DFW Football Playoff Power Rankings: Regional Semis
The first weekend
The first weekend
HOUSTON - "Just proud."
Those were the first two words Fort Bend Marshall's James Williams thought of. Standing on the grass with the fading Texas A&M logo in the middle of Kyle Field on Saturday evening, Williams watched as his team celebrated. Fort Bend Marshall for a second-straight year had punched its ticket to the 5A Division II State Championship game.
But the Buffs won't be alone carrying the H-Town banner up to the Metroplex come Friday.
Shadow Creek, which improved to a remarkable 30-1 over the first two years of its varsity program is also going back, along with defending 6A Division I Champion North Shore.
"Houston plays great football," Williams said. "It has a lot of great kids and great coaches. Excited for all of them."
When the year started we thought these three teams could go all the way. They had the talent back - Dematrius Davis and Zach Evans (North Shore), Malik Hornsby and Devon Achane (Fort Bend Marshall) and Alec Bryant and Xavion Alford (Shadow Creek). They had the "been there and done that" factor and were ready to go since January.
The talent was put on display throughout the playoffs as each of these teams looked stronger and stronger as the weeks progressed. The groups stayed healthy, which is key at this time of the year and left little doubt in each of their wins.
Unlike last year, this won't be Fort Bend Marshall and Shadow Creek's first time to walk in and play inside the shiny palace of AT&T Stadium. They've been there and you can tell.
Shadow Creek's Brad Butler calls his current Sharks' team "one of the most mature" he's ever coached. Williams echoes the same sentiment when talking about "unfinished business" with his crew. Both are motivated and ready for revenge, even though Shadow Creek won't get its shot against Highland Park like Fort Bend Marshall will against Aledo come Saturday morning.
The pressure though is probably most on North Shore.
The Mustangs are in back-to-back state championship games for the first time in program history. North Shore enters this week carrying an all-time record of 3-0 in title games with a legitimate shot at No. 4 this weekend against a Duncanville team which lost its starting quarterback to injury on Saturday.
The last team to win back-to- back state titles from Houston was Katy back in 2007 and 2008, which went to state three-straight years from 2007-2009.
What is truly remarkable is Houston is sending the exact same three teams to the final weekend of the season for a second-straight year. Which is extremely rare in high school football, considering the turnover with each graduating class, injuries and other outside factors that affect a group of 15-18-year-old kids.
Prior to last year, Houston had sent three teams to the state title games in the same season just twice since 2011. That year, Dekaney, Fort Bend Hightower and Manvel went, when the highest classification was still just 5A. Dekaney was the only team to win a title that year.
In 2015, when Houston hosted the state championships at NRG Stadium, the Bayou City sent three again. George Ranch, North Shore and Katy all went and won state titles.
Could 2019 be a repeat of 2015?
Shadow Creek, North Shore and Fort Bend Marshall seem to be the group that could do it. But Denton Ryan, which knocked off No. 1 Frisco Lone Star in the state semis, Aledo, which will seek its state record ninth state title, and Duncanville, which is seeking revenge for last year's loss, stand in the way.
It's Houston vs Dallas all over again.
There's something about that rivalry that gets people fired up, especially on social media and especially when it comes to playing for football state titles.
Last year, Dallas took two of the three title games in the state's largest classifications and it took a last-second Hail Mary for Houston to bring home theirs in 2018 to prevent a clean sweep.
So, Houston pride is on the line for a third time in the last four seasons. Can the Creek Boys, M-Block and the Beasts of the East bring home the hardware?
What we're watching right now is special and I hope fans can see that. In years to come when we reflect on the runs of the Buffs, Sharks and Mustangs we will remember the players. We will reminisce about the special moments. But what will truly etch this trio of teams into the history books forever?
For the second consecutive season, North Shore (14-1) beat Lake Travis (13-2) to earn a spot in the UIL 6A Division I state title game at Arlington's AT&T Stadium. The Mustangs powered by the Cavaliers 51-10 in 2018 before knocking off Duncanville 41-36 for the classification's state crown.
On Saturday, they moved closer to repeating that by beating Lake Travis 49-38 at Round Rock ISD's Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex and are ready for the state championship rematch with Duncanville on Saturday December 21st. That Panthers' squad advanced with a 56-14 win against Rockwall.
"Duncanville, I'm pretty sure they won today," said VYPE Player of the Game Dematrius Davis. "They're dominant up there in Dallas, so we know we gotta go out there next week and give it our all."
North Shore had a fast start against Lake Travis on Saturday, as evident by its opening drive. Davis picked up a first down on a third-and-12 run, then found Ismael Fuller on a fourth-and-two pass, and handed off to Roger Hagan for a two-yard touchdown run to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead at the 6:59 mark of the opening quarter. He finished with four touchdowns in the game.
