Football: Lake Dallas lineman commits to Texas State

Lake Dallas High School offensive lineman Segun Ijiyera (70), an area standout, follows a play during the first half as Prestonwood Christian Academy hosted Lake Dallas High School at Lions Stadium in Plano on Friday night, September 9, 2016.  (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Lake Dallas High School offensive lineman Segun Ijiyera (70), an area standout, follows a play during the first half as Prestonwood Christian Academy hosted Lake Dallas High School at Lions Stadium in Plano on Friday night, September 9, 2016. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)

Segun Ijiyera’s commitment to Texas State on Sunday couldn’t have worked out better for both parties. Ijiyera, a career offensive tackle at Lake Dallas, wanted to try his hand at defensive line, and the Bobcats had a need at the position.

Ijiyera had eight offers to sift through, but at that point, Texas State was a no-brainer.

“They offered me as an offensive lineman a long time ago,” Ijiyera said. “I played defense this year a little bit, and I felt like that’s where I could play in college. This feels good. It’s something I’ve been thinking about.”

Ijiyera also had offers from schools such as North Texas, Tulane, Nevada, Sam Houston and Southern Mississippi.

Verbal commitments are nonbinding. The first day Ijiyera can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1.

The 6-2, 270-pound Ijiyera has predominately been an offensive lineman during his career with the Falcons. He played on both sides of the ball this year due to injuries to several teammates, recording 31 tackles (9 for loss) with one sack.

Ijiyera said the opportunity to play defense at the next level involved getting some help from an old teammate. Former Lake Dallas quarterback Dagan Haehn, who went to Kansas but since has transferred to Texas State, put in a good word for Ijiyera when the two recently spoke.

“I told [Dagan] that I’d love to play defense in college, and next thing I know he gets a chance to talk to the coach and he told them about me,” Ijiyera said. “They watched my film and liked what they saw.”

Lake Dallas coach Michael Young agreed that this is a perfect fit.

“He had been leaning this way for a while,” Young said of Ijiyera. “I think his visit [to Texas State] helped throw it over the top.”

STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.

 

What you need to know: Colleyville Heritage

Denton Ryan wide reciever Tauskie Dove catches a pass from quarterback Spencer Sanders deep in Plainsmen territory and runs it in for a touchdown early in a 5A Division I regional semifinal playoff game on Friday, Nov. 25 against Lubock Monterey at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. photo by Gary Rhodes

Denton Ryan wide reciever Tauskie Dove catches a pass from quarterback Spencer Sanders deep in Plainsmen territory and runs it in for a touchdown early in a 5A Division I regional semifinal playoff game on Friday, Nov. 25 against Lubock Monterey at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene.
photo by Gary Rhodes

Buckle up: Ryan travels to AT&T Stadium in Arlington tomorrow to take on Colleyville Heritage in a Class 5A Division I Region I final. Heritage is on a roll and has already matched the longest playoff run in school history. Meanwhile, Ryan has been to the state quarterfinals lots of times, including just last year.

What will happen? I’m not sure, but this has all the makings of a great game to determine who moves on to the state semifinals.

A longer game advance will be in tomorrow’s Denton Record-Chronicle. In the meantime, here are some things you need to know:

The Game: No. 4 Ryan (13-0) vs Colleyville Heritage (10-3), Saturday, 10:30 a.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Series Record: Colleyville Heritage leads the all-time series 4-3. This is the first meeting between the two programs since 2013.

What happened last week: Ryan beat Lubbock Monterey, 38-21. Colleyville Heritage beat Lubbock Coronado, 43-34.

What to expect: A great game. Ryan and Heritage have explosive playmakers on offense, and are loaded on defense. That combination is an obvious reason why they are both here in this round. Heritage quarterback Cam Roane can make every throw and is not afraid to get everyone involved in the passing game. He will need to in order to have a chance at keeping Ryan’s suffocating defense guessing. Meanwhile, Ryan QB Spencer Sanders is dangerous in the run game and through the air with 54 total touchdowns. He’s had help in the run game this postseason from Tyreke Davis, a starting linebacker who also plays running back. Davis is a key to making Ryan’s offense go, and he’s a guy the Raiders did not have in this same round last year due to injury.

