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‘Football in December:’ Prosper tops North Crowley to return to the regional final

After beating North Crowley on Saturday in the regional semifinal, Prosper will compete in the fourth round of the playoffs for the fourth-straight year.

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ARLINGTON — Prosper’s defense has been the main force of its 2022 season.

And rightfully so. All season long, Prosper (12–1) has held opposing teams to an average of 15 points per game. Its defense, led by disruptors like seniors linebacker Adam Due and safety Carson McClendon, allowed Denton Guyer just 23 points when the District 5-6A mates met on Sept. 16. This is the same undefeated Guyer team that has averaged 47 points a game on offense.

So it came as no surprise that Prosper’s defense continued to dominate in its 35-21 regional semifinal win over North Crowley (12–1) on Saturday afternoon at Choctaw Stadium. That staunch play, characterized by takeaways and a strong effort from the defensive line, stomped North Crowley’s momentum and earned Prosper a meeting with Lewisville in the regional final of the Class 6A Division I playoffs.

Next week will be Prosper’s fourth-straight regional final appearance after it lost last year in the fourth round to Guyer, the eventual 6A Division II state runner-up.

“That’s kind of a mantra for our program,” Prosper head coach Brandon Schmidt said. “It’s football in December.”

Two first half fumble recoveries, one from Due, the other from Luke Johnson twice quelled North Crowley in the red zone. A once tight game, where North Crowley trailed 14-13, soon became lopsided as each team left the cold, wet turf for the locker room.

Prosper had scored two touchdowns with under five minutes remaining in the second quarter to go up 28-13. The Prosper offense, led by senior quarterback Harrison Rosar, may not be the main character of the District 5-6A runner-up’s season, but it is an important, perhaps overlooked, one.

Rosar connected with junior two-way player Nate TenBarge for the second time to give Prosper the two-score lead. TenBarge also made plays on defense, like a pass deflection in the second half. Schmidt said TenBarge earned the team’s “Iron Man Award” last week for taking the most snaps and that he could earn it again this week.

TenBarge represents the versatility of this Prosper team, which is strong on both sides of the ball.

“Our offense is always overlooked because of how good our defense is, but … our offense makes plays when we have to,” TenBarge said. “[Rosar] can chuck the ball 80 yards. I’ve never seen a quarterback throw it so far to be honest.”

Rosar ranks fourth among 6A area passers with 40 touchdowns and 3,071 passing yards. On Saturday, the senior was challenged by North Crowley’s second-ranked defense, which intercepted him in the fourth quarter and blocked a punt early, but that didn’t stop Rosar from throwing for 299 yards and five touchdowns

“We call him playoff Harry. He tends to show up in November and December, and I thought he had about as good a first half as a kid can have,” Schmidt said.

Formidable as Prosper looked, North Crowley surged out of the locker room with a 73-yard score from running back Dejuan Lacy and a successful two-point conversion attempt to shrink the deficit to 28-21. Prosper did not score again until the fourth quarter, when Rosar found senior Trevor Montayne for a 9-yard touchdown that put his team up two scores.

North Crowley, the District 3-6A champion, defeated Keller Timber Creek in the bi-district round and El Paso Pebble Hills in the area round. Last season, North Crowley went 7–3 in the regular season before losing to Southlake Carroll in the bi-district round.

After wins over Plano, South Grand Prairie and North Crowley, Prosper looks to get over its regional final hump. Prosper has the offense and the defense to challenge Lewisville, but TenBarge said they have to keep working.

“We can’t lose again,” TenBarge said. “Fourth time’s a charm. We’ve got to beat Lewisville.”

On Twitter: @t_myah

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