Six-Man State Championships Preview
Six-man football crowns its champions this weekend; DCTF's six-man guru previews the action.
It's an historic weekend for the six-man football community in Texas, as the state championships will be played for the first time at AT&T Stadium this Saturday. Six-man guru Leman Saunders offers his take on the action in Arlington.
DON'T FORGET: DCTF Playoff Central has everything a true Texas high school football fan needs for the playoffs, including brackets, matchups and DCTF associate editor Greg Tepper's complete predictions for every bracket.
On the biggest football stage in Texas, in the biggest football cathedral in the world! We have the six-man state championship games of 2013!
Division I State Championship
Crowell (13-1) vs. May (14-0)
12 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium
Crowell won its district championship by upsetting top-ranked Throckmorton, then defeating top 10-ranked Knox City. The Wildcats entered the playoffs in the Region 2 part of the bracket, defeating Hermleigh in bi-district, No. 1 Water Valley in the area round, and top 5 Ira in the quarterfinals for the regional title. In a rematch of Week 3, Crowell then faced top 10-ranked Valley in the semifinals game and defeated them handily, 82-34. Crowell’s road to Arlington has been a tough one for sure…not to mention they had to play two playoff games on Monday nights due to bad weather. Crowell’s lone loss was to Division II No. 2 Follett back in Week 6. This will be head coach Nathan Hayes’ second attempt at a state title, having lost in the first ever six-man DII state title game while coaching at Jayton in 2006 (Northside won 60-41). Crowell’s offensive attack is lead by Mitchell Parsley, who is 132-183 passing for 2,672 yards and 47 TDs while throwing just 2 INTs all season, and he has rushed for 409 yards and 6 TDs. Parsley’s favorite target has been William Hogan, who has 33 catches for 630 yards and 18 TDs this season. Lex Bond, missing about half the season due to injury, has added 565 yards with 10 TDs rushing while catching 14 passes for 318 yards and 6 TDs.
The May Tigers will enter AT&T Stadium on Saturday as the only undefeated six-man public school in the state. At 14-0, the Tigers are no question the Cinderella team of the playoffs. Not only was May not ranked in the preseason, as a member of the toughest six-man district in the state (9-6M DI) they weren’t even picked to make the playoffs! Now here they are, undefeated and playing for a state title for the fourth time in school history. The Tigers have won the title only once, back in 1977 (they lost in the title game in 1976 and 1984). May’s schedule was no slouch either: in their season opener, they upset Richland Springs, ending their 45-game winning streak. May also won tough games against current DII top 5-ranked Newcastle, and one-time DII top 10-ranked Blanket before entering the gauntlet that was District 9, which May finished unbeaten district champs. The Tigers easily beat Lingleville in bi-district play, then took down unbeaten Blum, 66-35. In the quarterfinals, May shut out upstart Savoy, 46-0, for the Region III title, and on Monday night in Glen Rose, the Tigers passed their toughest challenge in the playoffs, beating Abbott (last year's DI East representative in the state championship) 62-46. May statistically has split their rushing attack almost evenly between Justin Howard and Kendrick Aguerro while Howard’s stat line at 166-1,662 yards and 35 TDs (also has made 110 tackles on defense) and Aguerro’s at 121-1,624 yards and 24 TDs. Isaac Williams is 34-57 passing with 751 yards and 15 TDs with 4 INTs. Their leading receiver is Brant Harris, who has caught 12 passes for 267 yards and 6 TDs; Harris is also the teams leading tackler being in on 157 total tackles. This will be head coach Craig Steele’s first time coaching in a state title game.
This title matchup will be smash-mouth, hard-hitting, old-school football. May is known for their in-the-trenches power running offense and hard-nosed aggressive defense. Crowell is known for their style of aggressive hard-hitting football that harkens back to the old days, and an offense that can move the ball quickly and put up some points. Crowell is now No. 1 in the state and is no doubt the favorite in this game, but don’t count out May; they fought back last week and stayed cool and calm under pressure. I think it will be a battle for the first half with Crowell pulling away a little in the second half to win their first state title.
Division II State Championship
Grandfalls-Royalty (13-1) vs. Milford (12-2)
3 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium
Grandfalls-Royalty has just 26 kids in its high school (boys and girls), giving it the second-lowest high school enrollment of any school playing UIL football (Patton Springs has 22)! The Cowboys were Dave Campbell’s preseason No. 1 and they have proved themselves worthy of that by advancing to the title game for the first time in school history. After suffering a 32-20 Week Zero loss to Water Valley, a game in which Grandfalls had three turnovers in the red zone, the Cowboys have reeled off 13 straight wins. In the process, they have shut out six opponents and held two more to single digits. In the playoffs, they easily beat three good teams in Loop, top 10-ranked Blackwell and top 10-ranked Loraine to win the Region II title. In the semifinals, in what some consider the six-man game of the year, the Cowboys faced off with Follett in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 and a rematch of last year's semifinal game that saw Follett edge out a victory. This year, Grandfalls avenged last year’s loss, coming from behind to win 67-58. Junior Marquez is the Cowboys’ leading rusher, having rushed for 1,183 yards and 32 TDs on just 79 carries. Thomas Burns has done a little bit of everything, amassing 1,598 yards of total offense (851 yards and 13 TDs rushing, 453 yards with 7 TDs passing, and 294 yards and 6 TDs receiving) and has 83 tackles with 5 INTs on defense. Austin Perryman leads the team with 98 tackles, but on a team that prides itself on defense, Luis Morales is the standout with 95 tackles, 11 INTs and nine fumble recoveries.
Milford enters the championship game for the fifth time in school history, having won back-to-back titles in 1979 and 1980 and losing back-to-back in the title game in 1994 and 1995. Milford started the season with two losses, the first to a top 5-ranked private school team Boerne Geneva in a close game (40-36) with the second coming at the hands of top 10-ranked (and eventual DI semifinalist) Abbott. However, the Bulldogs have rallied and won 12 straight including wins over tough DI schools Aquilla and Oakwood. In the playoffs Milford beat tough teams in Cranfills Gap and Blanket before meeting district foe Calvert again in a rematch to claim the Region IV title. This time, Milford handled them easier, winning 60-32. The semifinal showdown with top 5-ranked Newcastle was a great game that saw several lead changes, but an INT at the end seald the Bulldogs' victory, 66-58. Milford’s offensive attack is lead by Jacobe Essary who is one of the best rushers in the state of Texas. Essary has rushed for 2,722 yards on just 172 carries…with 51 TDs! That’s averaging almost 16 yards a carry and a score on almost every third carry! He also has 360 yards and 8 TDs receiving with 21 catches. Eric Evans is also a standout for the Bulldogs leading the team in tackles with 182 with 2 INTs but also contributing 716 yards and 18 TDs rushing as well as 1,630 yards and 22 TDs passing. Interesting note is that Milford head coach Ronny Crumpton is a Milford alum.
This game will come down to just how good Grandfalls' defense really is. Last week against Follett, they gave up 58 points, the most the team has given up under current head coach Joe Helms, who took the helm last season. Both teams can score points, Milford has more size, but Grandfalls has more speed and a more balanced attack. A concern for Grandfalls would be a possible hangover of sorts from last week's big win over Follett, that combined with an underestimation of Milford. However, the Cowboys are a ball-hawking team that loves to cause turnovers, so Milford needs to keep control of the ball and sustain offensive drives in order to win. In the end, I feel like Grandfalls’ speed will just be too much for Milford to overcome offensively and defensively, meaning that the small West Texas school of Grandfalls-Royalty will claim their first ever state title.
Leman Saunders is a special contributor to Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.