Matt Stepp’s 10 thoughts from the Texas high school football Week 11


What a year in Brownsville ISD

Just a tremendous story out of the Valley this year is Brownsville ISD, long the butt of many a joke in the Valley when it comes to football. The district is having a year to remember as four of its six high schools are playoff bound. In Class 6A, underrated Hanna emerged out of a brutally tough 32-6A to earn a trip to the playoffs with key wins over Los Fresnos in Week 8 and Harlingen in Week 10 propelling the Eagles to a Class 6A playoff appearances. While in 32-5A, three of the four playoff spots belong to Brownsville ISD. Veterans Memorial earned the district title, Brownsville Lopez rode a hot 7-0 start to a third-place finish in the district and surprising Pace picked up fourth on the strength of their Week 10 upset of Edcouch-Elsa.

Lancaster Cedar Hill and Dallas Skyline miss the playoffs

I’m not sure what kind of odds you would have had on these DFW powers missing out on the playoffs in the pre-season, but after the Week 10 games, it was apparent that both Lancaster and Cedar Hill were missing out on postseason play. Then a shocking blowout loss at the hands of Richardson Pearce eliminated Skyline from playoff contention in Week 11. The only thing that could have eliminated the Raiders was a loss on points to Pearce and it fell 31-14. All three got there on much different paths but the result is ultimately the same and that’s one of disappointment. Lancaster started the year with a lot of promise, playing Denton Ryan close and then winning its next two non-district games. The Tigers certainly hit their share of stumbles in 10-5A play losing their first two games to Mansfield Legacy and Mansfield Lake Ridge. The real killer was their two-point loss to Mansfield Timberview in Week 8. We thought Cedar Hill was going to be down and, despite one of the area’s better defenses, the Longhorn offense simply never found itself. CHHS started the year 1-4 against a brutal schedule and actually earned a win over Mesquite Horn. It seemed that the Longhorns found their stride in the middle of district play winning three-straight to improve to 4-4. However, before their Week 10 game against South Grand Prairie, it was discovered an ineligible player saw action in the ‘Horns 35-10 win over Grand Prairie. Cedar Hill did the right thing and self-reported and were forced to forfeit the victory over the Gophers. That put the Longhorns in a must-win Week 10 against SGP and they simply couldn’t overcome the Warrior defense and the cloud of off-the-field issues seemed to hang with the team all night. Cedar Hill finished its season Thursday with a 20-0 win over Irving to close out 2017 with a disappointing 4-6 record.

George Hermann retires

On Thursday, Pflugerville head coach George Hermann announced to his team that he was retiring after 21 years on the sidelines leading the Panthers. Despite lots of growth in Pflugerville with the town going from one high school to four, he managed most years to keep Pflugerville more than competitive in the Austin area. His best achievement had to be in 2007 when he guided a team that finished fourth place in their district all the way to the Class 5A state title game before falling to Katy 28-7.

Undefeated and underrated

Has there been a quieter 10-0 season in Class 6A than what has been put together by the San Antonio O’Connor Panthers? O’Connor ended the regular season and clinched the 28-6A title on Thursday night with a 44-41 overtime win over San Antonio Brennan to complete the perfect regular season. Coach David Malesky’s squad owns wins over Steele and San Antonio Johnson in non-district and have emerged as the only unbeaten team in the Alamo City in any classification. The team won’t get much publicity as a Region IV contender because the attention will be with Judson and Lake Travis, but if you are looking for a sleeper, the Panthers could fit the bill.

Photo courtesy of Edgewood ISD

San Antonio Memorial makes history

What a remarkable season Kemmie Lewis and the San Antonio Memorial Minutemen are having. After Memorial’s 55-20 win over San Antonio Kennedy, it clinched its first district title in school history (51 years). Not too bad after a 1-3 start. Memorial won six in a row to finish 7-3 and considering since 2012 the team had won just four games; coach Lewis is easily the coach of the year in San Antonio and maybe in the entire state.

Midland is no pushover

If you were to simply look at records, you’d think 3-7 Midland High will be fodder for 9-1 El Paso Montwood on the road next week. If you do, that’s a mistake as Midland, after an 0-5 start, has found its stride and shown the team can be a thorn in the side of some good teams beating Amarillo Tascosa on the road and losing by just seven at home to San Angelo Central two weeks ago. Also of note, Midland is making its fourth straight playoff appearance which is a first in program history.

Mid-County Madness lives up to the billing

Right before the season started, DCTF named the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves rivalry as the state’s best rivalry game and I got to attend the game Friday night. It was everything it was billed to be and then some. Nederland, a significant underdog against unbeaten PNG, pulled out a thrilling 36-35 win in front of an overflow crowd of well over 12,000 at Bulldog Stadium Friday. It was a back and forth affair and PNG quarterback Roschon Johnson was sensational as the Texas-commit ran for five touchdowns and his score with 1:17 left to put PNG up 35-28 appeared to be the game winner. Nederland wouldn’t go away and marched 77 yards with Kevon Latulas scoring his third receiving touchdown with 13 seconds left to make it 35-34. First-year head coach Monte Barrow called a timeout to draw up a two-point play and it worked to perfection as linebacker Colton Beeson lined up at tight end and was open in the end zone for the two-point try and the heart stopping win. It was a mad house after the game and it’s one I won’t soon forget. My advice is that if you love Texas high school football, put this rivalry game on your bucket list.

New Diana brings home a district title

New Diana, with a late season surge, clinched its first district title in 15 years with a 42-39 win over Omaha Paul Pewitt. Coach Robbie Coplin’s squad opened district play with a one-point loss to DeKalb, but then rattled off five straight wins to bring home a district title and now they’ll look to earn their first playoff win in 21 years next week.

Photo by Tom Sooter

Albany and Muenster on a collision course

In Class 2A Division II Region II, it seems inevitable that Albany and Muenster will meet for the regional title. The two teams closed out their regular seasons in dominating fashion much like they’ve done all season long. Albany blew Bronte away 74-0, the Lions end their season outscoring opponents 533-80.  Muenster rolled past Perrin-Whitt 73-0 and the Hornets ended their season with a 588-48 edge.

The Playoffs have arrived

It’s officially my favorite time of year as the 2017 Texas high school football playoffs begin next Thursday night. There’s nothing better for me than on Sunday getting all the matchups and locations together and planning out which games I’m going to go out and see. I love breaking down the brackets, projecting future matchups and just being a part of such a cool experience is priceless. 640 UIL 11-man teams will make the playoffs (64 teams in 10 brackets) and we’ll have a total of 320 must win games next week.  For my money there’s no better week of Texas high school football than the bi-district round of the playoffs.  Stay with for all your playoff needs throughout the next six weeks.

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