Even as many teams around the state took a bye week to prepare for district play, there were plenty of stories to follow in Week 3 of the 2010 season.
Tragedy in the Golden Triangle overshadowed a highly-anticipated Class 5A game in Beaumont last weekend.
West Orange-Stark quarterback Reggie Garrett was pronounced dead at the Memorial Hermann Baptist-Orange Hospital on Friday night after collapsing on the sideline during the WO-S game against Jasper.
Garrett was a 6-2, 180-pound senior who, according to TheOldCoach.com, had received a scholarship offer from Iowa State, in addition to interest from other schools, including Houston, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
By all accounts, Garrett was an excellent young man who lived and breathed football. One story recounted on a message-board thread about him included a conversation from years ago where Garrett was quoted as saying, "I feel like I was put on earth to play football."
West Orange-Stark continued the game against Jasper after Garrett was transported to the hospital, primarily due to the uncertainty of his condition when he was taken away. The Mustangs won, 27-6.
However, a non-district game scheduled for this Saturday at Moorhead Stadium in Conroe against Giddings has been canceled. At this time, WO-S aren't saying when the team will definitely play again.
The tragedy of Friday overshadowed an anticipated Class 5A matchup in Beaumont between Katy and West Brook.
The Bruins, coming off a district championship in 2009, thanks to a big Week 10 win over Galena Park North Shore, had gotten out of the gates quickly in 2010 with wins over Beaumont Ozen, Beaumont Central and Aldine Eisenhower. And they had outscored their opponents 125-34 in those three games.
But Katy is again arguably the best team in the region, if not the state, and the Tigers had scored more points by halftime (35) than the Bruins had allowed in their first three games combined. Katy rolled to a 45-21 win.
Katy took advantage of six West Brook turnovers, which included a fumble recovery by Nic Narcisse, who returned to the Tigers' lineup for limited action after missing time while undergoing cancer treatment. Narcisse had been diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer in February.
His fumble recovery led to a second-quarter TD for Katy, who moved their record to 3-0 as they prepare for their District 19-5A schedule, which begins this week against Seven Lakes.
West Brook fell to 3-1 and will host Tyler Lee this week in their final pre-district game.
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As anticipated as Katy-West Brook was in southeast Texas, there was a more widely-anticipated matchup in north Texas last Friday.
The Stony Point Tigers and DeSoto Eagles squared off in DeSoto in a matchup of Top 10 programs. Stony Point, ranked No. 4 in the Week 3 TheOldCoach.com state poll, made the three-hour journey from Round Rock to the Dallas metroplex for the strongest test of the season to date against the No. 8 Eagles.
Both teams were also nationally-ranked in the RivalsHigh Top 100 going into the contest. Stony Point was No. 41 and DeSoto was ranked No. 88.
Yet, as big as the game was for observers, Tiger head coach Craig Chessher spent time before the contest trying to temper expectations.
"It's odd because it feels like it's a playoff type of atmosphere, the caliber of talent that we're going against," said Chessher after his team arrived in DeSoto, "but at the same time, I told our kids it doesn't mean a whole lot to us. We're either 4-0 or 3-1, and we've still got to start district next week against Westwood."
"I just try to keep it in perspective," he added.
But when the dust settled, Stony Point had made a convincing case that they are indeed a very good football team, as the Tigers outscored DeSoto 26-8 in the second half to defeat the Eagles, 46-29.
Stony Point's rushing attack wasn't deterred by DeSoto's defensive team speed, as the Tigers posted 242 yards on the ground. Senior running back Sam Kelley led the ground attack with 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterbacks Aaryn Sharp and Gus Barrera also combined for their strongest passing performance of the 2010 season, with 211 passing yards. Stony Point posted it's fourth consecutive game of 450-plus yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, the Tiger defense held the Eagles to under 50 rushing yards for the game and while DeSoto's Ryan Polite threw for 339 yards and three scores against them, he was also picked off three times, including a pair on back-to-back third quarter drives that led to Tiger touchdowns.
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It's no surprise that the Cy-Fair ISD district (17-5A in the current UIL alignment) is already a jumbled mess. It always is. But perhaps there is a surprising new star rising on the northwest Houston horizon.
District 17-5A finished its second week of play and two of the three undefeated teams in district play wouldn't surprise many folks. The Cypress Creek Cougars are the reigning district champions; the Langham Creek Lobos, under head coach Todd Thompson, always have a potentially explosive offense that can deliver district wins.
But the third team may surprise a lot of folks: first-year varsity program Cypress Ranch. It is still too early to tell how good this team is, but the Mustangs' head coach is no stranger to winning football games.
Gene Johnson was at the helm of the Klein Forest program from 2000 to 2003 and he posted 37 wins in those four seasons. Then, when Kevin O'Keefe left Hightower to open Seven Lakes in the Katy ISD, Johnson took over the Hurricanes. In three seasons at Hightower, Johnson added another 24 victories to his ledger.
Now, Johnson has three more wins in 2010 to add to his career totals, as his Mustangs have jumped out in their inaugural varsity season to an undefeated start following their third consecutive win of the season against fellow varsity newcomer Cypress Lakes on Friday night.
Johnson's coaching record is now 64-24 overall. He has produced five playoff teams in seven seasons as a head coach.
Since the Mustangs' first three opponents (Fort Bend Austin, Jersey Village and Cy Lakes) have six combined wins in the last two seasons, and none yet this year, no one yet is willing to predict that Cy Ranch is ready to make a playoff run in a tough and deep (ten teams) football district.
But Johnson's success, including a 5-3 junior varsity record at Cy Ranch last year, has observers whispering that it likely won't be long before they will contend with the likes of Cypress Creek, Cypress Woods and Cypress Falls.
The next two games for the Mustangs, against 2009 5A Region II finalist Cypress Woods and defending district champ Cypress Creek, should tell just how near--or far--they are from contending.