Colleyville Heritage has an explosive football team. One that’s capable of beating anyone at any time. But the question that remains is if this is the week head coach Joe Willis will see his team play at the level he has envisioned.
The Panthers (6-3, 5-1 District 8-5A) have already clinched a Class 5A Division I playoff berth. Friday’s regular season finale at district leader Richland (9-0, 6-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Birdville Fine Arts and Athletics Complex in North Richland presents another opportunity. Richland, which is the other Division I seed, has already clinched a share of the district championship.
A Colleyville Heritage victory would also earn a share of the district championship. But it would clinch the No. 1 Division I seed.
A victory also can whitewash frustrating losses to Aledo, Euless Trinity and Grapevine. In each of those games, the Panthers either had the lead or were within one score before letting it slip away.
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“There were three common denominators in those games,” Willis said. “Injuries, penalties and turnovers. Those have been the deciding factors. For us, it’s not just about consistency. It’s about matchups and staying on the field for four quarters.”
This matchup has all of the makings of a shootout. Richland is averaging 52 points per game and features a very dynamic passing attack led by quarterback Trae Self (2,347 yards, 62 percent, 36 TDs) and receiver Landon Le (827 yards, 19.7 ypc, 12 TD).
While no Richland running back has surpassed 700 rushing yards, the Rebels have developed enough of a threat to make sure that other teams respect it.
However, the Panthers may be a little more balanced. But they’ve also been a little banged up. Quarterback Cam Roane has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, he wound up missing most of the game against Fort Worth Dunbar and did not play against Fort Worth Eastern Hills. There were other games where he came out early because the game had been decided.
Wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad (660 yards, 21.3 ypc, 9TD) has been dealing with some minor nagging issues, but Willis expects him to be at 100 percent Friday. Yet it’s also allowed for the emergence of sophomore wide receiver Kam Brown (464 yards, 15.0, 5 TD).
“His understanding of what we’re doing has increased,” Willis said. “He has great ball skills and agility. It’s what you want in a wide receiver. He’s a very smart player.”
At some point, Colleyville Heritage is going to produce a 1,000-yard running back. It should be Mario Ortiz, who only needs 81 yards to do it. Ortiz has arguably been the most consistent offensive player for this team. Willis call him the team’s workhorse.
Both teams will be playing teams from District 7-5A in the bi-district playoff round next week. Fort Worth South Hills already has the No. 1 seed. Fort Worth Arlington Heights is the No. 2 seed.
Grapevine update (8-1, 5-1 8-5A): The Mustangs will play Fort Worth Southwest in the Class 5A Division II bi-district round at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at Bedford’s Pennington Field.
But the Mustangs would like to have a gold ball first. They conclude the regular season against Birdville (5-4, 3-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mustang-Panther Stadium. A win coupled by a Colleyville Heritage win over Richland would create a three-way tie for the championship.
Beyond that, head coach Randy Jackson wants his team to start moving into playoff mode.
“We will need to win the battle up front,” Jackson said. “They have been injury rattled, but when healthy, they are very good. We must expect their A game. We have to protect the ball and execute.”