Final say: Jerry World will be rockin’ for this one, and for good reason. I can totally see this one coming down to who can make the most plays and least mistakes in the fourth quarter. With that said, I have to say that team will be Ryan. At 13-0, the Raiders haven’t given anyone a reason to doubt them.

Prediction: Ryan 40, Colleyville Heritage 24.

Guyer stud sophomore dealing with stress fracture

Guyer forward Jalen Wilson (10) puts one up over South Grand Prarie senior forward Cameron McGriff in a playoff game last season. David Minton/DRC

Guyer forward Jalen Wilson (10) puts one up over South Grand Prarie senior forward Cameron McGriff in a playoff game last season. David Minton/DRC

The star-studded Guyer boys basketball team will be down one of its best players as sophomore Jalen Wilson will miss the next 4-6 weeks of action with a stress fracture in his foot.

The absence begins tonight, as the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer will miss Guyer’s game at Flower Mound Marcus.

Guyer head coach Grant Long said Wilson had some pain in his foot after the Wildcats’ season-opener in which he scored 22 points, and the pain got worse after last week’s win, when he scored 11 points.

“I think the new shoes he’s wearing might have had something to do with it,” Long said. “The way he was running was hurting him, but he got some custom inserts from a doctor that hopefully will help him when he gets back.”

Long said he hopes to have Wilson, who has offers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, back in the lineup for the Wildcats’ District 6-6A opener against fellow district favorite Allen on Jan. 3

On the plus side for Guyer (1-1), the Wildcats get senior three-year starter Jake Roberts back in the lineup on Tuesday night to add a much-needed threat as the team’s top outside shooter. He had been nursing an ankle injury since the season began.

“We’re definitely thankful for that,” Long said. “He brings us that outside shooter that is tough to handle with our inside-outside presence. We can’t wait to be full strength [when Wilson returns], but we’ll take this as a positive with other guys that are new to our team having a chance to build that chemistry and get good playing time.”

That most notably means more minutes for 6-6 freshman forward JaKobe Coles, who scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four blocked shots in Guyer’s win last week over Dallas Madison.

“We never want to be missing a guy, but we have to find a positive out of it and we’re deep enough for another guy to step up and pick him up,” Long said. “We know the biggest part of the season is district time and playoff time, and that’s the time we want to be our best.”

 

 

What you need to know: Lubbock Monterey

Ryan senior running back Tyreke Davis (21) celebrates with junior quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) after he scores a touchdown at Northwest ISD Stadium, Friday, November 18, 2016, in Justin, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Ryan senior running back Tyreke Davis (21) celebrates with junior quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) after he scores a touchdown at Northwest ISD Stadium, Friday, November 18, 2016, in Justin, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all! With tomorrow being Turkey Day, I’m getting this short blog out a day earlier than normal. I hope you don’t mind.

So let’s get right down to it. Ryan travels to Abilene this week to take on Lubbock Monterey at Shotwell Stadium in a Class 5A Division I Region I semifinal. It’s the first meeting between the two schools, and a Ryan win would give the program 13 wins in back-to-back seasons. Monterey would love to spoil that opportunity while picking up a huge win over the No. 4 team in the state.

I ventured out to Ryan twice this week watch a little bit of practice, and at least from what I saw, the Raiders are itching to get back out on the field. I also took the time to chat with Ryan coach Dave Henigan and Monterey coach Wayne Hutchinson. All of that, including more reactions from players, will be in my game advance story in Friday’s Denton Record-Chronicle.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know:

The Game: No. 4 Ryan (12-0) vs Lubbock Monterey (10-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene.

Series Record: This is the first meeting between the two schools.

What happened last week: Ryan beat Richland 34-13. Lubbock Monterey beat El Paso Eastlake 59-26 in its area-round game.

What to expect: I haven’t seen Lubbock Monterey play, but I believe a lot will hinge on what quarterback Jaron Jones can or cannot do against Ryan’s defense. Jones is a dual-threat guy and Henigan has already told me he’s one of the more explosive QB’s Ryan will see this season. That’s quite a compliment since Ryan has seen quarterbacks like Trevor Hatton in Lancaster, Kaleb Fletcher at Mesquite Poteet and Jason Shelley at Frisco Lone Star, to name a few. Then there’s the overall explosiveness Ryan possesses on offense. Henigan insists Ryan will have its hands full, but I think the same can be said for Monterey.

