DCTF's Greg Tepper ranks the 10 state championship games.
What a weekend it was at AT&T Stadium! Ten games, twenty teams, a grand total of 221,339 attendees, and one unforgettable spectacle that we were proud to have been witness to.
First things first: kudos to the UIL for a nearly seamless event. There are a lot of moving parts that go into an event of that magnitude, but the weekend went off without a hitch, and there are a lot of folks at the UIL who are responsible for that.
Now, on to the games. One of the cool things about being at all 10 state championship games this weekend was that we got to see all different kinds of games. We had our defensive slugfests and we had our shootouts. We had our nail-biters and we had our no-doubters. We had our pass-happy affairs and we had our ground-and-pound matchups.
And in their own right, all ten games were compelling. Sure, some ended up being won handily, but they were all awful fun to watch in their own right. That’s what happens when you put the 20 best teams in Texas high school football under one roof over three days: you get 72 hours of football heaven.
But just saying that all 10 games were great (which they were) isn’t as much fun as ranking them based on how exciting they were! Now, again: all 10 games were fantastic in their own way, but let’s rank the games based on excitement level.
10) 1A DII: Wellington 42, Falls City 20
This game was most certainly interesting in the beginning – Falls City fired the opening salvo thanks to a Justin Twine touchdown run – but then Wellington exploded for the next 42 points behind absolutely outstanding performances from RB Terry Gilbreath and QB Klark Ashmore, who had a hand in five of their six-straight touchdowns. The defense stiffened, holding Twine and company to just 271 total yards, and Wellington ran away with its first title.
9) 5A DI: Allen 63, Pearland 21
The biggest star of this game – besides Kyler Murray (we’ll get to him in a moment) – was the crowd, a state-record 54,347 folks piled in to AT&T Stadium to watch this one. And we got perhaps the most entertaining first quarter of the weekend, as Pearland struck first, Allen came right back, Pearland got a huge defensive stand on its goal line and turned it into a go-ahead touchdown, and Chad Adams returned the ensuing kickoff for a game-tying touchdown. All in the first quarter! But from there, Kyler Murray absolutely took over, racking up 280 yards and 4 TDs passing and another 188 yards and a TD on the ground en route to Allen’s second straight state title. At times, it seemed like Allen could name its score.
8) 4A Division II: Aledo 38, Brenham 10
It took a little bit of time for the Aledo offensive machine to get rolling – the Bearcats led just 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, and 17-3 at the end of 3 – but 21 fourth-quarter points sealed the deal for Aledo, as QB Luke Bishop and WRs Ryan Newsome and Taco Anderson helped Aledo to pull away. But the real story of the game: Aledo’s swarming defense, which held Brenham out of the end zone until the middle of the fourth quarter.
7) 4A DI: Denton Guyer 31, San Antonio Brennan 14
We got our answer on what would win between the unstoppable force (Guyer’s Jerrod Heard-led offense) and the immovable object (Brennan’s stifling defense), and it was Heard that tilted the scales. Just like last year, Heard did most of the damage on the ground, dancing for 159 yards and 2 TDs while completing all nine of his pass attempts for 95 yards and a score. Brennan’s defense actually played very well, but the Guyer defense never led the Bears get in sync offensively, and DJ Breedlove’s 33-yard touchdown run with 2:42 left sealed the deal for the back-to-back champs.
6) 2A DII: Cisco 56, Refugio 36
We expected a shootout, and we were not disappointed: the Loboes and the Bobcats combined for an eye-popping 1,203 yards of total offense, and they did it in different ways. Cisco got a mammoth game from RB Mason Reed and QB Colton Kent, who combined for 506 of the Loboes’ 608 total yards, while Refugio’s QB Travis Quintanilla was as-advertised, throwing for 391 yards and 2 TDs. But it was the Cisco defense that provided the difference, picking off Quintanilla three times and forcing another fumble. Those turnovers gave the Loboes extra possessions, and they made them pay, getting redemption for the 2011 title game loss to Refugio and winning its first title.
