Manvel High School has only had varsity football for a decade, yet the Mavericks have already played 33 playoff games.
So postseason experience won’t be an issue when Manvel takes on Highland Park in the Class 5A Division I state championship game on Friday at AT&T Stadium.
The Mavericks (14-0) advanced to the title game with a 35-10 thumping of Angleton last week in the Region III final. That victory was a breakthrough of sorts for Manvel, which had been eliminated in the fourth round in each of the previous four seasons — three times to Katy in Class 6A, and last year’s upset loss to Temple, which HP beat the following week.
So this year’s matchup is what the Mavericks hoped for a year ago. They previously reached the 4A Division I title game in 2011, falling to powerhouse Aledo 49-28.
Manvel, located in the southwestern suburbs of Houston in Alvin ISD, is one of several schools forced to reschedule early-season games in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Mavericks cancelled one game, didn’t open their campaign until Sept. 15, and had to forego their bye week.
However, such obstacles obviously haven’t affected the squad, which will test the Scots (14-1) with size and speed, along with playmakers and major college recruits on both sides of scrimmage.
Kason Martin, the son of Manvel head coach Kirk Martin, has thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 34 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. He signed with the University of North Texas on Wednesday.
The Mavericks have a handful of players with at least 10 touchdowns either rushing or receiving, such as Jalen Preston (Texas A&M), Kam Scott (Missouri), Deneric Prince (Texas A&M), Ladarius Owens, Garrison Johnson, and Warren Laster.
As with HP, the high-powered Manvel offense tends to grab the headlines. But the defense also has been superb, led by linebacker DePriest Taylor and a hard-hitting secondary that includes top recruits Brian Johnson (Texas A&M) and Trent Gordon (Penn State).
It will be the first-ever meeting between two perennial powers, with the ultimate prize in Texas high school football on the line.