The Cooldown: Week 9

Name a better time of the year than mid-October. We’re in the thick of football season, high school playoffs are right around the corner while many of us still have hope for our favorite college or NFL teams. The weather is cooling off and holiday season is right around the corner. I mean seriously, what’s better?

Not that it being mid-October has anything to do with last weeks’ best high school football action around the Houston area. I just wanted to say that. We’re down to just two weeks left in the regular season. Let’s recap week nine!

Klein Collins takes down Klein Cain in a banger

It might not have been the closest game of the year, or the game with the most points scored, but it was a bangr.

Klein Collins took down Klein Cain last week, 42-33. The win sets up an interesting game next week between the Tigers and Tomball. A Tomball win would create a three-way tie at for first in 15-6A, while a win for Klein Collins would essentially clinch the district championship for them. That sort of makes the Collins-Tomball tilt the de-facto district title game, and Tomball Memorial should be watching that game closely. Tomball still has to face Klein Cain after it gets Collins next week; it’s lone district loss was by six points to Tomball Memorial.

Anyway, this isn’t about Tomball. In fact, Klein Collins showed us last week why it should be favored to win next week and take the district crown – it has the talent to run a balanced offense. The old saying goes, the run sets up the pass, and that’s been Klein Collins’ bread-and-butter for years. This year is no different.

Michael Wilson paced the Tigers on the ground, continuing his stellar season with 22 rushes for 152 yards and a touchdown. That help set up quarterback Tucker Parks, who finished a spotless 14-of-14 passing for 218 yards and two scores. Donovan Baker and Jeremiah Hutching hauled in the Parks touchdown passes.

While not as impressive from an efficiency standpoint, Klein Cain quarterback Issac Mooring went toe-to-toe with Parks. He finished with 307 yards and two scores on 25-of-41 passing. Darius Rodgers has been somewhat of an X-factor for Cain this year, but was relatively shutdown by the Klein Collins defense. Rodgers finished with 69 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Mooring and Jaelon Dixon also scored rushing touchdowns, but Cain averaged just 3.6 yards-per-rush as a team. Blaine Bullard caught both Mooring touchdown passes, adding 10 catches for 137 yards to his line.

Klein Cain has a good collection of offensive talent, and could make a little playoff noise despite a likely fourth-place district finish. Collins could make a good playoff run and Tomball and Tomball Memorial should be intriguing as well. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the brackets come out in two weeks.

Shadow Creek stuns Dawson in OT

I mentioned that three-way tie scenario above; Tomball might not pull off the upset next week, but if it does… here’s what that would look like.

Pearland took down Shadow Creek, 20-13, back on September 21. Then, the Oilers lost to rival Dawson, 21-7, on October 13. Dawson had a chance to win the district with a win against Shadow Creek last week, but lost 25-23 in overtime (on one of the wildest endings you’ll see, check out the highlights below). SO now each has a district loss, each in a round robin format to each other.

None of the three have a tough district game left, so the playoff picture is all but decided. I’m not sure what the tiebreaker procedure is, but Dawson has the smallest margin of loss at two points. Shadow Creek lost its lone district game by seven, while Pearland lost by 14. That’s the easiest way to decide things to me, but who am I to decide these things.

It was a defensive struggle pretty much all night. After no points in the first half, Dawson took a 10-0 lead in the third quarter. Shadow Creek answered with 10 in the fourth to send it to overtime. Each put seven on the board in OT1, making it a 17-17 game heading to the second overtime. Shadow Creek got the ball first and scored, but failed on the mandatory two-point conversion. Dawson found the end zone as well to tie it, 23-23. Worst case scenario for Dawson would be fail the two-point try and head to 3OT, right? Well…

Shadow Creek’s Aaden Benjamin picked off Gage Greene and returned it 98 yards to top off a 25-23 win for the Sharks in two overtimes. The box score reflects the defensive struggle. Shadow Creek quarterback Cobey Sellers had the best offensive performance, throwing for 140 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-19. Sellers was also the Sharks’ leading rusher with 61 yards, though Justin Qualls ran for 60 yards on just six carries. Chris Stewart was the leading receiver with 95 yards and a touchdown; Alex Kirkland and Ashton Jones caught the other two touchdown passes. Dawson finished with just 163 yards of total offense.

Regardless, none of these teams will have to play 24-6A champion Dickinson in round one, which is good news for them. Clear Creek, Clear Falls and Clear Springs will be the likely first round opponents, which should be winnable for the top three of 23-6A.

Randle demolishes Lamar Consolidated

It is high time we discuss the Richmond Randle Lions here on this humble blog.

Save for a 25-point loss to Lake Creek, the No. 2 team in the state, Randle is unblemished in 2023. And the Lions still scored 34 I that loss! Randle still has not cracked the state rankings, but I think the Lions might be better than, say, Argyle or Colleyville Heritage.

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Skrabanek finished an efficient 7-of-10 passing for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman standout Landen Callis-Williams ran 10 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Sean Smith and Sincere Timpson ran in touchdowns; Edward Vasquez’ only pass attempt went for a touchdown. None of those players are seniors, by the way.

Callis-Williams caught a touchdown pass, in addition to touchdown grabs from Jalyn Burton and seniors Jaydon Osborn and Marc St. Fort. The final tally came out to 448 yards of offense for Randle in its 70-19 win against Lamar Consolidated. Nathan Lowther threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but the Mustangs had just 13 yards on the ground for the game.

