Stepp's Ten Thoughts from Week 5 of the TXHSFB Season

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The rise of Killeen Shoemaker
After winning just two total games in the past three seasons, Killeen Shoemaker HC Toby Foreman told us at the THSCA Coaches Convention in July that he thought his team had a great shot to compete for a playoff spot. Thursday night’s impressive 42-23 win over Belton certainly puts the Grey Wolves on the radar of a lot of folks in the 12-6A playoff race. Shoemake, who now owns wins over San Angelo Central and Belton, is 2-2 on the year and, more importantly, 1-1 in district play after the big win. Last week, Shoemaker went toe-to-toe with a powerful Temple team in a 38-28 loss to open district play and Thursday night’s win puts Foreman’s squad in the mix without a doubt. The next two weeks will be critical for Shoemaker as they take on Killeen ISD rivals Killeen High and Killeen Ellison and wins in these two games will be crucial as the margins in this nine-team district are incredibly slim and as we saw late last year ANYTHING can and often does happen.

Longview makes its case
Despite starting the season 4-0, there were rumblings among some in the media that maybe Longview didn’t have that “it” factor in 2019 and it might be excused since the Lobos did win their first state title in 81 years in December. Don’t think for one second that John King was going to allow anyone to be satisfied with just one state title though. But we had some questions. Longview’s offense had been plagued by turnovers and poor execution early and had to be bailed out by a veteran defense through the first four weeks of the season.

Hosting powerful Rockwall in the 11-6A opener was a big test. The Yellowjackets pushed Longview to the brink a year ago and one of the state’s best offensive units. Consider any questions you may have had about Longview answered as Longview put together an absolutely dominating 49-3 drubbing of Rockwall. Texas A&M commit QB Haynes King accounted for 173 yards of offense and six total touchdowns, while Longview’s defense authored a masterpiece, holding a Rockwall attack averaging well over 50 points per game to just a single field goal and 171 yards of total offense. Longview, who has now won 21-straight games, is the current holder of the state’s longest active winning streak among UIL 11-man programs with Newton’s loss to Gilmer on Friday.

Cy-Fair ISD fireworks
Cy-Fair ISD football never fails to produce entertaining football on a weekly basis and with the district’s 12 high schools being divided into two districts, it’s nothing but double the fun on a weekly basis. We start in 14-6A where Bridgeland earned headlines for its win over Cy Ranch last week to improve to 2-0 in district play. But the Bears had a letdown Friday night falling to Cypress Woods, 20-7. Now the Wildcats, who are 3-0 in district play, have seized control of the district title race. There's a pack of teams at 2-1 including Cy Ranch who rallied from a big first half hole to knock off previously unbeaten (in district play) Cy Lakes. Joining Cy Ranch and Cy Lakes at 2-1 is Bridgeland, while Tomball Memorial, who had a bye this week, lurks at 1-1. Congratulations go out to Cypress Park who earned its first win in school history knocking off Cypress Springs on Saturday night 24-10 to end a 13-game losing streak.

Moving over to 17-6A, form held for the most past with the favorites all winning in easy fashion expect for Cypress Falls who did remain unbeaten at 3-0 in district play but the Golden Eagles had to fight hard for a 20-13 win over winless Houston Memorial. Cy-Fair at 2-0 is the district’s other unbeaten team, the Bobcats were idle this week. Cypress Ridge, Cypress Creek and surprising Houston Stratford are in the next group of teams at 2-1. If you want closely matched and entertaining football in the Houston area on a weekly basis, 14-6A and 17-6A are your best bets to be entertained.

Schertz Clemens wins rivalry matchup with Cibolo Steele
The Clemens Buffaloes made a statement of their own to the Alamo City and the state Friday night, knocking off rival Cibolo Steele, 28-23, in the Battle of 3009. The win improves Clemens to 4-1 on the year and snaps a nine-game losing streak to Steele. The Buffs got a goal line stand as time expired to preserve the win and that win gives Clemens the edge when it comes to potential playoff seeding as finishing as the top Division II seed would mean it would avoid a trip to play at Austin Westlake in the first round of the playoffs.

Bryan Rudder with a program-defining win?
Bryan Rudder has never made the playoffs in its school history, but there is some optimism after the Rangers got off to a 2-1 start in non-district. It appeared by halftime that optimism had faded into the night as Montgomery had raced out to a 36-15 lead. Rudder, as it has done the past two weeks, showed incredible fight and resiliency in rallying to an incredible 56-50 comeback to earn a huge win in the district opener. James Ayers ran for three touchdowns in the third quarter to help Rudder climb back in the game.

Sophomore QB EJ Ezar’s two fourth quarter TD passes to Keithron Lee tied the game at 50, setting up Ezar’s game winning touchdown run with less than a minute remaining. Rudder, who has had just one winning season in school history, is now 3-1 on the year and more importantly 1-0 in 10-5A Division II. The Rangers still have work to do to get into the post-season, but a win over Montgomery is a major step in that battle for a playoff appearance.

Gilmer shuts out Newton
Newton, which has won back-to-back 3A-Division II state titles, went into Gilmer on Friday as the owner of the state’s longest winning streak at 33 games. Gilmer was just 2-2 but had shown signs early in the year of being back to near the elite level its fans had come to expect and Friday night’s 16-0 win over the Eagles may be a precursor of things to come in 2019. It marks not only the end of Newton’s long winning streak, but also the first time the Eagles have been shutout since 1999.

Mexia throws it back
It’s been 30 years since Mexia won a state title and in honor of that title team, Mexia decided to honor its history by unveiling new throwback uniforms with an incredible picture of a screeching Blackcat on the helmet. The new helmet and old school look brought some good vibes for Mexia as it opened up district play with an impressive 37-30 win over a good Madisonville squad. Every win in 7-4A Division II is vital as it is the deepest 4A-Division II district in the state, so maybe if the good luck continues, Mexia HC Frank Sandoval sticks with the awesome throwback look.

Refugio’s rally
Trailing 28-6 in the first half against a two-time state champion squad that’s had your number the past few years, it’d be easy to see why Refugio would mail it in. The Bobcats don’t have that in their DNA and at home they showed the heart and character of a team that is a bonafide state title contender rallying for an impressive, 48-40, win to remain unbeaten.

Naaji Gadsen’s 54-yard touchdown run with 5:28 left in the game completed the comeback for the Bobcats, who after trailing 28-6 outscored Mart 42-12 down the stretch to earn the win. Mart at 2-3 is still a title favorite in 2A-Division II but the Panthers' lack of depth and youth played a role on the road against a bigger and more veteran squad.

Stratford drills Hamlin
In a Top 10 battle in 2A-Division II, No. 9 Stratford made quite the statement blasting past No. 1 Hamlin 39-6 in a neutral site game in Abernathy. A big second quarter in which the Elks outscored Hamlin 26-0 was the catalyst in the win. Ground-oriented Stratford showed its versatility as QB Walker McBryde was incredibly efficient throwing for 220 yards, while Luden Romero ran for two scores, had a touchdown reception and returned an interception for a score.

A pair of 500-yard rushing performances
We hadn't had any crazy video game numbers in the rushing game this year through the first four weeks of the season, but that changed on Friday night as two players put up over 500 yards rushing. China Spring RB Emmanuel Abdallah ran for 545 yards and five touchdowns in a close 58-56 loss to Argyle Liberty Christian, while in Hawley’s 73-20 win over Windthorst RB Colton Marshall had a night to remember rushing for 503 yards and seven touchdowns on an incredible 13 carries.

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