DFW Football: Friday Regional Final Quick Reaction Notebook
Where to start? It was another wild day at Globe Life Park with three differently, interesting games that unfolded. The 5A games had some back-and-forth action, big moments and unexpected heroes.
Without further ado, let's get right into them.
The talk around the Aledo team is that it was a down year. Yes it has JoJo Earle. Yes, there's also Demarco Roberts. But the prevailing thought was they weren't the Aledo of old.
Just don't tell Aledo (11-1), which by way of how the bracket unfolded and against certain matchups, is back into the State Semifinals after it rallied and hung on to beat offensive power Lovejoy in the 5A Division II Region II Final, 52-48.
Things started well for Aledo, leading 14-3 in the first quarter. Compared to last week though, 11 points was nothing for Lovejoy, which flipped things on its head by halftime to go up 31-21.
The Aledo defense then showed its mettle in the second half, holding the potent Lovejoy (13-1) offense in check by limiting it to just 17 points - 10 if you don't count the desperation TD with under two minutes to play.
Aledo's tandem of Roberts and Earle guided Aledo in the win as well as the special teams, which scored twice. Aledo now meets Wichita Falls Rider in the State Semifinals.
We got the matchup we wanted. No. 1 vs. No. 2. Denton Ryan and Highland Park.
Except the game didn't really meet those loft expectations as Ryan (13-0) won a defensive struggle and kept Highland Park (11-1) under control for 95 percent of the game.
Ja'Tavion Sanders had another freakish touchdown catch, going one-handed while shielding off a defender. It was the highlight play of the day and already sets a high bar for catch of the year in 2021.
WOW! Check out this sensational one-handed TD catch by @TexasFootball signee Ja'Tavion Sanders to give Denton Ryan an early 7-0 lead over Highland Park.#txhsfb @dctf @dentonisd @ihss_dfw @hpisdschools @SportsDayHS pic.twitter.com/J4YcTYRvzH
— Greg Riddle (@DMNGregRiddle) January 1, 2021
But it was more about Ryan being able to get by the bully of 5A in Highland Park, which had knocked Ryan off in four previous meetings in the playoffs, including three straight from 2016-18.
Having downed Highland Park and every other challenger, Ryan is two steps away from completing its mission of "State or Bust."
Cinderella resides in Mansfield, apparently, as Mansfield Summit was able to take down another 4-5A DII district mate and avenge a mid-season loss by beating Red Oak 41-38 in a wild finish.
Summit, for those unfamiliar, Summit is the 4th seed out of 4-5A DII and only got in because of percentage points difference over Midlothian.
Summit has rode its defense and timely offense all the way to the State Semifinals for the first time in school history and will meet No. 1 Denton Ryan next week at 7 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium.