Jaxon-Smith Njigba is legit in every phrase of the game
Yes, any person who follows Texas High School Football can agree that the Ohio State commit is a stud wide receiver. There is no question that almost any team Jaxon Smith-Njigba plays against he will be the most elite player on the field. What proved this to be true in his game against Rockwall-Heath was not watching JSN on offense, it was watching him as the punt returner. The phrase, “Patience is a virtue,” is preached often but in the scope of being a punt returner this phrase is proven to be true time-and-time again. The sheer level of capability to own the field every time he returns a punt speaks wonders on his understanding of the game. The moment he receives the punt, you see the wheels begin to turn. He knows exactly when to showcase his quickness by blowing past defenders, but also shows an exemplary skill of seeing the field as a whole. The senior knows where the holes are in the coverage and will execute any top-level athletic move he has up his sleeve to gain extra yardage for his offense to take the field in better position.
Rockwall’s senior running back, Zach Henry, proved his worth
The running back position is underrated in Rockwall. When you have a sophomore quarterback like Brayden Locke, who can consistently connect with one of the state’s top receiver’s like Njigba, it’s easy for the starting running back to be overlooked. Well, Zach Henry made his presence known in the I-30 Classic. After missing 4 games due to an injury, the senior running back proved that there is an additional layer to the Rockwall offense outside of the air-raid attack. Henry rushed for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And, yes, in 40-degree temperatures you expect to see a team utilize their running backs more. But Henry didn’t just show up to this game and pay his due-diligence, he excelled by showing his dominating force in the back field. Henry is quick off the snap, he is strategic in each step he takes, and he is effective in gaining positive yardage towards the goal line.
Executing similar high-scoring offenses makes for a strong defensive battle
Heading into this game, many of us believed this matchup would be dominated by high-powered offenses that put up gaudy numbers onto the scoreboard. We were sadly mistaken. Coach Webb said it best in our halftime interview, when you have two teams with very similar offenses you are provided with a better defensive understanding on how to execute a scheme to hold the opposing offense to more reasonable numbers. Both defenses showcased their strengths thoughout the night by cutting down on the number of momentum-shifting pass plays into the endzone. With both teams coming into the season with reasonably young rosters, you often find the most detrimental plays result from broken defensive coverages on the coast-to-coast pass plays. Neither defense showed an overwhelming sense of immaturity in this regard.
Rockwall’s defensive backs came ready to play
When you look at the defensive backs for Rockwall, you may be surprised at first with their stature. Out of all the defensive backs on the team the top height is listed at 5-foot-10 and the top weight is listed at 180 pounds. Most of them are on the smaller part of the scale when you look at typical 6A secondary spread, but they do not play like they're undersized. They have found a way to let their speed make up for any lack of height and are well-disciplined in playing tight man-to-man coverage without drawling pass interference penalties. It was clear to see that some of the Heath receivers with much larger builds were not used to having someone noticably smaller present such a challenge over the top.
The student who ran the music for Rockwall-Heath’s student section deserves credit
From Dancing Queen by ABBA to We Get Turnt Up by Team Twin, the Rockwall-Heath student that had control of the aux for the speakers in-front of the Heath student section should consider DJing as a full-time gig. In all of the games I have covered this season, I have yet to see a student section as hyped as Heath’s. They came early, they stayed late, and they were loud for all 48 minutes the ball was in play. Regardless of the time left in the game, regardless of the score, these students were pumped up and ready to cheer on their team. Heath may have taken the “L” on the field, but their student section brought home the “W”.