Another week ... and a turnaround of fortunes for Trinity High.
1. Dallas Skyline Arlington Martin W 37-34 2-0 2. Lake Travis NB Canyon W 49-7 2-0 3. Allen Cedar Hill W 37-20 2-0 4. Katy Alief Taylor W 23-9 2-0 5. Cibolo Steele Converse Judson W 42-35 2-0 6. DeSoto Jenks (OK) W 46-27 2-0 7. Southlake Carroll Midland W 63-3 1-1 8. Euless Trinity Union (OK) W 21-18 1-1 9. Manvel North Shore L 28-56 1-1 10. Abilene Duncanville W 26-8 2-0 11. Hewitt Midway A&M Consolidated W 34-27 2-0 12. Arlington Martin @ Dallas Skyline L 34-37 0-2 13. Pearland @ FB Kempner W 24-0 2-0 14. Cedar Hill @ Allen L 20-37 1-1 15. The Woodlands FB Hightower W 30-7 1-1 16. Spring Dekaney ## bye ## 1-0 17. GP North Shore @ Manvel W 56-28 2-0 18. Longview ## bye ## 0-1 19. SA Reagan @ SA O'Connor W 49-42 2-0 20. Austin Westlake @ Temple L 42-49 1-1
The two Texas teams managed to hold court over Oklahoma during Saturday's festivities at Pennington Field. I seem to recall that next year will have the same four teams, but with the interstate matchups flipped. The top-tier upset, however, involved the other team I'm pulling for this year - Manvel. Unfortunately, the defense coughed up 49 unanswered points. I guess North Shore's back. There likely won't be a ton of movement in the Top 10, but it'll be curious to see how many first place votes Allen gets since they've managed to pour it on two good teams in their new stadium.
1. Tyler John Tyler @ Lancaster L 21-26 1-1 2. Aledo @ Stephenville L 28-41 1-1 3. Leander @ Hendrickson W 35-0 2-0 4. Pearland Dawson Montgomery W 28-7 1-0 5. CC Calallen Weslaco East W 21-7 2-0 6. Denton Guyer @ C'ville Heritage L 38-54 0-2 7. Cedar Park Abilene Cooper L 14-17 0-2 8. Highland Park Monterrey Tech W 34-23 1-1 9. Angleton Brazoswood W 69-28 2-0 10. Kerrville Tivy @ SA Madison L 14-44 1-1
When we last checked, three of the top four teams in 4A lost in Week Zero. Now, the top two teams lose. I seriously have a hard time thinking of Leander as the best that 4A has to offer. Dawson & Callallen are a bit more believable.
1. La Marque @ Texas City W 34-21 2-0 2. Coldspring-Oakhurst @ Navasota L 8-36 1-1 3. Navasota C'spring-O'hurst W 36-8 2-0 4. Wimberley Giddings L 26-31 1-1 5. Waco La Vega @ Hutto W 35-9 2-0 6. Carthage Lindale W 38-21 1-1 7. Stephenville Aledo W 41-28 1-1 8. Gilmer Prestonwood L 12-42 1-1 9. Abiline Wylie Bridgeport W 42-0 2-0 10. Argyle @ FW Nolan W 28-7 1-1
So far, so good for La Marque. Gilmer's loss seems a bit unexpected, but I can't say I've spent enough time digging up info on this year's team. Since only four of these teams are likely to make it to the championship games, I might need to rectify that soon.
Tis the season. And once more, I'm going to try my darndest to keep tabs on just enough football to skate by until the playoffs are upon us. Here's what the first week of games looks like for the teams ranked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football.
1. Dallas Skyline The Woodlands W 42-28 1-0 2. Lake Travis @ Converse Judson W 47-13 1-0 3. Southlake Carroll @ Allen L 0-24 0-1 4. Katy Klein W 48-7 1-0 5. Euless Trinity @ Bellevue (WA) L 24-31ot 0-1 6. Allen Southlake Carroll W 24-0 1-0 7. Cibolo Steele @ SA Madison W 41-21 1-0 8. DeSoto @ Arlington Martin W 47-13 1-0 9. Longview Coppell L 8-41 0-1 10. Arlington Martin DeSoto L 13-47 0-1 11. Manvel @ Spring W 35-21 1-0 12. The Woodlands @ Dallas Skyline L 28-42 0-1 13. Hewitt Midway @ Bryan W 34-7 1-0 14. Abilene @ Hebron W 13-10 1-0 15. Pearland @ Houston Madison W 33-3 1-0 16. Spring Dekaney Strake Jesuit W 41-0 1-0 17. SA Madison Cibolo Steele L 21-41 0-1 18. Cedar Hill @ Denton Guyer W 54-28 1-0 19. Converse Judson Lake Travis L 13-47 0-1 20. Mansfield @ Arlington Bowie L 43-59 0-1
I watched most of the Trinity-Bellevue game online. The Trojans definitely seem a bit thinner behind the lines than they have in years past. And this loss essentially came due to the starting QB getting his bell rung on a sack near the end of regulation, forcing the backup to come in for OT. Said backup then threw an INT that ended the game. Ah well. I didn't expect Trinity to be 3-0 after a tough opening schedule. Hopefully, they can finish in the plus during non-district games.
