South Oak Cliff (13-2) vs. Port Neches-Groves (14-1), 11 a.m. Saturday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
The final day of the Texas High School Football season kicks off with a title game rematch as Port Neches-Groves will make the trip up to DFW with an estimated 20,000 of its closest friends to tangle with back-to-back state champion South Oak Cliff.
SOC escaped Frisco Emerson’s upset bid with a 36-24 win in the state semifinals as Danny Green ran for 162 yards and a pair of second half touchdowns. The Golden Bears defense, after a shaky first half start, bounced back in the second half to contain an explosive Emerson offensive attack.
South Oak Cliff was tied at the half 10-10 despite not getting a single first down in the first two quarters.
It’s the second straight week of rematches for Port Neches-Groves as the Indians again eliminated Liberty Hill, this time in a much closer game as PNG won 42-35.
London Nunley hauled in a pair of touchdowns, while versatile Shea Adams made his impact known as well with a touchdown reception. This PNG team still has the big offensive line and grind it out running game, but they appear to be more dynamic with the passing game and it’s made them more dangerous than a year ago.
I don’t believe either defense is at the level they were at a year ago, so expect this one to be a bit more up and down than last year’s relatively low scoring affair.
Port Neches-Groves matches up well with South Oak Cliff in the trenches and that’s why this game will be tight all the way through, with the last team having the ball winning. I view it as coin-flip type game and I’m taking PNG in what most consider an upset.
Stepp’s Pick: Port Neches-Groves by 2
PLAYERS TO WATCH
South Oak Cliff
RB Danny Green - The spear of South Oak Cliff's dangerous ground game, Green shows great patience between tackles and has the burst to pull away from defenders. He's a gamer in every sense of the word.
LB Brandon Jones - One of the staples of South Oak Cliff's legendary run, Jones is the captain of the Golden Bears' "Death Row" defense. Jones, aka "Superman", is committed to ULM.
QB William Little - He might not have all the stars next to his recruiting profile, or offers from every major program in the country, but there's no one that SOC would want leading them more than Little, last season's Offensive MVP of the state championship game. Little simply gets the job done.
WR London Nunley - A big-bodied target who PNG loves to target in the redzone. Nunley hauled in eight catches for 95 yards and two TDs against Liberty Hill.
QB Connor Bailey - Bailey has the keys to PNG's offense and knows exactly how to steer the ship. He completed 13-of-20 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns in the state semifinal, while leading an Indians offense that amassed 472 yards of offense.
ATH Shea Adams - A legit FBS prospect, Adams was PNG's QB last year but has made his impact as a receiver this season. He has offers from Louisiana Tech, Army, Air Force and Navy.
South Oak Cliff RBs vs. PNG D-Line - South Oak Cliff has a pair of running backs that give defenses nightmares. Khalil Ewell has gashed opponents for just under 1,300 yards on 9.16 yards per carry, while Danny Green has one yard less than him (1,291) and 21 touchdowns. Port Neches-Groves defense has shown cracks, giving up 27 and 35 points in two of the past three weeks against high-powered offenses. They’ll rely on defensive linemen Jonathan Hernandez to stack up the Golden Bears’ running backs so its offense can attempt to run up the score.
South Oak Cliff LBs vs. PNG RBs - South Oak Cliff lost almost all its difference makers on defense from last season. But it’s the same wagon with new parts. Sophomore linebacker Jamarion Phillips is an SMU commit with great size (6-foot-1-inches, 220 pounds) and forms a fearsome tandem with three-star Jayden Shelton. Port Neches-Groves has it’s own duo in the backfield, however. Blair Chatagnier is the thunder at 195 pounds, while Isaiah Nguyen is the lightning. The pair combined for 237 yards in the state semifinal win over Liberty Hill.
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