The second annual Tom Landry Classic was held September 14-15 at Mesquite's Memorial Stadium and featured some of the best teams in the state. Not only that, fans were able to watch several blue chippers and saw two great gamnes go down to the wire.
Friday night, N. Mesquite thought it had won a very hard fought contest over Allen when QB Chris Beane hit Jeff Woody with a 56 yard TD pass with 0:58 left. However, Allen promptly used its wing-T attack to move 76 yards in 7 plays as QB Kyle Westerberg hit Doug Bina with a 40 yard TD pass with only 0:13 to go to propel Allen to a thrilling 19-16 victory. The first 47 minutes of the game proved to be a defensive struggle, as both teams combined for only 392 yards with 96 alone coming on the two pass plays.
Allen's Neale Tweedie who has committed to Texas. Tweedie played OT and late in the game played some DE. Having seen quite a bit of film on him (and knowing how good he is) and not having seen some of the other players in the game, I did not focus very much on him.
N. Mesquite's Aaron Harris is one of the top rated LBs in state-maybe even the LB. I have seen Harris play in several 7 on 7 tournaments but this was the first time that I had seen him in a game situation. He plays LLB in N. Mesquite's 5-2 scheme and they faced Allen's Wing-T offense. The item that struck me the most about Harris was that his first step was almost always toward the play. As a result, he was around the ball at the conclusion of the play approximately 80% of the time. This was due to two things. First, he was rapidly able to key someone either in the OL or in the backfield. Second, it was obvious that his instincts took over on a number of plays-he just starting running in a certain direction even before the ball started going that way. Harris is very aggressive. He literally looks like that he is running downhill to the play. On some of his gambles, if a gap opened between the OG and OT, he shot through it. If he though a play was going outside he ran behind the defensive linemen to get to the corner before the ball carrier. He is also very emotional, constantly getting in people faces to motivate them. In addition, he is the quarterback of the defense. Finally, he is a quite a hitter and leads very well with his shoulder.
Harris did get too aggressive at times and overran a few plays. The DL did not always do a good job of keeping him free from blockers. Allen attempted to cut block him quite a bit and he wasn't always successful at avoiding the blocks. Also, he did not always shed larger blockers that got to him. Nonetheless, Harris is probably as good or better than any LB in this class. I look forward to seeing him again on Oct. 27 when N. Mesquite faces archrival Mesquite.
N. Mesquite OT Jacob Pittman (6-7, 315) is an OT with impressive size. He is an unknown to most observers since he did not play from 7th to 10th grades because of back problems. He came out last year and was a reserve on the varsity. He played the entire 2nd half at RT. I was surprised at how low he was able to stay when he came out of his stance on running plays although I had been told he has very good flexibility for a big man. He didn't get to pass block very much but when he did he moved his feet well. Since he has seen limited playing time in his career, he may improve exponentially with experience.
In the first game Saturday, WRs Broderic Jones and Vincent Marshall combined for 332 receiving yards and 3 TDs as Ennis avenged last year's 27-19 loss with an impressive 31-14 victory. QB Graham Harrell (son of head coach Sam Harrell) had 250 yards passing alone in the first half as Ennis took a 13-7 lead. The Lions broke the game open in the 3rd qtr with a 15 yard pass to Alberto Martinez and an 11 yard by Harrell. Ennis was helped by numerous Poteet mistakes including 13 penalties, two fumbles, and a blocked punt.
Ennis WR Broderic Jones continues to pile up the statistics. Jones had 10 catches for 232 yards and 2 TDs. The touchdowns included a 40 yard pass in the 2nd qtr and a 6 yard fade route in the fourth. Poteet played off Jones and he continually made them pay for it by taking short passes and turning them into big gains. On Ennis' last possession of the first half, he gained about 60 yards on three passes and took Ennis down to the three yard line before the Lions missed a field goal. Oh, I did I mention that Jones also blocked a punt in the third quarter to set up another Ennis TD and serves as the safety on the kickoff coverage team? On the season, Jones has 15 catches for 290 yards and 4 TDs and has become a comforting security blanket for new sophomore QB Graham Harrell.
Fellow Ennis WR Vincent Marshall is no slouch himself. He caught 7 passes for 95 yards including a 79 yard TD. He lacks some of Jones' size and run after the catch ability. Other than that, he has very good hands, the ability to run good routes, great speed, and is a quality return man.
When I saw Ennis QB Graham Harrell in a scrimmage against Highland Park in August, he looked like a young QB making his first start. However, he has improved significantly since that first outing. Like most young QBs he has a tendency to lock in on one target (namely Jones, but you would too). Being the son of Head Coach Sam Harrell, he has learned the offense and spreads the ball around well. His mechanics are very good. He can throw both the short and long ball with good accuracy. In fact, he is a more accurate passer than last year's QB Tate Wallis (who signed with SMU). However, Wallis almost served as a FB and is a much more effective runner. This is a dimension that Ennis' offense may miss this year; if Graham learns to read defenses and get rid of the ball quickly against pressure, then the offense will change but shouldn't miss a beat.
I first saw Poteet QB Pat Crumpton two years ago in the playoffs when Poteet ran the wishbone. Last year, I saw him again in a wing-T option attack. Against Ennis, Poteet ran a pro-style attack which was very different than what I had seen them run in the past. Crumpton remains very good at running the option and has improved his accuracy passing the football. However, Crumpton is more highly regarded at this point in time as a baseball prospect.
In the finale, Mesquite physically dominated in the first half against Lewisville, running up a 21-0 halftime lead and allowing Lewisville just two first downs. However, Lewisville turned the tables in the 2nd half by holding the Skeeters to NO first downs and sending the game into overtime. Even so, Lewisville fumbled on its only possession and QB Mark Hodges threw a 17 yard TD pass to Chris Jackson for the win.
Marco Martin has been playing DT and DE during Mesquite's 3-0 start. However, during an interview today, noted that he may move to LB (where he practiced during the spring) and RB (where he has played during the past two years). I saw the first half of the Mesquite/Lewisville game and saw why Marco is ranked by many as the top recruit in the state. On the first three plays of the game, he tackled the QB just after a handoff, blew through the line and tackled a RB for a loss, and then pressured the Lewisville QB into an incomplete pass on 3rd and long. His quickness off the ball was amazing for someone who is over 300 lbs., and during the first half Lewisville simply could not block him. He did not have to use much technique either as he just shot through gaps between the guard and tackle or just shoved an OL backwards for 3 or 4 yards. He was THE physically dominant player in the game and received plenty of help from NT Kurk Francis, no slouch himself at 290 lbs.
WR/DB Krys Williams had 3 catches for 69 yards in the victory over Lewisville. He had a nice catch on a crossing pattern in the 2nd qtr as he turned up the field after the reception and gained another 20 yards. Mesquite runs the wishbone and Williams lines up at SE on offense and at CB on defense. He displayed good ability to run after the catch and good tackling skills.
QB Mark Hodges is 6-4, 200 lbs and looks more like a dropback passer than a wishbone QB. However, he runs the option very well for a guy his size (10 carries for 50 yards), has really good mobility, and provides a nice touch on the deep ball. His 45 yard TD pass to Brandon Douglas was a thing of beauty as he dropped it right over Douglas' shoulder. Overall, he was 8 of 16 for 138 yards and 2 TDs. He is going to be someone to watch as the season progresses, and may be a much bigger name in December than at present.