The Texas state playoffs are picking up steam and another team may have their season ended in a court room. Only a handful of teams remain, and Week 14 provided plenty of playoff action.
DeSoto sprints to next round: Led by a running back that will join Oregon's quick-strike attack next season, Dontre Wilson and DeSoto (Texas) run arguably one of the most dizzying offenses in Texas. The Eagles' renowned speed attack has put up totals as high as 76, and they still haven't scored fewer than 37 points this season.
That was all supposed to change in the Division I Region I area playoff against a vaunted Coppell (Texas) defense, which was allowing only 8.1 points per game entering Saturday's matchup.
It didn't, and after a 42-14 blowout of the Cowboys, DeSoto may be considered the favorites to win the coveted Texas Class 5A State Championship.
The Eagles electrified an announced audience of 12,000 at brand new Eagles Stadium in Allen, Texas, racking up 545 yards of offense and racing out to an early lead that essentially decided the game in the first half.
DeSoto was the stronger team, but it is a bitter, unfortunate end of the season for Coppell. One of the top teams in the state all year, the Cowboys suffered a significant tragedy in the middle of the season when co-captain Jacob Logan was killed in a cliff diving accident. Logan was one of the team's stars and was being recruited to play collegiately. Coppell players wore Logan's number 21 on the side of their helmets.
DeSoto is scheduled to face Bowie (Arlington, Texas) in the Class 5A Division I Region I semifinal, but that matchup could be in jeopardy. Bowie is awaiting a ruling from the University Interscholastic League regarding a transfer student's eligibility. If Bowie is removed from the playoffs, DeSoto would play Franklin (El Paso, Texas), which Bowie defeated 31-14 this past Friday.
Bowie could be the second high-profile high school team to be eliminated by a court; Goose Creek (S.C.) was controversially eliminated from their state playoffs last week after using an ineligible player earlier in the season even after the team self-reported the violation.
Nkemdiche drama to start again after Grayson loses: Initially considered a state title favorite, the Grayson Rams (Loganville, Ga.) were knocked out of the state playoffs by North Gwinnet (Suwanee, Ga.) 28-10 in the second round of the GHSA 6A Playoffs. Exceptionally talented, but at times chronically underperforming, the defending champion Rams only trailed 9-3 at half before surrendering 19 points in the second half.
Armed with arguably the top player in the nation (defensive end Robert Nkemdiche) and several other Division-I recruits (running back Wayne Gallman, defensive backs David Kamara and Kasey Gaines, linebacker Zach Barnes), the loss was both shocking and obviously disappointing to the defending champions.
Now, the speculation turns to Nkemdiche and his teammates. Nkemdiche, who was previously committed to Clemson with both Gallman and Kamra, visited Oxford, Miss., for the Egg Bowl on Saturday with Kamara. The star defensive end has been linked to Ole Miss, where his brother, Denzel, plays, after he recently decommitted from Clemson.
Moller, Whitmer to square off for Ohio state final: We have documented incredible performances of quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Mentor (Ohio) over the last two weeks. Between the stunning comeback against top-ranked St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) or the triple-overtime win over one of the nation's finest in St. Ignatius (Cleveland), the favorite for Ohio's Mr. Football and the Cardinals appeared destined for the Ohio state title.
They weren't. Perhaps out of gas from the previous two weeks or from an inability to stop the run, Mentor's magical run concluded with a 62-34 loss to Whitmer (Toledo). Whitmer quarterback Nick Holley outdueled Trubisky, steamrolling the Cardinals' defense for 395 combined yards and four total touchdowns. Whitmer advances to its first state title; it had lost to St. Edward and St. Ignatius the last two years, both of which would eventually win the state title.
Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) advanced with a heart-stopping 26-21 win over Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio) in Dayton. Pickerington running back Godwin Igwebuike (a Northwestern commit) was stopped one yard short of the goal line with 32 seconds remaining, and Moeller (11-3) advanced to the championship despite facing a brutal schedule this year.
Quick Hits: Anybody listening to Manti Te'o during his postgame interview may have noticed his shout-out to his cousin at Kahuku (Hawaii) -- the Raiders knocked off Punahou (Teo's alma mater in Honolulu) 42-20 for the Hawaii state championship. Te'o's message for Punahou? "Get back to work." ... Hamilton (Chandler, Arizona) exacted revenge on Mountain Pointe (Phoenix) by beating them 31-16 in the AIA Division I State Championship. Mountain Pointe topped Hamilton in the first game of the season, 17-14. ... Wide receiver Brian Lemelle of Bishop McDevitt set the Pennsylvania career pass receiving record according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. After catching nine balls for 121 yards, Lemelle now has 251 career catches for 4,347 yards -- both Pennsylvania records.
Now, to the rankings:
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Defeated Venice (Fla.) 56-7
Next week: vs. Central (Fort Pierce, Fla.) in FHSAA Class 7A Regional Final
The Hurricanes logged another easy win against Venice, which sets up a matchup with undefeated Central in next week's regional final.
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Defeated Mount Si (Snoqualmie, Wash.) 37-7
Next week: vs. Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) in the WIAA 3A Finals
Bellevue and Mount Si were tied 7-7 after the first quarter. The Wolverines then outscored the Wildcats 30-0 the rest of the way. Now, the state title is on the line against undefeated Eastside Catholic/
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Defeated Riverside (La.) 62-10
Next week: vs. Springfield (La.) in the Class 3A Semifinals
Make it 26 in a row for Curtis, which should advance easily to the state finals.
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Defeated Langham Creek (Houston) 56-0
Next week: vs. La Porte (Texas) in the Conference 5A Divison 2 Area regionals
Katy has now beat its two playoff opponents by a combined score of 133-7. It should get a more difficult test from 11-1 LaPorte, but the Tigers will probably keep rolling.
Previous rank: 8
Last week: Defeated Coppell (Texas) 42-14
Next week: vs. Bowie (Texas) or Franklin (El Paso, Texas) in Class 5A Division I Area Regionals
DeSoto gets the big bump after its convincing victory over one of Texas's top squads.
Previous rank: 5
Last week: Defeated Amador Valley (Pleasanton, Calif.) 49-0
Next week: vs. James Logan (Union City, Calif.) in the CIF North Coast Section Division I Championship
The Spartans have hiccuped at times this season, so it remains to be seen how they will handle a red-hot Logan side for all the marbles.
Previous rank: 6
Last week: Defeated East Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.) 27-0
Next week: vs. Jack Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.) in the NCHSAA 4AA Championship
Last week's shutout should propel the Bulldogs nicely into their state championship game against star wide receiver Jalen McDaniel and Jack Britt.
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Defeated Rancho Cucamonga 34-0
Next week: vs. Centennial (Corona, Calif.) in the CIF Southern Section Inland semifinals
This may be the most impressive hidden victory of the weekend. The Broncos had some defensive lapses in the early parts of the season, but they have been tremendous since October. Now, they will face off with Centennial for the third consecutive season to decide the CIF crown.
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Idle
Next week: vs. Memphis University in the Tennessee Boys State Football II-AA Championship
The Tigers got the week off before putting their 20-game win streak on the line in the state title.
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Defeated American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.) 34-17
Next week: vs. Clearwater Central Catholic (Clearwater, Fla.) in the Florida Class 3A State Semifinals
It was supposed to be one of the best games in Florida this year, and it appeared to be that way when American Heritage headed to the locker room up 17-12. Then, the second half started. University throttled the Stallions in the second half and advanced to play Clearwater Central Catholic.
Next five: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), Whitmer (Toledo), Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.), Trinity (Louisville), Bentonville (Arkansas).