Final say: Lubbock Monterey is no slouch, but Ryan simply has too many weapons. I think the Raiders pick up their 13th win of the year and advance.

Prediction: Ryan 40, Lubbock Monterey 14.

Weekend recap: And then there were two

Ryan senior running back Tyreke Davis (21) pushes through the Richland defense and scores a touchdown at Northwest ISD Stadium, Friday, November 18, 2016, in Justin, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Ryan senior running back Tyreke Davis (21) pushes through the Richland defense and scores a touchdown at Northwest ISD Stadium, Friday, November 18, 2016, in Justin, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

And then there were two. It was a well-played and at the same time brutal second round of the playoffs for Denton-area teams. We went into the week with five teams, and only Ryan and Argyle survived to play another round.

Sit back and relax as my sidekick Adam Boedeker and I take a look back at what got us to this point.

Ryan vs Richland

SG: Ryan continues to be a statistical nightmare for opponents. Not only did Richland have to contend with the ever-present danger of Spencer Sanders being able to use his legs and rocket arm, but Tyreke Davis got into the action by spurring on a solid run game. Combine that with Sanders and the solid receiving night Tauskie Dove had, and Ryan rolled up over 500 total yards. I spoke to Davis after the game and he couldn’t have been more excited. The Raiders’ featured back from a year ago hasn’t been needed as much on that side of the ball and came into this game with just three rushing scores. He equaled that mark on a night where he piled up 170 rushing yards. Not too shabby. Next up is Lubbock Monterey at the old Shotwell Stadium in Abilene. This will be my first trip to Shotwell since 1997. P.S. The team I was there to cover that year won big. We’ll see what happens when the Raiders come to town.

AB: Ryan’s playoff road is going to get tougher with each passing week, and this game was a step in that direction. OK, I take that back, throw this next week’s game against Lubbock Monterey out of that equation, but after that it’s going to be harder each week. Richland showed some promise early in the game behind a surprisingly effective run game, but I imagine that had a lot to do with Ryan completely taking away Richland’s passing game — its bread and butter all season. I’ve been waiting for Ryan to demonstrate a running game to speak of other than Spencer Sanders, and they did it with an old familiar face in Tyreke Davis, whose 49-yard parting-of-the-Red-Sea scamper put Ryan on the board early in that game. He had a monster game on the ground and will need to have some more games like that down the road.

Guyer vs Cedar Hill

SG: Well, Adam, you called it. You said earlier this week that this matchup had the makings of an instant classic, and for the most part, it was. Guyer surprised many by jumping out to a huge lead … but as good as Guyer is, so is Cedar Hill. You had to know this would come down to the wire, and it did as Cedar Hill pulled off yet another second-half rally to bounce the Wildcats from the playoffs. It’s a shame Guyer’s season ends following a game in which it rushed for 239 yards and jumped out to a 21-7 lead at halftime. But the Wildcats were held to 30 yards over the final 24 minutes. That’s not going to win you very many games. The good news is coach John Walsh knows what he’s doing and he’ll have Guyer back and ready to go for next season. If nothing else, this loss will definitely light a fire.

AB: After the first quarter of this game, I thought Guyer was going to completely blow the doors off Cedar Hill in pretty stunning fashion, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that judging by reaction from Twitter’s #txhsfbmediamafia. At halftime, I still thought Guyer was going to win fairly easily despite neither team scoring in the second quarter. Then, the Wildcats were held to 30 yards of total offense — 30 yards! — in the second half. Credit the Longhorns’ defense for that, but there are some plays from that game that Guyer will be second-guessing itself on for a while, including a holding call that negated a Noah Cain touchdown run in the final minute of the first half that would’ve sent Guyer to halftime with a 28-7 lead. I can’t say enough about Guyer’s defense, which had played great all year with the exception of two games against arguably the two best teams in the state, Allen and DeSoto. Against a high-octane Cedar Hill offense, Guyer allowed two touchdowns and a field goal after the first minute of the game. That was good enough to win, it just didn’t work out for them.

Argyle vs Lubbock Estacado

SG: Everybody now … duh duh duh, another one bites the dust. Duh duh duh, another one bites the dust. And another one comes, and another one comes … OK, I’ll stop. But seriously, folks. Argyle had its way with Lubbock Estacado, 63-7. Scores like that shouldn’t really happen in the postseason, but occasionally they do when you run into a buzz saw such as the Eagles. It was a balanced attack, too, with 255 yards through the air and 217 on the ground. And from what I can tell, the Eagles were only penalized twice for 32 yards. Next up is longtime foe Abilene Wylie on Friday in Mineral Wells. This will likely be a tighter game as both teams know one another all too well.

