My favorite holiday has long been Thanksgiving. It’s the holiday most associated with football, and I always love seeing teams post pictures of their mid-morning Thanksgiving day practices before third round playoff games start on Friday.
I hope you all feel the same. This is one of the best weeks of the entire year. This year, Thanksgiving weekend has no shortage of intriguing matchups. Willis will take on defending state champion DeSoto in what might be the de facto state title game. Tomball matches up with Cedar Hill in another DFW-Houston showdown. North Shore gets its first big playoff test against Cy-Fair. The Woodlands will look for revenge against defending state champion Duncanville. That’s just to name a few that catch my eye.
Let’s have a great week filled with family, food and football. But first, let’s recap the area round.
Tomball takes down Oak Ridge in OT thriller
This was one of the most interesting matchups in the area round to me; I perceived this game to be pretty even. The game delivered. How’s a one-point overtime win for even?
It was an evenly matched defensive slugfest for most of the night after each team scored on its opening drive, burning nearly 11 minutes of game time in the process. Carter Noyes finished 14-of-21 for 140 yards and two touchdown passes, going to Brooks Junod on the opening drive of the game and to Jaxyn Faldyn just before halftime. Tomball led it 14-10 at the half, and the teams combined to score just 10 points in the second half.
Koby Fosher ran 28 times for 120 yards and a touchdown. Fosher’s touchdown run came in overtime, but it was far from his most important play of the game. After punching in that short touchdown run, his third run in a row on that drive, Tomball decided to go for two and end the game.
Oak Ridge loaded the box and sold out on the run. One War Eagle defender nearly tackled Fosher, but he was able to lob a pass the back of the end zone where tight end Colby Dawson was wide open after slipping his block. Oak Ridge defended it nearly perfectly, but it was a great play call and even better execution from Tomball. Even in a defensive slugfest, the most impressive play came from the offense. The Cougars were rewarded for that gutsy play call with a 25-24 win.
This start to the playoffs is reminiscent of 2021. Tomball finished fourth in its district that year before taking down Cy Park, Willis, Rockwall-Heath and Bridgeland en route to the state semifinals. Fast forward to 2023 and Tomball has beaten Cy Falls and Oak Ridge, and will take on Cedar Hill in round three, after finishing fourth in its own district.
Lamar survives and advances against Ridge Point
Talk about another great game, the area round in Houston did not disappoint. Lamar and Ridge Point have long been two of the best teams in the area and each was deserving of winning this game, but only one could move on.
Jordan Reaves put up another POTW worthy stat line, but he’s already won a POTW award this year and I like to spread those around. Nonetheless, Reaves was 9-of-22 passing for 134 yards and a touchdown, and he added 25 carries for 164 yards and another score. He out-rushed Lamar’s second-leading rusher by nearly 100 yards; Justin Howard carried nine times for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Enrico Moore-Espinoza was the leading receiver with four catches for 101 yards and the lone Reaves touchdown pass.
Reaves counterpart, Austin Carlisle, matched his production. Carlisle threw for 246 yards, a touchdown and an INT, while adding 147 yards and another score on the ground. It wasn’t quite enough in the end, as Lamar advanced with a 31-28 win.
Next up for Lamar is a round three showdown with Atascocita, which has the potential to be one of the highest-scoring games in the state this weekend. Atascocita defeated Pearland 61-35 last week. Between Lamar-Atascocita and North Shore-Cy-Fair, we’re in for a pair of heavyweight showdowns in the 6A-I Region III semifinals. I can’t wait.
Westfield sprints past Klein Cain
Speaking of high-scoring affairs, fans of offense should have loved Friday night’s game between Westfield and Klein Cain.
Westfield won it 55-41, and the box score is littered with big numbers as you could imagine.
Miles Dent put up an outstanding dual-threat performance. The Westfield quarterback completed seven of his 12 passes for 133 yards while adding 115 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. The real MVP for Westfield was running back Taji Atkins, who might’ve put up the most impressive line of the week. Atkins carried 25 times for a whopping 403 yards and four touchdowns, an average of more than 16 yards per carry.