Randle will be big favorites in its next game against Bryan Rudder before a showdown with Huntsville to close out the year, a game that will likely decide who finishes second and third in the district. Regardless, Randle could make a solid playoff run and the Lions could be even better next season.

Player of the Week

My player-of-the-week not only kept his team alive in the 16-6A title race, but his go-ahead touchdown in the final minute ended Cy Springs’ undefeated start to the year. My player-of-the-week is Cy Falls running back Trey Morris!

Morris is the definition of an old fashioned bell cow, the type of back you can give a large workload to with good results. As proof of that, Cy Falls ran the ball 15 times for 23 yards and a touchdown without Morris. But Morris’ line? How about 37 carries for 195 yards and two scores.

Morris backpacked his squad, accounting for 195 of Cy Falls’ 268 yards of total offense. Cy Falls needs some help to win a district title by virtue of a previous 12-10 loss to Bridgeland, but the Eagles should secure the second playoff spot in 16-6A in Bridgeland doesn’t slip up. Cy Falls is favored to beat Cy Park next week before a big showdown with Cy Ranch, currently fourth in the district.

What to Watch for

I’m trying out something new this week. Gone is my news and notes section that listed off final scores of last weeks’ games. This what to watch for section is condensed as well. Instead of just listing off several intriguing games coming up next week, I’ll preview a few games instead.

Willis (8-0, 6-0) at The Woodlands (7-2, 7-0) – Thursday

Folks, this is your de-facto 13-6A district championship game more than likely. Oak Ridge is 5-1 in the district with a loss to The Woodlands, so if Willis were to win Oak Ridge could technically make it a three-way tie with an upset of Willis at the end of the regular season. However, the anticipation is that this is the game that is for all the marbles.

Willis is undefeated and hasn’t really been tested this year. The Wildkats have won every game so far by at least 28 points, but the schedule hasn’t been too demanding. The Woodlands has been quite the opposite. The Highlanders’ two losses came to No. 2 North Shore and and No. 13 Lamar – literally two of the best teams in the state. However, The Woodlands wasn’t awfully competitive in those losses, losing 38-17 to North Shore and 45-21 to Lamar.

Willis enters ranked No. 15 in the state while The Woodlands is No. 25 in the state. New Caney offers a point of potential calibration. Willis beat New Caney 54-21 back on September 9, The Woodlands eeked by New Caney 49-42 one week later.

This should be a great game and its filled to the brim with college talent. With The Woodlands’ Mabrey Mettauer headed to Wisconsin next year and Willis’ DJ Lagway off to Florida, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better QB matchup in the state all season. Should be a fun one!

Atascocita (8-0, 5-0) at North Shore (8-0, 5-0) – Friday

This one is plain and simple. Not only is a district championship on the line, so is a large amount of confidence heading into the playoffs. Can North Shore make it back to state for a sixth time in seven years? Can Atascocita finally break through and get past the team that has kept it from district titles – and potentially state championship appearances? We find out on Friday.

North Shore enters ranked No. 2 in the state. Atascocita is No. 7 and has a marquee win against No. 8 Katy under its belt. North Shore’s best win came on opening night against The Woodlands. There are two interesting case studies in calibration when it comes to this game.

North Shore beat C.E. King 42-6 at the end of September. Atascocita beat C.E. King 28-21 in overtime last week. Conversely, North Shore beat Humble 38-24 last week while Atascocita stomped Humble 67-13 two weeks ago.

It’s entirely reasonable that none of that will have a bearing on Friday’s game, but it’s still interesting to me. I do know two things about this game, though. First off, it will probably be a banger; it usually is when these teams get together. Second, Friday’s result is not necessarily indicative of what will happen when these two potentially meet in the regional finals: Last year, North Shore barely sneaked past Atascocita, 21-18 in the regular season. Then, the Mustangs stomped Atascocita in the regional finals, 38-7. Either way, I’m excited for Friday!

Memorial (5-3, 5-0) at Stratford (5-3, 4-1)

Both of these teams had losing records entering district play, and Memorial was 0-3. Each has turned It around big time in district play, with Stratford’s lone district loss coming to Cy-Fair. Memorial closes with Stratford and Cy-Fair, the two best teams in the district.

This game will decide the two and three seeds in 17-6A, unless Stratford drops its final two games against Memorial and Jersey Village. Then, if my math is right, Jersey Village would be the three seed and Stratford would be fourth. Memorial owns the tiebreaker over Jersey Village by virtue of a 41-18 win against the Falcons last week.

Securing a top two seed is important for the odds of winning a first round playoff game. The likely bottom two teams in 18-6A, Bellaire and Westbury, would be winnable playoff games. It will be harder to beat two seed Heights and virtually impossible to beat top seed Lamar.

Basically the question to ask here if you’re Memorial and Stratford is, would you rather play Heights in the first round, or Westbury or Bellaire. From a non-playoff perspective, this is also a rivalry game and bragging rights are honestly even more important in this situation. Looking forward to what should be a good game.

Magnolia West (5-3, 4-2) at Angleton (5-3, 4-2)

This is another simple proposition when it comes to the playoffs: The winner is likely the three seed, while the loser is the four seed or in danger of dropping out.

This game is particularly important for Magnolia West. If it loses, the season finale against Friendswood would be a play-in for the final spot. Friendswood is 3-4 in district and has a bye this week. Angleton owns the tiebreaker over Friendswood by virtue of a 49-14 win last week.

Magnolia West is coming off a big win of its own, 33-7 against Terry; Angleton beat Terry 28-7 the week before. If that tells us anything, this game should be a close one between two teams competing for a playoff spot at the back end of 10-5A-I.

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