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Mac Generals stomp Aldine Mustangs 48-6

In the 2nd quarter, Mac Running Back DeMarcus Singletary carries the ball for a 35 yard rushing TD, taking a handoff from the QB Darius Hicks.

The MacArthur Generals varsity football team took a large step toward redeeming their reputation last Saturday, Oct. 2 at Thorne Stadium, defeating the Aldine Mustangs 48-6.

After a 24-10 victory in the first game of the season, the Generals have struggled with their offense, and have not scored any points in the last 2 games. They lost to Nimitz on Friday, Sept. 24 with a score of 3-0. The game had ended in a 0-0 tie, but the Cougars managed to win the game in OT with a field goal.

In this week’s game, the General offense came alive, with daring plays well executed. In the 3rd quarter QB #5 Darius Hicks completed a 74 yard pass to #1 Kendrik Dennis for a TD that brought the score to 41- 0. Then #1 Jason Crampton rushed 65 yards for another TD.

FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW, PART 2: UT, OU bolt for SEC, leaving rest of Big 12 wondering what’s next

Mike Tomlin’s Steelers won their first 11 games of the season, but lost four of their last five, including an embarrassing 48-37 home playoff loss to the Brown. Ben Rothlisberger (3,803 yards, 33 TDs) should have another big year, but if the Steelers are to be a serious threat in the AFC, their running game must improve. That’s why they drafted Alabama’s Najee Harris (1,466 rushing yards, 26 TDs/43 receptions, 423 yards, 4 TDs) to get things done on the ground.

Baltimore will once again by led by dual threat QB Lamar Jackson (2,757 passing yards, 26 TDs/1,005 rushing yards, 7 TDs). If Jackson improves as a passer, the Ravens could make a lot of noise in 2021.

Tennessee should battle Indianapolis for the AFC South title. The Titans are led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill (3,817 yards, 33 TDs) and running back Derrick Henry (2,127 yards, 17 TDs). The Titans added former Atlanta All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones (51 receptions, 771 yards, 3 TDs in 9 games) to pair with speed wideout A.J. Brown (70 receptions, 1,075 yards, 11 TDs). The Titans could be scary good on offense, and if they shore up the defense, they could contend for the AFC title.

Buffalo should be the team to beat in the AFC East. The Bills finished 13-3 a year ago and have a rising star in QB Josh Allen (4,544 yards, 37 TDs) and a big-play WR in Stefon Diggs (127 receptions, 1,535 yards, 8 TDs). Buffalo needs to improve its running game, but it has a solid defense and should hold off Miami and New England to win the AFC East.

Now we turn our attention to the 2021 college football season, where before a game has even been played Texas and OU made huge news with their announcement to leave the Big 12 for the SEC. The plan is for the league’s two major programs to join the SEC in July of 2025, but many believe both schools will depart well before that date and each pay the $80 million fee to depart early.

UT and OU’s move will make the SEC the first super conference with 16 teams. The SEC has not announced how it will restructure the league (four 4-pod teams or 2 divisions with 8 teams each). Texas’s joining the SEC will rekindle the UT-Texas / A&M rivalry and could move Alabama out of the Western Division to the Eastern Division (I’m sure the rest of the SEC East is excited about that prospect!).

So where does that leave the remaining Big 12 schools?

FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW, PART 1: New era begins for Texans

It was a busy offseason for Houston’s pro football team. After firing embattled head coach Bill O’Brien four games into what would turn out to be a 4-12 season, the Texans made a Texans-like move and hired 65-year-old David Culley, a man with 27 years of experience as a collegiate and pro coach, but one who has never been a head coach or a coordinator at either level.

The Texans also hired Nick Caserio, the New England Patriots’ wonderkid as general manager. Caserio has been busy from Day 1 remaking the Texans roster. He signed 46 veteran free agents and along with draft picks, welcomed 53 new faces to Kirby Drive when the Texans opened training camp in late July.

