Cover Photo courtesy of The Houston Chronicle.
Week nine action didn’t disappoint. With district play under way (at long last!) for most 5A and 6A schools, the importance of games and their potential cancellations have gone way up. Teams across the state have already picked up district losses due to games forfeited because of COVID. It’s a necessary evil, and certainly something to keep an eye on in coming weeks as it could affect playoff outcomes.
With all that being said, lets dive into some recaps of the best games and preview week 10.
Tomball Memorial is For Real, Folks
Another week, another offensive barrage from the Tomball Memorial Wildcats… get used to it.
Joseph Manjack is as good of an athlete as you’ll find in the entire state. Usually a wide receiver, Manjack has filled in at quarterback for the last two weeks after an injury to starter Colton Marwill, and Manjack hasn’t disappointed in his absence. He finished 6-for-8 passing for 84 yards and a touchdown while adding 15 carries for 294 yards and four scores on the ground.
Manjack’s brilliance on the ground was matched by junior back Richard Rodridguez, who finished with 209 yards and two scores of his own. But Klein Cain had an answer for that – Jaydon Blue racked up 221 yards and three scores on the ground while Matthew Golden was the games’ leading receiver by well over 100 yards – finishing with 164 yards on seven catches.
In total, Memorial out-gained Cain on the turf 631-597, and on the scoreboard 64-49. Memorial moves to 5-0 (2-0) on the season, and shares the district lead with Klein Oak. All it will likely take for a district championship is a win against Klein Collins on Nov. 20, and they’ll need to follow that with a win against Oak the following week. For Cain, the Hurricanes still have tough games against Collins, Oak and a non-district showdown with Katy Taylor left.
15-6A being one of the best districts in Houston for the second year in a row? Say it ain’t so.
Bridgeland Handles Cy Ranch
Tomball Memorial has a solid stake to this claim as well, but Bridgeland may just be the surprise team of the year in Houston.
Bridgeland took down probably the best team in 16-6A with relative ease last Thursday. The Bears jumped out to a quick 24-0 lead and never looked back. Conner Weigman continued to prove he’s the best quarterback in the district – no small accomplishment with DJ Ciers on the other side of the ball – by throwing for 207 yards and a score and adding 90 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
Ciers was my pre-season player-to-watch for this district, and for good reason. He back-packed the Mustangs a little bit in this one, accounting for 228 of the teams’ 280 total yards. Ciers finished with 151 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 8-for-14 passing, and added 77 yards and a score on the ground. He led a furious Mustang comeback in the second half to make this a respectable game, with the rally dying late in the fourth when he got hit while throwing, causing a game-clinching interception.
Bridgeland has now beaten the likes of Klein Cain, Shadow Creek and Cy Ranch – all among some of the best in Houston. The only significant district challenge the Bears have left is against Cy Park next week. They’ll round out their season in a re-scheduled non-district matchup against Cy-Fair, which should prove to be a good measuring stick before playoffs.
Cy Ranch will also have to face Cy Park, but will likely be favored to win out after a 2-2 start. The Mustangs will be well-tested heading into the playoffs a narrow loss to Cy-Fair and a near-comeback loss to Bridgeland last week.
Klein Oak Shocks Klein Collins
Hey look, another great game from 15-6A, who’s surprised? Not me!
Klein Oak beat five-time defending district champions Klein Collins last season and Collins still won the district, so a Klein Oak win isn’t unprecedented and its not a major upset either. But what is a big surprise is that Oak held Collins scoreless! We’re talking about a squad that played North Shore within a touchdown, and Oak beat them by four scores – 26-0.
Oak got touchdowns out of a triumvirate of players – Drew Berra through the air, and Charles Garrett and Jamal Stephens each with one on the ground. As one might expect with these two squads, it was a defensive slugfest with Oak out-gaining Collins 249-210. Kason Tullos and Dorian Gates dominated this one for the Oak defense.
For Collins, Jonathan Lewis had another good game on the ground, rushing for 158 yards on 31 carries. Justin Castillo threw for just 39 yards on 7-for-9 passing, and it’s obvious the Tigers miss starter Colby Powers. Two fumbles lost killed Collins’ chances in this one.
Klein Oak – as mentioned earlier – still has to go up against Klein Cain and Tomball Memorial. But those three along with Collins make for a pretty solid group of four playoff teams. However, I think those four could go in almost any order at this point in time. For Collins, it will depend on the return of Colby Powers; for Oak, it will depend on how much the defense can limit explosive offenses from Memorial and Cain.
Other Notable Games
Here are some of the other games that caught my eye in week nine.
- Atascocita bounced back for an impressive 66-0 shut-out of Humble
- Clear Springs took down Clear Falls 27-14 in a good district test
- Pearland and Pearland Dawson roll, 42-13 against Elsik; 39-0 against Alief Taylor respectively
- Shadow Creek gets in the win column for the first time in 2020 in shut-out fashion, 33-0 over Strake Jesuit
- North Shore rolls 55-14 against a good West Brook squad
- Cy Springs snaps 17-game losing streak with impressive 35-28 win against Cy Lakes
- C.E. King bounced back for a big 49-14 win against Kingwood
- Tompkins blanked Taylor 28-0 in the most anticipated matchup of the week
- Seven Lakes beat Morton Ranch 14-13 in a game with big implications as it relates to the 19-6A playoff picture
- Manvel rebounded with a 49-28 district opener win against Angleton
- Magnolia West… do I have to say it? C’mon guys…
- El Campo wins big, 42-8, in a big rivalry game against Bay City
What to Watch for: Week 10
Here are the best games with the biggest implications on Hallo-weekend. Games at the top of the list with asterisks are Thursday games; those with asterisks at the bottom of the list are Saturday games. Y’all enjoy some great football and a safe and socially-distanced Halloween!
- *Conroe faces off with Oak Ridge in an important 13-6A district game
- *Klein looks to claw its way into the playoff picture against Tomball Memorial
- Elsik and Hastings face off, looking to climb into the playoff picture
- Deer Park and Channelview battle in an evenly-matched showdown
- Clear Creek and Clear Springs battle fresh off big wins
- Grand Oaks puts its streak of scoring 60+ on the line against College Park
- Cy Park and Bridgeland face off in what should be a high-scoring affair
- C.E. King faces Summer Creek with each fighting for a playoff spot in the highly competitive 21-6A
- Strake Jesuit and Dawson matchup in a game with playoff seeding implications
- Klein Collins looks to get back on track against Tomball
- Hightower looks to bounce back against Angleton
- Crosby and Barbers Hill might be the game of the week in 5A Division II
- Bay City looks to bounce back against Needville
- El Campo looks to continue momentum against Columbia
- *Cy Ranch looks to bounce back against Cy Woods
- *Katy and Dickinson provides one of the most intriguing non-district matchups of the season
- *Mayde Creek and Taylor showdown; both looking to bounce back from tough losses