When it comes to the Texas high school football playoffs, the story of a team’s journey to advance is its own. But then there are plenty other storylines. That’s where we lend a hand.
As the chase for playing in the state championship — or as we like to say, playing the Saturday before Christmas — begins Thursday, we get you ready with this scene-setting collection of factoids.
One more ride
In September, Everman’s Dale Keeling announced that he would retire following the 2017 season. Keeling made that announcement after the Bulldogs went 0-3 in non-district. Since then, the Bulldogs haven’t lost.
Keeling, who is in his 19th season, guided this program to 17 consecutive postseason appearances (1999-2015) and state championships in 2001 and 2002.
Now, the storyline will be if this feel good story has a happy ending with Keeling going out on top. Everman (7-3) opens the Class 5A Division II Region II bi-district playoffs against Waxahachie (6-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Midlothian.
We heard you missed us…we’re back
There are playoff dry spells and then there are droughts. Look no further than Grand Prairie, which is in the tournament for the first time since 1989.
Now, it took a major gaffe by Cedar Hill having to forfeit its win over the Gophers because it played an ineligible player. But that doesn’t matter anymore. Grand Prairie has a game plan for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Class 6A Division II Region I bi-district playoff game at No. 5 Waco Midway.
So let’s take a trip back in time to see what happened in 1989.
▪ George H.W. Bush — Bush 41 — was president.
▪ The fall of the Berlin Wall that divided Germany signaled the end of Communism in Eastern Europe.
▪ The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska saw 11 million gallons pour into the Prince William Sound creating a huge ecological disaster.
▪ The San Francisco earthquake that killed 67 and disrupted the World Series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The series eventually finished. The A’s swept the series in four games.
▪ The price of a Sony Walkman cassette player (do those even exist anymore?) was $79.
Playoff drought ended
Grand Prairie isn’t the only program back in the postseason after a long absence. Haltom make its first appearance since 2009.
The worst is over
Two programs endured the worst of times in 2016. Keller and Fort Worth YMLA each finished 1-9. This year, both are in the playoffs. Keller is 5-5. YMLA is 4-6.
A second-year varsity program, Haslet V.R. Eaton (5-5) makes its postseason debut in a Class 5A Division I Region I meeting with Sherman (5-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Flower Mound’s Neal Wilson Stadium.
Another second-year varsity program, Fort Worth YMLA (4-6) debuts in a Class 5A Division II Region I meeting with Grapevine (8-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bedford’s Pennington Field.
The streak continues
Here are some of the programs who have the longest of run of making the playoffs in consecutive seasons:
▪ Aledo - 22
▪ Euless Trinity – 20
▪ Southlake Carroll – 18
▪ Arlington Martin – 12
▪ Colleyville Heritage – 12
▪ Mansfield – 8
▪ Keller Fossil Ridge – 5
▪ Fort Worth South Hills – 4
The 10-0 teams entering the playoffs
▪ Fort Worth South Hills
▪ Keller Fossil Ridge
The stars play here
Several of the top Division I recruits who are in the postseason (will not reflect all D1 commits)
▪ Bobby Brown, Sr., DL, Arlington Lamar (committed to Texas A&M)
▪ Jackson Kimble, Sr., OL, Southlake Carroll (committed to Baylor)
▪ Jalen Catalon, Jr., S, Mansfield Legacy (uncommitted)
▪ Drew Sanders, Soph., Ath, Colleyville Heritage (committed to Oklahoma)
▪ Jase McClellan, Soph. RB, Aledo (committed to Oklahoma)
▪ Ke’Von Ahmad, Sr., WR, Colleyville Heritage (uncommitted)
▪ Stefan Cobbs, Sr., WR, Keller Fossil Ridge (committed to Boise State)
▪ Kam Brown, Soph., WR Colleyville Heritage (committed to UCLA)
▪ Cam Jones, Sr., S, Mansfield (committed to UCLA)
▪ Jackson Gleeson, Sr., WR, Mansfield (committed to Baylor)
▪ Spencer Trussell, Sr. DE, Arlington Martin (committed to Kansas State)
▪ Alan Bowman, Sr., QB, Grapevine (committed to Texas Tech)
▪ Jaylon Robinson, Sr., WR, Fort Worth All Saints (committed to Oklahoma)
▪ NaNa Osafo-Mensah, Jr., DE, Fort Worth Nolan Catholic (uncommitted)
End the one-and-done
While several area programs have enjoyed qualifying for the postseason, they haven’t been able to get through the first game. For them, they are trying to flip the script. Here is their current bi-district losing streak:
▪ White Settlement Brewer – 7; last win 1989
▪ Keller Central – 5; last win never
▪ Keller – 4; last win - 2003
▪ Keller Fossil Ridge – 3; last win 2013
▪ Arlington – 3; last win 2012
▪ Haltom – 3; last win 1997
Hardware sold here
If you scan the playoff field in both Class 6A and 5A, you’ll note that there are the usual programs extending their seasons. Glass cases house their state championship trophy or trophies. But how many have been won between the North Texas programs in the 2017 field? Don’t worry. This isn’t a guess on how many jelly beans are in the jar. The answer is 27.
▪ Southlake Carroll (8 - 1988, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011)
▪ Aledo (7 - 1998, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 )
▪ Euless Trinity (3 - 2005, 2007, 2009)
▪ Everman (2 - 2001, 2002)
▪ Grapevine (2 - 1996, 1998)
▪ Waxahachie (1 - 1992)
▪ DeSoto (1 - 2016)
▪ Duncanville (1 - 1998)
▪ Arlington (1 - 1951)
▪ Fort Worth Arlington Heights (1 - 1948)
New level, no problem?
Fort Worth All Saints dominated the competition when it was a member of the Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC). But the Saints moved up to TAPPS this fall and played as an independent.
All Saints (9-0) breezed through its schedule winning by an average margin of 24.8 points. No win was decided by single digits. The Saints begin their quest for a TAPPS Division I crown at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Fort Worth Nolan Catholic at Nolan. The two teams met earlier this season in September. All Saints won, 43-15.
Bi-district best bets
If you’re not a fan of a certain team but may want to check out a game, here are our recommendations:
▪ Class 5A Division II Region I: Denison (8-2) vs. Saginaw Boswell (9-1); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Apogee Stadium, Denton
Note: Boswell is coming off an emotional 35-26 loss to Aledo. However, the Pioneers feature a sophomore sensation at quarterback in Braydon Thomas. Denison brings a high-scoring attack into this game.
▪ Class 5A Division II Region II: Crowley (6-4) vs. Mansfield Summit (6-4); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Clark Stadium, Fort Worth
Note: Two pretty evenly matched teams. However, the Jaguars have an up-and-coming quarterback in sophomore Bryson McKinney. Crowley is a pretty solid defensive team.
▪ Class 6A Division I Region I: Arlington (8-2) at Keller Fossil Ridge (10-0); 7:30 p.m. Friday, Keller ISD Athletic Complex, Keller
Note: If you read above, you know these teams haven’t tasted a postseason victory in a while. But that’s going to end for one of them. Fossil Ridge is enjoying its first undefeated regular season. Arlington had its best regular season since 2012.
▪ Class 6A Division I Region I: Haltom (6-4) vs. Arlington Lamar (5-5); 7 p.m. Thursday, Gopher-Warrior Bowl, Grand Prairie
Note: A really even matchup. They had a common opponent in Keller Central. Lamar won, 7-0, in September. Haltom won, 28-17, last week to clinch its playoff berth.
Enjoy the journey for the next six weeks.