HS Football: The Woodlands clinches playoff spot
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Woodlands came into Friday’s game needing a win to clinch the final playoff spot in District 15-6A. After a bit of a slow start, the Highlanders put away Klein Forest 38-21 to return to the playoffs for the 24th-straight season.
Neither team really started the game with any urgency, even with what was at stake going into the game. Jobarre Reed’s Ezekiel Elliott-like hurdle on a first-down run early in the first quarter was the only notable action of the game’s opening quarter. After the punt-filled quarter, the Highlanders would get things rolling in the second.
The Woodlands kicker Fabrizio Pinton opened the scoring 47 seconds into the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal. Both defenses got back to getting stops until 4:17 in the second quarter when Ben Mills broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 26-yard touchdown run. Mills broke open the game with less than a minute remaining in the first half. The senior’s pair of 20-plus-yard rushing TDs sent the Highlanders into the locker room with a 17-0 lead at halftime.
The Woodlands would win the battle in terms of total offense, but when it came to big plays, Klein Forest’s Kendrick Bradley provided a spark on a few occasions throughout the night. The sophomore running back torched the Highlanders for 82 yards on his way to finally getting the Golden Eagles on the board. He would later do it again in the fourth quarter, this time going goal line to goal line for a 99-yard rushing TD.
The only passing touchdown of Friday’s game came after Bradley’s first TD. The Woodlands wide receiver Connor Stockerl got behind the Klein Forest defense on a post route and QB Ben Mills hit him in stride for the 36-yard TD. Mills would also earn the hat trick with his third rushing TD of the game to close out the scoring in quarter three.
Despite another strong performance from Mills on the ground, the star of the night was senior Highlanders running back, Aaron Shaw. Filling in for an injured Jobarre Reed, Shaw quickly became a problem for the Klein Forest defense. Shaw took advantage of the opportunity and finished the night with 108 yards rushing and a 22-yard rushing TD.
Mills, who was rested in the fourth quarter, finished his night with 55 rushing yards and three rush TDs and added another 43 yards and a TD through the air.
The Woodlands finished their district campaign at 5-3, good enough to clinch the fourth place spot in District 15-6A. The Highlanders will be paying attention to Saturday’s game between Spring and MacArthur to determine who their first-round opponent from District 16-6A will be.