And then there’s the Deshaun Watson story and what a story it is! After completing his most successful season as a pro (4,823 passing yards, best among NFL QBs, 33 passing TDs/3 rushing TDs), Watson demanded a trade after he was told by owner Cal McNair he would have a say in who the team hired as its next head coach.

Watson wanted Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. The team conducted a video interview with one of the up-and-coming coaches and offensive minds in the league (he has had the good fortune to work with a quarterback named Pat Mahomes, who will make any coach look good). The Texans did not consider Bieniemy as their next head coach and Watson demanded a trade.

We all know what happened next. Watson has been accused by 22 women of sexual harassment and a Harris County Grand Jury is investigating one claim as a criminal matter. Watson did show up for training camp but is listed as fourth on the QB depth chart. It’s pretty safe to say he has taken his last snap as the Texans starting QB.

So what do the Texans do now? Well, they signed 10-year veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor (9,770 career passing yards, 54 TDs) and drafted Davis Mills of Stanford in the third round. Caserio and Culley hope Mills is the team’s QB of the future. He only started 11 games at Stanford and played in 15, but he is 6-foot-5 and is an intelligent youngster.

For the moment, Taylor will be the starting QB and he will have speedy Brandin Cooks (81 receptions, 1,150 yards, 6 TDs) as his top receiver. The Texans lost the services of speedy Will Fuller when he signed with Miami as a free agent. Caserio hopefully upgraded the running game by signing veteran runners Mark Ingram (formerly of Baltimore) and Phillip Lindsey (formerly of Denver). Look for the Texans to feature the run this year to take pressure off of Taylor.

Also gone is perhaps the great Texan of all time, defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt asked for and was granted his release in January and signed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he is reunited with former Houston teammate DeAndre Hopkins.

While “change” is the word with the Texans, the NFL had an offseason of change as well as owners approved an 18-week, 17- game schedule beginning with the 2021 season. Seven new head coaches were also hired. Joining Culley as new head men are Arthur Smith in Atlanta, Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, Brandon Staley with the Los Angeles Chargers, Nick Sirianni in Philadelphia, Dan Campbell in Detroit and Robert Saleh with the New York Jets.

Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football (he won two national titles at Florida and one at Ohio State) had the good fortune to draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in last springs draft. Lawrence will make his pro debut at NRG Stadium on Sept. 12 against the Texans.

Tom Brady (4,633 yards, 40 TDs) led Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl title with a convincing win over Kansas City last February. The Bucs return all 22 starters from last year’s title team and are a good bet to go backto-back, which would give Brady an eighth Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl 55 will be played in Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13.

TB should be the team to beat in the NFC South now that Drew Brees (80,358 career passing yards, 571 career TDs) has retired and will work as an analyst for NBC on Notre Dame games this fall. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton is one of the best head coaches in the league and the Saints will be competitive, but Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill won’t make Saints fans forget Brees anytime soon. The two combined for 1,003 passing yards and 4 passing TDs in 2020.

Brady has a load of talent on offense, led by WRs Mike Evans (70 receptions, 1,006 yards, 13 TDs) and Chris Godwin (65 receptions, 840 yards, 7 TDs). Don’t be surprised if TB improves on its 11 wins from a year ago, although they will be playing a much tougher schedule and all teams will be gunning for them.

Green Bay would like nothing more than to avenge their NFC title game loss at home to the Bucs. Packer fans were in a panic during the offseason when star QB and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers (4,299 yards, 48 TDs) became disgruntled and wanted out of Cheeseland. Cooler heads prevailed and Rodgers reported to camp, signed a new contract and made the Packers once again Super Bowl contenders.

Rodgers has a load of talent of offense to spread the ball around, led by perhaps the game’s top wideout in Davante Adams (115 receptions, 1,374 yards, 18 TDs), a solid redzone tight end in Robert Tonvan (52 receptions, 586 yards, 11 TDs) and a strong running game led by Aaron Jones (1,104 yards, 11 total TDs).

