I watched Carroll and Cedar Hill play a tremendous high school playoff game at Southlake’s Dragon Stadium this past Friday.
In typical Texas high school playoff fashion, this game featured defining moments. Lil’Jordan Humphrey willed this team to a 37-33 victory. This game featured about a dozen Division I prospects from both teams.
There was only one problem. This game should not have been played at Dragon Stadium. It should have been at a neutral site.
Because of the UIL’s experimental pilot program that gave the top Division I and II seeds the opportunity to host bi-district playoff games, the Longhorns came north to play the Dragons.
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By no means am I critical of Carroll. As Carroll head coach Hal Wasson said, these are the rules everybody at the 6A level were given before the season started. Every coach in this state understood that if his program did what it was supposed to do, it could host a game.
The Dragons earned it by holding the top Division II spot in 7-6A. Cedar Hill’s costly Week 10 loss to Mansfield – the Tigers were also a Division II team – sent it to the playoffs as the lower seed.
Although they were upset by South Grand Prairie, I had no problem with Euless Trinity hosting the game at Bedford’s Penning field. The Trojans won the 7-6A title.
That’s how this pilot program should be defined in future years.
When the UIL reviews this process with head coaches, athletic directors and superintendents in the offseason, the outcome should be that this program will be limited to only district champions.
If a team was good enough to be the best in its district for six to eight weeks, then it should have the right to host the playoff game. Division I or Division II really doesn’t matter.
In the event of a tie for the district championship, districts can revert back to their tiebreaker rules. That would mean head-to-head as well as positive/negative points.
There is something to coaches fretting about trying to reserve playoff venues. There is not a lot of availability or stadiums that would even be considered. But as long as the Texas high school playoffs have existed, coaches have somehow found a way to locate a stadium so the game will be played.
Plus, coaches always have the right to gamble and flip for home-and-home if they so choose. After all, their stadiums are available.
When you’re going through the first year of a new policy or rule, it’s never going to be perfect. Flaws will be exposed and can be fixed. Expect this pilot program to eventually make its way to all of the classifications.
Just don’t reward second or third place with a home game. Those positions remind us that teams almost won something.
High school boys basketball season returns
This week marks the beginning of the 2015-2016 boys basketball season. There are some good stories to follow. Keller may have the makings of a Class 6A state title contender under Randall Durant. He features national recruits in junior guard R.J. Nembhard and senior Nolan Taylor. The Indians should be really good. They will be the heavy favorites to win District 5-6A.
Northwest Byron Nelson has a little rebuilding to do under Scott Curran. But the Bobcats aren’t short of guards.
Richland continues to be the class in District 7-6A under Richard Bacon. Colleyville Heritage and Carroll should be in the playoff discussion. Grapevine has enough talent to make another playoff run in District 6-5A.
High School Pick
I didn’t have a good feeling about most of our teams advancing past the bi-district round. They drew some tough matchups. I was right. We’re down to only Carroll. But if you remember last week, I didn’t even think we were going to be down to the Dragons. I thought we would be left Trinity and maybe Grapevine.
But the Trojans were shocked by South Grand Prairie. We nearly had Grapevine if the snap on a go-ahead 35-yard field attempt didn’t go awry. But that’s just the way it goes. We’ll keep picking the Dragons until their season concludes.
Last week: 4-3
Carroll (9-2) vs. Denton Guyer (8-3); Class 6A Division II Region I area playoff; 7:30 p.m. Friday; Eagle Stadium, Allen: This rematch from 2014 should be just as entertaining. The teams combined for 100 points in that meeting. But the Wildcats are more vulnerable. They can run the ball effectively, but they still have problems stopping people. Carroll has momentum following its win over Cedar Hill. Lil’Jordan Humphrey continues his unprecedented season.
Prediction: Carroll 45, Denton Guyer 30