Photo courtesy of The Houston Chronicle
The Katy Tigers have done something only one other 11-man Texas High School football team has ever done: Win nine state championships.
The Tigers dominated en route to a 51-14 drubbing of Cedar Hill by scoring as many points on defense as the Longhorns had on offense. Lineman Cal Varner won defensive MVP honors with three tackles (two for loss) and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Hamilton McMartin had an outstanding game in the secondary for Katy, racking up four tackles, a pass breakup and a fumble returned for a touchdown.
The Tiger defense suffocated Cedar Hill star quarterback Kaidon Salter who finished with 112 yards passing with two interceptions and no touchdowns. Salter ran for 46 yards and two scores on 10 attempts. Varner knew the pressure was affecting Salter and had a good feeling heading into halftime.
"I think we did pretty good for the most part," Varner said. "We just knew he would get frustrated after a little bit. After stuff started going down hill, they fell back on him and he wasn't leading his team no more... he kind of let them go."
Katy opened up the scoring with a 37 yard strike from sophomore Caleb Koger to tight end Taylor Saulsberry and the Tigers didn't look back from there.
The Tigers used a dominant second quarter to put it in good position. Katy out-gained Cedar Hill 123-30 in the period to take a 24-0 lead to halftime. With the Longhorn offense struggling to move the ball and Katy receiving the opening kick of the second half, the Longhorns tried an onside kick and failed. Kicker Nemanja Lazic reportedly tied a state title game record with a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter as well.
The rout was on from there with Katy opening up a 34-0 lead before Kaidon Salter ran in a short touchdown to get Cedar Hill on the board, but it was too little and too late.
The Tigers were led by the Davis brothers as usual, with the duo combining for 233 yards and two scores. Senior running back Jalen Davis ran more out of the two, carrying 23 times for 109 yards while his sophomore brother Seth ran 14 times for 124 yards and was named offensive MVP of the game.
Katy is well known for its lineage of great running backs and Jalen took the podium and spoke about how important it was to continue that lineage of great backs with his brother.
"It's just surreal," Jalen, the older of the two, said. "It's God's work. I think I've learned a lot from (Seth) and he's learned a lot from me. I love him more than anything and I'm blessed to share the backfield with him this year."
Jalen Davis is graduating but Seth will be back next season after a stellar 2020 campaign, as will sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger. Katy just won the 6A Division II state title an hour ago, but looking forward to what the Tigers could have in 2021 is intriguing.
Whether in 6A-I or 6A-II, the Tigers should be right back in title contention. Hopefully next year it won't have to deal with the added challenge of beating the coronavirus in addition to its opponents which coach Gary Joseph was worried about all year.
"The pandemic was something that touched each and every one of us," coach Joseph said. "We're still having people get sick at our school. Hopefully they'll get the vaccine out more and more but it was... a rough go. You know, the kids persevered and that's why I admire them so much... they never wavered."
The pandemic brought its own unique challenges and so did the rigors of playing in district 19-6A. Katy lost to district mate Tompkins 24-19 back on November 5 and finished second in its district for the first time in 12 years. But now this 2020 Katy squad has something rare in common with that 2008 Katy team: State champions despite not winning the district.
Now, nobody will forget the 2020 Katy Tigers.
The only 11-man team to ever win as many titles or more than Katy is Aledo who added a record 10th state championship on Friday. If you squint hard enough and dream big enough, Katy could be tying Aledo for that record next season.