AB: The Argyle playoff machine appears to be rolling full steam ahead now after a somewhat surprising first-round win given the fact it was relatively close for a while against a one-win team. This one was much different.  It was 49-0 at half before the Eagles eventually won 63-7. Next up? A much-anticipated clash with traditional rival Abilene Wylie — one that was supposed to take place in nondistrict but was canceled due to inclement weather. Wylie typically plays Argyle very close and tough, but Argyle finds a way to pull it out in the end. We’ll see if the Eagles can do it again.

Krum vs Sweetwater

SG: Ouch. I think it’s safe to say Sweetwater had revenge on its mind heading into Friday’s area-round game against the Bobcats. All of us in the office were expecting Krum to make a long run this year given all the talented senior leadership, and it’s honestly a shame the season had to end in this way. Sweetwater, after losing big to Krum last year, rebounded with a 40-14 win in the rematch. Krum fell behind 34-0 and that was by halftime. With all that being said, Krum coach Gary Robinson is a favorite of ours and we’re sure he will get his team back in the hunt next year. Krum is not that old of a program, and what most people may not realize is that the Bobcats have made the postseason every year they’ve been in existence. They won their first playoff game two years ago and nearly made it to the state tournament last year. Krum will be back, folks. And we can’t wait.

AB: This might be the most shocking result of the weekend for me. Krum came into this game looking every bit the part of a team that could make a really serious run into December behind its stellar rushing attack and suffocating defense along with tons of beef in the trenches. Instead, Sweetwater got sweet revenge with a 40-14 win over Krum after Krum’s 31-0 playoff victory over the Mustangs last year. Krum trailed 34-0 at halftime, as Sweetwater proved to be a really legitimate state contender in 4A Division II.

Aubrey vs Jasper

SG: Another team I expected would find a way to advance to the next round. Unfortunately for the Chaps, you don’t win many games when you turn the ball over and give up too many big plays. Jasper scored 21 points in the second quarter and intercepted Aubrey three times en route to what only amounted to a 14-point win. Take away one or two defensive mistakes, or a turnover, and things may have been different for Aubrey. It’s a frustrating way to end a season, but Aubrey coach Keith Ivy has a lot to be proud of. I’ve said it before, but this program was in rough shape just two seasons ago. Now they’ve made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and were in contention for a district crown.

AB: Aubrey coach Keith Ivy had told me to beware of Jasper running back Decorrian Holmes, and the Chaparrals were able to keep him relatively quiet for much of Friday’s game against Jasper — a game the Chaps led 7-0 after the first quarter.  Aubrey eventually trailed 21-7 at halftime before tying the game at 21-21 in the third quarter behind another rushing effort from sophomore Gatlin Grisso. Then, Holmes exploded, returning a kickoff 80 yards and then rushing for a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the nail in Aubrey’s proverbial coffin.

 

 

 

What you need to know: Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill quarterback Avery Davis (12) is pictured in action during the DeSoto High School Eagles vs. the Cedar Hill High School Longhorns high school football game in Cedar Hill, Texas on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

Cedar Hill quarterback Avery Davis (12) is pictured in action during the DeSoto High School Eagles vs. the Cedar Hill High School Longhorns high school football game in Cedar Hill, Texas on Friday, September 23, 2016. (Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News)

This has been a game circled on the calendar since DeSoto knocked off Cedar Hill and pretty much ensured the Longhorns would end up in Guyer’s part of the Class 6A Division II bracket.

It’s two storied programs, two state-championship winning coaches and two very different programs that are awfully familiar with each other. The teams have met five times before, and all but one of them was a great game.

So, here we go on getting you covered on everything you need to know about Guyer’s area-round playoff game on Saturday.

The Game: Guyer (9-2) vs. Cedar Hill (9-2), Saturday, 2 p.m., Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium

Series Record: Cedar Hill leads the all-time series 4-1 with Guyer’s lone win coming in the teams’ only playoff meeting in the 2010 5A Division II area round.

