Football teams have reached the phase where it becomes about drawing the right matchups and catching the right breaks.
Grapevine (9-1) and Colleyville Heritage (7-3) head in different directions in the Class 5A playoffs when they open in the bi-district round this week. The Panthers are in Division I and play Fort Worth Arlington Heights (8-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saginaw Chisholm Trail. The Mustangs are in Division II and meet Fort Worth Southwest (6-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Pennington Field in Bedford.
They’re also tri-district champions. Because of Colleyville Heritage’s 53-36 victory over Richland, the Panthers, Mustangs and Rebels all shared the District 8-5A championship with 6-1 records. Each one beat the other. Colleyville Heritage split with Grapevine and Richland. Grapevine lost to Richland.
What was considered a question mark for Grapevine has turned into a strength. The wide receiver corps have developed. That starts with Dylan Gonzales (45-663, 9 TD) and complemented by Colleyville Covenant transfer Zack Carnes (31-505, 8 TD). However, the emergence of sophomore David Clayton (44-612, 11 TD) has added not only a third option but also a big-play threat. Now you know where 28 of quarterback Alan Bowman’s 37 touchdown passes reside.
“The best thing about David is that he has become a really hard worker for us,” Grapevine head coach Randy Jackson said. “He’s had great hands all season. I’ve seen him develop a little bit more as a route runner.”
Against the Raiders, they meet a multi-talent in slash player Roderick Ford. The Missouri verbal commit has rushed for nearly 400 yards and caught passes for 341 yards. In 62 touches, Ford is averaging 11.7 yards.
“He’s a real threat for them,” Jackson said. “We’re going to have to be aware of where he is on the field.”
The winner advances to the area round, where it will meet the winner of No. 1 Aledo and Wichita Falls Rider. That game is scheduled for Thursday at the Northwest ISD Stadium.
Colleyville Heritage finally put together the performance head coach Joe Willis wanted to see in its victory over Richland that was ignited by a 27-point fourth quarter.
“We really did the same things in the first half that were there in the second half,” Wilis said. “Our defense played well and we took the running game away from them.”
But Arlington Heights is not your typical Fort Worth ISD team. The Yellow Jackets and South Hills (which plays Richland) have probably elevated themselves to a higher level than the rest of the pack. Heights’ offense is growing under sophomore quarterback Jaiden Zackery, a dual threat.
Head coach Phil Young’s defense offers defensive end Mark Brown, who is probably more known for being under the radar than being right in the middle of it. He’s an imposing physical force who is probably going to see two blockers.
“We’ve had some good experience against some linemen from Aledo and [Euless] Trinity,” Willis said. “[Brown] will be a lot like what we’ve seen, so that’s a great challenge.”
Colleyville Heritage wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad’s status (undisclosed) is still unknown. He did not play against Richland and was limited against Fort Worth Carter-Riverside two weeks ago.
The winner of this game advances to the area round and will face the winner of Justin Northwest and Denton.