In this most unusual of seasons, Rowlett’s playoff fate was determined with three games still left on the schedule.
One might wonder how the Eagles, who were coming off only their first loss of the season, might react with having nothing on the line.
That question will likely never be answered, even by the team itself, but what was clear is that Naaman Forest has a playoff berth of its own in its sights and it played like it on Thursday with a 30-7 victory over Rowlett on Thursday.
The Rangers (4-2, 4-1 in 9-6A) set the tone from the start, forcing the first of six Eagle turnovers, which led to a field goal by Francisco Castillo to take a 3-0 lead.
Naaman Forest kept the pressure on, as Ja’Hari Lee scored on a short touchdown run and Austin Valdez hooked up with Kingsley Bennett on a 40-yard scoring strike to open a 17-0 first-quarter lead.
The Rangers struck with another big play early in the second quarter, as Valdez found Devean Deal on a 58-yard touchdown pass to push the advantage to 23-0 and it would stay that way until halftime.
Naaman Forest tacked on another touchdown in the third quarter when Valdez kept it himself on a 3-yard scoring run to make it 30-0.
Rowlett (3-2, 3-2) avoided the shutout when Sebastian Ovalle threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Hector Soto in the waning seconds, but that was all the Ranger defense would allow.
Wylie (2-5, 2-3) saw its first win of the season over Rowlett punch its ticket to the playoffs, but wanted to prove that was no fluke.
The Pirates showed that on Friday in a wild back-and-forth affair against Garland (3-3, 2-3), as Marcus McElroy found Brady Hogan-Lyall on a 36-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left to propel them to a 52-49 victory at Williams Stadium.
McElroy’s return to the lineup has keyed Wylie’s surge and he was an efficient 7-of-11 for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He also teamed with Darrick McClendon for a stout rushing attack, McClendon had 23 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown and McElroy tallied 19 attempts for 153 yards and three scores.
That helped offset a big night for Garland quarterback Cergio Perez, who threw for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
Jordan Hudson was the primary target, with 13 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns, Ellis Rogers and Charles Allen added scoring grabs and Jayshon Powers found the end zone twice on the ground.
Sachse, who has already clinched a playoff berth, returns to the field this week with a Friday matinee at Wylie on Friday.
The other two playoff berths out of 9-6A will be decided later this week, as well.
Naaman Forest, the top seed out of its pod, will meet North Garland at 2 p.m. Friday at Williams Stadium with one spot on the line. Lakeview the second seed in is pod, meets third-seeded Garland at 2 p.m. Saturday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium to determine the other berth.