Allen's opening game in their new stadium was impressive. We'll see next week whether they were really that good or if the adrenaline was carrying them over the defending champs. Either way, I'll go out on a fairly sturdy limb and suggest that Region One could simply come down to an Allen vs Skyline game in the playoffs.
The other big game this week included an impressive 4th quarter comeback by Skyline against The Woodlands. Looks like those kids from Dallas are for real this season. For all my quibbles with DCTF's rankings, I had no problem viewing Skyline as the best team going into this season vs the AP's choice of Southlake Carroll.
And for all of the big-ticket games on tap for Week Zero, I find the Cedar Hill win over the #1 4A school to be pretty impressive among the down-ballot teams. It still feels like Region One isn't quite the beast it's been in the past. But there are still some beastly teams from Region One still capable of ending the season with a championship. I wouldn't be shocked to see Cedar Hill ranked above Trinity next week with a win like the one they opened with and I still expect to see some great matchups in that bracket by the time the playoffs start.
Cibolo Steele is, once again, the only bright spot in San Antonio-area football. Expect them to be the only team from the region in the Top 20 next week. If any other SA-area school creeps back in, expect another tirade about how skewed the DCTF staff are in trying to keep each part of the state happy enough for magazine sales.
As for the Houston area, I could get real accustomed to Manvel showing as the second-best Houston school going into the playoffs. Let's face it, nobody would rank Katy outside of the Top 5 unless they lost a third game.
1. Denton Guyer Cedar Hill L 28-54 0-1 2. Cedar Park @ Westlake L 7-21 0-1 3. Tyler John Tyler Lufkin W 35-21 1-0 4. Highland Park Aledo L 12-31 0-1 5. Pearland Dawson --- bye --- 6. Leander @ Connally W 35-7 1-0 7. Wichita Falls Rider @ Abilene Cooper L 36-43 0-1 8. Aledo Highland Park W 31-12 1-0 9. CC Calallen @ Mercedes W 40-13 1-0 10. Angleton @ Montgomery W 28-18 1-0
Tough opening week when three of the top 4 teams fall. Looks like the smart ones here were the Dawson High schedule-makers. Denton Guyer took a punch to the gut with their loss, but the program should be strong enough to rebound. I'd still rank them in the Top 5.
1. Stephenville Monterrey Tech L 17-27 0-1 2. La Marque Galveston Ball W 35-12 1-0 3. Carthage Jacksonville L 30-34 0-1 4. Coldspring-Oakhurst @ CE King W 21-13 1-0 5. Navasota @ Willis W 42-0 1-0 6. Argyle Wylie L 14-31 0-1 7. Wimberly @ Llano W 27-26 1-0 8. Henderson Prestonwood L 21-56 0-1 9. Waco La Vega @ Palestine W 24-23ot 1-0 10. Celina Melissa L 13-18 0-1
The only thing more surprising than seeing two of the top three teams fall in the first week of play is seeing a Texas HS powerhouse program lose to Monterrey Tech. I remember hearing for years about how MT was supposed to be the Southlake or Katy of Mexico. But every result I've ever seen against top-tier talent made them look more like the Washington Generals of HS football. Beating a team like Stephenville is huge. I still say that 3A football in Texas may be one of the more exciting levels of play with the teams that have moved up and down from their division last season. The Carthage-Jacksonville and Celina-Melissa games are early indicators that there are some great matchups on the schedule. Here's hoping that a few of them have an internet audio feed in the weeks ahead.
» NY Times: Pressure, Chinese and Foreign, Drives Changes at Foxconn
» NY Times: Foxconn Plans to Lift Pay Sharply at Factories in China
» Wash. Post: U.S. manufacturing sees shortage of skilled factory workers
I've been long past overdue in mentioning this article after blogging about the first part of the series. But the more recent NY Times updates linked above give me an excuse to bring the topic back up now.
