2A Division I UIL Football State Championship Preview: Tolar (14-1) vs. Timpson (15-0)

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Tolar (14-1) vs. Timpson (15-0), 7 p.m. Wednesday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium

Two teams seeking their first state title in school history will open the UIL 11-man title slate Wednesday night.

Tolar, whose only loss came to a private school state champion, comes into this one on an absolute roll after putting together what might be its most impressive performance of the year, a 35-7 romp over previously unbeaten Stratford. QB Isaac Blessing threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score, while a balanced running game with Garrison Nation and Peyton Brown controlled the clock behind Tolar’s imposing offensive line.

Tolar’s defense, which doesn’t often get the credit they deserve, played an absolutely lights out game as well holding an explosive Stratford attack to just one first-half touchdown. A key 4th-and-1 stop near midfield by Tolar’s defense set the tone for a lockdown effort.

Timpson trailed 21-7 in the second quarter to Ganado, but Texas A&M commit Terry Bussey put the Bears on his back as he had a hand in all five Timpson touchdowns in a 35-21 win. Bussey ran for three scores, threw for two others and had a key pass breakup with a big hit in the fourth quarter to prevent Ganado from continuing a drive when Timpson’s lead was just seven points.

Timpson’s small, but quick defense is missing some key pieces, but the Bears have held it together playing an outstanding second half last week. The challenge this week is greater because Tolar presents many of the same problems Ganado did, exceptTolar is bigger and faster. That makes this one a bad matchup for Timpson - the Snake Farm gets their first ever state title. 

Stepp’s Pick: Tolar by 12 




RB/DL Peyton Brown - Tolar’s junior running back broke out last season as a sophomore and missed a good portion of this year with injury. But 114 yards against Marlin and 90 yards on the ground against Stratford in the semifinal shows that the big-bodied runner is returning to his healthy self in time for the biggest game in program history.

QB/LB Isaac Blessing - Tolar’s signal-caller is arguably its toughest runner too. At 6-foot-3 and close to 230 pounds, Blessing will be the battering ram of the rushing attack. He’ll also patrol the middle of the field as the team’s starting middle linebacker and have big task on his hands vs Terry Bussey.

RB/DB Garrison Nation - In Brown’s absence, Garrison Nation has been the feature running back for Tolar rushing for over 1,000 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns. With Brown working back to health, Brown’s only added to an already devastating and physical running game.


QB/S Terry Bussey - Let’s not cut corners here. For Timpson, this game hinges on Terry Bussey. The do-everything five-star athlete will have to have another incredible individual performance with some of the injuries Timpson has to key playmakers.

WR/RB/DB Chris Nickleberry - Get ready to meet Timpson’s other playmakers. Sophomore Chris Nickleberry will be a massive key to this game with the injury to starting running back JJ Garner. He’s stepped in as a reliable rushing threat in addition to his usual receiving duties.

WR/DB Amari Bruton - No Vosky Howard means Terry Bussey’s needed to find a new target out wide. Bruton has 949 yards receiving this year with 11 touchdowns and has stepped up in the post-season averaging 116 receiving yards in the last four weeks including 101 yards again Ganado in the semifinal.

Ishmael Johnson



Timpson QB Terry Bussey vs. Everybody - The reigning Mr. Texas Football will need a Herculean effort to topple Tolar. Bussey extended his career record at Timpson to 51–3 with a five-touchdown performance in the state semis. What’s even more impressive is he’s doing this without standout running back JJ Garner, and his No. 1 wide receiver. Top to bottom, Tolar is the more balanced team. But Timpson has the guy. 

Tolar’s Power Run Game vs. Timpson’s defensive line - Tolar is bigger and stronger than Timpson. When the Rattlers are on defense, the game will come down to if they can catch Terry Bussey. For Timpson’s defense, even if they catch Tolar it might not matter. Running back Peyton Brown missed an extended portion of this season with a leg injury, but the 6-foot-3-inch, 235 pound manchild has dragged tacklers by his ankles to the state championship. When Brown needs a breather, QB/LB Isaac Blessing can lower the boom as well.

Carter Yates






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