3A Division II UIL Football State Championship Preview: Gunter (15-0) vs. Tidehaven (14-0)

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Gunter (15-0) vs. Tidehaven (14-0), 7 p.m. Thursday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium

Gunter will look to defend its state championship and win its 31st straight game (45th game in its last 46 games) as it takes on upstart Tidehaven playing in its first state championship game since 1980.

Both teams mascots are the Tigers and both wear blue in their colors, but the similarities end there for the most part.

Gunter put together maybe its most impressive performance of the year last week in its annual showdown with Canadian with a dominant 38-17 win. QB Walker Overman led the way with 120 passing yards passing and a touchdown, while adding 92 yards rushing and two scores.

The Gunter defense held Canadian to zero rushing yards in the first half as DE Brayden Hinton was simply dominant all night long for GHS.

Tidehaven embraced the underdog role well last week as THS went to overtime to knock off Daingerfield, 20-14. Baylor RB commit Joseph Dodds was Tidehaven’s offense for the most part with 73 yards on the ground and two scores and he had 59-receiving yards and a tremendous touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime.

Tidehaven’s defense has been lights out all year long and they’ll need maybe their best game of the year to contain this lethal Gunter offense triggered by Overman.

I do not believe we’ll see the blowout we saw last year in this game when Gunter drilled Poth, but Gunter is the best team in 3A-Division II and it’s by a decent margin. 

Stepp’s Pick: Gunter by 21 




DE Brayden Hinton - One of the more intriguing players you'll see at AT&T Stadium is this Gunter do-it-all, line-up-anywhere playmaker. Hinton (6-0, 205) will line up at defensive end and linebacker, and simply dominant the point of attack. While you might think he'd be undersized to make a difference at the line of scrimmage, you'd be wrong. Hinton's speed is often too much to handle for tackles, and usually results in TFLs. Playmaker, plain and simple. If Gunter wins, he's the betting favorite to take home Defensive MVP honors.

QB Walker Overman - If you're not familiar with Overman's game, just know the 5-7, 145-pounder will run through you and then let you know about it. He's tough as nails. Overman has tremendous speed, which makes him simply impossible to corral in the pocket. He's got a cannon for a right arm too. 

WR Cannon Lemberg - If The Tigers need a big play through the air, odds are it's going to this SFA commit amd odds are, he's going to make it. Lemberg is incredibly elusive in the open field, and has a knack for making contested catches. He has a nose for the endzone, and is a favorite of Overman's inside the redzone. 


RB Joseph Dodds - One of the top prospects at AT&T Stadium will be this Baylor commit, who, at 6-0, 200, has the ability to run through you or around you. Dodds is ranked as the No. 10 RB and No. 92 player in the DCTF Hot 100.

TE/DE Justin Griffith - Anytime you make a play that Randy Moss features on "You Got Mossed" you've gotta be pretty good. Griffith is a matchup nightmare for defenders are 6-3, 220. When Tidehaven gets inside the redzone, expect at least one fade to go his way.

LB Ricky Rubio - A force in run support and in pass defense, Rubio is the leader of a stout Tidehave defense that has pitched eight shutouts and held all but three opponents to single digits.

William Wilkerson



Malakoff DE Doc Renberg vs. Franklin RB Jayden Jackson - When Franklin’s offense lines up against Malakoff’s defense, there’s going to be two grown men on the field. Running back Jayden Jackson split carries with Baylor running back Bryson Washington on Franklin’s undefeated state championship team last year, and he got bigger this season. He’s the bell-cow of Franklin’s run-first attack. Malakoff defensive end Doc Renberg is one of the state’s biggest sleepers on the recruiting trail at 6-foot-2-inches, 220 pounds. He made a strip sack in the state semis against Brock that proved to be the game’s difference, AND he caught a 70-yard TD pass lining up at tight end.

Franklin LBs Brayden Youree and Caleb Smith vs. Malakoff QB Mike Jones - Youree and Smith are the dynamic duo at the forefront of Franklin’s defense. They’ve shared district defensive MVP honors the previous two seasons, have each put up well over 100 tackles and are the leaders of a Franklin program that’s won 22 of its last 23 playoff games. Malakoff QB Mike Jones has a cannon, but he’s a difference-maker on the ground. He scored a 52-yard rushing touchdown in the state semifinal win over Brock. When Jones decides to tuck it and run, Youree and Smith will have to meet him in the hole.

Carter Yates






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