Kennedy Brooks picked a fine time for his best game ever.
The Mansfield sophomore running back rushed for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 49-34 upset over Class 6A No. 6 Cedar Hill last Friday. The win sealed a playoff berth for Mansfield, locking up District 7-6A. Cedar Hill, DeSoto and South Grand Prairie have also clinched berths.
The Tigers can earn the Division II top seed with a win and a Cedar Hill loss on Friday. Cedar Hill plays South Grand Prairie. If not, Mansfield would play Southlake Carroll in the bi-district round next week at AT&T Stadium.
Brooks, who has started the past four games, carried the ball 30 times against the Longhorns and helped Mansfield control the clock against Cedar Hill’s high-powered offense.
The Tigers won the time of possession 28:54 to 19:06 and had the ball for nearly nine minutes in the fourth quarter. Mansfield also compiled three drives of six minutes or longer.
“One of the biggest things we did offensively was keep their offense off the field,” Tigers coach Jeff Hulme said.
As it turned out, Mansfield was able to securely earn a playoff spot when three weeks ago their fate seemed out of their control. The Tigers were entering a three-game stretch against the best teams in 7-6A: DeSoto, South Grand Prairie and Cedar Hill.
DeSoto beat Mansfield 49-21 on Oct. 10. The Tigers went into their bye week with Duncanville and Midlothian squarely in the playoff mix. Mansfield plays Midlothian this week but lost to Duncanville 20-17 on Sept. 26.
Then the Tigers began to change their fortunes.
They stormed past South Grand Prairie 49-28 last week, leaving at least a play-in game against Midlothian. Hulme was fine with that scenario, well aware Cedar Hill, coming off a nationally-televised 66-42 win at DeSoto, would be tough to beat.
But Hulme also knew Brooks had a monster game in him. He had rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his first three varsity starts. Meanwhile, on defense, Hulme assigned TCU recruit Julius Lewis to cover Cedar Hill’s DaMarkus Lodge, one of the best receivers in the country.
Lodge caught three touchdowns but was contained to 90 yards receiving. And with the Tigers’ clinging to a 35-28 lead in the fourth quarter, Lewis intercepted Justin McMillan to set up Brooks’ third touchdown run.
Early playoff pairings
District 5-6A and 6-6A bi-district matchups for both Division I and II will be played next week at AT&T Stadium. The same goes for District 7-6A and 8-6A. Games will run Thursday through Saturday.
DeSoto (8-1, 4-1), the Division I top seed in 8-6A, will play Coppell (5-4, 3-2). Euless Trinity (9-1, 5-1), the Division I top seed in 7-6A, will play South Grand Prairie (5-4, 3-2) at either 8 p.m. Nov. 14 or 8 p.m. Nov. 15.
Denton Guyer (8-1, 6-0), the top Division II seed, is the only team that has clinched from District 5-6A. In 6-6A, Allen is the Division I top seed, followed by Plano West.
District 4-6A, which is paired with West Texas’ District 3-6A, is mostly set for the first round.
Arlington Lamar, 4-6A’s top Division II seed, will play Abilene at Shotwell Stadium in Abilene at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14.
Arlington Bowie, a No. 2 seed in Division II, plays at San Angelo Central at 7 p.m. Nov. 14. Arlington Sam Houston, a No. 2 seed in Division I, will also play at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Odessa Permian’s Ratliff Stadium.
Azle, the Division II top seed in District 5-5A, will play either Lake Dallas or Fort Worth Dunbar at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
Nolan Catholic scenario
Nolan Catholic still has an outside shot at making the playoffs, despite entering the final week of the season at 3-6 overall and 2-4 in TAPPS Division I District 1.
The Vikings need to beat Midland Christian (5-4, 3-3) on Friday and have Dallas Bishop Dunne (8-1, 5-1) beat Addison Trinity Christian (4-5, 2-4) to secure a wild card berth. Nolan has won four of the past five TAPPS Division I state titles.
Player of the Week voting
Be sure to vote for the DFW Varsity Player of the Week at DFWVarsity.com. Voting ends at 4 p.m. Wednesday.