If Green Bay improves on defense, they should challenge Tampa Bay for the NFC title.

Green Bay is the class of the NFC North, and if Dak Prescott can stay healthy, the Dallas Cowboys should be the team to beat in the NFC East. Prescott (1,856 passing yards, 9 TDs in just 5 games) suffered a brutal ankle injury against the Giants in Week 5 and the Cowboys stumbled to a 6- 10 finish.

Dallas has a top 5 receiving corps led by Amari Cooper (92 receptions, 1,114 yards, 5 TDs) and CeeDee Lamb (74 receptions, 935 yards, 5 TDs). Dallas needs a resurgence from running back Ezekiel Elliott (979 yards, 6 TDs). The return of offensive linemen Tyron Smith and La’el Collins should be a big boost to Prescott and Elliott.

The defense must improve and the drafting of Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons should give that unit a big lift.

The NFC West could be the best division in the NFL. All four teams have playoff potential, but I like the Rams to win the division because of the addition of former Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (4,084 yards, 26 TDs), who should flourish in Sean McVay’s offense. The Rams also have a stout defense led by 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

Seattle will also be a factor due to QB Russell Wilson (4,213 yards, 40 TDs) and WRs D.K. Metcalf (83 receptions, 1,303 yards, 10 TDs) and Tyler Lockett (100 receptions, 1,054 yards, 10 TDs).

Arizona will be a fun team to watch because of quarterback Kyler Murray (3,971 passing yards, 26 TDs/819 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and Hopkins (115 receptions, 1,407 yards, 6 TDs). Maybe Watt can help a decent defense move to a good defense.

The 49ers, who two years ago won the NFC title, should be back in the mix. Injuries decimated the team a year ago, but they should get their key players back.

In the AFC, look for the Chiefs to once again be the team to beat, but keep an eye on the Cleveland Browns. The Browns finished 11-5 a year ago as QB Baker Mayfield (3,563 yards, 26 TDs) came of age. Cleveland will pound teams with its running game led by Nick Chubb (1,067 yards, 12 TDs) and Kareem Hunt (841 yards, 11 total TDs) and has a solid defense led by former Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett (12 sacks).

The Chiefs will once again be tough to stop on offense led by Mahomes (4,740 yards, 38 TDs), speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill (87 receptions, 1,276 yards, 15 TDs) and dependable tight end Travis Kelce (105 receptions, 1,416 yards, 11 TDs). KC lost the Super Bowl because its offensive line lost both starting tackles, but the team brought in five new offensive linemen during the offseason, led by former Baltimore All-Pro tackle Orlando Brown.

The NFC North will once again be one of the top divisions in the league. Cleveland will be tested by a resurgent Pittsburgh team and the always dangerous Baltimore Ravens.

PART 2 will be published next week.

Olympics open in Tokyo, Aldine Nimitz’s Griner on team

Brittney Griner practices in her Team USA uniform.

TOKYO – Brittney Griner and Ariel Atkins are players with local ties on this year’s Team USA women’s basketball Olympic roster.

Brittney Griner, who starred at Nimitz High School and Baylor University, won gold with Team USA at the 2016 Olympics as well as at the FIBA World Championships in 2014 and 2018. She was named MVP of the gold medal game in the 2018 FIBA World Championships.

This will be the first Olympics for Ariel Atkins, who starred at the University of Texas before becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft. This has been a coming-out season for Atkins offensively – she’s averaging career highs in five categories, including her 19.0 points per game. The former Longhorn was a part of the Washington Mystics’ 2019 WNBA Championship team and has been named to the WNBA All-Defensive Team all three seasons she has played in the league. As for the rest of the roster, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will try and become the first five-time Olympic gold medalists in basketball as they lead the U.S women’s team at the Tokyo Games.

The duo was selected for their fifth Olympics last month, joining Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players in U.S. history to play in five. Edwards won four gold medals and a bronze in her illustrious Olympic career.

