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October 14, 2011

Is Katy more deserving than its No. 12 ranking?

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

What about Katy?

It's hard to look at the results on the field and then the RivalsHigh 100 rankings and not think the Katy (Texas) High Tigers are a little low at No. 12.

Its offense is averaging nearly 44 points per game. Its defense has only given up 30 ... all season.

Its following the usual game plan that could result in a third state title in the past five years: Control the clock with a punishing run game, mix in passes, play stifling defense.

And it's doing all this in football crazy Texas.

So what is about Katy that makes the team get just a small mention in our analysis of programs that could make a run at the national title?

The problem, ironically, is Texas itself.

The state has so many teams that the schedules for many of the top teams - teams such as Katy - are watered down when compared to teams from states which naturally produce more interplay games.

Katy has yet to meet a ranked team.

"Katy has not played an incredibly tough schedule," Rivals.com regional analyst Brian Perroni, said. "But it has been beating every team handily."

Its best win came in the opening week of the season against a now-two loss North Shore. Its second best win came at the expense of an otherwise untested West Brook squad.

And due to its enrollment, which is all but certain to put it in the weaker Division II tournament of Class 5A, the Tigers may not see a nationally ranked opponent until the semifinal round when it faces now-No. 55 Cibolo Steele.

Because of it, Katy may be more likely to move backward than forward in the rankings. It's not that Katy is a bad team - our No. 12 rankings shows our opinion - it's just that the team may not have a chance to prove it deserves an upward move while others will be playing stiffer competition.

The expectations of the Tigers have been high from the start. Katy entered the season with a No. 21 ranking in the RivalsHigh 100.

Despite the loss of running back Donnovan Young to Illinois his projected replacement, Adam Taylor (the district newcomer of the year as a sophomore), was expected to pace the offense. Taylor ran for 1,531 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year and was off to a solid start to the season with a 21-carry 105-yard performance in the season-opener against North Shore.

He left the game with a knee injury. And when that injury meant he was going to miss the season, the expectations were tempered as Katy was dropped down to No. 31 nationally.

"Losing both Young and Taylor certainly put a big dent in the running game but the younger players have stepped up," Perroni said.

The offense, however, has barely missed a beat with touted freshman Rodney Anderson and junior Ricky Bickham splitting much of the carries and allowing the team to maintain more than a 6-yards per-carry average.

But in a rarity, it is not the running backs - nor the defense - that separates this Katy team from its recent successes.

It is the quarterback.

Three-year starter Brooks Haack has been nothing short of electric this season and is a main reason why this Tiger team may not be settling for a Texas state title but contending for a national title.

According to Perroni, Haack has been a difference maker.

"Haack has always been a consistent quarterback but Katy is letting him truly lead the team this year and he is proving what he is capable of," he said. "Haack has stepped up for sure and reminds a lot of people of former Katy standout Andy Dalton."

Through seven games, Haack has completed 70-of-107 passes with 21 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

In the team's 52-0 victory over Mayde Creek Thursday night, Haack was 10-for-10 passing, gaining 168 yards and three touchdowns before coming out in the middle of the third quarter.

He completed his first six consecutive passes the week before in a 45-7 win over Morton Ranch.

And in his most impressive statistical performance threw for 318 yards and six touchdowns in a 55-3 win over Strake Jesuit to end September.

The Louisiana-Lafayette commit has already eclipsed his season totals from his junior year when he threw for 1,461 yards and 17 touchdowns.

What could keep Katy from gaining the state No. 1 and national recognition may be its playoff path.

Katy is the fourth-largest school in its district. By Texas rules, the top four teams in each district make the playoffs, with the largest two enrollments (regardless of record) going into the Division I playoffs while the lower two enrollments go to Division II.

Katy's potential playoff destination is unclear as Cinco Ranch appears to be the only other team with a locked-in playoff appearance at 3-0 in district play. Cinco Ranch has a higher enrollment than does Katy and would be placed in Division I ahead of the Tigers.

Memorial is at 2-1 in the district and its enrollment is lower than Katy's.

Seven Lakes, Morton Ranch, Strake Jesuit, and Katy Taylor are all 1-2 in district play.

Morton Ranch and Seven Lakes have the largest two enrollments in the district. The two teams are the leading candidates to win the last playoff spot and push Katy to Division II.

For the Tigers to be placed in the more coveted Division I bracket, it would need Strake Jesuit or Taylor to make a remarkable turnaround to get into the playoff. The pair is a combined 3-9 on the season; each has allowed nearly 100 points more than it has scored.

And so for all the good things that can be said for Katy, it's still hard to gauge where it belongs nationally.

Leaving the question: What about Katy?

MORE: Share your thoughts on the No. 12 ranking for Katy | RivalsHigh 100 scoreboard

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