Manvel advances to region semifinals with win over New Caney

MANVEL — For the New Caney Eagles, it was a historic trip to the post-season. The Eagles (9-3) produced the most successful year in school history by claiming a share of the District 21-5A championship and winning their first-ever playoff game.

However, their second game in the playoffs wasn't quite as successful after running into No. 3 state-ranked Manvel who is now 12-0 on the season after a 69-21 victory over the Eagles to end their season.

For the Mavericks, it was their seventh straight time they have advanced to a region semifinal contest and their reward will be facing the defending Class 5A Div. II state champion and No. 9 state-ranked Cedar Park Timberwolves. Cedar Park will put their 27-game win streak on the line when they face the Mavericks.

"Great, great team," Manvel coach Kirk Martin said. "They haven't lost a game in two years, so we've certainly got our work cut out for us. They'll be picked to win the game, so we're going in as an underdog, and it'll be a great challenge for our kids."

One thing that will be in Manvel's favor and that is they have been competing with the big boys in 6A over the past previous four years and there is a difference in competition where Manvel has a sterling record themselves at 58-8.

While some see the Mavericks as an underdog, Cedar Park (12-0) may not be fully prepared for the firepower and speed that Manvel will bring to the game on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Texas A&M's Kyle Field at 2:00 p.m.

Another important factor is that Manvel has already faced a defending state champion this season and they came away with a win over the North Shore Mustangs (11-1) who captured the 6A Div. I state title in 2015.

North Shore and Katy (10-2), who is the other 6A state title holder from 2015 will battle it out on Friday, Nov. 25 at NRG Stadium at 12 noon for the right to advance to the region finals.

So far in the playoffs, the Mavericks haven't received any resistance as they have rolled over Houston Austin 78-6 and now New Caney 69-21 and the scores for both games could have been even more.

"I thought we played hard, but we were just a little bit overwhelmed," New Caney coach Brady Pennington said. "They've really got a special football team, and we were just a little bit out-gunned tonight.

I was, once again, very proud of our effort. I thought our kids played hard. They were just a little bit faster than us, a little bit stronger than us, and a lot of credit goes to them."

The Mavericks (12-0) didn't get on the scoreboard until the 6:29 mark of the first quarter. But once quarterback Kason Martin found Kam Scott open for a 31-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 lead, the offensive door opened.

Manvel finished the first quarter with a 21-7 lead and added and 27 more points in the second quarter to take a commanding 48-14 lead into the dressing room at intermission.

The Mavericks added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter before pulling their starters.

Martin led the Manvel offense with 22-of-32 passing for 417 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Six different receivers caught touchdown passes including Keylon Stokes, who finished with five receptions for 142 yards and two scores. The Tulsa commit also scored on touchdown runs of 51 and 16 yards.

Scott, Jalen Preston, Michael Tolds, Arik Bennett and Warren Laster all caught touchdown passes from Martin, and Ladarius Owens raced 33 yards to the pay station in the fourth quarter to cap the Mavericks' scoring.

"Minus the two interceptions, I thought our offense played really incredible," Martin said. "They'll fight harder for you if they think they're going to get in the game, and to spread the ball around and to have so many guys with touches is incredible, so I'm happy about that."

Manvel is now preparing to meet Cedar Park in a game that certainly has state champion implications. Martin will have his gridiron warriors ready to meet the challenge as they play each game one at a time in hopes of advancing to claim a first-ever state football championship.