Monday Recap: Awarding 'game balls' to weekend's top performers
It could be a little thing -- like an arm just extended just far enough to get a piece of a ball on a blocked kick -- or it could be something everyone notices, say a game-winning touchdown in the final minute.
Now matter how big or how small, we've awarded five game balls per classification to the players, teams and coaches who made the key differences in their wins during the second round of the Texas high school football playoffs.
Since we had to limit it to five game balls, we obviously couldn't highlight every deserving team, such as Houston Madison's defense scoring two touchdowns in a 35-23 win over Houston Strake Jesuit, or how Everman's Chris Franklin nearly beat Aledo on his own effort, scoring on two plays of 50 yards or more and intercepting a pass on defense.
So as always, send us an email and let us know why another team or player deserves a game ball.
But for the most part, we think you'll agree with the 25 selections below.
Game Ball No. 2: Speaking of quarterbacks stealing the spotlight from their star running back, the same can be said of San Antonio Clark's Hayden Greenbauer. Though his teammate, Jock Tilghman, leads the city in rushing, Greenbauer's play (on both offense and defense) helped Clark to a 28-21 upset of SA Madison. Greenbauer rushed for 92 yards and two TDs (one from 46 yards out), threw two more TD passes, and intercepted two passes playing defense.
Game Ball No. 3: Game balls usually go to players, but we wanted to reward Dickinson head coach Warren Trahan for his win-or-go-home call against West Brook. After a touchdown with 2:07 left in the game got Dickinson within one point, Trahan kept his offense on the field for a two-point try. Receiver Ricky Gaines made the call look smart, diving for a two-point catch that gave Dickinson an 18-17 upset.
Game Ball No. 4: Not only did the Copperas Cove defense keep Naaman Forest out of the end zone in a 16-9 win on Friday night, the Copperas Cove defense nearly outscored Naaman Forest's offense. The safety Cove recorded was one point less than the FG the Naaman Forest offense produced. Cove also held Naaman Forest's Johnathan Miller, a blue chip RB headed to OU, to 89 rushing yards, well below his average of 163 yards per game.
Game Ball No. 5: When it comes to Katy -- the city of, that is -- Katy High usually get the most attention, with Cinco Ranch a close second. And while those two schools are still going, our final 5A game ball goes to Katy Taylor, which only had three prior playoff appearances (and only two previous playoff wins) but now finds itself in the third round. Getting there wasn't easy. Taylor scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat Houston Lamar, 17-13, relying heavily on RB Steven Sartory, who rushed for 190 of the team's 288 total yards.
Game Ball No. 2: Not to say Killeen wasn't really given a fair chance against high-powered Alamo Heights, but the Kangaroos certainly weren't favored against the Mules and QB Drew Allen. The Killeen defense would have none of that talk, however, and it recorded three interceptions and held Alamo Heights to just 55 first-half yards en route to a 19-16 win and one of the weekend's biggest upsets.
Game Ball No. 3: Last week, we wrote that the key for a Beeville Jones victory over CC Calallen would have to be Trojan senior QB Eric Soza, but as it turns out, it was a freshman kicker that ended up sealing the final margin. Jones Kicker Lonnie Jordan's 22-yarder with just three seconds left not only proved the game-winner, but offered redemption for an earlier missed PAT.
Game Ball No. 4: The matchup between Waco Midway and Texas High was supposed to be one of the week's best, but Midway RB John Hubert made sure it wasn't, as his 169 yards and three touchdowns was enough to sink the Tigers' ship. His 70-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter broke Texas High's back, and while he had his struggles throughout the evening, in the end it was his production that made the difference.
Game Ball No. 5: Trailing 27-14, Magnolia looked about as dead as could be heading into the fourth quarter against Nederland. But the Bulldogs recovered two fumbles in the final frame en route to 20 unanswered points and a 34-27 victory; this squad was picked to finish fifth in its district in the preseason, and now itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s playing in the regional semifinals. What a turnaround!