What happened last week: Cedar Hill rolled over a pretty good Waco Midway squad, and the Longhorns did it in Midway’s home stadium. Avery Davis, the Longhorns’ Notre Dame-bound QB was nearly perfect, completing 17 of 18 pass attempts for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns.

Guyer used a well-rounded effort to dominate Trophy Club Nelson in a game that was turned on a 91-yard pick-six from Guyer cornerback Dio Williams. Guyer once again showed its improving passing game in the first half as Luke Stillwell threw for 99 first-half yards and hit a long touchdown over the top to Donovan Greenhoward.

What to expect: A clash of styles, plain and simple. Cedar Hill will want a track meet type game with its seven big-time college level players spread around the offensive lineup, highlighted by Davis and Oklahoma commit wide receiver Charleston Rambo. Guyer will look to slow the pace and rely on its dominant ground game and suffocating defense. It’s going to be a great matchup and I’m guessing it’s going to be a pretty high-scoring affair.

Final say: This is truly going to be a great chess match between two of the best coaches in the state with two vastly different, equally successful programs. Cedar Hill hasn’t seen many good rushing attacks this year, and it’ll be interesting to see if Guyer, even without second-leading rusher Myron Mason, can exploit that with one of the best rushing attacks in the state. Look for a new wrinkle to be thrown in with an emphasis on the quarterback-read game, something Luke Stillwell hasn’t done a lot of this year especially since injuring his shoulder in Guyer’s Week 7 loss to Allen. He’s 100 percent now, and I think the reins will be taken off Stillwell to complement sophomore Noah Cain in the running game. I think that’s enough to help Guyer pick up its second all-time playoff win over Cedar Hill.

Prediction: Guyer 45, Cedar Hill 42

Joey McGuire dishes on Guyer-Cedar Hill

Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire and safety Kolbi McGary (31) celebrate after stopping South Oak Cliff in the first half of their high school football game in Cedar Hill. Mike Stone/Special Contributor

Cedar Hill head coach Joey McGuire and safety Kolbi McGary (31) celebrate after stopping South Oak Cliff in the first half of their high school football game in Cedar Hill. Mike Stone/Special Contributor

When it comes to Texas high school football coaches, there aren’t many higher on my personal list of favorites than Cedar Hill head honcho Joey McGuire.

McGuire has a few state championship rings in his jewelry box at home and is clearly one of the most knowledgeable, respected coaches in the state. This week, he gets to face his ol’ buddy John Walsh, who is also right up on that personal list of mine.

McGuire talked about Guyer and the programs’ history together which is comprised of four regular-season meetings from 2010-2013 and a postseason matchup in 2010, which is the only game of the series Guyer won.

Without further delay, here’s my conversation with McGuire. Drumroll, please…

On thought that Cedar Hill is hitting its stride now after some “struggles” in the regular season:

“We played a really tough schedule early in the year. Our first five games were brutal against very physical football teams. We grew as a team and we’ve been healthy and gotten better. But we’re playing a really, really tough football team on Saturday. I think it’s one of the best matchups in the state for a football fan.”

On Guyer’s physical brand of football:

“I think they do a phenomenal job in the offseason. Whenever you think of Denton Guyer, you think of a very physical, strong football team that is well-coached. They hang their hat on that. It gives them a chance every single year to be really good. When you look at it this year, we really better go in trying to slow down the run game. They do a great job of formationing you and getting numbers to run the ball. You better line up and have a simple game plan and play really fast.”

On how Guyer is a tough matchup and how its physicality can neutralize Cedar Hill’s speed:

“They’re a really tough matchup for a couple of reasons. One, they’re gonna be really physical and sound in what they do. Them being able to run the ball, they can grind stuff out. When you look at that DeSoto game [a 51-17 loss for Guyer in Week 2] it’s a little deceptive when they had some bad snaps in the punt game and that’s 16 points real quick. It was early in the year. If you’re playing now, I think Guyer is a lot like us. I think they’re playing their best football right now. That’s always scary.”

On how Luke Stillwell compares to former Guyer star quarterbacks J.W. Walsh and Jerrod Heard (McGuire faced Walsh twice and went 1-1 and went 3-0 against Heard): 

“I think he does a great job. He does a really good job in all their play-action stuff as far as making those linebackers come up. He does a great job in the QB-read game. He looks like he’s faster on film than what you might think. With so many people keying on their running backs, he does a great job taking some pressure of those guys with the QB-read game.”