That topic, namely, is that the labor cost differences between China and America don't seem to be the biggest deal in terms of where work is sourced. There might be some point to be made about the greater flexibility that comes with employment outside the reach of American regulation. But let's compare the China/Foxconn situation with this part of a Washington Post story ...
A metal-parts factory here has been searching since the fall for a machinist, an assembly team leader and a die-setter. Another plant is offering referral bonuses for a welder. And a company that makes molds for automakers has been trying for seven months to fill four spots on the second shift.
“Our guys have been working 60 to 70 hours a week, and they’re dead. They’re gone,” said Corey Carolla, vice president of operations at Mach Mold, a 40-man shop in Benton Harbor, Mich. “We need more people. The trouble is finding them.”
The initial factor described in the story is automation. And the point being that a very static view of the economics would mean that a shrinking pool of available jobs would lead to a growing available workforce. But with automation comes a different skillset. And with a different skillset comes a shrinking pool of qualified workers. The tale then takes us to a familiar element: our good friend, demographics.
Compounding the problem is a demographic wave. At some factories, much of the workforce consists of baby boomers who are nearing retirement. Many of the younger workers who might have taken their place have avoided the manufacturing sector because of the volatility and stigma of factory work, as well as perceptions that U.S. manufacturing is a “dying industry.”
Now, compare that to the close of the most recent Times article on Foxconn ...
Social scientists say young people here are also less willing to accept factory jobs for long periods. Meanwhile, demographic changes have meant China has fewer young people to join the work force.
If the workers will not move to the coast, the logic is that the coastal factories ought to move to where the workers are living. Big manufacturers like Foxconn have responded to such challenges by moving factories inland.
And worried that the old model is dying, Foxconn has announced plans to invest in millions of robots and automate aspects of production.
The differences between working in China and working in the United States may still be large, but they're diminishing. And to the extent that those differences are still reflected in differing wages, those wages aren't really the biggest driver for where to source work.
For a long time, we've had a scapegoat in explaining away the flood of imports and the loss of American industry by suggesting that you just can't compete with 10-yr old kids working for pennies a day. But there's a growing reality that child labor, while still a very bad thing, is not a significant part of the economic problem. Likewise, the difference in labor cost isn't the end of the argument. In many cases, they may even be quite minimal - especially after factoring in transportation costs.
What I find most interesting about the demographic comparisons, however, is something that I've noticed in watching high school football over a few decades. Think about what it takes to produce a quality football team and among the non-demographic reasons, you will find a number of advantages in fast-growing populations. I'm not suggesting that coaching is worth squat, that anyone can win games at Southlake Carroll, or that there's nothing to be said about singular unique talent that occasionally shows up to carry an entire team (say, LaMarque's Tim Wright). But I will argue that demographics help.
One year certainly isn't a pattern. But for the sake of argument, here are the matchups in the 4A and 5A playoffs this past December: Hewitt Midway - Austin Lake Travis; Aledo - Manvel, Southlake Carroll - Fort Bend Hightower; Spring Dekaney - Cibolo Steele. While that's a fairly strong correlation to fast-growing areas of the state, I think that previous seasons will show pretty good patterns as well.
Bottom line in all of this is that if you want to develop something that sustains, it helps to have a growth pattern behind your sails. It's worth further study, but I'd be curious to see if industries and plants that seem to be going through this aging process correspond to geographies that are likewise going through a stagnant population growth phase. And I'm sure that there will be other factors to consider behind this as well. But it would certainly be a more honest conversation if we just got rid of the whole argument over "American well paid labor" vs "Chinese slave labor" or even "over-regulated American industry" vs "non-regulated (but still somehow Communist) Chinese industry" to address the real differences that are leading to American industry going through phases like the one described by the Post.
Apparently, I'm lacking in time so badly that I missed last weekend's update. As luck would have it, my old school held on for a surprisingly tough game against Colleyville Heritage and also found itself down 6-11 at halftime on Thursday night against our arch-rivals L.D. Bell. Given the overall lightness of the district and the lack of tough non-district competition, I think those are the only two teams capable of pulling off an upset of Trinity (barring a complete shock of a letdown from here on out). Sadly, the injuries don't seem to be suggesting that this odd-numbered year will end in another Trinity championship. But I guess that all depends on who ends up in D1 and who ends up in D2.
