High School Football

Kingwood making history after playoff win

Kingwood is moving on to the Regional Semifinals. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

That was the last time Barry Campbell, the then-Fort Bend Clements offensive coordinator, strolled the sidelines during a regional semifinal game as a coach.

Fort Bend Clements beat Stratford 31-27 that season and went on to the quarterfinals to fall to Katy.

Campbell, who eventually moved on to take his first head coaching job at Kingwood in 2012, wanted to bring that same success to the Mustangs.

With a 38-30 victory against Clear Lake on Saturday inside NRG Stadium, Campbell got Kingwood back to a place it hadn’t been in 27 years – playing December football.

“Once you reach a goal it’s time to start reaching for the next one,” Campbell said. “We finally got to a point where we wanted to play on Thanksgiving, we got to do it. We wanted to play in December and here we are. We’re going to be playing in December.

“Now we want to win in December. That’s the next goal.”

Kingwood’s last appearance in the regional semifinals came in 1990 under former coach Mike Unger. The Mustangs defeated Alief Elsik 24-12 in the third round that year and didn’t fall out of the playoffs until losing to Converse Judson in the state semifinals.

To get to this point, Kingwood had to knock off a team on its own memorable playoff run.

Clear Lake prior to this season hadn’t been to the playoffs or won a playoff game since 2008. Both of those streaks were snapped last week with a win against George Ranch in the bi-district round.

Kingwood led 14-10 heading into the second half. The third quarter is where the Falcons found their spark off a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Preston Schaulin.

That paired with a 50-yard touchdown run by quarterback Shae Suiaunoa less than a minute earlier provided a 13-point swing for the Falcons. Once trailing 14-10, Clear Lake was suddenly leading 23-14.

“That really changed the momentum of the game,” Campbell said about the blocked punt. “It was still back and forth at that point but when they got that that’s when they really pulled ahead and made it more than a one-score game.”

Kingwood quarterback Matt Slayton – who finished 10 of 19 for 104 yards, a touchdown and also rushed 15 times for 103 yards and two scores – would get them back in striking distance.

Slayton hit Nolan Powell for a 23-yard touchdown, making it 23-21 with five minutes left in the third.

Suiaunoa made it 30-21 at the end of the third quarter with his second and final rushing score of the game. Suiaunoa finished 12 of 25 for 147 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown and rushed for 111 yards and two scores on 17 carries.

In the fourth quarter it was all Kingwood.

An Aaron Finch one-yard rush, Connal Fisher 37-yard field goal and 25-yard touchdown run by Blake Parr sealed the victory for the Mustangs. Parr’s score came with 1:30 left in the game.

“I don’t know if there is really one thing you can say this is why we won the game,” Campbell said. “Both teams made great plays. We just made one more play than they did. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”

Since falling to Summer Creek 34-7 on October 27, Kingwood has won four-straight games. In each of those, Kingwood either trailed or had just a one-touchdown lead at halftime.

Just like the Mustangs have during this run, they have either held on or come back to win and keep its playoff run alive.

“When you go through the season you’ve got a small amount of time to either dwell on the losses or celebrate the victories,” Campbell said. “Right now we’re letting our emotions go and it’s enjoyable to celebrate these victories.”

Kingwood will face Langham Creek on Saturday at Noon at TDECU Stadium in the regional semifinals.

This is the first time Kingwood has faced a team from Cy-Fair ISD in the playoffs since taking on Cy-Fair in 1987.

“We got to watch them Friday night when they played Katy Taylor,” Campbell said. “They’re going to be spread out. Offensively they scored a lot of points over the course of the season. They’ve got guys that can play anywhere. So it’s going to be a big test for our kids.”

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TOP LANDING SPOTS FOR 3 TEXANS

3 players the Texans must trade before the deadline

Trading Mercilus would be a big win from a cap perspective. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Strapped for cash and no picks within the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, the Houston Texans should consider having a fire sales ahead of the NFL trade deadline. With the team going nowhere and the uncertainty of the future, J.J. Watt has dominated the rumor mill with the Texans doing the unthinkable of departing from their franchise star.

But despite sitting at 1-6 on the season, the idea of trading Watt has become less probable following Aaron Wilson's appearance on Locked On Texans. During the interview, Wilson — Texans beat reporter for the Houston Chronicle — said it would be hard for ownership to sell the idea of moving on from Watt seven months after the untimely departure of DeAndre Hopkins.