Brady goes for 7th Lombardi, Mahomes second in what could be a very real ‘Super’ Bowl!

By Mike Keeney

I guess that Tom Brady guy still has something left in the tank.

After spending 20 years in New England and leading the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick to six Super Bowl titles, Brady moved south to sunny Tampa, FL and proved he’s not washed up at 43 years of age.

In Kansas City, Chief fans have once again put their faith in 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes, who led their beloved team to the Lombardi Trophy last year and is making a return trip this year to go after a second straight title.

Eagles’ linebacker Waymon Finley Named Northeast News’ Defensive Player of Year

Eisenhower High School linebacker Waymon Finley has been named the Northeast News’ 2020 Defensive Player of the Year.

By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer

For the last three years, Waymon Finley has been a mainstay in the Eisenhower Eagles football program.

He has played on both sides of the ball, but is a standout linebacker who completed his senior season with 60 tackles, five tackles for losses, one forced fumble, and two sacks. Those numbers earned him the Northeast News’ Defensive Player of the Year honors. He also contributed on offense by rushing for 422 yards to lead the Eagles to a 3-4 record and a berth in the Class 6A playoffs.

The 5′-10″, 215-pound inside linebacker is a favorite of head coach Eric Jackson, who said he would miss having the dependable Finley around now that his senior season is completed.

Ryan Niblett named Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year for the 2020 season

Eisenhower High School quarterback Ryan Niblett is the Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year for the 2020 season.

By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer

The 2020 football season was perhaps the strangest one in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eisenhower Eagles were not able to hold spring practice and head coach Eric Jackson and his staff entered the fall season looking for a quarterback.

It appears they found a good one in sophomore Ryan Niblett.

Niblett won the job and led the Eagles to a 3-4 record and a playoff berth, and now Jackson has two more years to hone the young man’s considerable talents.

In his first varsity season, Niblett rushed for 1,017 yards (he averaged 145 yards per game), passed for 323 yards, scored 12 rushing touchdowns and threw three scoring passes. That effort earned him the Northeast News’ Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Jackson said he is excited to have Niblett around for another two years.

Keeney’s Korner: Aggies left out of CFP; Texans’ miserable season comes to an end

The powers that be have spoken and Texas A&M fans are not happy about the decision that was made by the College Football Playoff (CFP) Committee to exclude them from the playoffs this season.

Many will argue that Jimbo Fisher’s team deserved one of the four CFP slots, but those went to Alabama (No. 1), Clemson (No. 2), Ohio State (No. 3) and Notre Dame (No. 4). I don’t have any problems with three of the four selections, but I do with Ohio State’s selection.

Yes, the Buckeyes did finish undefeated and won the Big 10, but they only played six games (and the Big 10 had to alter their own rules to allow OSU to play in the conference game. League officials mandated that a team must play a minimum of six games to be eligible for the league title game, but due to cancelations because of COVID-19, Ryan Dayne’s team was left with just five conference games, so league officials changed the rules just for them. Isn’t that special!).

Granted, it wasn’t Ohio State’s fault that they could not find enough healthy teams to play a six-game schedule. A&M finished 8-1 in the best conference in the country, won seven straight games and appeared to be getting better week-by-week. But their 52-24 loss at Alabama was a big negative and perhaps the committee thought a rematch with Nick Saban’s team would turn into another route.

You can’t fault the committee for giving Notre Dame one of the four CFP berths. The Fighting Irish defeated then No. 1-ranked Clemson at home and easily handled a ranked North Carolina team on the road. The one blemish on their season was their 34-10 loss in the ACC title game two weeks ago. Things won’t get any easier for Bria Kelley’s team when it faces No. 1-ranked Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Oh, by the way, the Rose Bowl won’t be played in Pasadena this year, but in Arlington at AT&T Stadium. At least some fans will be able to attend the game.

