The 2013 high school football season marked one of the best I've experienced in almost a decade of covering the sport in East Texas.

I saw 26 games, including a Class 3A Division I "East Texas Bowl" state championship between Carthage and Kilgore, the perfect culmination for a great season in our region.

The 20.8 average victory margin of those 26 games I covered is misleading. I witnessed 11 games decided by 14 points or fewer, including six decided by single digits.

Here's a look at some of those games, which made my top five for the best games I covered during the 2013 East Texas high school football season.

[To see staff writer Clint Buckley's top games of the year, click this link.]

Top 5 Games's Gabe Brooks Covered in 2013

No. 5

Jasper's Steve Walker (4) fires a first-half pass during the Bulldogs' 44-34 first-round playoff win vs. Palestine on Friday at SFA's Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches. (Lee Loveless,

Jasper 44, Palestine 34

3A D-I Region III first-round playoff
Nov. 15 at SFA

Two powerful rushing attacks squared off at Homer Bryce Stadium, but after a slow start, Jasper's got the better of the matchup with Palestine. Terrance Cuney ran for more than 200 second-half yards to finish with almost 250 for the game as he outdueled Palestine's Ben Luckett and Jarrell Owens, who combined for 227 yards on the ground. Owens' 37-yard touchdown run cut Jasper's lead to 37-34 with 5:56 remaining, and a wild finish saw the teams combine for three turnovers in the game's final five minutes. But Roy Hennington's interception in the closing seconds sealed the win for the Bulldogs.

Click here for the full story on Jasper's first-round playoff win over Palestine.


No. 4

Gladewater's Daylon Mack looks to the sideline during the Bears' 34-33 area-round playoff win over Altanta on Nov. 22 in Longview. (Christopher Vinn,

Gladewater 16, Daingerfield 14

Non-district season opener
Aug. 30 at Jack V. Murphy-Bear Stadium in Gladewater

This season opener between old foes from multiple 1980's Class 3A playoff battles ended in about as strange -- and exciting -- a way as you could imagine. Gladewater fell behind 14-7 on Ramius Wallace's third-quarter touchdown run, but tied the game with 10 minutes remaining on Marcello Jackson's four-yard scoring plunge. That set the stage for junior defensive tackle star Daylon Mack's late-game heroics. One of the most heralded East Texas recruits of the past decade, the 6-foot-1, 311-pound recorded a game-winning safety with 18 seconds left in the game for the two-point win.

Click here for the full story on Gladewater's season-opening win over Daingerfield.


No. 3

San Augustine's Jeremy Jenkins (32) runs the ball during the Wolves' 49-46 first-round win vs. Joaquin in Carthage. (Bud Worley,

San Augustine 49, Joaquin 46

1A D-I Region III first-round playoff
Nov. 14 at Bulldog Stadium in Carthage

In what may have been the most exciting Class A game in East Texas this season, San Augustine erased a 10-point deficit with two minutes remaining to stun Joaquin in a 49-46 first-round playoff win for the Wolves. Quarterback JaMikel Roberts guided two scoring drives in the final 1:54 -- bridged by an onside kick recovery -- to lead San Augustine to the win and finish with about 350 total yards of offense and six total touchdowns. Roberts and receivers Jarvis Smith and Dez Randle fueled the Wolves' high-powered spread attack, which accounted for almost 500 yards to overcome Joaquin's two-headed rushing attack of Nate Belrose and Jonathan Rico, who combined for 300-plus yards on the ground.

Click here for the full story on San Augustine's first-round win over Joaquin.


No. 2

Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes breaks the plane on a 14-yard, game-winning touchdown run with 1:49 left in the Wildcats' 55-54 win against John Tyler on Friday night at Whitehouse's Wildcat Stadium. (Mike Davis,

Whitehouse 55, John Tyler 54

Regular-season finale for 16-4A crown
Nov. 8 at Wildcat Stadium in Whitehouse

The 2012 version of the District 16-4A championship game was spectacular. John Tyler erased a 24-3 first-half deficit to beat Whitehouse 45-38 at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in the regular-season finale.

That set the stage for another classic matchup between the new district rivals in 2013, this time at Whitehouse's Wildcat Stadium. Whitehouse senior star Patrick Mahomes accounted for almost 500 total yards and seven touchdowns -- including a game-winning 14-yard run with 1:49 remaining -- to lift the 'Cats to a thrilling 55-54 shootout win, an undefeated regular season, and the 16-4A crown.

John Tyler's Geovari McCollister also had a monster game with 300-plus total yards and six total touchdowns, including a 13-yard run with 59 seconds to play that cut Whitehouse's lead to one point. John Tyler rolled the dice and went for the win, but Whitehouse nose tackle Kostin Wallace collapsed the pocket to force an incompletion on the two-point try, preserving the Whitehouse victory.

Click here for the full story on Whitehouse's district title-clinching win over John Tyler.


