The Follow-Through: What did we learn from the Texas high school football state championships?

Carthage vs. Waco La Vega (Photo by Gary Sanderson)

Another state championship week is in the books. Our experts crunched the numbers, read the tea leaves and put their predictions out there one last time. So, how’d they do?

Managing Editor Greg Tepper: 8-4 (.667)

Insider Matt Stepp (2A-6A games only): 8-2 (.800)

Our Computer: 8-4 (.667)

We’ll look at each prediction, game-by-game.

1A Division 1

Blum’s Gonzales outduels McLean’s Crockett to spark upset

What Greg Tepper thought: McLean was the favorite

What our computer thought: McLean was the favorite

What happened: Blum 58, McLean 52

McLean entered AT&T stadium off a 97-point outburst that included a 6-man record-setting performance from Ben Crockett. The experts felt Crockett would prove too much of a one-man wrecking crew, leading McLean to another title. He almost was, until Coltin Gonzales had other ideas. Gonzales’ fifth touchdown with 58 seconds left gave the Bobcats the surprising win.

1A Division 2

Richland Springs pulls away from Borden County for 9th state title

What Greg Tepper thought: Richland Springs was the favorite

What our computer thought: Richland Springs was the favorite

What happened: Richland Springs 62, Borden County 16

It’s hard to pick against history, and Richland Springs has history on its side. History, hard work and pa host of talented players. The Coyotes rode their defense – six fourth-down stops – and a consistent offense to pull away to become the first school to win nine UIL state championships.

2A Division 1

Refugio flashes defensive muscle to turn back Post’s bid

What Greg Tepper thought: Refugio was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Refugio was a 13-point favorite

What our computer thought: Refugio was the favorite

What happened: Refugio 28, Post 7

For all of its offensive firepower, Refugio boasts a stifling defense. That defense kept Post’s unblemished offense bottled up. A lot of defense, and plenty of quarterback Austin Ochoa’s legs, helped the Bobcats erase a 7-0 lead and earn a 28-7 win.

2A Division 2

Mart withstands Hamlin’s late rally

What Greg Tepper thought: Mart was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Mart was a 13-point favorite

What our computer thought: Mart was the favorite

What happened: Mart 25, Hamlin 20

Since the UIL’s most recent realignment, no 2A Division 2 opponent has hung within 20 points of Mart. Showing no fear, Hamlin made Mart work. Fortunately for Kevin Hoffman’s team, they were up to the challenge. Roddrell Freeman rushed for three scores and Klyderion Campbell’s interception return were enough to hold off Hamlin’s rally.

3A Division 1

Jentsch, Grandview go back-to-back

What Greg Tepper thought: Grandview was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Grandview was an 11-point favorite

What our computer thought: Grandview was the favorite

What happened: Grandview 42, Pottsboro 28

Dane Jentsch made plays on both sides of the ball to earn the official designation of offensive and defensive MVP, but Grandview also benefited from the return of running back Tremayne Gullatte, who missed last year’s title game. Gullatte rushed for 5 scores, and Jentsch said after the game he’d handed the offensive award off to his teammate.

3A Division 2

Gunter’s ground game pulls away from Paul Pewitt

What Greg Tepper thought: Gunter was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Omaha Paul Pewitt was a 1-point favorite

What our computer thought: Gunter was the favorite

What happened: Gunter 43, Paul Pewitt 22

Ground-oriented Gunter tried four passes in the first half. None hit the ground, but two were grabbed for interceptions by Kadrien Johnson, one of which he took 75 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers got back to their basics and ran away with the state championship. Gunter snapped the ball 29 times in the second half and ran it each time. Pewitt was never able to get its ground game going.

4A Division 1

Carthage returns to top of 4A D1 in battle of last 4 champs

What Greg Tepper thought: Waco La Vega was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Carthage was a 2-point favorite

What our computer thought: Waco La Vega was the favorite

What happened: Carthage 42, Waco La Vega 28

By avenging a regular season loss to Argyle, our panel favored Waco La Vega in a tight game, and for much of the first half, that’s what it was. Carthage’s Kelvontay Dixon scored touchdowns on either side of halftime to propel the Bulldogs to their seventh title in 13 years.

4A Division 2

Battered Pleasant Grove wins second title in three seasons

What Greg Tepper thought: Texarkana Pleasant Grove was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Texarkana Pleasant Grove was a 6-point favorite

What our computer thought: Texarkana Pleasant Grove was the favorite

What happened: Texarkana Pleasant Grove 35, Wimberley 21

A player who’d barely contributed in three weeks stole the show as Texarkana Pleasant Grove pulled away from Wimberley to reclaim the state title. Bruce Garrett rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns as the Hawks overcame injuries that kept key players out and limited others.

5A Division 1

Second time is a charm for Shadow Creek

What Greg Tepper thought: Denton Ryan was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Alvin Shadow Creek was a 3-point favorite

What our computer thought: Denton Ryan was the favorite

What happened: Alvin Shadow Creek 28, Denton Ryan 22

The week’s best game came down to the final play, when Shadow Creek’s TJ Marshall knocked a last-second Hail Mary pass out of Drew Sanders’ grip to deny Denton Ryan a miracle finish. No team had stayed within 24 points. Shadow Creek’s defense held Ryan to just 130 yards of offense through three quarters while building a 28-15 lead.

5A Division 2

Aledo survives Buffaloes’ stampede to win 9th title

What Greg Tepper thought: Aledo was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Aledo was a 7-point favorite

What our computer thought: Fort Bend Marshall was the favorite

What happened: Aledo 45, Fort Bend Marshall 42

Aledo became the second school – and first 11-man school – to win nine state championships by holding off Fort Bend Marshall’s rally in a rematch of the 2018 title game. Jase McClellan broke loose for 161 of his 218 yards after halftime as the Bearcats built a 45-27 lead and held on.

6A Division 1

North Shore wins rematch in game defined by missing stars

What Greg Tepper thought: Galena Park North Shore was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Galena Park North Shore was a 7-point favorite

What our computer thought: Galena Park North Shore was the favorite

What happened: Galea Park North Shore 31, Duncanville 17

How do you effectively preview a game in which one team’s star suffered a season-ending injury in the semifinal and the other team sent a star home for apparent disciplinary reasons? Duncanville quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson missed the game after tearing his ACL in the semifinals. North Shore running back Zachary Evans was reportedly send home from Arlington for apparent disciplinary reasons. Their absences dominated the pregame attention. Without them, North Shore and Duncanville still produced a hard-fought game that wasn’t decided until Dematrius Davis found Charles King alone behind the defense to seal the win. Davis and Roger Hagan both rushed for 100 yards, and the Mustangs’ defense got the best of Duncanville freshman quarterback Chris Parson after he rallied the Panthers late in the first half to tie the game at 17-17.

6A Division 2

Westlake shuts out Guyer to claim school’s second title

What Greg Tepper thought: Denton Guyer was the favorite

What Matt Stepp thought: Denton Guyer was an 8-point favorite

What our computer thought: Westlake was the favorite

What happened: Westlake 24, Denton Guyer 0

Predictions for this one went out the window late in the first quarter. That’s when Denton Guyer quarterback Eli Stowers suffered a knee injury that knocked him out of the game. Without Stowers to complement Kaedric Cobbs, Guyer never threatened the Westlake defense. Meanwhile, Kirkland Michaux threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns as Westlake ended a string of five straight championship game losses.

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