Here's the rundown of this week's scoreboard ...
1. Allen 5-0 W: 45-13, Lewisville 2. Katy 5-0 W: 55-3, Strake Jesuit 3. DeSoto 5-0 bye 4. Euless Trinity 6-0 W: 41-11, L.D. Bell 5. Cibolo Steele 5-0 bye 6. Dallas Skyline 5-0 W: 62-7, Richardson 7. Arlington Martin 4-1 L: 16-47, Arlington 8. Coppell 4-1 L: 7-31, Denton Guyer 9. Longview 4-1 bye 10. Converse Judson 5-0 bye 11. Southlake Carroll 5-0 W: 26-21, Keller 12. GP North Shore 4-1 bye 13. Cedar Hill 3-2 W: 28-22, Mansfield Timberview 14. Denton Guyer 4-1 W: 31-7, Coppell 15. Lufkin 5-1 W: 52-0, Atascocita 16. Midland 5-0 bye 17. RR Westwood 6-0 W: 31-24, Pflugerville 18. Spring Dekaney 5-0 W: 42-31, Klein Collins 19. SA Brandeis 6-0 W: 42-0, SA Holmes 20. Arlington Bowie 3-2 W: 49-0, Sam Houston 21. SA Warren 4-1 W: 44-31, SA Stevens 22. Harlingen 5-0 W: 69-7, Harlingen South 23. Cy Falls 5-0 W: 52-12, Cy Springs 24. The Woodlands 5-0 bye 25. Colleyville Heritage 5-1 W: 21-3, Irving MacArthur
Other teams ...
Pearland - 56 Clear Lake - 21 Cinco Ranch - 21 Katy Seven Lakes - 14
1. Lake Travis 5-0 bye 2. Denton Ryan 5-0 bye 3. Smithson Valley 5-0 bye 4. Brenham 5-0 W: 42-20, Waller 5. Stephenville 4-1 bye 6. Highland Park 5-0 W: 58-30, Wylie East 7. Pearland Dawson 6-0 W: 39-16, Friendswood 8. Cedar Park 5-1 W: 42-14, Vista Ridge 9. Aledo 3-2 W: 83-21, Springtown 10. Manvel 5-0 bye
Worth noting ... Jonathan Gray stats: 16 rushes, 347 yds, 7 TD; 1 rec,18 yds
1. Tyler Chapel Hill 6-0 W: 45-16, Center 2. Henderson 6-0 W: 56-13, Texarkana Liberty-Eylau 3. Wimberley 4-0 bye 4. Coldspring-Oakhurst 6-0 W: 60-0, Shepherd 5. Celina 5-0 W: 40-12, Lake Worth 6. Gilmer 5-0 bye
Tatum - 44 Bullard - 25 Refugio - 82 Riviera - 6 Tenaha - 28 Harleton - 0
A little video highlight reel of Gilmer's QB made the Tyler news this past week. Not sure how apt the comparisons are to Tebow, but Gilmer is definitely a quality team. There's a pretty good chance that I'll have the opportunity to see the kid play at JerryWorld in December.
The most excitement I've ever had for sophomore football out of Utah...
Zach Katoa led the way on offense with 197 yards rushing on 14 carries, scoring 3 touchdowns.
The Katoa name should ring a bell for any Euless-ites of a certain age. This is Sammy Katoa's kid (and Fotu Katoa's nephew). He's also the team captain of the Soph team. As fascinating as it is to see Trinity football develop into what it's become since the Katoas started the Tongan football tradition, it's probably equally fascinating to think what might be with a younger Katoa playing the game anywhere in the world.
An administrative note first: I'm giving up on the AP poll of High School football teams. It's usually a chore to track down a news report that has at least everything from 5A down to 3A. And the Dallas Morning News making their sports section a crapshoot on this count because of what's paywalled and what isn't paywalled. So, for the sole reason of making my Thursday/Friday routine easier, I'm relying on the Dave Campbell rankings since they're always placed in one central location each Monday. I may have some nits to pick with their biases, but the prospect of rolling my eyes everytime I see a trendy pet pick deep on the list is a relatively minor concern. Maybe I'll rethink things if I see DCTF ranking Trinity lower than I think they should, but this season isn't of much concern.
That aside, here's the weekend that was ...
