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Best of the best: A look back at District 8-5A football
BY Matt Welch, email@example.com
The past two years were a special time for the athletics wing of the Plano, Allen and Lewisville ISDs.
In joining forces under the District 8-5A umbrella, the schools of Plano East, Plano Senior, Plano West, Allen, Flower Mound, Flower Mound Marcus, Lewisville and Hebron combined for 28 UIL State Championships, many more state tournament or state meet appearances, a laundry list of all-state selections and an environment as competitive as any in the state.
As a way of paying homage to the past two years of district play, the Plano Star Courier will be running a retrospective series highlighting five of the best games played within 8-5Afor football, volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, baseball and softball.
Here's a look back on the highlights (in no order) of the past two years in 8-5A football.
Hebron defeats Allen, 35-28
Oct. 29, 2010
Allen, the longstanding heavyweight king of 8-5A, carried a district winning streak that dated back to 2005 prior to meeting a Hebron squad clawing for a playoff berth.
The Hawks strengthened that bid by shocking the Eagles, 35-28. More importantly, Hebron did so at Eagle Stadium, a venue where Allen hadn't lost at since 2008.
"It was definitely a memorable game for myself and our program," said Brian Brazil, Hebron head coach. "Looking back on it, the thing that sticks out to me the most is that it was the only loss Allen had in district the two years."
That lone blemish was assured following a fumble recovery by Hebron's Jamal Adams as the Eagles were marching inside the red zone with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter to scuttle a potential game-tying drive.
All evening long, the Hebron rushing attack proved a thorn in the side of a vaunted Eagles' defense. Damien Delaney's 171 rushing yards were proof enough, with no bigger run than a 37-yard scamper in the game's waning moments to ice the victory. The run capped an outing that featured four lead changes, with the Hawks finally gaining the edge after Kyle Aubuchon and J.T. Teague connected on a 28-yard strike with 6:08 left in the game.
Aubuchon, who ran for 97 yards and threw for 287 and three touchdowns, helped offset a vintage evening from Allen's Jonathan Williams, who raked in 228 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
"I guess it's pretty impressive to say we're the only team that played at Allen and never lost a game," Brazil said. "That's quite a feat."
Plano West defeats Plano East, 44-36
Sept. 30, 2011
You could say a new gold standard was set for the Plano East-Plano West rivalry this past season.
In what would be the first win of its kind in West's history, the Wolves fended off the Panthers for a 44-36 victory -- albeit after requiring four overtimes to do so.
"After the game, our rallying cry became eight quarters," said Mike Hughes, West head coach. "The kids kept battling and never quit and it just boiled down to somebody making a play in the end."
Riding the legs of Carlos Wiggins and Auston Anderson, the Wolves' potent rushing duo combined for 274 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the win. Sure enough, the two helped nudge West in front in the fourth overtime with a 20-yard rushing touchdown by Anderson that was followed up by a two-point conversion from Wiggins.
West's defense stood firm after the Panthers crept to within 5 yards of the end zone. Stuffing Nathan Meadors on third-and-goal, the Wolves came through one play later when a pass by Corey Wesley was broken up by Grant Cooper to seal the victory.
The Wolves rallied back, despite leading for just 67 seconds during regulation. The bulk of the game belonged to the Panthers, with Wesley hurling four touchdowns for 281 passing yards.
"If you bought a ticket, you got your money's worth," Hughes said.
Flower Mound defeats Flower Mound Marcus, 52-49
Oct. 1, 2010
The latest two chapters in the annual Mound Showdown proved worthwhile, with the 2010 installment of the city rivalry combining for 103 points and more than 1,100 yards of offense.
In the end though, it was Flower Mound's defense that got the last laugh in sealing a 52-49 win over Flower Mound Marcus at SMU's Ford Field.
The Jaguars received a staggering 495 passing yards and five touchdowns from Paul Millard, with Josh Brake hauling in 175 of said yardage to go along with two receiving scores. Hunter Lee complemented the two with 166 total yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 22-yard scamper for the go-ahead score.
"Paul was Paul," said Cody Vanderford, former Flower Mound coach, following the game. "I don't know of a better way to describe it. He's so composed and was the leader of this team. He came through with big plays in big games. And I thought the catch Josh made down the sideline on our last drive between two defenders was a heck of a play."
Marcus countered with 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Rufus Mason plus 149 rushing yards and a score from Dagan Newsome, helping the Marauders rally from a 17-point deficit to snag a 43-37 lead early in the fourth quarter.
That vaunted rushing attack disappeared on Marcus' potential game-winning drive with the Marauders, unable to find the answer as a trio of consecutive incompletions forced by the Flower Mound defense sealed the win.
"It was a big win because it was Marcus, but it was even a bigger win because it put us back in the district race," Vanderford said.
