Your trusty scribbler is married to a teacher and now has a son in college (how the heck did that happen so fast?), and in the spirit of midterm grades – most teams have played at least five games — here is a quick look at some of the top performances from the first half of the 2019 high school football season:

Best offensive performance: Caden Minter, quarterback, Big Sandy in a 60-34 win over Alba-Golden. Minter completed 16 of 21 passes for 302 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 102 yards.

Best defensive performance: Coltan Mills, linebacker, West Rusk in a 48-22 win over Harmony. Mills recorded a school-record 27 tackles, including four stops for losses.

Offensive MVP: Dee Black, running back, Jefferson. Black has carried 68 times for 1,003 yards – a gaudy 14.8 average per carry – and seven touchdowns. He’s also caught four passes for 55 yards and a TD.

Defensive MVP: Tyshawn Taylor, linebacker, Longview. On a Lobo defense that just shut down one of the most prolific offenses in the state (Rockwall), Taylor has been an absolute animal with 54 tackles, five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.

Game of the year: Kilgore 64, Pine Tree 62 in triple overtime. Kilgore scored with 9.1 seconds remaining to force overtime. Both teams failed to score in the first OT and both got TD passes in the extra frame. Kilgore got a 6-yard TD run from Kennieth Lacy and a two-point conversion in the third OT, and then held on after Pine Tree scored on Keelan Turner’s sixth TD of the night but failed to convert the two-pointer.

THE GOAT

Don’t forget to visit https://www.news-journal.com/contests/ and help us settle once and for all who was the best player to ever suit up in East Texas.

You can vote for one player one time per week for the rest of the regular season. Every player is in the running until then, and we’ll cut the list down to the top five vote-getters for a five-week playoff stretch before unveiling The GOAT on Christmas Day.

This is an online contest only, so please don’t email me your votes.

Currently, John Tyler’s Earl Campbell holds a healthy lead in the voting, followed by Edwin Simmons of Hawkins, Patrick Mahomes of Whitehouse, Edd Hargett of Linden-Kildare, Jackson Sampson of New Diana, Adrian Peterson of Palestine, Kevin Johnson of Waskom, Bobby Taylor of Longview, Y.A. Tittle of Marshall and Jeff Wilson of Elkhart to round out the top 10.

This week’s Game I’d Pay To See If I Had To Pay To See Games: No. 2 ranked (4A DI) Carthage at No. 1 ranked (4A DII) Pleasant Grove.

I’d pay just to see Carthage OL Tykiest Crawford (Arkansas verbal) tangle with Pleasant Grove DL Landon Jackson (Alabama, along with nearly everyone else, wants him).

MASCOT MANIA

My favorite mascot of all-time, the Wampus Cat, seems to be gaining in popularity.

Several years ago, I wrote a column on mascots and could only find two schools that used the critter as a mascot – Itasca High School in Texas and Leesville High School in Louisiana.

Now, my research has found the Wampus Cat – a legendary creature of Cherokee mythology that supposedly resembles a mountain line and has six legs (four to run with the speed of light, and two to fight with all its might) – can now be found at schools in Idaho (Clark Fork), Oklahoma (Atoka) and Arkansas (Conway).

I’ve always said a good mascot should strike fear in an opponent. Don’t know about you, but I want no part of a six-legged cat. My cats Freeloader, Doc and Murphy do enough damage with the four legs they have.

Email: jstallard@news-journal.com; Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter @lnjsports