So with the Texans holding on to their future Hall of Famer, that should not hinder the organization from exploring trade options with the other 52 men on the roster not named Deshaun Watson.

The Texans are in desperate need of a rebuild to repair the destruction caused by former head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien. Houston has several tradeable assets on their roster — some of which a contender may overcompensate for in hopes of obtaining the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February.

To get a jumpstart on what could be a two-year rebuilding project, here are three players the Texans should consider moving ahead of the Nov. 3 trade deadline.

Whitney Mercilus

If the Texans elect not to move on from Watt, the organization should have a 180 approach to Whitney Mercilus. The 30-year-old outside linebacker is scheduled to make a projected $35.5 million over the next three seasons, and his on-field production does not match the big payday coming from the Texans.

Prior to his massive $54 million contract extension awarded last December, Mercilus was on a roll in 2019. He recorded 7.5 sacks — five coming within the first four weeks of the season — to go along with 48 total tackles and four forced fumbles. Seven weeks into the 2020 season, Mercilus is nowhere close to matching his 2019 output with only 3.0 sacks, 14 total tackles and no forced fumbles.

But despite his decline as of late, multiple teams around the league can use Mercilus' services to enhance their pass rush. The Green Bay Packers and the Tennessee Titans are two championship-contending teams who desperately need to upgrade their front seven in their attempt to represent their respective conference in Super Bowl LV. The Packers are dead last in quarterback pressures, and Jadeveon Clowney is far from the disruptive force the Titans expected.

Mercilus' arrival to any of the two teams may not be a bona fide game-changer, but an upgrade nevertheless. Perhaps a change of scenery could be the key to unlocking the Mercilus who logged a career-best 12 sacks in 2015.

The Seahawks could also use the talents of Mercilus to enhance their linebacking corps, but their recent trade to acquire DT Carlos Dunlay could leave Seattle short on their trade offer to Houston.

Best trade partner: Titans

Duke Johnson

The Houston Texans' run game has been nonexistent throughout the season, and it's time for the organization to experiment with a younger prospect — preferably Scottie Phillips — during the second half of the season.

While it would be nice if the Texans could find a trade partner for David Johnson, no team would be willing to take on the near $8 million base salary he is due next season for his lack of production. Which leaves the better half of the Johnson Brothers up for grabs in Duke Johnson.

Duke has experienced a significant decrease in his touches when compared to last season and could be more beneficial to a playoff team seeking help in their backfield.

The Chicago Bears are the one team where Duke's talents could be beneficial and properly utilized. Chicago lost their Pro-Bowl running back Tarik Cohen for the season due to a torn ACL and has since struggled in the run game. David Montgomery has done a moderate job filling in for the injured Cohen, but the second-year halfback has yet to prove himself as an every-down back.

Duke's skill set as a pass-catcher coming out of the backfield is the most suitable attribute he would be able to provide to the Bears. Cohen is one of the most dynamic dual-threat halfbacks, and Duke would be able to give the Bears' offense a sense of normalcy in his absence.

The New England Patriots may explore the market to enhance their backfield. But one can imagine that Bill Belichick is more interested in adding a receiver in an attempt to salvage the remainder of their season.

Best trade partner: Bears

Will Fuller

Next to Watt, Will Fuller has been the second most discussed Texan in the rumor mill. Fuller could survive the trade deadline and become a foundational piece to the Texans' rebuilding project, but Houston may not be willing to tie long-term money into the Notre Dame product given his injury history.

Several teams around the league have their eyes set on a potential deal for Fuller, but none more so the Packers.

Green Bay is seeking a receiver who they can pair alongside Pro-Bowler Davante Adams. A potential deal for Fuller would give the Packers a quality second-tear receiver, while reprising his role as a team's No. 2 option — similar to his early days playing alongside Hopkins.

Fuller would also be a tremendous upgrade to the Patriots. New England does not have any quality receivers on their roster, and their depth has become more vulnerable after the team placed Julian Edelman on IR following knee surgery.

While the Patriots are in dire need to add a receiver, Belichick may hesitate from giving up too many assets — especially draft picks — that could be valuable to their own rebuilding process should the Cam Newton experiment fail. While on pace for a career-year, the Texans should look to cash-in on Fuller while his trade stock is at an all-time high.

Best trade partner: Packers

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

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