No. 1

Carthage's Tevin Pipkin sprints toward the end zone on a 32-yard, game-winning screen pass in the final half minute of Friday night's 44-40 Bulldog win against Nacogdoches at Carthage's Bulldog Stadium. (Bud Worley,

Carthage 44, Nacogdoches 40

Non-district game
Sept. 20 at Bulldog Stadium in Carthage

The weather was far from ideal, but Carthage and Nacogdoches paid it no attention as they put on an offensive display that resulted in the best game I covered in 2013 and probably one of the five best I've ever seen.

Nacogdoches' Rudy Fuentes drilled a 40-yard field goal for a three-point lead with 50 seconds left, but Blake Bogenschutz drove the Bulldogs 74 yards in 26 seconds for the game-winning touchdown on a 32-yard screen-pass touchdown to Tevin Pipkin with 24 seconds remaining in a 44-40 Carthage win. The Bulldog defense preserved the victory by stopping Nacogdoches sophomore standout Brandon Jones at the 2-yard line with no time remaining.

Bogenschutz threw for almost 300 yards and five touchdowns, three of which went to Terian "Tee" Goree, while Pipkin saved the day after not playing the first 3 1/2 quarters with an ankle injury that was supposed to keep him out of the game.

Carthage came back from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to tie Nacogdoches on Bryian Bolton's five-yard run with 7:37 left, but a fourth-down drop on the Bulldogs' next possession gave Nacogdoches the ball in Carthage territory. The Dragons got the clutch field goal from Fuentes, but couldn't keep Carthage's high-powered offense out of the end zone on the Bulldogs' final possession.

Nacogdoches junior quarterback Hunter McClellan had a great game with 270 total yards of offense and five total touchdowns.

Click here for the full story on Carthage's non-district win over Nacogdoches.


Honorable Mention Games

O'Keeron Rutherford gains yards after a catch during Carthage's 28-14 regional final win vs. West Orange-Stark on Friday in Beaumont. (Bud Worley,

Carthage 28, West Orange-Stark 14

3A D-I Region III championship
Dec. 6 at Beaumont's C.A. Thomas Center

Carthage's second-closest playoff game from a victory margin standpoint, but the Bulldogs' most nerve-racking postseason victory relied on a 15-play, 93-yard drive, all on the ground, into a stiff north wind to seal the game in the fourth quarter.

Click here for the full story on Carthage's regional final win over West Orange-Stark.


Longview RB JaMycal Hasty. (Christopher Vinn,

Longview 27, Olive Branch, Miss. 26

"Battle On The Border" non-district game
Sept. 14 at Shreveport's Independence Stadium

Two Olive Branch special teams miscues combined with a big game from JaMycal Hasty and a fierce Lobo pass rush to fuel Longview's exciting 27-26 win against the Mississippi power at Shreveport's "Battle On The Border."

Click here for the full story on Longview's non-district win over Olive Branch.


Carthage's Terian "Tee" Goree pumps his fist at the end of his team's 34-23 Class 3A Division I state championship win vs. Kilgore on Dec. 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. (Christopher Vinn,

Carthage 34, Kilgore 23

3A D-I state championship
Dec. 20 at Arlington's AT&T Stadium

The biggest game in history to date saw Carthage win its fourth state championship in six years against old district rival Kilgore, which fought back from an 18-point deficit before Scott Surratt's offense sealed the title with a ring-delivering fourth-quarter scoring drive.

Click here for the full story on Carthage's state championship win over Kilgore.


Tyler Lee's Jordan Devers (16) and Patrick Crowder (17) celebrate the Red Raiders recovering a Lufkin fumble during Lee's 42-30 Sept. 6 win at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. (Christopher Vinn,

Tyler Lee 42, Lufkin 30

Non-district game
Sept. 6 at Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium

Tyler Lee's talented sophomore class held an impromptu breakout party in a 42-30 upset of longtime rival Lufkin. Zach Hall and Tavon Wesley led the charge with 437 combined yards of offense and five total touchdowns.

Click here for the full story on Tyler Lee's non-district win over Lufkin.


Whitehouse's Patrick Mahomes (5) slips away from Carthage's Jarrod McLin (80) during the Wildcats' 63-39 comeback win Sept. 27 at Wildcat Stadium. (© Christopher R. Vinn,

Whitehouse 63, Carthage 39

Non-district game
Sept. 27 at Whitehouse's Wildcat Stadium

A colossal non-district matchup of 4A's No. 3 team and 3A's No. 1 team at the time was much closer than the 24-point Whitehouse victory margin suggests. Carthage led by 19 points in the third quarter before Patrick Mahomes led a furious rally -- 43-0, to be exact -- to end the game and give the eventual 3A D-I state champion Bulldogs their only loss of the year.

Click here for the full story on Whitehouse's non-district win over Carthage.