Stepps 6A State Recap: Dominance on display in final day of 2020 season

By Thomas Hays

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The longest season in TXHSFB history wrapped up on January 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington and, unfortunately for fans of close games, we were not treated to nail-biters as both Katy and Austin Westlake won in emphatic fashion to close the curtains on a 2020 season that dragged into 2021.

The opening game of the day went exactly like the two games on Friday as we had another lopsided result as Katy brought home their ninth state title in school history with a 51-14 dismantling of Cedar Hill in the school’s fourth state title meeting since 2012.

Katy’s dominance in the trenches was evident from the start as their offensive line blew open massive running lanes, as the Tigers averaged nearly seven yards per rush. The Tigers defensive line harassed Cedar Hill QB Kaidon Salter all game long and forced three Longhorns turnovers, scoring directly on two of them.

Cedar Hill, with a depleted group of running backs, had to rely almost solely on the pass and Katy’s defense took full advantage of the one-dimensional offense. Katy ran for 311 yards on the day, with senior RB Jalen Davis and his younger brother, sophomore Seth Davis leading the way combining for 239 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

In the much anticipated “Dodge Bowl” season finale, it was father teaching son a lesson or two as Austin Westlake pulled away from Southlake Carroll, 52-34, to win their second straight state title. The Chaps defense was the story in the second half as after clinging to a 28-21 halftime lead, they held a powerful Carroll offense in check in the decisive third quarter as the lead ballooned to 52-21 before the Dragons added a pair of late window dressing touchdowns.

Much of the talk during the week surrounded the father/son battle of Westlake head coach Todd Dodge and Carroll head coach Riley Dodge, and although that provided a nice subplot, ultimately the Westlake defense which has been so good all year asserted itself in key moments, while the Chaparrals running game stole the show with nearly 300 yards on the night averaging over seven yards per carry.

Both highly touted junior signal callers played well with Carroll’s Quinn Ewers throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns along with two interceptions, but it was Westlake’s Cade Klubnik who had the better day completing 18 of 20 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown and adding in 97 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

In the midst of a terrible pandemic that has impacted so many in the state, the country and the entire planet, Texas High School Football found a way to solider on and bring about some sense of normalcy for kids and communities across the state. Seniors got to play their season for the most part, homecomings took place, kids got to be kids, even for a few hours a day.

The fact that coaches, administrators, kids and families took a difficult situation with plenty of new challenges and protocols and made it work is an achievement in and of itself. Was it always perfect? Absolutely not. Were the conversations and decisions about playing or not playing worthy? Yes. Good arguments could be made on both sides of the issue, but ultimately putting mitigation protocols in place and trying to provide the kids a sense of normalcy in my opinion was the right move.

So thank you to everyone who played even a small part in making the 2020 Texas High School Football season happen. I don’t ever want to have a season like this again, but I won’t forget this season either. I know one thing; we’ll all appreciate full stadiums and normalcy just a little bit more very soon.

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