Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Rating playoff classics from last five years can be difficult but 10 stand above the rest
Over the last five seasons, dozens of high school football playoff games have had unforgettable finishes. So it’s not easy to come up with a top 10.
Ranking those top-10 finishes is even more difficult. So to be as fair as possible, I decided to come up with a formula that would take into account things such as the magnitude of the game, the point swing over the final two minutes and the number of times fans slapped their foreheads, shook their heads and could’ve drawn personal fouls for unnecessary language.
OK, I’m kidding. Like most rankings, this one won’t find 100 percent agreement. But all of these games are unforgettable, and with less than two minutes left, the best was yet to come.
2007 5A Division II area round
44 (4 OT)
Four overtimes makes any game a classic, and Hebron’s defense made the ending a happy one for the Hawks. DeSoto had a first-and-goal in the final overtime, but Hebron stuffed three straight runs, and linebacker Alex Norman batted down Cyrus Gray’s fourth-down pass.
2008 3A Division I semifinal
Prosper quarterback Hunter Nix scored on a 6-yard run in the second overtime and then made a game-winning dive into the end zone for a two-point conversion. Nix stretched out over a tackler and barely got the ball past the goal line to put Prosper in the title game, which it won the following week.
2010 4A Division II semifinal
One year after finishing 0-10, Poteet was a few plays from knocking off defending champion Aledo and star running back Johnathan Gray. Poteet pulled to within two points on Beau Nowell’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Paul Kamanda with 1:57 left, but Connor Bradham broke up a two-point conversion pass.
2008 5A Division I semifinal
Round Rock Stony Point
With a minute left, Stony Point led by four and had piled up twice as much yardage as Allen. But Eagles backup quarterback Tucker Carter, making his third start after replacing the injured Matt Brown, lofted a pass into the end zone and Dakarai Pecikonis caught it for the winning 21-yard touchdown with 39 seconds left. Allen won the state title a week later.
2007 2A Division I final
This small-school classic featured a big-time catch, and it was the game-winner in overtime. Quarterback Austin Brooks lofted a pass and Quincy Roberts stretched out and caught it while diving into the end zone. The 23-yard touchdown gave Farmersville its first state title.
2009 5A Division I semifinal
34 (2 OT)
Allen forced overtime when Matt Brown threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Chase Gambill on the final play of regulation, but Carroll denied the Eagles a magical ending in front of 40,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium. Allen tried to win with a two-point conversion, but Brown’s run was stopped short by Carroll safety Justin Agnew.
2010 5A Division II semifinal
Leading 27-21 with 25 seconds left, Longview only needed to get a punt off. But defensive lineman Dan Kottman started a hairpin turn of emotion by blocking it. Guyer had only 17 seconds and no timeouts, but on the first play after the punt block, J.W. Walsh threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Quint Gardener. Guyer took its first lead of the game with the point-after kick.
2009 5A Division I final
Trinity rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to win the first Texas 5A title game to go to overtime. After Westlake ended its overtime possession with a field goal, Trinity ended the game with a play rarely seen by the bull-rushing Trojans. Willie Hubbard threw a fade pass to star running back/receiver Brandon Carter, who battled a defender, juggled the ball, and then pinned it against his chest as his back landed in the end zone.
2011 5A Division I semifinal
Carroll trailed by 10 points with less than two minutes remaining but then scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and scored again in a span of 21 seconds. Whether the onside kick went the necessary 10 yards is still talked about, as is quarterback Kenny Hill’s game-winning touchdown. He ran 35 yards past Skyline defenders — and a gray fox that ran on the field at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
2010 5A Division I regional final
You can make an argument for half of the top 10 to be at the top, so why is this No. 1? Both teams were undefeated and Dragon Stadium was overflowing with fans, creating a dramatic tension all night, and Trinity took its first lead on the final play. Coppell scored on each of its eight possessions — four touchdowns and four field goals — but Trinity drove to the 2-yard line with three seconds left. Running back Tevin Williams then scored on a sweep, ending one of the best high school games ever.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon
10 more fabulous finishes
Round and result
4A Div. II final: Lake Travis 36, Highland Park 34
Dropped pass cost HP chance on its final drive
5A Div. I semifinal: Euless Trinity 30, Plano 27 (2 OT)
Trinity’s Pery Negreiros won it with a 23-yard FG
5A Div. I regional semi: Euless Trinity 21, Arl. Bowie 14
Trinity forced fumble on Bowie’s final drive
5A Div. II area: Wylie 31, Hebron 28 (OT)
Hebron tied score late in fourth, but missed FG in OT
4A Div. II area: Frisco Liberty 43, Lincoln 42 (2 OT)
RB Jay Ajayi scored game-winning two-point conversion
5A Div. I area: Skyline 41, DeSoto 36
Mike Davis caught four TD passes, made big third-down catch late
4A Div. I semi: Denton Ryan 25, Wylie 20
Wylie erased big deficit but fumbled at Ryan 1-yard line late
4A Div. II bidistrict: Frisco 25, Wylie East 24
RB Carlos Harris caught game-winning two-point conversion pass
5A Div. II area: Denton Guyer 41, Hebron 35 (2 OT)
Guyer’s defense stuffed Hebron in second OT
5A Div. I area: Euless Trinity 28, Allen 21
Trinity stopped Allen on fourth-and-goal in final minutes