By Joshua Koch
HOUSTON – The first week of the Texas High School Football playoffs gave us much more than we could have ever expected – triple overtime thriller, opportunities missed by just inches and more wins for powerhouse programs.
First we start with a little history.
New Caney had never won a playoff game in its program history. Jason Gonzalez, the Eagles’ kicker had not made a field goal this season or for that fact in his career.
In the third overtime on Saturday against Beaumont Central after the Jaguars’ kicker had missed, Gonzalez lined up from 26 yards for the game-winning field goal. Gonzalez put toe to leather and nailed the kick down the middle. Celebration ensued as the Eagles’ sideline erupted, teammates rushing towards Gonzalez and coaches embracing each other.
New Caney for the first time ever, with a 31-28 triple-overtime victory, is into the Area Round of the playoffs. New Caney takes on Manvel in the next round.
In arguably the biggest first round matchup in the Houston area, Dickinson and Alief Taylor, each with just one loss apiece, went toe-to-toe. In the end it was Dickinson’s defense that sealed the victory with a 96-yard pick six from Marques Williams making it 35-21.
Dickinson gets North Shore, whom took down Memorial 54-0 in the first round. Dickinson will seek revenge from a Region III Finals loss to North Shore a year ago, falling 45-14. In 2014, Dickinson lost in the same round to Cy Ranch, who went to 6A Division I State Championship game that season to only fall to Allen.
Now to the matchup many will be excited about.
When the bracket came out for 6A Division I Region III, at the top many pointed to the possibility of Cy Ranch and Katy meeting in the Area Round if both would win their opening game. Cy Ranch demolished Bellaire, 63-42, and Katy stomped out Fort Bend Travis 51-25 to set up a rematch from a year ago.
Last year on the way to the program’s 8th State Championship, Katy beat Cy Ranch 59-20 in the Area Round. No other team the rest of the playoffs would score more than 17 against the Tigers in a game.
This year will prove to be interesting. Katy doesn’t have the same defense, but Deondrick Glass has kept up his impressive pace filling in nicely for Kyle Porter to keep the running attack potent. Glass rushed for 286 yards and three scores against Travis, pushing his season total north of 1,800 yards and now has 30 scores this season.
On the other side, Cy Ranch’s rushing attack from EJ Thompson, who busted past the 1,000-yard mark with his 137 yard performance last week – now at 1,131 yards – has been key to the Mustangs’ success as well. Top receiver target and recent Ole Miss commit RJ Sneed busted loose for 134 yards on nine receptions in the win last week, putting him at 697 yards and eight scores.
Throughout the season, both Katy and Cy Ranch have lingered in the Top 5 of many people’s power rankings. Now we will see who had which team ranked correctly throughout the season. This meeting has the makings of a great showdown.
In a matchup that will take place just up the road in Waco, No. 4 The Woodlands gets Sachse in the Area Round. Both undefeated entering the game, making this meeting one of the tops in the Lone Star State.
The Highlanders will try and rid themselves of poor playoff appearances from the past two years, falling in the first round in 2014, then in the second round to Westlake last year, 28-3. The last time The Woodlands made it to the third round of the playoffs was 2013.
En route to the 11-0 mark, The Highlanders took down defending State Champion Katy and George Ranch in back-to-back weeks before running over District 12-6A for the perfect regular season.
For Saches, getting to the second round the Mustangs would have to get through Skyline. The Raiders since 2010 haven’t lost a first round game, making it to the State Semifinals twice in that span, including most recently in 2014. Taking down a power playoff team in the first week will serve as a big lift to a team that lost to that same team in 2013, 51-10.
These are two teams yearning for a playoff win and to move further into the 2016 postseason. The pressure is heavier on The Woodlands just because the hype and talk of this being the year for The Highlanders that has followed this team since early on.
Other Noteworthy Playoff Matchups
- Crosby won a Bi-District Championship for the fifth-straight season. The Cougars will try and avenge a second-round loss from last year, falling to Ridge Point last season. Crosby made a run to the Regional Finals in 2014. Crosby gets Fort Bend Marshall on Friday.
- Katy Taylor is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Mustangs have not made it to the third round of the playoffs since 2008. The previous two trips to the playoffs for Katy Taylor, 2010 and 2014, have both ended in the Area Round. The Mustangs get Cy Ridge on Friday. The Rams are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, which ended in the Area Round. Cy Ridge has not been to the third round since 2007. With a win, one of these teams will make some history.