On Cedar Hill QB Avery Davis, a Notre Dame commit, playing perhaps his best game of the year in the Longhorns’ first-round rout of Waco Midway, in which he went 17 for 18 with 4 TD passes:

“He feels really good right now. He’s really efficient with the football right now. He’s very accurate. He could’ve been 18 for 18 if not for a little drop. He’s doing a good job of taking care of the football.”

On Guyer’s defense, specifically its standout secondary led by safeties Bryce Jackson (Northwestern) and Thabo Mwaniki (Oklahoma State):

“They tackle extremely well. That’s one thing when you watch them on film, the first thing you see is they tackle really well as a unit. They limit yards after catch and contact. You have to do a good job taking care of the football. They do a good job up front. Their two defensive tackles are eally tough to move and No. 17 [defensive end Jalen Sutton] is really long and can give some tackles a whole lot of trouble.”

What does Cedar Hill have to do to win this game?:

“We have to make sure we’re taking care of the ball on offense. Whoever wins the turnover battle in this game wil probably win it. We have to do a good job of slowing them. I don’t think anyone stops a team like Guyer — as far as running — but we have to slow it down. We have to also take a couple of shots in the vertical pasing game and hit a few of those to put some stress on the defense.”

What you need to know: Richland

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan celebrates his team's victory after the game at C.H. Collin Athletic Complex, Friday, September 16, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Ryan head coach Dave Henigan celebrates his team’s victory after the game at C.H. Collin Athletic Complex, Friday, September 16, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Ryan’s postseason road just got a bit more interesting as it readies to face Richland tomorrow in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Raiders are easily one of the favorites to compete for a state title in Division I, and a favorite in this game, too. But Richland is no slouch.

Like Ryan, Richland (10-1) has been beating up on opponents, so this is a chance to see one of the better teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area go toe-to-toe with state-ranked Ryan. What will happen? I don’t know. But it will be fun to watch.

Same drill, folks. I’ve got a game advance story coming out tomorrow. But in the meantime, here are some things you need to know.

The Game: No. 4 Ryan (11-0) vs Richland (10-1), Friday, 7 p.m. at Northwest ISD Stadium.

Series Record: Ryan is 4-0 all time against Richland. The last meeting between these two programs was in 2005.

What happened last week: Ryan beat Fort Worth Brewer 54-13. Richland started slow before beating previously-unbeaten Fort Worth South Hills, 42-35.

What to expect: A good game. Richland can put points on the scoreboard thanks to a solid quarterback in Trae Self and a dominant receiver in Landon Le. I expect this game to be a bit different early on as both teams try to figure each other out. Ryan quarterback Spencer Sanders hasn’t needed to use his legs much over the last month or so, but that may change Friday. If so, look out.

Final say: Ryan is built for a long playoff run, and though I think very highly of Richland, I would be surprised if the Rebels leave Northwest ISD Stadium with a win. But that’s why it’s called Texas High School Football, folks, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

Prediction: Ryan 48, Richland 24

Weekend recap: Playoffs??!?!

Guyer senior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) stops a pass thrown to Byron Nelson senior wide receiver Tyler Milliken (11) at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, November 11, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

Guyer senior defensive back Thabo Mwaniki (1) stops a pass thrown to Byron Nelson senior wide receiver Tyler Milliken (11) at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex, Friday, November 11, 2016, in Denton, Texas, Jeff Woo/DRC

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Seriously, if you’re already singing Christmas songs and decorating Christmas trees, get off my lawn. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! #TeamTurkeyDay.

Now, as I step off my soap box, let’s talk about the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the Texas high school football playoffs, guys, and it got started on Thursday night with a nice slate of area games and continued on Friday and Saturday. The area is down to five teams — Guyer, Ryan, Argyle, Krum and Aubrey — which is the same amount of teams we had make it to the REGIONAL FINAL last year.

Just goes to show, every year is different. So, without further delay, come with Steve Gamel and I as we take you down a path of opening-weekend recollection. It’s recap time, y’all.

