridgeland rushing touchdown, carrying 11 times for 58 yards and the score.
Jonathan Nelson is rounding out his high school career nicely, finishing with five catches for 45 yards and a touchdown in his final regular season game. Mason Simmons caught four passes for 49 yards and the other Lewis touchdown pass. Bridgeland will match up with Klein Collins in round one which figures to be a good game.
Player of the Week
Fulshear has been one of the most impressive teams in the area this season. The Chargers are 13-28 in the last four seasons, and that includes records of 5-5 and 5-6 in the last two seasons. It is safe to say not many people expected a 9-1 record in one of the toughest districts in 5A-I. The lone loss came to Angleton, 44-40.
The Chargers are averaging 48.8 points per game and have only scored under 40 points twice: A 23-20 win against Magnolia West and a weird 9-7 win in the rain against Manvel. Spearheading one of the top offenses in the area is my player-of-the-week, Davion Godley.
Godley ran 14 times for a whopping 176 yards and four scores last week as the Chargers wrapped up one of the best regular seasons in school history. Of course, quarterback Parker Williams deserves tons of credit here too, that can’t go un-said. But it was Godley who had the dominant week, so he is POTW.
Fulshear will face Sterling in round one. If I had to guess, Fulshear will either make it to state, or be eliminated by one of its 10-5A-I bunkmates. They’ll have to beat Manvel again in its half of the Region III bracket before a potential state quarterfinals rematch with Angleton.
With the playoffs finally here, it’s only right we do a preview to give a heads up of what we could see and who might make it to Arlington. Let’s start our playoff preview with 6A Division I, where Houston carries all of Region III and half of the teams in Region II, which is typically won by DFW schools.
Class 6A Division I Preview
Klein Cain takes on Cy Ranch in round one, while the winner will likely play The Woodlands. All have a chance to advance to round three, but I like Klein Cain to advance and take on DFW powerhouse Duncanville at that point. Duncanville has been a state finalist in three of the last four seasons, losing all of those game to North Shore.
In the bottom half of that bracket, Klein Collins will battle Bridgeland for the right to take on Westfield. Again, all good teams, but I like Westfield to advance to round three. There, the Mustangs would get the winner of a quartet of Sachse/Rockwall/Waxahachie/Temple, and I like Westfield to advance to the state quarterfinals against Duncanville. While Duncanville hasn’t had a great offense this season, the Panther defense is great. Duncanville will very likely win Region II.
Similar to Region II, it could be a familiar champion in Region III. North Shore has led the state-wide rankings for much of the season, and it beat perhaps its closest Region III challenger in district foe Atascocita in the regular season. Of course, the injury to Kaleb Bailey has left wide receiver David Amador playing quarterback, and the Mustangs might be vulnerable in that regard. Amador has handled QB duties well thus far, but the Mustangs are less dynamic.
North Shore will likely face the winner of Cy-Fair and Cinco Ranch – each with on-again-off-again offensives capable of explosive games – in round three. Atascocita will have to get past Katy Tompkins if it wants another shot at North Shore in the state quarterfinals. No matter who wins Region III, three-time defending state champion Austin Westlake waits in the state semifinals. It is possible – dare I say likely, unfortunately – that Houston is shutout of the 6A-I state title game.
Class 6A Division II Preview
There is a weird mix of teams in 6A-II Region II. Willis was the best team in 6A to miss the playoffs, so it’ll be Oak Ridge and Tomball Memorial battling Dekaney and Cy Falls, respectively, for the right to move on. That’s an odd four to predict and I wouldn’t feel confident picking any one over another. The four just above it that will be the round three matchup are even more confusing. Out of Naaman Forest/Royse City/Mansfield/Harker Heights, I have no idea who is moving on. If I had to guess, I’m think Oak Ridge and Harker Heights?
Either way, DeSoto will likely win this region. The Eagles will have tough tests against Rockwall-Heath and, likely, New Caney. I think New Caney advances to round three and it will probably be a close game with DeSoto. The winner of that game likely wins the region, but Region I will provide a tough opponent with likely Denton Guyer or Southlake Carroll in the state semifinals.
In Region III, I’ve got one word: Katy. The Tigers are back in 6A-II and this time, it won’t have to deal with Austin Westlake. It also got a good deal in Region III as the Tigers won’t have to face North Shore or Atascocita. The only state-ranked team Katy might have to face before the state semifinals is No. 12 Shadow Creek in round three. At a more micro perspective, Morton Ranch and Hightower should provide one of the more intriguing first round games.
Class 5A Division I Preview
The weird thing – or at least the different thing – about class 5A, is that Region III is a mix of Houston teams and others. That makes this region harder for me to predict because, according to some projections, Smithson Valley is the favorite to win the region. I don’t know much about Smithson Valley, but I’ll give this my best effort.
This region really boils down to the well-documented 10-5A-I. College Station will prove to be difficult for Angleton in round two, but the winner of that game probably makes it to the regional finals. On the other side, we’re on a collision course for a round three showdown between Fulshear and Smithson Valley, who will have to beat Manvel in round two. The best chance for a Houston-area team to make it to state here is Fulshear. The winner should be big favorites in the state semifinals against the winner of Region IV.
There are three Houston-area teams in Region II – Barbers Hill, Crosby and Kingwood Park – but none of them will likely make a deep run. Barbers Hill is set up the best to make a run, while Crosby and Kingwood Park face extremely tough first round matchups against Longview and Lancaster respectively. Longview is the favorite in this region.
Class 5A Division II Preview
It is the same story in 5A-II with the mixed Region III. State finalist Austin LBJ joins the mix after moving up from 4A-I and figures to be the favorite in the bottom half of the bracket, which features Dayton and Montgomery. In the top half of the bracket, I’m looking forward to a potential round three matchup between Fort Bend Marshall and Montgomery Lake Creek.
Marshall is, well, Marshall, and Lake Creek boasts one of the more explosive offenses in the bracket. Marshall will be favored in this game, and probably favored to win the whole region, but I think Lake Creek could make some noise. This is the region I know the least about, so I won’t elaborate too much, but look for one of those two teams to represent Houston at state if a Houston team makes it in 5A-II.