These past two weeks, I have travelled to two of the most anticipated high school games in the state of Texas. The first game, Arlington Martin versus Temple, featured a pair of Texas targets in 2023 four-star athlete Mikal Harrison-Pilot and 2023 four-star cornerback Javien Toviano. The following week, I headed over to Chaparral Stadium to watch the Lake Travis Cavaliers take on the top-ranked Westlake Chaparrals, which showcased a number of high-profile recruits.
Arlington Martin vs Temple
While Arlington Martin was the higher ranked team of the two, being the eleventh-ranked team in the state's 6A classification, I expected their matchup against Temple to be a close one. Leading the Temple Wildcats, senior Mikal Harrison-Pilot and 2023 senior linebacker Taurean York looked to pull of a statement home victory. Harrison-Pilot has been one of the main guys that Texas has been targeting over the last couple of months, and you would expect him to be more of a focus following 2023 five-star wide receiver Jalen Hale's decision to commit to Alabama. Meanwhile, York saw his recruitment blossom following his junior season and has since committed to joining the Baylor Bears.
Although Temple has the pieces in place to make some noise in the Central Texas region, Martin routinely is one of the state's powerhouse programs and proved it at Wildcat Stadium. As mentioned earlier, Texas target Javien Toviano is one of the most heralded cornerbacks in the country during the 2023 recruiting cycle and he made an early impact on a pick-six while covering Harrison-Pilot. In addition to Toviano, one of my favorite players in the state, Michael Barrow - Martin's do-it-all athlete, did what he always does best - make plays. Against Temple, Barrow rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns and was able to move the chains when the Warriors needed to.
One player that caught my eye in this matchup was Martin senior wide receiver Ismael Smith Flores, who stands in at 6'5" and 210 pounds, and finished the game with three catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Prior to this season, Flores has concentrated his time in sports on the basketball court but visibly stood out against Temple. The senior wideout will be one to watch if he can continue to produce for Martin's offense.
Ultimately, the Warriors ran away with a 53-18 road victory over the Wildcats.
Lake Travis vs Westlake
As always, the Austin area's Battle of the Lakes matchup headlined the state's slate of high school games last weekend. Despite Westlake being the top-ranked team in Texas, and the fact that they have won three state titles in a row, the Chaparrals were involved in a competitive game against the Cavaliers.
On Friday, 2023 four-star defensive end Colton Vasek quietly finished the game with two sacks, however the Lake Travis offensive line for the most part held up against their foes. In fact, the Cavaliers even held a 13-7 lead at one point in the third quarter but fumbles started to become an issue as the team coughed up three of them which were recovered by Westlake. As a result, 2023 four-star wide receiver Jaden Greathouse took advantage with two second half touchdown receptions, providing the Chaparrals with the fuel that they needed in order to escape with a 35-20 win over Westlake.
The Lake Travis versus Westlake game featured a handful of Texas targets who are committed elsewhere, including Greathouse, Vasek, and 2023 five-star offensive lineman TJ Shanahan. While Greathouse has been an extraordinary talent at Westlake, he has decided to commit to Notre Dame while Vasek and Shanahan have committed to rivals Oklahoma and Texas A&M. This trio seems to be one with a high floor at the collegiate level, but we will have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Arlington Martin cornerback Javien Toviano would be a huge add for the Longhorns if they were able to add his commitment. Currently, Toviano is also being heavily pursued by schools such as Alabama and LSU. Similar to 2023 five-star linebacker Anthony Hill Jr., who is currently committed to Texas A&M, Toviano is one of the few must-get type of recruits in the state of Texas during this recruiting cycle.