1. Allen 3-0 Bye 2. Katy 3-0 W: 42-7 Beaumont Westbrook 3. DeSoto 4-0 W: 42-7, RR Stony Point 4. Euless Trinity 4-0 W: 64-0, Irving 5. Cibolo Steele 4-0 W: 49-24, SA Southwest 6. Dallas Skyline 3-0 Bye 7. Coppell 3-0 Bye 8. Arlington Martin 3-0 Bye 9. Southlake Carroll 3-0 Bye 10. Lufkin 3-1 L: 10-24, Longview 11. Converse Judson 3-0 L: 33-40, SA Churchill 12. Pearland 2-1 Bye 13. GP North Shore 3-1 W: 48-28, Kingwood 14. Longview 3-1 W: 24-10, Lufkin 15. Cedar Hill 1-2 Bye 16. Denton Guyer 3-1 W: 31-23, Mesquite Horn 17. Klein Collins 3-0 Bye 18. Abilene 2-2 L: 44-45, Harlingen (#) 19. Midland 4-0 W: 46-0, Lubbock Monterey 20. Arlington Bowie 2-1 Bye 21. RR Westwood 4-0 W: 38-7, SA Lee 22. RR Stony Point 1-2 L: 7-42, DeSoto 23. Spring Dekaney 3-0 Bye 24. SA Brandeis 4-0 W: 13-0, SA Stevens (#) 25. SA Warren 2-1 W: 42-14, SA Jay
Missed from Week Two:
- Pearland defeated by Houston Memorial (14-17).
- RR Stony Point's game against Monterrey Tech cancelled because of extortion over Tech crossing the border.
- Cedar Hill loses to DeSoto in the week's top-tier matchup of ranked teams.
Highlights of Week Three:
Obviously, a lot of bye weeks. Lufkin losing to Longview isn't a complete shock. But Abilene losing a double-OT game to Harlingen is. Texas High School football generally ends just south of Converse Judson - or, nowadays, Cibolo. Del Rio has had some decent runs in years past, but they've generally been an exception to the rule. A team from the Valley that upsets a top-tier team from the heart of football country? That's impressive. Look for them to get some votes next week and make the cut for rankings. Check that ... DCTF will make them a trendy top-15 pick by the time you're probably reading this.
The only big win is DeSoto's revenge of last playoff's loss to Stony Point. I'm a bit heartened to see my school (Trinity) pitching a second shutout in a row. At this point of the season, I'm usually paranoid that the weak division that Trinity is in can turn into a liability for playoff preparation. From the distance I get to notice things, it certainly seemed to be the case last season as Trinity just wasn't as dominant week-in/week-out in the playoffs. And let's not even talk about that game at the end of the season ... because I've already erased it from my memory. For now, whomping on district chum by more than 60 point margins is plenty fine by me.
One case in point I'd like to make for the overall crapiness of San Antonio teams: Brandeis is about as good a team as I think San Antonio proper will crank out this year. Brandeis beat a decent Warren team last week. But this week, they only win 13-0 against Jay on the back of a flailing offense and a dominant defense. There are just no "program" schools in San Antonio. Whether that's a good, bad, or indifferent thing, I leave it to you to judge. My animus with all of this is that it means that one entire region of the state is dedicated to relatively weak schools while Trinity and Allen may be looking at a second-round matchup of the two best schools in 5A-D1. I realize travel costs are a factor and I'd be about the last one to say that schools should jack up the athletics (and to a more modest degree, band) budgets just for the sake of a marginally better playoff bracket. But there's gotta be a better way.
Week Four Preview:
- Trinity gets one of the better district opponents in Colleyville Heritage. We should still win the game by a fairly subtantial margin since this year's Heritage team doesn't look as strong as previous ones.
- Abilene now has a long row to hoe if they're going to prove they can get back into the mix of top-tier teams. Up next is Longview. Could be interesting to see if Longview can keep their hot streak going.
- Similar situation for Stony Point as they have to bounce back against RR Westwood. Oddly, I think I'll pick Stony Point in this one.
- Allen vs Plano. It's not the same Plano caliber as the Rex Burkhead era teams, but it's a big enough rivalry that an upset can't be completely ruled out.