Perhaps the only reason Atkins isn’t my POTW is because I wanted to write about every aspect of this game. These teams combined to rush for 953 yards; Klein Cain ran for over 400 yards as a team and were nearly out-done by Atkins himself. Cain had a pair of 100-yard rushers as well, with Darius Rodgers running for 262 yards and three scores and Jaelon Dixon adding 109 yards and two touchdowns of his own. That’s in addition to quarterback Issac Mooring’s 163 passing yards and one touchdown.
Westfield won the game 55-41 and out-gained Klein Cain 676-573. Funnily enough, this game was at Tomball ISD Stadium; Tomball the next day put on a defensive clinic. Nothing of the sort took place 18 hours prior at the Cougars’ home stadium, but you have to give credit to the offenses. Those names I just mentioned are no strangers to this blog and each has been putting up crazy offensive numbers for a while.
And what does Westfield get as a reward? A round three showdown with a Rockwall offense that is every bit as explosive. The Yellow Jackets have scored 46+ in their last six games and have scored 40+ in 10 of 12 games this year. Buckle up for that one, folks.
Player of the Week
I know I’ve already mentioned at least four different players as “player-of-the-week” worth in this blog, but this guy truly is worthy.
Though I’ve mentioned games that featured explosive offenses or tenacious defenses so far, none of those teams are as well-rounded or storied as Katy. Yet Cy-Fair was able to slay the dragon behind the arm of my player-of-the-week, Trey Owens.
I’ve written a ton about Owens in the blog this year — we’ve covered a lot of Cy-Fair games. It’s time he gets his shine in this section. He might not have put up as eye-popping of numbers as Taji Atkins did, or have the dual-threat masterclass that Miles Dent did, but Owens was exceptional against a great team and a great defense, and he caught my eye the most as a passer. Maybe that’s obvious given his pledge to Texas. I hear the Horns don’t take just anyone at quarterback, take a look at Quinn Ewers, Maalik Murphy and Arch Manning.
But enough about Owens’ future, how about the present. He finished 31-of-45 passing for 298 yards, three touchdowns and an INT. Forty-five passing attempts is a lot to ask for against a defense like Katy’s, much less a nearly 300-yard performance that yielded three of Cy-Fair’s four touchdowns in an overtime win. Owens also proved that Bobcat Fight, does not, in fact, die.
The road doesn’t get easier for Owens and Cy-Fair either. Next up is North Shore, who, if I’m not mistaken, hasn’t lost a Region III playoff game since 2017.
Believe it or not, there are only 13 games this week featuring Houston area teams, and eight of those are Houston versus out-of-area schools. There’s not many better things than Thanksgiving football. Let’s have a week!
Schedule for 6A-I
- Duncanville vs. The Woodlands (Saturday, 3 p.m.)
- Rockwall vs. Spring Westfield (Saturday, 3 p.m.)
- Cy-Fair vs. North Shore (Friday, 2 p.m.)
- Lamar vs. Atascocita (Friday, 6 p.m.)
Schedule for 6A-II
- DeSoto vs. Willis (Friday 7 p.m.)
- Cedar Hill vs. Tomball (Saturday, 4 p.m.)
- Stratford vs. Summer Creek (Saturday, 2 p.m.)
- Hightower vs. C.E. King (Friday, 10 a.m.)
- Port Neches-Groves vs. Lake Creek (5A-II, Friday, 4 p.m.)
- Richmond Randle vs. Huntsville (5A-II, Friday, 1 p.m.)
- Kilgore vs. Needville (4A-I, Friday, 2:30 p.m.)
- Tyler Chapel Hill vs. Iowa Colony (4A-I, Friday, 7 p.m.)
- Lorena vs. Columbus (3A-I, Friday, 7 p.m.)