The Cooldown: Week 21
The longest high school football season Texas has ever seen is finally over after 21 weeks and one Houston area school took home a state championship.
It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. Schedules were made, re-made, adjusted and then re-made some more. Games were postponed and cancelled outright and some playoff games were forfeited. Some schools played more non-district games than others; some schools played their final non-district games in the last week of the season.
All of that is to say, we made it. Through all the logistical nightmares, pandemic scares and everything that came with that, the UIL still crowned 12 football state champions. That is no easy feat this season and my hope is that the same can be done for the spring sports. With that being said, lets recap the two state games that included Houston area teams and put a bow on this football season.
State Recap: Crosby
Crosby rolled into the 5A Division II state championship game with an unmatched playoff resume.
After finishing second in its own district, the Cougars ripped off wins against three top-five teams. First up was No. 5 Texas High in round two, a 20-point thrashing. Then came wins against No. 3 Huntsville and No. 4 Fort Bend Marshall – who had played in the previous two 5A Division II state games; losing both to Aledo. Crosby would be faced with the same challenge.
If the Cougars could pull it off it would be on the backs of outstanding duo Deniquez Dunn and Reggie Branch. I noted before the game that the two had interesting stats for the year with nearly identical stats at quarterback, running back and receiver.
Naturally, Branch was the leading receiver, Dunn was the leading passer and the two were the only Cougars to carry the ball more than once as well. Dunn finished with 169 yards and a touchdown and an INT through the air with another 113 yards and a score on the ground. Branch racked up 74 yards and a score on the ground to go with four catches for 79 yards.
All that wasn’t enough to top the Aledo machine. Brayden Nicolosi had a good day through the air with 216 yards and two scores on 15-for-19 passing while Alabama signee JoJo Earle caught six of those passes for a team-best 133 yards and a score.
The story of the day for the now 10-time state champion Bearcats was offensive MVP Demarco Roberts, who gashed Crosby on the ground for 258 yards and a whopping six touchdowns on 31 carries.
This was a good back-and-forth game at the end of one but quickly turned into a blowout. Roberts took over with Aledo winning it 56-21 after rolling up 615 yards of offense compared to 361 for Crosby.
A state championship game – regardless of sport or state – is hard to make. Looking at the eight state finalists in 5A and 6A, seven of them had played for a state title since 2011. Crosby was the outlier playing in its first state title game in 60 years. Congratulations to Crosby and coach Jerry Prieto on an outstanding season!
State Recap: Katy
In a year that felt so bizarre and anything but normal, Katy facing Cedar Hill for the 6A Division II state title provided a little normalcy.
I already wrote a little bit about this in my game story which you can read by clicking on the tweet below.
These two squads met up three years in a row in the mid 2010s, making this the fourth time the two squared off at state in the last nine years. Katy took home the title the first time they met up in 2012 but Cedar Hill won the next two. The Tigers came into the game favored to tie the series up at two apiece.
Katy struck first with this beautiful pass from Caleb Koger to Taylor Saulsberry for the only scoring of the first quarter.
But the second quarter belonged to the Tigers as well. Katy held Cedar Hill scoreless in the first half to take a commanding 24-0 lead to the locker room. Cedar Hill answered the bell in the third quarter by scoring two touchdowns but it was too little and too late.
This game was dominated by the Davis brothers as expected. Sophomore Seth Davis ran for 124 yards and a touchdown with his older brother Jalen ran for 109 yards and a score. The real story was the Katy defense – holding Cedar Hill quarterback and Tennessee signee Kaidon Salter to just 112 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Salter added 10 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers have now done something no other 11-man team in Texas has done other than the aforementioned Aledo – win nine state titles. This Katy squad hadn’t lost its district since 2008 before it slipped to Tompkins this season. Now, that 2008 squad and 2020 Katy have something in common: lose the district, win the state title.
What a year...
I won’t lie I 100 percent did not expect to have a season in June and most of July. The UIL announced an on-time start for 1A through 4A and a four-week delay to the season for 5A and 6A on July 21. That was the first time I thought the season might happen; even then it was far from a guarantee the season would finish.
Many other states didn’t play any high school sports in the fall. Some have already cancelled high school sports for the spring. Regardless of the results, limited crowds and everything else that was different about this year, I’m glad it was able to happen more than anything. Congratulations to Katy on being the only Houston area school to bring home a state title and here’s to more Houston area state titles next year!
Now... on to basketball season.