Best of Playoff Hits and Misses: Bi-District

Today we are trying something a little different. With all of the bi-district games that went on across the city, Texas Prep Insider was present at more than seven of them. When it was all said and done, there were a number of games worth mentioning. Check out the editorial on a few of these exciting match ups.

Looking back over the 10 years I have been a sports reporter, especially since the UIL made the decision to advance four teams to the postseason, I can't remember watching a better set of games in one weekend during that time. During the tour traveled, there were no blowouts or lopsided games, nor was there even a slightest idea about what team would come out on top. 

Every game was decided in the final 5 minutes or less. You can't ask for a better scenario than that.

Thursday: Humble Atascocita 43 vs. Houston Chavez 37 OT
Just to set the tone, I thought that this would be somewhat of a coming out party for the Lobos, thinking that they would win by a field goal. 

And through 47 minutes, it seemed like I was right on the money. The drive was managed by Lobo quarterback Andre Kelly, working in the pass and run. On that final Chavez drive in regulation, it was running back Mark Cole playing relentless getting the tough yards, along with Traymond Brown catch to get the ball inside the 5-yard line. 

From 2-yards out, Cole scored the touchdown to go up by one. On the 2-point conversion, Kelly connected with Jafus Gaines, on a deflected pass.

But the Eagles' 2-minute offense was nearly flawless. Quarterback Earnest Carrington was on point connecting with his crew of wide receivers, led by Quentin Parks. They worked the ball down within range of their prized place kicker Pablo Beltran. The 36-yard field goal slipped inside the left upright. Overtime.

For most of the game, Atascocita running back Jarvis Neal was quiet until the fourth quarter, scoring his first touchdown. That momentum carried into overtime and he, and the Eagle team for that matter, got into a point-of-no-return zone. The Eagle defense held on four downs in overtime, setting up Neal to get in on the first play with a 25-yard touchdown. 

Every human emotion was present: joy, pain, anger, surprise, pride and many others. All in all, great game and everything was left on the field.

Friday: Coldspring-Oakhurst 41 vs. West Orange-Stark 36
To say this was an upset would be sort of saying that Coldspring is not a talented and capable team. But, the fact that the Mustangs have gotten the best of them for a few years now, we could go ahead and mark it up as that. No matter what you call it, coach Bryan Barbay and the Trojan football team will take it.

The final quarter of this game had 30 points between the two teams. The momentum shifted midway through the fourth quarter after WOS quarterback Reggie Garrett connected with Mark Roberts for a 99-yard touchdown to put the Mustangs ahead. 

But that would be the last time they led as the Trojans, led by quarterback Chad Allen marched right down the field at the 3-minute mark and scored. Soon after, Sherman Gilbert intercepted a Mustang pass, setting up his own game-wing touchdown catch. 

Saturday (early): Dickinson 22, Fort Bend Willowridge 19
Even though the Gators had 65 yards in penalties and the Eagles fumbled seven total times, this game still brought a good level of excitement. 

Maybe that is because Willowridge defeated Dickinson in every category but the win column, which is what mattered. The game stayed fairly close throughout, but neither broke it open.

Willowridge scored back-to-back touchdowns when quarterback Reggie Smith connected with Twaski Wilson from 22 and 61 yards for the scores. Those scores put the Eagles up by five points. But there was no denying the Gators. The final drive took up the latter half of the quarter, but with 45 seconds remaining, running back Corey Thomas plunged into the end zone.

Down by three, the Eagles got to moving the ball down the field, but before they could get set up for a field goal or score, Dickinson's Trevor Kelsay came up with an interception to halt the Eagles' chances. 

Saturday (late): Clear Springs 28, Fort Bend Elkins 26
This was a game with some of the city's best talent on display. One consistency was speed, and plenty of it. Scores swapped back and forth as Springs quarterback Phillip Miller connected with DeChe' Milburn and James Cunningham while Trevon Randle was getting in the zone for the Chargers by any means necessary. On the other side, it was Elkins' Jordan Jolly and Chance Allen finding the end zone for the Knights. 

Jolly was on point in so many aspects of the game, as was Randle. Coming down to the last play, the Chargers blocked a field goal in the final moments of the game as Clear Springs made school history and continues to make it as the Chargers move on to the area round.

The Breakdown
So is it as simple as one team wins and the other losses? Is that really the case? That seems to be taking the easy route in thinking that there is only way to see things: one's joys are another's pain. There's much more at stake. 

The teams from Chavez, West Orange-Stark, Willowridge and Elkins all have played their final games of the 2009 season. With that said, can there be something learned from this? Negation, or what may seem to be, cannot happen in life without some sort of illumination or life lesson. 

Better Ballers, Improved Men
Let's just use Chavez running back Cole for example. As far as I know, he does not have a Division I college offer as of yet. But when his team's back was against the wall, he put them on his back and did everything he could to bring home a playoff win, yet the team still fell short. 

On that night, more so than many other games in his career, he played like a Division I player. He really brought a ‘wow' factor to the game. But , without all of the events that took place, he may not have known he had that ‘it' factor in him from a mental and physical standpoint.

While we are on this subject, let's talk about Elkins' Jolly. No matter what side of the stands you represented, when Jolly touched the ball all eyes were on him. At any given moment, he could have gone the distance and not a single person doubted that. Could have been the best single game performance I've seen all year. With that said, this experience will likely carry on with him, and he will build on that and continue to work that much harder in the off season as he takes his talents, and work ethic, to the next level for the University of Houston.

Coaching to the Next Level
From a coach standpoint, coach Willowridge coach Keeath Magee made huge strides at a program that won one game in the past two seasons. The Eagles played for the district title this season when many had written them off despite the coaching change. There was not much said as I approached him when the game was over. In fact a simple, "You know, this one hurts."

You best believe that an experience such as this will not elevate him to take his game to a higher plane? 

On the other side, you see coaches like Clear Springs' Clint Hartman who, before his team took on the crew of media present, to give a humbled ‘thank you' to a higher presence, taking a quick moment for reflection. Atascocita coach Dean Colbert, who is part of a fairly new program, showed a thankful emotion as well. This experience proved that the system they have implemented works, when combined with that inner sense of belief. They found something deep within themselves that cannot be seen on the surface level. 

For Coldspring's Bryan Barbay and Dickinson's Warren Trahan, a level of confidence resonated throughout their squads to the point that their teams knew that winning was the sole option, period.

Keep Showing Up
Interesting moment happened when leaving Galena Park Stadium and seeing Chavez coach Mike Jackson standing outside the locker room while the players were loading the bus. He looked over and said, "I don't know Vital. I think that we are cursed. I just don't know." 

At the time of statement, I didn't really have a response. But now that time has passed…I am not sold on the fact that this is a cursed team, nor was it bad luck. This is nothing more than a stepping-stone, one more opportunity to continue on the positive path already set forth by all who have represented the organization. 

Really, it's just another chance to come back, stronger, bigger and faster. Because each year, teams inch closer and closer until a breakthrough happens. 

That time will come soon enough…to everyone who believes and just keeps showing up.

Notable Performances
RB Jarvis Neal 21/146/2 TD

RB Mark Cole 33/282/4 TD

QB Chad Allen 6-of-11/140/ TD pass, 19/130/3 TD rush

West Orange-Stark
WR Mark Roberts 6/208/ TD

RB Corey Thomas 19/84/2TD 

WR Twaksi Wilson 13/221/3 TD

Clear Springs
ATH Trevon Randle 10/47/TD rush, 8+ tackles/ INT returned for TD

ATH Jordan Jolly 7-of-16/113/TD, 12/115/TD rush, 3/69/TD receiving

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