1. Lake Travis 4-0 W: 56-14, Kerrville Tivy 2. Stephenville 3-1 L: 6-10, Hebron 3. Denton Ryan 4-0 W: 28-22, Mesquite 4. Smithson Valley 4-0 W: 28-17, SA Wagner 5. Brenham 3-0 Bye 6. Highland Park 3-0 Bye 7. Aledo 1-2 Bye 8. Cedar Park 3-1 W: 69-0, Austin High 9. Pearland Dawson 4-0 W: 62-7, Aldine Nimitz 10. Kerrville Tivy 2-2 L: 14-56, Lake Travis 11. La Marque 3-1 W: 68-3, Brazosport 12. Manvel 4-0 W: 42-0, Sharpstown
Missed from Week Two:
- Aledo loses a second game of the season to now #1 ranked Lake Travis (35-62). Granted, LT is pretty dang good and seeing them play two different championship games, it's not tough to see how an Air Raid-based team like LT could be competitive with Team Johnathan Gray in Aledo. But I'm not sure any of us saw this coming where the best team in the state starts off with a 1-2 record.
Highlights of Week Three:
Tough loss for Stephenville since it would have made for a great race to the finish between two teams that beat Aledo for the top spot. But now Hebron becomes a team to watch. Not the least of reasons has to do with the fact that they could be an early round playoff opponent against Trinity if they finish well.
Week Four Preview:
Stephenville goes up against a Mesquite Horn team that hung tough with Denton Guyer. Could be a tough game, but I'm really hoping I get the chance to see Stephenville play for a title. Manvel vs La Marque is a biggie in the Houston area, as Manvel looks to prove that they're for real this season.
3A - Henderson 4-0 W: 51-15, Center 3A - Gilmer 4-0 W: 21-7, Texarkana Liberty-Eylau 3A - Carthage 2-2 W: 35-21, Nacogdoches 2A/D1 - Tatum 2-1 Bye 2A/D2 - Refugio 3-0 Bye 2A/D2 - Arp 3-1 W: 28-27, Palestine Westwood 1A/D2 - Tenaha 4-0 W: 21-20, Garrison
Highlights of Week Three:
Arp's win against a 3A team ain't bad. I don't know enough about Garrison to speculate on how meaningful a one-point loss to the best team in 1A/D2 is, but Garrison is now 3-1 and might be worth some more attention for the rest of the season.
Week Four Preview:
- Carthage vs Center ... tough schedule for Center.
- Henderson vs Liberty-Eylau ... tough schedule for L-E.
- Gilmer (3A) vs Daingerfield (2A) ... Gilmer slaughtered a good 2A Tatum team last time around and Daingerfield is at least as good as Tatum at the 2A level. It should be worth seeing if Daingerfield fares any better.
» Chron: Cowboys Stadium to host title games
More games for HighSchoolFootballStock ...
University Interscholastic League athletic director Mark Cousins on Monday announced that all UIL football state championship games, excluding six-man, will be held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Dec. 15-17, with the exception of the Class 3A Division I title game, which will be played Dec. 9 at Cowboys Stadium.
I attended last season's festival and it was a great experience. If you're a fan of football at any level, there's no better bang for the buck that you'll find. The additional games should create a better environment for the early games. The 3A-D1 game, for instance, was the only game for Friday night last time. This time, each night will be three full games. I seem to recall that there was a game or two at the Mansfield Stadium that I thought might be worth checking out instead of the ones at JerryWorld. With this, there's no faustian bargains.
The only additional challenge I see is planting myself in one seat for each of the three days. Each school shuffles in and out of the field-level seats, and much of the upper-level seats if they've traveled well. Since I was only an interested party for one game, I lucked out by getting there early for a good third-level seat each day. Take it from me, holding onto the same seat from noon till 10pm is something you have to plan around. One tip that's no secret: don't guzzle down beverages that day. Might be better if I can finagle media credentials.
Big day on the high school-to-college football track, with it being National Signing Day. Not that we can expect to find out where the next big thing in college football will be heading (and we'll probably have to wait for next year's next big thing as well). But we'll at least have some sense of the shape of things to come.
The Chron does some quick Q&A with a gaggle of local recruits. The best team in the state looks to get the shelves re-stocked rather nicely. UH probably isn't expected to do well considering the pre-emptive spin from Cullen. We get another solid QB, this time out of Houston's Lamar HS. And this kid out of Clear Creek looks pretty interesting, even if it's primarily of interest for his baseball potential. Otherwise, it's a very JUCO kinda year on the UH recruiting front. Rice, of course, is limited to athletes that grade well. The new football team in the state will have some notable names (in particular, their QB and RB pickups from the DFW metroplex), even if they aren't likely to be much more than the D3 school that they are.
