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11/11/19

The Cooldown: Week 11

The old saying “time flies when you’re having fun” could not be more accurate as we’re somehow done with the regular season. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I was writing team previews for the 2019 season; now some teams are done for the year.

Thankfully the playoffs last six weeks in Texas; smaller states like Oklahoma only have three weeks of playoff football. With that being said, let’s look at the top storylines as we head into round one of the playoffs.

1. The First Round Matchup I'm Looking Forward to Most...

Either Katy Tompkins or Fort Bend Travis won’t win a playoff game and I think that is absurd. But it has to happen. Travis topped off one of the best regular seasons in school history at 10-0 while Tompkins boat-raced just about every opponent except for a five-point loss to Katy, who happens to be ranked seventh nationally. One of them will not win a playoff game in 2019.

The good news for the winner of this duo is they avoid the Katy and North Shore side of Region III. Class 6A Division I is absolutely loaded with talent and the winner of Tompkins and Travis will still have to likely face Atascocita or Dickinson in round three, but that’s better than the alternative round three matchup on the other side of Region III.

North Shore will more than likely meet Katy in round three of the top half of the Region III bracket. Katy will have a tough test in round two against a 10-0 Cy-Fair squad. In total, there are five nationally ranked teams in 6A Division I – No. 3 Duncanville, No. 11 Allen and No. 19 Southlake Carroll are in Region I while No. 7 Katy and No. 18 North Shore will fight for the Region III crown.

Just reading some of the names of teams I just mentioned and it’s easy to say Travis and Tompkins likely won’t be playing into December. However, these two have been some of the best in Houston all season – unfortunately the Houston area is so talented that some really good squads get sent home earlier than they would if playoffs were seeded by ranking regardless of area. All I know is everyone here at Inside High School Sports will have our eyes locked on Tompkins and Travis this Thursday.

2. The Road Back...

I want to talk about two teams here… first up is Shadow Creek.

The 5A Division I playoffs have some monsters on the left side of the bracket – that’s DFW and west Texas. Highland Park, Denton Ryan and Frisco Lone Star are all more than capable of winning state.

However, the right side of the bracket is far less intimidating. The path to a second straight state championship game appearance for Shadow Creek looks pretty favorable. Cedar Park could be a challenge for the Sharks, but Foster and Friendswood are the names that stand out most in Region III, and Shadow Creek beat both in district play. I would not be the least bit surprised if Shadow Creek makes a return trip to Arlington.

The other team I want to talk about is Fort Bend Marshall and the road back to Arlington for the Buffs.

They will likely get a good A&M Consolidated team in round two. While it doesn’t necessarily mean much, A&M Consolidated did win the 7-on-7 state championship last June. Beyond that, the Buffs would likely need to beat Marshall (yes, a different Marshall) before a rematch with Manvel looming large in round four. Fort Bend Marshall lost a close game to Manvel earlier in the year in district play, serving as the Buffs only loss in 2019. They need to do all that just to make it out of Region III.

It’s not impossible however, and I’m extremely interested to see if they can pull it off. Marshall has the guns to do it – the duo of Malik Hornsby and Devon Achane are among the most explosive offensive duos in the state and they’ll be put to the test. Write it down – Manvel and Marshall will meet in round four with the winner making it to Arlington. You heard it here first.

3. Keep an Eye on 6A Division I

I already went in depth about this above, but there are legitimately 10 teams in Region III alone that are good. Only a handful of those are elite. But the ones I mentioned above – Katy, North Shore, Atascocita, Tompkins, Travis, Cy-Fair and Dickinson, all share one quarter of this bracket. That’s six teams that are listed in the top 200 teams in America.

My advice is to enjoy every week of the playoffs. We get 17 weeks in the fall to enjoy the best football in America. With so many amazing matchups across the area, try to make it out to a few games if you can and take it in. If you have the time and means, make the trip to Arlington for the state championships. They’re truly unlike anything else and it is the cream of the crop of the best prep football in America.

Whether your team wins or not, just enjoy the greatness we get to enjoy here in Houston. We’re blessed with some of the best athletes, coaches, teams and community support of anywhere in the nation. Houston alone has more players ranked in the top 100 recruits in America than most other states have total. There are going to be marquee matchups every week. Let’s have some fun, the second season begins now!

Bonus: 15-6A

It has finally been decided! If you’ve watched our “Fifth Quarter” segment at all this season, you know there was a point in time where I counted out The Woodlands. However, the Highlanders were able to climb back into the picture, leaving Conroe and Klein Cain fighting for the fourth spot. I thought Conroe would get in by virtue of a win against Oak Ridge and a Cain loss against Klein Oak, but the Hurricanes proved me wrong.

Luke Pardee racked up 149 yards and a score through the air while adding 46 yards on the ground to lead Cain to a 21-20 win over Klein Oak to clinch the first playoff berth in Cain’s short history. This was my favorite district to watch this season, so shout-out to 15-6A for being so entertaining all season and shout-out to Klein Cain on its first playoff appearance.

Speaking of Klein Oak, they are a team to watch in the 6A Division I playoffs. The Panthers have an interesting road: They avoid the all-Houston Region III (which might as well be the region of death) and instead will play will DFW, Houston and Austin-area teams in Region II. Klein Oak will get Cy Ranch is round two, but should be favored in each matchup until a showdown with DFW power Allen in round four. But going back to the great duos I was talking about earlier: Dwight McGlothern and Montrell Bolton are as solid as they come.