Game Ball No. 2: Perhaps no defense faced a greater challenge than going up against Bandera QB Cole Hubble. And perhaps no unit this season handled Hubble better than the La Feria defense. Aside from holding Bandera to just 14 points, the La Feria defense picked off Hubble three times -- all in the second half -- allowing their offense to score 17 straight points after the break in a 31-14 win.
Game Ball No. 3: Let's stick with defense for the third game ball. This time, let's focus on Rockdale's defense, a unit that limited previously-unbeaten Cleveland to 152 total yards of offense. That includes -3 in the passing game, and though Cleveland rushed for 155 yards as a team, it too 46 carries to get there.
Game Ball No. 4: With leading rusher Garrette Nunn unavailable Friday night, Bellville needed someone to step up against La Vernia's potent defense. Bellville QB Kyle Mueller filled that void. His stats weren't outstanding -- 68 passing yards, 63 rushing -- but with his team in a 10-0 hole, Mueller had a hand in four straight touchdowns over the second and third quarters that gave Bellville a commanding lead in an eventual 35-16 win.
Game Ball No. 5: Find us a better example of spreading the wealth than what we saw from Kaufman's backfield. Though it racked up 259 rushing yards in a 21-16 upset of Argyle, not one single Kaufman runner had more than Hippo Perea's 78 yards. Three teammates (Kailon Hughey, Austin McDaniel, and Ayron Miles) had at least 49 yards on the ground.
Game Ball No. 2: The Pilot Point duo of Austin Balderas and Jarman Johnson combined for two of the biggest defensive plays of any game this weekend; Johnson picked off a first-quarter pass and returned it 67 yards for a score, and Balderas recovered his own forced fumble in the waning moments of a 15-13 victory over Gunter.
Game Ball No. 3: Lubbock Roosevelt QB Brian Poynor did just about all he could do to get his team a win this weekend -- he either threw or ran for all of his team's three scores and was the offensive bright point in the Eagles' 21-20 victory over favored Childress. Picked to miss the playoffs in the preseason, Roosevelt is starting to generate quite a bandwagon following.
Game Ball No. 4: Not to say that Grandview was flying under the radar during the regular season, but there isn't a single coach in 2A football that isn't aware of the Zebras now. Grandview was dominant on offense and defense yet again, blowing out Lone Oak 62-32, and it's starting to look like the 2A DII championship trophy might have black and white stripes.
Game Ball No. 5: Arp sure knows how to pile it on all at once -- the Tigers scored all 21 of their points in the final six minutes of the second quarter, 14 of which came inside the final minute. Arp's LaVocheya Cooper and QB Will Allen were the catalysts, as Allen threw for all three scores and Cooper rushed for 228 yards and caught one of Allen's touchdown passes.
Game Ball No. 2: All four touchdowns that Gorman scored this weekend came courtesy of QB Tyson Swanner, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another pair to single-handedly outpace Muenster, 27-19. Swanner's squad never led until the fourth quarter, but his timely passing was enough to move the Panthers into the third round.
Game Ball No. 3: Sometimes one play is all it takes to earn a game ball -- enter Albany's Bruce Holson. Holson only recorded four plays from scrimmage -- one rush for five yards, an incomplete pass, a reception for 13 yards ... and a 77-yard screen pass-turned touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play to move the Lions past Windthorst, 20-16.
Game Ball No. 4: Canadian faced a stiff test against undefeated Wellington, but QB Brandon Robinson guided last year's 2A DII champions past the Skyrockets with four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). The best part for the growing Canadian dynasty? Though the bulk of the offense -- the Reyes and Cockrell twins -- are graduating this offseason, Robinson, a junior, returns.
Game Ball No. 5: Usually every discussion about Cayuga both begins and ends with RB Traylon Shead, but this weekend QB Broc January was the man, rushing for two scores and adding another two through the air. He finished with 183 yards passing and 60 yards rushing in the 33-19 win over Simms Bowie.