For a good overview of the nature of things that can shock and surprise on a day like today, there's this bit of entertaining reading:
Hell hath no fury like an SEC fan scorned. Last year a group of testy Tennessee fans, still stinging from Lane Kiffin's departure, hatched a scheme to clog USC's fax machines with fake NLIs. "I think the more faxes they get the better," a conspirator named VolSailor wrote on a message board. "Even admin/general football office numbers. Just blow it all up." USC wouldn't comment on the plot's effectiveness, but coaches reportedly gave recruits an unlisted fax number to stiff-arm the prank.
I'm a little surprised that the smart kids at Rice couldn't manage something more effective to Todd Graham.
UPDATE 1.0: Oklahoma State makes a few verbals reality with some signings out of Denton Guyer. Having seen the QB-WR combo that OSU is getting, it's worth remembering the names. They basically played the Air Raid offense at Guyer and ran it well enough to reach the state finals. I'd have a hard time thinking that either of the offensive pickups don't end up starting and connecting on a regular basis. That said, OSU's offense might not be precisely the same since Dana Holgorsen shipped out.
UPDATE 2.0: One minor surprise for the day, at least of some personal interest. Euless Trinity TE, Nila Kasitati, is not signing with anyone today. He'd been a verbal commit to Baylor. Inneresting. The kid should end up fine as long as he doesn't get crowded out of a scholarship at Baylor or the other two schools that seem to be in the mix: Utah and Oklahoma.
UPDATE 3.0: UH gets one of their better DFW-area players signed.
UPDATE 4.0: Well, it turns out that Trinity TE, Nila Kasitati, signed today after all ... and the lucky school is Oklahoma. From the sounds of it, he'll be gray-shirting there, though the post isn't entirely clear if he might not have to go that route due to OU losing a recruit earlier in the day. Either way, it should be a good opportunity for him to play at a higher level by whatever time he's on the roster.
I'm at Cowpoke Stadium and ready to be entertained again. Any play-by-play type of action will likely happen via the twitter feed (#txhsfb), while the live-blogging will cover more reaction/analysis type of stuff. Of course, if you're old fashioned, I guess you could watch the game on Fox Sports Southwest or listen to the web feed via Legacy Sports Network. Whatever floats yet boat.
Lake Travis v Denton Ryan
One good thing about today's schedule is that it starts off with a slow build as far as my own interest goes. Lake Travis is probably the favorite here and I'm not a fan. LT is looking for their 4th title in a row and comes from the wrong side of Austin for my sports tastes. That said, Denton schools have generally been on the fringes of my football radar. That said, it's still championship football. Denton Ryan's big horse is on defense: Mario Edwards (DE). Lake Travis will bring the skill positions, with a Tech recruit at QB and Garrett Gilbert's brother at WR.
As I type, it's 40 minutes to kickoff. Catch the tweets/hashtags/whatever if you want to follow the games in that manner. Turns out the hashtags also land in the Chron's livechat of the game. I'll likely be conserving some battery life over the 1st 2 games in order to go nuts for watching my alma mater in action.
GAME WRAP: 27-7 Lake Travis win. It felt like it could've been a blowout, but Ryan's Mario Edwards was a force on defense. Ryan had nothing working on offense in the first half and their adjustments at the half were good, but too little and too late. You saw a big disparity between experience (Lake Travis earns their 4th straight title) and inexperience. Ryan had opportunities, but they hurt themselves with slow play-calling and letting their emotions get to them.
Lake Travis looked like Texas Tech lite. We saw a lot of the QB Michael Brewer and only some glimpses of the Gilbert brother at QB. But their defense carried the game even more this game.
Denton Guyer v Cibolo Steele
Teams are warming up. Blogger doing homework. This is going to be a good game, but I don't pretend to know the teams well.
Update ... it's a battle of two skill positions. Guyer's QB (Walsh) is a dual threat and Steele's RB is a T-sip recruit (Brown). The comparison of Brown to Aledo's Gray ought to be interesting. I don't see two bellcows going to UT in the same recruiting class. Good news for Tech fans drooling over Gray. Looks like there's talent on both defenses, also. Looking forward to seeing how they pan out.
WRAP: Brevity is in order as I ramp up for the Trojan-Oiler matchup. This was the first tight game of the weekend and each team brought their D.
Trinity v Pearland
Wrapping up after the fact, which is that Pearland hangs on 28-24 and is the 5A-D1 champion. Obviously, a heartbreaker for this Trinity grad, but the universal sentiment among folks exiting the game was that, at least next season was an odd year number. That ought to favor us in some way or another.