The second national semifinal will pit Clemson against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The winners will meet on Monday, Jan. 11 in Miami in the CFP title game.

The Aggies had to settle for a trip to Miami to face Mack Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels in the Orange Bowl.

The NFL concludes its regular season this weekend and it can’t come soon enough for the Texans. Two weeks ago, the Texans fumbled away another shot at a win over the Colts when wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled inside the Colts’ five-yard line to prevent Houston from tying and game up and sending it to overtime. The Texans host Tennessee on Sunday at NRG Stadium in a game the Titans will probably need to win to earn either the AFC South title or a Wild Card slot, so don’t expect head coach Mike Vrabel to sit any of his star players until this one is safely tucked away in the win column.

The AFC North title could very well be up for grabs when the Browns host the Steelers. Let’s hope NBC flexes that game to Sunday Night Football because it should be a good one between two long-time rivals and this time there is a lot on the line.

Before we take a look at those games and a host of others, let’s review last week’s record. A 6-5 week brought the season record to 98-51 (66%).

Now, onto this weekend’s games, some which will be the first of 2021.

Davis Falcons defeat MacArthur 42-13

Mac’s #27( Maurice Woods) muscles in for a TD, one of only two that the Generals were able to score in this game. (Ruben Saucedo Photo)

Last Saturday afternoon, Nov. 21, the MacArthur Generals faced off against the Davis Falcons, who defeated them 42-13.

Coach Wayne Crawford’s Generals took on coach Scott Joseph’s Falcons at Thorne Stadium. The Generals are led by running back Terrance Franklin (290 yards, 4 TDs), while the Falcons are led by running backs Azavion Kegler (113 yards) and Josh Garuba (3 TDs).

The Generals’ next game against Spring on Thanksgiving Day was cancelled. This will mark the final weekend of play of the District 14-6A season for AISD’s five varsity squads, and it appears Eisenhower, Nimitz and MacArthur remain alive for the league’s fourth and final playoff spot.

Nimitz grad Michael Bourn comes to the aid of his community

Nimitz High grad and former Houston Astro Michael Bourn is helping his community during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Michael Bourn knows there are a lot of people hurting financially because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

That’s why the Nimitz High grad and former Major League Baseball player is doing what he can to help those in need.

Bourn, who played 11 years in the majors and spent three years with the Houston Astros (2008-10), owns three apartment complexes in Houston. To assist his tenants who might be struggling financially to provide necessities for their families, he waived their rent for April and May.

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Adrian Garcia learned of Bourn’s gesture and had a resolution passed by the Harris County Commissioner’s Court on April 28 to recognize his act of kindness.

Bourn said it didn’t take him long to decide to reach out to his fellow man.

“We are all in this together,” he said. “I just felt like they (his tenants) could benefit from taking a break from paying their rent. I don’t know everyone of my tenants, but I do know some of them have been laid off. I believe if you are able to help someone else, you should.”

Bourn said he hopes his kind gesture helps during this difficult time for so many Houstonians.

“There are so many things they can buy, so I thought it was right to lend them a helping hand,” he said. “If they can buy extra groceries or clothes, then that’s great.”

Bourn, who graduated from Nimitz High in 2000 and then attended the University of Houston on a baseball scholarship, played in the majors from 2006 until 2016. He began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, and played for the Astros, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians, the Arizona Diamondbacks and completed his career with the Baltimore Orioles.

He was a two-time All-Star (in 2010 with the Astros and in 2012 with the Braves) and twice led the National League in stolen bases in 2009 and 2010 and led the American League in steals in 2011 with Toronto. In 2014 he led the American League in triples while playing for Cleveland.

Today, he is a businessman and father who enjoys watching his son and daughter participate in youth sports.

He has also returned to Aldine to speak at career days at Nimitz and Teague Middle School.

“It’s nice to go back and see where I came from,” Bourn said.

And thanks to Michael Bourn, he’s made life a little bit easier for folks who are going through tough times.