Lake Travis cut into the deficit with Hays McCannon's 34-yard field goal at the 2:51 mark of the first period, but Davis helped North Shore bounce back and pull away in the second. He found Jermond Batiste on a 43-yard touchdown connection, recorded a 10-yard scoring strike to Charles King and added a six-yard touchdown run to make it a 28-3 game at halftime.
But, before you skip to the next web page, North Shore had to hold off a Lake Travis rally in the second half. The Cavaliers received the opening kickoff and immediately went to work. Texas 2020 commit Hudson Card connected with Grayson Sandlin and Sterling Hupp on touchdown passes and Weston Stephens added a 45-yard touchdown run to make it a 35-24 game before the fourth quarter. North Shore's only score in the third was Zach Evans' six-yard touchdown run at the 6:35 mark, but it also got back on track with his 37-yard scoring scamper and Davis' 21-yard touchdown pass to Fuller in the fourth.
Lake Travis may have trailed by as much as 25 in the game, but it also cut the deficit to 11 on two occasions in the second half. The second followed Card's 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and Stephens' one-yard touchdown run with 2:59 left in the game.
"I mean, It's Lake Travis," North Shore coach Jon Kay said of his opponent's comeback. "I wouldn't expect anything else. Hank Carter runs a first class program. They're a perennial national power for a reason. Those kids didn't quit."
Highlights by VYPE Media's Karen Fernandez.
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COLLEGE STATION - Since losing to Aledo in the program's first-ever trip to the UIL State Football Championships a year ago, Fort Bend Marshall has been on a mission to get back.
Devon Achane rushed for 152 yards and three scores, caught another one for a score, Malik Hornsby passed for 289 yards and two scores and rushed for 102 yards and two scores, the defense forced four first-half turnovers and Fort Bend Marshall cruised past Boerne Champions 55-21 in the 5A Division II State Semifinal on Saturday at Texas A&M's Kyle Field.
"It's an amazing feeling, this has been our goal since week one," Achane said. "Our goal was to get back to state. We're there, so we'll go back to practice. We've been looking forward to this all year. We have unfinished business, same as when we played Manvel. Just go watch film, fix the little mistakes from last year and try to win."
VYPE Video: @MarshallBuffs RB @ffvmousvon_ had another big game. He rushed for 153 yards and 3 TDs and had 5 receptions for 75 yards and a TD #txhsfb @coachjameswill @FMB_Helm @FMB_Helm @whoodie_warren @LABOME_VII @FrankMi09950581 @ikmalvo70 @MHS_Buffs pic.twitter.com/BmZWgvIehB
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) December 15, 2019
Fort Bend Marshall (14-1) advances to the 5A Division II State Championship game for a second-straight season, where it will get a rematch with Aledo, who beat Lubbock-Cooper, 28-21, on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 21 inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
"We're not done, we're not satisfied," Fort Bend Marshall coach James Williams said. "These guys still have that goal. We got there, now we have to finish when we're there. We're excited for them. They deserve it and unfinished business."
The opening five minutes set the tone of this one.
Boerne Champion quarterback Luke Boyers was intercepted on two of the Chargers first three drives, with his second being taken back 28 yards by Christian Jackson for a score, pushing the lead to 13-0 with 8:44 remaining in the first quarter.
Jackson had the first interception of Boyers as well, finishing the game with a pair of interceptions and a blocked punt.
"My coaches told me to be patient and read my keys and read the play," Jackson said. "All week he was stressing to me, just be explosive to the ball and be violent everywhere I go. I told him I was going to get him two and the defensive line got it for me. They got the quarterback reading the wrong option and I got the ball going to the house."
On the very next drive, Chargers' running back Tamari Jenkins fumbled the ball and Quincy Blair recovered it for the Buffs. Three plays later, Achane stride into the end zone from 24 yards out, making it 20-0 with 7:30 left.
For Bend Marshall poured it on the rest of the first half - Achane rushing in from 84 yards and one yard, add in Hornsby's 54 yard scramble and 51 yard touchdown pass to Ja'vion Matthews - outscoring the Chargers 28-7 in the remaining 19:30 until halftime, to lead 48-7 at the break.
"It feels good to be one of the final two teams in Texas to be going back and playing in the state championship again," Hornsby said. "It's a great feeling to have."
VYPE Postgame: @MarshallBuffs QB @1MalikH1 after passing for 289 yards; 2 TDs and rushing for 102 and 2 TDs in 55-21 win. #txhsfb @ffvmousvon_ @coachjameswill @FMB_Helm @FMB_Helm @whoodie_warren @LABOME_VII @FrankMi09950581 @ikmalvo70 @MHS_Buffs pic.twitter.com/6pZliCmnpK
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) December 15, 2019
Achane finished the first half with 10 carries for 144 yards and three scores, which pushed the senior Texas A&M-commit over the 2,000 yard mark for the season.
Boerne Champion answered in the third quarter with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Boyers, who finished 14 of 31 for 173 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions - to Connor Lee, and scored late in the fourth quarter but fell 55-21.
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