Guyer vs Trophy Club Nelson

AB: Yeah, Trophy Club Nelson was red-hot and dangerous, as proven by wins over Euless Trinity and Flower Mound Marcus, but truthfully, this game was the appetizer for what remains — an insanely tough road to hoe in the most difficult region in the most difficult bracket in the state: Class 6A Division II Region I. Next up for Guyer is Cedar Hill, then likely Mansfield, then likely DeSoto. You get the idea. All Guyer can ask for is to be peaking at the right time, and judging by Friday’s performance, the Wildcats are. Luke Stillwell looked very good throwing the ball until he didn’t really need to anymore in the second half, Noah Cain was dominant and that defense that has been so good this year was once again suffocating and won the game early in the second half with a 91-yard pick-six by Dio Williams that completely changed the game.

SG: I expected a Guyer win, but I honestly expected a little more from Trophy Club Nelson. Not only have the Bobcats been on a roll this season, but if you remember last year’s district “monsoon bowl” between Guyer and Nelson where the game was played in heavy rain conditions, the Wildcats got all they could handle before winning with a late field goal. Guyer never gave Nelson a chance to get rolling, and that’s the mark of a good playoff team. Speaking of good playoff teams, Guyer faces Cedar Hill next. Having already lost to Allen and DeSoto, Guyer would love to knock off a perennial playoff power.

Ryan vs Fort Worth Brewer

AB: This wasn’t the conventional win for Ryan, but sometimes you’re going to have games like that. I even saw some action on Twitter talking about how Brewer had “let its chance slip away.” Not real sure about all that, but the Raiders capitalized on some key mistakes and made the Bears pay in a first-round rout. It was exactly what we expected, and while Round 2 theoretically should provide a much stiffer challenge with one-loss Richland, I’m not so sure. Richland should have had a relatively easy time with an injury-ravaged Fort Worth South Hills team and instead needed a big comeback to narrowly edge them. I’ll be tagging along with Steve to see Ryan-Richland, and I’m looking forward to seeing a full game from Ryan. I’m just not convinced I will. Call me when we get to the state semifinal…

SG: Ryan’s race for a state title began with a lopsided win over Fort Worth Brewer. It was expected, but what stood out to me the most were the different ways the Raiders put the game on ice. They scored 20 of their 26 first-half points off two Brewer turnovers and a blocked punt. There was also a blocked field goal, which extended Ryan’s streak of holding opponents scoreless in the first half to seven games. Then the offense exploded for three scores to open the third quarter. These are the sort of big-game plays Ryan will need to keep making as they move deeper into the postseason. Especially since Brewer – which won four games all year – is officially the last “weak” team on the playoff docket. Ryan plays Richland Friday at Northwest ISD Stadium.

Denton vs Justin Northwest

AB: Saw this score early in the evening on Friday and was frankly in shock. The Broncos were putting it on fellow one-loss team Justin Northwest, and it looked like it was gonna be a blowout. Then, disaster struck for Denton. As I’m sure coach Kevin Atkinson and his team knew, when you’re up almost 20 points on a 9-1 team, you have to put it away, and the Broncos couldn’t do it. Instead, Northwest’s explosive offense finally found its way in the second half and took its first lead of the night with just seconds remaining in a crushing loss for what is becoming a perennial playoff program from Fulton Street.

SG: It’s a shame that Denton lost this game after jumping out to such a great start. But Northwest is one of the better teams in the area, too, and that clearly showed as they used a strong second-half surge to steal a 31-29 win to knock the Broncos from the playoffs. Denton put together a solid season, with its only other loss coming at the hands of Ryan, but they clearly didn’t have all the necessary pieces to make a long run in the playoffs. Head coach Kevin Atkinson is getting there, though. After being a doormat for several years, Denton is a consistent playoff contender now.

Argyle vs Snyder

AB: This game was deceptively “close” for a while, but then Argyle showed its mettle and why its looking to play in its fourth straight state championship game and fifth in six years come December. Fortunately for Argyle, the travel hasn’t been quite as bad as we thought it might’ve been when the playoffs began and it should continue to get a bit closer to home with each passing week. The Eagles can expect a stiffer test from Lubbock Estacado than they got from Snyder, but it should ultimately be another cakewalk to set up an epic third-round game with Abilene Wylie, likely at Tarleton State.

SG: If Argyle is going to make the deep playoff run we all expect it to make, it will have to do a lot of travelling. The Eagles just finished a nearly two hour drive to Graham to be a one-win Snyder team and is now gearing up for a similar trip to Burkburnett to face Lubbock Estacado. After that is a possible date with longtime rival Abilene Wylie. Last year, this matchup was played in Waco. The good news is that Argyle has had to travel before, and it doesn’t seem like these boys are fazed by it much.

