5A Division II Region 2 Finals
Lone Star (12-1) VS Mansfield Legacy (11-2)—Sat., 2:00 PM @ SMU’s Ford Stadium
Once again, and for the first time since the Rangers’ historic run of 2015, Lone Star is in the fourth round of the UIL Playoffs. And just like the Rangers, the Mansfield Legacy Broncos are quite familiar with deep runs in the postseason.
In fact, the Broncos were four rounds deep just a year ago, before they ran into a state-bound Highland Park Scots team.
Mansfield Legacy is the best team the Lone Star Rangers have faced thus far. However, they have gone toe-to-toe with a Denton Ryan team still in the championship hunt, and every bit as good as the Broncos. But regular season? Bah, that’s ancient history!
There’s an old sports adage, spoken into cliché-land, that you never let a team’s best player beat you. It’s a simplistic look at sports in general, but if it didn’t at least bear some semblance of truth, it wouldn’t be said at all.
This has never been more true, perhaps, than when dealing with the Mansfield Legacy Broncos. I said it in the podcast, and I’ll say it again right now, Mansfield Legacy likely has the best one player of any team still in the playoffs.
The junior, considered the eighth-best safety in the state, and a player that has serious eyeballs from serious DI college recruits firmly attached to his 5’10” frame, also happens to be the team’s best offensive weapon too.
Since Week 5 of the regular season, Catalon has taken his talents to the quarterback position. He is quietly efficient passing the ball, connects in the air when he needs to, and is flat-out stupid-good when pressed to run.
But stopping him while he’s on offense, is really just half the challenge.
Catalon is such a game-changing defender that he is projected by exactly no one to be a QB at the next level; put a different way, if was NOT such a lockdown defender, he would likely be receiving more than his fair share of offers from major colleges to be a signal caller.
But the Rangers have played elite-level QBs, and aside from Spencer Sanders of Denton Ryan, they have left said matchups with a contribution to the win column. So it’s best that we delve in to how to face a player of Catalon’s talents when he is patrolling the middle of the field on defense.
It’s easy to employ a mindset that the best bet is to simply keep the ball away from Catalon. It’s a good idea too, but since he is essentially a super free-safety, it’s difficult to know where he’ll be on any given play.
Thus, I think the Rangers’ best bet to neutralize his effectiveness, is to stick to their solid game plan of establishing the run. However, like most excellent plans laid to paper, the ink tends to fly off the page when the game starts.
And Mansfield Legacy has a stupid-fast, extremely athletic defense in place. Their two key defensive tackles—Taurean Carter (SMU has offerend him a scholarship) and Enoch Jackson—are both over 250 pounds yet fast like they weigh 150.Linebacker is a position of strength too, as Demauryon Holmes and Trey Wormley (4.4 40) relish contact and are quick enough to track down even the running backs with the fleetest of feet.
Still, I like the odds of our Lone Star Rangers. Although they’ve had their share of slow starts this postseason, I think that they’re overall just a bad matchup for the Broncos. Look for the Rangers to keep on rolling and possibly punch their ticket to the State Semifinals for the first time since 2015.
The winner of this Regional Final will move on to twill play the winner of the Richland Rebels (11-2) and the undefeated Aledo Bearcats (13-0), in the UIL State Semifinals.
For more insight into the upcoming game between Lone Star and Mansfield Legacy, you can check out our latest podcast!