5) 2A Division I: Cameron Yoe 35, Wall 14
Defense dominated the first three quarters of this one, as both Yoe and Wall’s front seven were more than up to the task of containing the high-powered offense of their opposition. In fact, the offensive numbers are barely half of the 2A DII title game’s numbers! It was a 14-14 game heading into the 4th quarter, and it truly felt like anyone’s game. But champions find a way to finish, and that’s what Cameron Yoe did, coming alive in the fourth quarter for the final 21 points, including two more Traion Smith touchdown runs (he had 4 in all) to seal the deal.
4) 3A DI: Carthage 34, Kilgore 23
The East Texas Super Bowl most certainly lived up to the hype, and passions ran very hot from before the opening kickoff until after the final whistle. Carthage looked like it was in control of this one when Tee Goree ran for a 10-yard touchdown with 4:23 left in the third quarter, giving CHS a 28-10 lead. But Kilgore mounted a big comeback – Benny Colbert ran for a 32-yard score, the defense held, and Kevrin Justice scored again to pull within 28-23 with just 3:40 remaining. But Tevin Pipkin sent Carthage’s substantial crowd into orbit when he burst for a 24-yard championship-sealing touchdown run with 50 seconds left to give his squad the title.
3) 1A DI: Stamford 41, Shiner 28
What a way to kick off the weekend! For long stretches of this game, including almost the entire first half, Shiner was the better side, extending its lead to 28-7 with 7:35 left in the third quarter on Dadrian Taylor’s 22-yard touchdown run. But Stamford has been here before – remember: they fell down early in their title game win over Mart last year – and QB Bo Wimberley (the Offensive and Defensive MVP) and WR James Washington stole the show. Wimberley’s two TD runs brought Stamford within 28-21, and after a fumble recovery, Wimberley hit James Washington for a game-tying 60-yard TD strike with 3:42 remaining. After another defensive stand, Wimberley put Stamford ahead for good with a 12-yard TD run, and Washington provided the exclamation point via a 77-yard interception return TD in the final minute to give Stamford a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
2) 3A DII: Argyle 38, Fairfield 33
You couldn’t blink in this game! This game featured two of the most electrifying athletes we saw all weekend: Argyle’s Ian Sadler and Fairfield’s Larry Rose, and boy, did they put on a show. The duo combined for a whopping 457 yards of total offense, with Rose running for 260 yards and 2 TDs while Sadler ran for 3 TDs and returned a punt for a touchdown. It was back and forth all game, with Fairfield grabbing the lead, 33-31 with 11:01 left in the game on Rose’s 54-yard TD scamper. But it would be Argyle that had the last laugh, as Sadler’s 3-yard TD run with 6:54 left gave Argyle the lead. Fairfield looked like it would come right back as Rose broke into the open and had eyes for the goal line…but it appeared that he absolutely ran out of gas on the way and settled for a 64-yard score down to the Argyle 17. At that point, it was the Argyle defense’s turn to stand tall, stopping Bryson Gates and Rose on four straight runs for a turnover on downs to grab the team’s first title.
1) 5A DII: Cedar Hill 34, Katy 24
It certainly seemed like we saved the best for last. What a wild affair this was, as Cedar Hill took a 10-0 lead on a field goal and one of the strangest TDs you’ll ever see – Damarkus Lodge broke free, was caught from behind, fumbled, and Denvre Daniels picked up his teammate’s fumble in stride for a score. But back came defending champ Katy, throwing haymakers from RB Rodney Anderson (66-yard TD run), QB Doiron Garrett (a beautiful 44-yard TD pass to Sloan Spiller after a Cedar Hill fumble) and its defense (JoVanni Stewart scooped up another Cedar Hill fumble and scampered 77 yards for a score). All in all, Katy entered the final 16 minutes of this one with a 24-10 lead, and remember: this is a defense that hadn’t given up more than 26 points in a game all season. But Cedar Hill began the climb back, getting a long TD run from Lodge and a field goal to pull within 24-19 with 8:28 left. That’s when the Cedar Hill defense made its biggest plays, forcing a Katy fumble to set it up in great field position, where it capitalized with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Justin McMillan to Lodge to give Cedar Hill the lead. Another Katy fumble led to another Cedar Hill TD – this one from Aca’Cedric Ware – which sealed the stunning comeback victory for the Longhorns.