FRISCO – The Prosper football team entered the 2019 campaign with high expectations, but many of those fell to the wayside after lopsided losses in district play to Jesuit and Allen.
However, the Eagles stayed the course and conjured a magical run through the postseason all the way to the Class 6A Region II finals against a stout Rockwall squad – but that would be the end of the road in their dream season.
Despite a red-hot start in which Prosper possessed an early 14-0 lead over the Yellow Jackets, the dynamic duo of sophomore quarterback Braedyn Locke and senior superstar wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba proved to be too much in a 59-42 victory over the Eagles.
“After the Jesuit and Allen games, they came to work every day to get better,” said Brandon Schmidt, Prosper head coach. “This is what can happen when you put your heart and mind into something. But there is only one team left standing each year as the state champion, so every other team is disappointed in the last game of the year. I’m still so proud of them, and they have raised the expectations for this football program.”
Smith-Njigba has wreaked havoc all season long on opponents and Friday night was no different against Prosper.
The Ohio State commit got Rockwall on the board with a 14-yard touchdown reception on the final play of the first quarter and found the end zone a whopping five more times when things were all said and done.
All in all, he ended yet another masterful performance on the gridiron with 11 catches for 218 yards and at least one touchdown in every quarter, as the Yellow Jackets captured a 21-14 advantage in the second stanza and never looked back.
“It’s very hard to game plan against him,” Schmidt said. “He’s special and is one of the best players in the nation. You put two guys on him and try and keep him from getting free, but they did a good job of moving him around to get him open.”
Prior to Rockwall’s 59-point scoring outburst, which came in basically just three quarters, the Eagles claimed control of things early with a nine-play, 67-yard drive to begin the game capped off by a 26-yard touchdown run from sophomore Tyler Bailey.
Then just three plays later, Prosper senior cornerback Jorden Miles picked off Locke and scampered 42 yards to the house to give Prosper a commanding 14-0 lead less than five minutes in.
But the Yellow Jackets came storming back with 21 unanswered points from Smith-Njigba before Prosper senior wide receiver Hayden Metcalf came through with one of the more impressive catches on the season with a one-handed grab for a 31-yard score.
“That’s just Hayden being him,” Schmidt said. “He’s a great receiver and has the best hands I’ve ever seen.”
The Metcalf touchdown tied things up at 21-21 late in the first half, but Rockwall quickly responded when wide receiver J.J. Williams corralled a 66-yard bomb to regain the lead just before the half.
Williams then did it again — this time from 68 yards out — on the very first play from scrimmage to begin the second half, as Rockwall would have an answer for each of Prosper’s big offensive plays from then on out.
That included a 9-yard touchdown catch by senior Cameron Harpole and another from Bailey from 76 yards out, as he finished his night with 153 total yards and two scores.
“Tyler is a special athlete,” Schmidt said. “If we can get him the ball in space then that is what he’s capable of right there.”
As one can expect in a shootout like this, the quarterback battle was fierce with Locke exploding for 448 yards through the air and six touchdowns, while junior quarterback Jackson Berry added 345 yards of his own and four scores.
Rockwall will now advance to take on Duncanville next week in the state semifinals.