Playoff time as Jags host Castleberry
No. 6-ranked HHS well-rested, won't have to travel for bi-district contest
With a welcomed week off to rest and recuperate, the Class 4A Division I No. 6-ranked Heritage High School football team won’t even have to hop on a bus other than a short ride to MISD Multipurpose Stadium on game day.
The District 5-4A (I) champion Jags will get one more home game in a remarkable 2020 season against River Oaks Castleberry on Thursday night in the bi-district round of the 4A Division I playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Castleberry (3-5) finished as the No. 4 seed in District 6-4A (I) after losing two district games to COVID-19 cancellations. The Lions are coming off a 52-6 loss to Kennedale — a team HHS might see in the third round.
A win by the Jags could set up a rematch against the Paris Wildcats, who beat the Jags on Sept. 18 at MISD, 28-14.
Paris, which travels to Dallas Lincoln for its playoff game on Thursday, likely would have had a higher seed if not for a pair of COVID-related district forfeits against Anna and No. 4 Melissa. The Wildcats were ranked No. 7 last week but dropped out of the Dave Campbell’s Texas Football poll after a 28-7 loss on Friday to No. 1 Argyle.
HHS last season had a team-record four regular-season losses, one of which was a forfeit for using an ineligible player. But the Jags caught fire in the postseason and made it to the state quarterfinals, the deepest advance in school history, losing to eventual state champion Carthage.
Saturday’s rescheduled game against Brownwood was canceled after Brownwood’s loss to No. 9 Waco La Vega set the final district standings in stone, rendering the contest meaningless. So the Jags (8-2) won’t be playing an extremely-rare 11th regular-season football game, which had been granted by a University Interscholastic League waiver.
Even without an extra game, the Jags are putting up some solid numbers both on offense and defense. Senior running back Latray Miller has 110 carries for 753 yards and a team-high 15 touchdowns; and senior quarterback Daelin Rader has completed 96 of 159 passes for 1,134 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 591 yards and nine scores. Cullen Stone, another senior, has 545 rushing yards and seven TDs on the year.
Seniors Haydon Wiginton and Carter Wilkerson each has four receiving TDs, with Wiginton leading the way with 53 catches for 627 yards and Wilkerson adding 31 catches for 357 yards.
One statistic that leaps off the page is the lack of turnovers, a big part of HHS’ success. The Jags have committed only eight all season — six interceptions and two lost fumbles — compared with 17 takeaways by the Jags’ defense.
Senior Noah Gray leads the team with 89 total tackles, followed by junior Greg Johnson with 79 and sophomore Kaden Brown with 67. Senior D’Angelo Freeman tops the team with four sacks and five total tackles for losses.
The kicking game has been strong for the Jags as well, with junior Calvin Duggins accounting for three field goals with a long of 42 yards and going 38-of-39 on extra-point tries. Duggins also averages 40.7 yards per punt with a long of 67 yards this season.