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5 things we learned from Dallas-area Texas high school football games, from forfeits to first wins for big-time programs

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 10/10/2020 By Joseph Hoyt, The Dallas Morning News

Here are five thoughts from Dallas-area football games played on Oct. 8-9.

Welcome to the win column

Jesuit and Frisco Lone Star had two of the deepest playoff runs among any Dallas-area teams last year.

Jesuit, led by Stanford running back EJ Smith, made it to the fourth round, and Lone Star rode a national record-breaking season from current Oklahoma receiver Marvin Mims to 14-straight wins to start the season.

It took until Week 3, but those two teams are back in the win column.

Jesuit bounced back from losses against state-ranked Rockwall and Flower Mound Marcus with a 23-17 win over winless Plano East, though it didn’t come easy. Jesuit won 23-17 and the Rangers defense forced a stop on fourth and goal to seal the win late.

Lone Star, on the other hand, left no doubt in its return to the winning ranks. Lone Star beat Frisco Heritage 73-21. Junior quarterback Garret Rangel threw for four touchdowns and Oklahoma State-bound running back Jaden Nixon ran 14 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns. On top of that, Lone Star also secured a district win next week. Frisco Independence had to cancel and the District Executive Committee ruled it would count as a forfeit – more on that later – bringing Lone Star back to .500 in one week.

In addition, two teams impacted by the pandemic also got their first wins. Hebron started off 0-1 and had to cancel its Week 2 game, but the Hawks bounced back with a 31-7 win over previously undefeated Northwest Eaton. Highland Park had to miss the first two weeks of the season due to nearly a dozen COVID-19 cases in its program, but the Scots won their season debut 42-36 over previously undefeated Coppell. Senior quarterback Brayden Schager, a Hawaii pledge, made his long-awaited debut and threw an interception on the opening drive, but bounced back nicely with 325 yards passing and two touchdowns, as well as one more interception.

COVID-19 impacts another week

This week the Dallas area saw a plethora of cancelations to originally scheduled games, once again. Over 50 games have been canceled since larger schools and private schools started paying on Sept. 24, but there was also another factor that drew more of a spotlight this week than previous ones.

Denton Ryan, last year’s 5A-I state runner-up and a state contender this year, once again, will have to forfeit its next two district games after suspending its program due to two positive cases in its program, according to The Denton Record-Chronicle. Ryan head coach Dave Henigan called the District Executive Committee ruling “shocking” and “disappointing,” according to a report from Steve Gamel of The Record-Chronicle.

Now Ryan will have to start behind the eight-ball in district play, something it hasn’t had to do during its 52-game regular season winning streak.

The district’s ruling also highlights some malleability in rulings for district executive committees when games are canceled. Some other districts across the state have ruled district cancelations as “no contests” meaning the games don’t count for a win or a loss. Others, like in the case of Ryan, have decided to rule those games as forfeits.

The UIL didn’t create a statewide ruling for district cancelations, instead leaving it up to each executive committee. With more cancelations expected throughout the year, it’s a ruling that each district will inevitably have to make on their own.

Don’t sleep on this 6A team

Before the season, the big storyline surrounding Rockwall was about who wasn’t there, rather than who was. How would the Yellowjackets respond without Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, a star who etched his name among the best receivers the state has ever seen, and without head coach Rodney Webb, who build the Rockwall program into one that went all the way state semifinal last year.

Through three weeks, the players still at Rockwall are showing why they deserve recognition, too. Rockwall, ranked No. 13 in the state rankings this week, took down No. 7 Southlake Carroll in a thriller, 44-42. The Dragons ended the first quarter up 14-0 but Rockwall, led by junior quarterback Braedyn Locke, fought back and eventually won. Locke completed over 70 percent of his passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns, and the defense intercepted Quinn Ewers, a Texas pledge and the top-ranked recruit in the nation in 2022, twice.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Rockwall won, but often times in the state rankings the difference between top-10 teams and top-15 teams can be larger than a single-digit amount of spots.

Rockwall, despite losing a lot from last year’s team, showed it deserves to be considered among the state’s elites under first-year head coach Trey Brooks.

Sleeper district title contender?

There’s an old saying in high school football: how many underclassmen starters is the same number of losses you’ll have.

That saying held true last year at Garland, which had more than a handful of underclassmen starters and finished with a 3-7 record. But hidden in that record was the performance of multiple sophomores, who garnered experience at the varsity level and showed that there could be more wins for the Owls in the future.

The future may have arrived.

Garland defeated North Garland – a team it lost too handedly last year – 42-0 on Thursday. The Owls outgained North Garland 510-97. The junior class for Garland played a major part. Quarterback Cergio Perez, the starter last year, completed 16 of 24 passes for 301 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running back Jayshon Powers had nine carries for 72 yards and a score and Oklahoma pledge Jordan Hudson had 129 yards receiving on four receptions – three of which were touchdowns. In addition, junior safety Chace Biddle is one of the class of 2022 1/4 u2032s top-ranked defensive backs in the county.

It’s only two weeks, but it’s been an impressive start for a program that had three wins all of last season. And speaking of last season, the Garland ISD and Wylie district went down to the wire a year ago after three-straight dominant seasons from Sachse.

District 9-6A could be wide open this season, and Garland could be a sleeper contender for the district title.

A preview of more to come?

When realignment came out it was clear who the favorites in 6-5A Div. 1 and 6-5A Div. 2 would be: Lancaster and South Oak Cliff.

This week, in the first week of district play, both teams showed why. Lancaster defeated Samuell 81-0 and South Oak Cliff bounced back from its loss to Duncanville with a 63-0 win over Spruce. Lancaster, consistently one of the state’s most talented teams, outgained Samuell 476-86. South Oak Cliff, on the other hand, had nearly 600 yards of offense and allowed -26 yards to Spruce.

These outcomes could be a preview of what’s to come in district play.

Last season, Dallas ISD teams – which range from Skyline in 6A to Madison in 3A – went a combined 28-81 against non-Dallas ISD teams. South Oak Cliff had multiple players in the SportsDayHS Top 100 recruiting rankings and went 9-3 overall, but only had one win against non-Dallas ISD teams.

This year, South Oak Cliff is in a nine-team district with seven other Dallas ISD teams and Mesquite Poteet. Lancaster is with six Dallas ISD teams and two Carrollton-Farmers Branch teams which have also struggled of late.

With lopsided talent, what Lancaster and South Oak Cliff showed this past weekend may just be a preview of what’s to come in district play.

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