As far as game recaps that I haven't blacked out from my memory yet ... Trinity looked like they wanted to test the Playstation plays early on, but they were playing into Pearland's hands by running outside the tackles instead of letting the hawgs open up room between the tackles. That adjustment was made at halftime, but the damage had been done by then. Add to the damage that Pearland scored an improbable Stonehenge trick play and you've got the margin of victory.
It could have all played out like the Coppell game, and Pearland's defense gift-wrapped a stupid penalty to set up a possible last-play win (ala Coppell). In this case, however, the pass to Brandon Carter got bobbled in traffic and fell incomplete. Result: it was like Coppell, minus a play.
It was great to be among Trinity fans (for all their pros and cons) and feel at home again for a while. The game didn't lack for excitement, so there may come a day when I can at least appreciate that fact (the over/under is "when I'm dead and buried"). The experience of taking all the games in was definitely fun, in and of itself. I may have to give that another shot next year.
In the meantime, I urge you all to write State Representative Todd Smith to enact a law that forces UIL championship football games to be played on Jan. 1 of the next year in even numbered years. Congrats to Trinity on a wild ride of a season and putting a load of talent on the field to make for an exciting season. And congrats to Pearland ... for reasons I'm already blocking from my memory.
Not a bad venue. The screen is definitely a game-changer from a fan experience. It completely alters the replay experience from something to crane your neck for at the end zones to a more casual co-existence with the game experience. Seats were comfy enough to not have any complaints after being parked for the better part of seven hours. Tomorrow's festivities will be pushing 12 hours, so we'll see if that assessment holds. As is customary for high school football, there was plenty of fan movement across the row despite my intentional choice of a seat in the middle of the section. Fortunately, the legroom provided was cozy enough to manage that.
I picked a seat in the second section above field level since I didn't have a vested interest in any of the teams. I might think about moving closer for my Trojans, but the crowd tonight (27,330) proved to be tough to navigate between games. Saturday's lineup will likely push 50,000, so we'll see how well that goes. Tickets are obviously General Admission, so you get the thrill of watching folks like me trample onto the carpeted realm of the higher, normally restricted-access section. I might get used to that tomorrow and just live with the lack of proximity and adrenaline for the final game. If it's truly open space you want for this type of setup, the end zones are your friend.
Technologically speaking, I noticed right away that my phone was picking up a wifi signal and my browser was directed to an ATT paywall. They're charging $3.99 for wifi, so I switched the wifi off and fed off of 3G for the day. Point of detail: the phone ended the night with 33% battery juice .... this will be monitored closely for the triple-header, especially considering that the final game is my rooting interest. I haven't nagged anyone for details, but it would be nice to know if laptops might be acceptable for General Admission events like this. Granted, I think I might trade for an endzone seat if I were that brave. I opted to test a high-tweeting-traffic coverage of both games Friday. Might scale back a bit on the two Denton games on Saturday.
Concessions, I'm going to go all-out cheapo. The prices were ridiculous and that's allowing for the generous teaser rates offered for my lone Dr Pepper of the night. I loaded up at Taco Bueno before the game in order to check the chain's current state (not bad if you could use an alternate idea for Taco Bell). There's an Airways Burger joint closer by that looks appealing (but the online reviews seem lukewarm), but I'm not ruling out a second take with Taco Bueno. Point being: there's loads of options nearby to grab a real meal at a real price before the game and fast food galore for afterward. I cannot stress those options enough. In the case of the Saturday tripleheader, I might cave and try a bite at the stadium. Hope my credit rating is good.
Merchandising at the game struck me as a little lacking. That's likely due to it not being an NFL game. But I sure as heck hope I can pick up a "Got Haka" shirt tomorrow night. That's the test I hold Jerry Jones to. The only other area I think warrants commentary is the ticket stands being so far away from the entrances. But maybe it's frustration over watching people argue seating details over General Admission tickets that made that whole experience less than optimal.
All in all, a good experience once in your seat. Otherwise, hold onto the wallet and be patient while you're herded to the proper section of the stadium.
SIDENOTE: Funny tidbit from my post-game perusal of the neighboring Wal Mart ... they had loads of McNabb jerseys up front for sale. And it didn't look like a price-cut clearance to go along with this news.
But the broader point that I'd make is that having the UIL-fest on Friday and Saturday before an NFL game is a particular treat for families that travel and want to make a full weekend of the thing. I hope there's some spillover in keeping people in town for longer when the schedule lines up like this ... and that it's done elsewhere if the UIL ever casts it's eyes on Reliant Stadium.