ARLINGTON – Albany head coach Denney Faith is a bridesmaid no more after his Lions knocked off perennial power Mart, 41-21, in the Class 2A Division II title game on Wednesday night in AT&T Stadium. Faith, in his 36th season as the head man at Albany, and his Lions lost in their previous four state championship game appearances.
"It feels a lot better than I thought is was going to feel," Faith said after the game. "We've had a lot of really good football teams that have been close so many times. These guys were able to get it done, and not just for themselves. This was also for those other teams that fought their guts out to get to this spot and couldn't finish."
Faith arrived in Albany as head coach in 1987 and is the longest-tenured coach currently in Texas high school football. The Lions have been a playoff contender in nearly every year since – only posting three sub .500 seasons since his arrival. They’ve won at least 10 games in 12 of the last 14 seasons.
He won 343 games at Albany prior to Wednesday night but winning the biggest game of the year remained elusive. Albany won back-to-back titles in 1960 and 1961, but the Lions fell one game short in 1991, 2009, 2014, and 2015 with Faith in charge.
The road to the program’s first title in over 60 years was rocky, especially early on as the Lions limped to a 3-2 start in non-district play. Albany lost two straight home games, one to Hawley by 12 points and another to Comanche by three. Injuries played a part, especially the one to starting quarterback Cole Chapman. Running back Coy Lefevre also missed time.
"We told them before the season start that we were going to challenge them in pre-district so that we're prepared for this time of matchup," Faith said. "We had a couple of injuries in those games, but our guys battled and competed hard. That made us a better football team in the end."
Those two were back in a big way by the time Albany faced eight-time state champion Mart – a team that only allowed 6.4 points per game. The Lions scored 28 in the first half, including 14 from two interceptions. Chapman was 6 of 17 for 93 yards through the air, adding a team-high 129 on the ground. LeFevre scored three touchdowns on his first five runs and finished with 65 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries.
Mart ended the season 15-1. Albany finished the year 14-2. The Lions outrushed Mart, 311 to 167. Albany averaged 6.8 yards per rush.
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.