Jags end year with loss to Paris

Wildcats’ ground game too strong in 4A Division I area round

Mirror report

PARIS — In the end, much like in their first meeting in September, the Paris Wildcats and their overall team speed just proved to be a tough matchup for Heritage High School.

The Jaguars led by a touchdown at halftime thanks to a late scoring flurry. But the Wildcats pitched a second-half shutout and went on to win, 38-28, at Wildcat Stadium in the area round of the Class 4A Division I football playoffs to drop the curtain on the Jags’ 2020 season.

It’s the earliest playoff exit in school history for the Jags, who reached the region semis three times in a row from 2016-18 — their first three years of varsity existence — and advanced to the state quarterfinals last year.

The Jags finish at 9-3 on the year — but not before finishing as District 5-4A (I) champions, knocking off defending 4A Division I state runner-up Waco La Vega, and also notching an impressive win over Class 5A Mesquite Poteet on a last-minute booking.

Latray Miller and Cullen Stone each rushed for two touchdowns in their final high school football games. Miller carried the ball 23 times for 103 yards, while Stone was used sparingly — his only two touches went for scores.

Senior quarterback Daelin Rader ended his high school football career by completing 17 of 21 pass attempts for 218 yards, adding eight carries for 70 yards on the ground. Senior Carter Wilkerson caught 10 passes for 124 yards and classmate Haydon Wiginton caught six for 74 yards, but the HHS passing game produced no touchdowns and Rader was intercepted three times.

The Wildcats (8-4) advance to play district mate Melissa in the 4A Division I region semifinals. Melissa (11-1) beat Kennedale on Friday night, 43-17. Paris earlier this season had to forfeit a game to the Cardinals because of COVID-19.

Paris had defeated the Jags, 28-14, at MISD Multipurpose Stadium in September in non-district play. The Wildcats once again relied on their ground game to chew up both clock and yardage, rushing 59 times for 457 yards.

Zykius Jackson ran for 155 yards and two TDs, while Gi’taeus Young rushed for 112 yards and a score and Johquan Caldwell added a rushing touchdown. Quarterback Luke Hohenberger threw a TD pass to KD Washington and kicker Joe Ramirez was 5-of-5 on PATs and added a late 23-yard field goal.

The Jags took an early 6-0 lead on a Miller touchdown run, but Paris answered with 6:32 left in the opening quarter to nose ahead.

The Wildcats tacked on another TD before HHS came alive before halftime with two TD runs by Stone, then Paris scored with 40 seconds left to forge a 21-all tie. But the Jags moved ahead one last time, 28-21, on the final play of the first half on Miller’s 5-yard run.

The second half was all Paris as the Wildcats scored twice in the third quarter and then added a late Ramirez field goal to seal the outcome with 1:22 left.

The Jags graduate 27 seniors off their 2020 varsity roster and will be hard-hit by graduations in offensive skill positions. But some returning talent will be in place in 2021, including current juniors Greg Johnson, Ben Eskins, Conner Powell and Calvin Duggins; current sophomores Kaden Brown, Kasen Carpenter and SirLuke Tante; and current freshman Antonio Pride Jr.