Playoffs Round 2 – Lovejoy vs Ennis:
On Friday, I was excited to watch the Lovejoy Leopards take on the Ennis Lions because Lovejoy has a plethora of Texas targets on their roster. Specifically, I was looking forward to seeing 2025 four-star wide receiver Daylan McCutcheon and 2025 three-star tight end Bear Tenney for the first time. However, 2024 four-star linebacker Payton Pierce, who is committed to Ohio State, has always been one of my favorite players to watch in the state of Texas because of his throwback style of play at the position.
Against Ennis, all three players were able to find the end zone for the Leopards. With Texas commit 2024 four-star wide receiver Parker Livingstone being sidelined due to an injury, McCutcheon has had to shoulder much of the load in the passing game but has done so successfully. The junior wide receiver made a couple of impressive catches near the sideline and plucked a Hondo Franklin pass out of the air and raced to the end zone for a big first quarter touchdown.
Currently, in addition to an offer from the Longhorns, McCutcheon possesses an additional 26 scholarship offers from schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. The junior wide out has been on the national radar for some time now, and will look to prove his worth on Lovejoy’s road to a state title appearance.
Along with McCutcheon, Texas target Bear Tenney also found the end zone on a time-expiring catch heading into halftime. The 6’4.5″ tight end possesses a big frame for quarterbacks to throw to and has been the recipient of 35 scholarship offers from schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern California.
With the tandem of McCutcheon and Tenney, and the potential re-addition of Livingstone from injury, Lovejoy likely has the best receiving corp out of the remaining schools in the playoffs.
Ultimately, Lovejoy was able to put away Ennis without much of a fight in a 41-7 contest. Next weekend, the Leopards will take on Texas High in the third round of the Texas high school football playoffs.
Playoffs Round 1 – Lake Travis vs Vandegrift:
To open the playoffs, Vandegrift was in the driver’s seat of the Austin-area. After an undefeated regular season and the addition of the Adams brothers (Deuce & Eli), the Vipers were looking to start the playoffs with a bang in their attempt to march their way to another championship game appearance. However, the beauty (and tragedy) of the Texas high school football playoffs is that anything can happen.
Despite being the 21st-ranked team in the state, the Lake Travis Cavaliers have been underdogs for much of this season. This was no different heading into their round one matchup, as nobody (including myself) gave Lake Travis much of a chance against Vandegrift. Just too many things were going Vandegrift’s way all season.
In a gritty defensive slugfest, the team that was going to be able to win the field position battle was likely going to be the one that emerged victorious when the smoke cleared. And, fittingly, Friday’s matchup featured cool temperatures and a constant drizzle of rain that always seems to be present in the first round of the playoffs.
Against Vandegrift, Lake Travis senior running back Nico Hamilton was the star of the show, amassing 130 rushing yards on 28 carries. The Cavaliers running back has been a bright spot on the team’s offense all season, and has a handful of offers from schools such as Air Force and Navy to show for it.
In addition to Hamilton, the Lake Travis offensive line deserves a shoutout as well as the running game, led by left tackle Adrian Oratokhai and right guard Legend Cabello. Oratokhai, a 6’4″ senior with 10 scholarship offers from schools such as Houston and Tulane, has been a leader for the Cavaliers offensive line for a couple of seasons now. Furthermore, Cabello is a 6’4″ senior who is still looking for an opportunity at the collegiate level, and has been a leader on the varsity team – having started on the offensive line for three seasons now dating back to his sophomore season at Midland Legacy.
Along with Hamilton, Lake Travis wide receiver Kadyn Leon, who spent most of the season as the team’s starting quarterback, has been the embodiment of heart. When he was under center for the Cavaliers, you would never question his toughness – not being afraid to take a shot or two on a scamper attempt. However, Leon must have recognized that his athleticism is a real catalyst for the Cavaliers offense as he gave up QB1 duties to lead the team at receiver. In the first round playoff matchup, Leon tallied an outstanding 12 receptions for 172 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Ultimately, Lake Travis was able to bruise their way to a 13-10 playoff victory on a game-winning field goal with only a few seconds left in the contest.
The sad thing about the playoffs is that it is the last chance to see many great players put on their pads during their high school football careers. For Vandegrift, this means not being able to see 2024 three-star quarterback Deuce Adams or three-star wide receiver Miles Coleman lace them up ever again for the Vipers. Over the last couple of years, Coleman has truly been one of the brightest stars of high school football and he will continue his career at the University of North Texas. Moreover, Adams will also continue his playing career at Louisville. But, Deuce’s brother Eli, another dominant wide receiver for Vandegrift, has yet to announce what his future plans are.
For Lovejoy, I am hoping that Parker Livingstone is able to finish out his high school career on a positive note and make a comeback in the playoffs. Of course, the longer that Lovejoy remains in the playoffs, the better the odds.
Lastly, as I alluded to earlier, I love watching Payton Pierce play football. The Ohio State commit has been a leader at Lovejoy for a couple of seasons now, and is certainly a player that has a lot of potential at the collegiate level. The senior linebacker has a whopping 40 scholarship offers and will likely be shining under Saturday’s bright lights in no time.