Krum vs Waxahachie Life

AB: I had the pleasure of covering this game, and minus the fact there were no rosters and a mouse was running around the press box, it was fantastic. Krum is very good, and the Bobcats have the perfect recipe in place to make a deep playoff run once again. They run the ball very well behind QB Brandon Reeves and running back Haeden Knight, who I liken to a Nick Ralston-type back. And they also play stellar defense led by a standout linebacking corps. Last year, Krum “shocked” Sweetwater, and while pundits might pick Sweetwater again, I don’t think this year will be a shock at all. Krum is looking at a regional final showdown with Monahans, which would be lit.

SG: This is a team we are expecting big things from this postseason and, unlike last year, there should be nothing shocking about it. Krum surprised many football experts with its run to the region final last year, but anything less than that this year could be deemed a disappointment. Krum is loaded with a talented senior class and it showed with an easy win over Waxahachie Life this past week. Up next is Sweetwater, a team Krum dismantled last year, too. Will the rematch yield similar results? I think so.

Aubrey vs Canton

AB: The Chaps have had some issues with the feared injury bug this year, but they’ve bounced back and keep on keeping on. That continued on Friday night. We’ve grown accustomed to the two-headed rushing monster of Gatlin Grisso and Pablo Vera, who missed part of the year with an injury, but the Chaps added in a third name on Friday as Sheldon Wingert eclipsed 100 yards on the ground to give Aubrey three 100-yard rushers. That, coupled with a standout defense, is going to mean sleepless nights and headaches for upcoming opponents. Next up, Jasper.

SG: The Aubrey train keeps on rolling. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Aubrey is easily one of the better feel-good football stories from the Denton area as it went from barely being able to win a single game to competing at a high level in the postseason starting last year. This year’s run already includes a big win over Canton, and up next is a strong Jasper team. Aubrey will have to travel to Tyler in order to play this game, but at the rate the Chaps are going, I’m sure they’d travel anywhere so long as they have a chance to keep playing.

 

What you need to know: Trophy Club Nelson

Byron Nelson Bobcats Tyler Milliken (11) carries the ball with a stiff-arm out during a varsity football game between Hurst L.D. Bell High School and Trophy Club Byron Nelson High School at Northwest ISD Stadium on Nov. 3, 2016 in Justin, Texas. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

Byron Nelson Bobcats Tyler Milliken (11) carries the ball with a stiff-arm out during a varsity football game between Hurst L.D. Bell High School and Trophy Club Byron Nelson High School at Northwest ISD Stadium on Nov. 3, 2016 in Justin, Texas. (Ting Shen/The Dallas Morning News)

The postseason is here, and it’s officially the most wonderful time of the Texas high school football season. Guyer enters on a three-game win streak and is riding high on the heels of its defense, which has been a lockdown unit this year with the exception of blowout losses to arguably the two best teams in Texas — Allen and DeSoto.

And everyone knows what Guyer’s offense is capable of, even without the services of senior running back and second-leading rusher Myron Mason, who suffered one of the most freak injuries imaginable last week while running through the cheerleaders’ pregame sign. Now, let’s get to the game…

The Game: Guyer (8-2) vs. Trophy Club Nelson (4-6), Friday, 7:30 p.m., at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex

Series Record: Guyer leads the all-time series 4-0 with the four matchups coming in the last four seasons as former district foes.

What happened last week: Nelson beat Hurst L.D. Bell soundly to lock up its postseason berth after starting the year 0-5. Guyer beat Plano West 30-10 behind another dominant defensive effort.

What to expect: Points. Nelson is riding high with confidence, having won four of its last five games after starting the year 0-5. And the Bobcats are doing it with a dangerous spread attack led by two stud receivers in Tyler Milliken and Isaac Groves. Guyer’s defense has been tremendous this year, and will likely do its job again, but Nelson will get its points. Guyer, of course, will score behind its top-notch rushing attack and a quarterback in Luke Stillwell who is throwing the ball better than he has all year.

Final say: Nelson’s defense is an opportunistic, aggressive one, but that brand of defense can also get your burned, and Guyer will stick with what it does without trying to get cute or outsmart the Bobcats en route to a fairly decisive win.

Score prediction: Guyer 38, Trophy Club Nelson 21