Allen defeats Plano East, 42-38
Oct. 6, 2011
Less than a week after its four-overtime loss to Plano West, Plano East found itself squared opposite an Allen squad fresh off being ranked No. 1 in the nation by Rivals.
On the national TV no less, with the game broadcasted live on ESPN2.
Plenty of primetime drama ensued, with the winless-in-district Panthers giving the nationally-ranked Eagles all they could handle in the 42-38 nail-biter.
"It wasn't one of our best games of the year," said Tom Westerberg, Allen head coach. "We had to battle back against a really good team and we had quite a few games like that last year."
The two teams traded leads three times and boasted three plays from scrimmage that exceeded 65 yards. The Panthers led at halftime, 17-7, and proceeded to trade scores with Allen for the bulk of the second half until the Eagles finally pulled ahead, 35-31, late in the third quarter.
Allen went 5-for-5 in second-half scoring drives, driving ahead at 42-38 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Williams. Eagles lineman Deandre Hill squashed the Panthers' bid at a game-winning drive with a sack on East's Corey Wesley as time drew to a close. Wesley's primetime debut included 399 passing yards and three touchdowns, with three receivers -- Dante Taylor, Tre Jones and Collin Shaw -- eclipsing the 100-yard plateau.
The Eagles were led by 173 receiving yards and two touchdowns from Andrew Rodriguez.
"We know we'll get a good game every time we play East and they played really well that night," Westerberg said.
Flower Mound Marcus defeats Hebron, 22-21
Nov. 5, 2010
The stakes were simple for Hebron in its regular-season finale: win and you're in.
Flower Mound Marcus, despite having a playoff spot already secured, had other ideas though, ending the Hawks' season in heartbreaking fashion, 22-21.
"I was just proud of our kids coming out here and competing," said Bryan Erwin, Marcus head coach, following the game. "Nobody really gave us a chance to come out here and beat these guys because they were fighting for their playoff lives. We just take a lot of pride in playing and respecting the game. We step in between the white lines with the lights on and we're going to give it everything we have."
The Marauders erased a 14-point deficit early in the second half, outscoring the Hawks, 22-7, the rest of the way. Rufus Mason led the way with 145 of his 214 rushing yards in the second half, including a late 6-yard touchdown run that pulled Marcus to within one point, 21-20.
Instead of opting for the tie, the Marauders went all in by handing the rock back to Mason, who converted the ensuing two-point conversion for the lead.
It was the first time Marcus had led all night, falling behind at 14-0 after a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Hebron's Damien Delaney. Kyle Aubuchon added 289 total yards and two touchdowns in the loss as the Hawks wound up on the outside of the playoff picture by virtue of a Plano Senior win that same night.
"We talk to our guys all year long about responding to the good things and the bad," Erwin said. "We're down 14-0 and got in a hole and we told them one play, one plus. We just said lets get in the huddle and do it one play at a time."
Lewisville defeats Plano West, 55-49 (9/24/10)
The Farmers opened the revamped District 8-5A in style, curtailing the then-unbeaten Wolves in this offensive onslaught. Lewisville preserved the win with a late fake punt converted by DeAndre Grimes, who accounted for 487 total yards and five touchdowns in what would be the Farmers' lone district win over the past two seasons.
Flower Mound Marcus defeats Plano West, 51-48 (10/7/11)
Just one week removed from a four-overtime win over Plano East, the Wolves were dealt four more overtimes in a nip-and-tuck clash with Marcus. West wasn't as fortunate this time around though, falling victim to 233 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Marcus Jeff Smiley while kicker Drew Hamrick finally fended off the gritty Wolves with a 34-yard field goal for the win after burying a 53-yarder to force overtime on the night when he was named Homecoming King.
Flower Mound Marcus defeats Flower Mound, 38-37 (9/30/11)
One year after being edged by the Jaguars, Marcus got its revenge in dramatic fashion. The Marauders tallied 454 rushing yards between Harvey Giddens and Jeff Smiley to rally and force overtime, where a blocked extra point by Marcus helped pave the way for a 9-yard Smiley touchdown and the ensuing PAT to seal the win.
Plano East defeats Plano Senior, 28-24 (10/28/11)
In a must-win scenario, the Panthers rallied from 17 points down at halftime to top the longstanding rival Wildcats. East's Dante Taylor totaled 214 yards and three touchdowns, including a 6-yard rushing score with 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter to keep the Panthers' playoff hopes afloat.
Flower Mound defeats Plano Senior, 61-52 (10/8/10)
The Jaguars and Wildcats combined for 113 points -- 41 in the second quarter -- and 985 yards of offense in this early October shootout. Flower Mound alum Paul Millard threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in victory -- just three yards fewer than Plano Senior's Connor Michelsen, who amassed 407 and four scores.
Justin Thomas and Kevin Hageland contributed to this story
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