The Cooldown- Week 16

Cover Photo via the Dallas Morning News/ Elias Valverde II

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right, it’s State Championship weekend in Arlington! There have been plenty of thrilling games and unforgettable moments throughout this season, but there’s just one week left. South Oak Cliff has a chance to make history and complete one of the greatest seasons in DISD history. Duncanville has a shot at revenge against Galena Park North Shore. There are plenty of storylines heading into the final week of the season. First, let’s take a look back at how we got here.

Duncanville eliminates Southlake Carroll

Duncanville and Southlake Carroll met for the fourth straight year in the State Semifinal round. Duncanville won the first two matchups and Southlake Carroll got the better of the Panthers last season. It was all Duncanville in round four though. The Panthers dominated Southlake Carroll from start to finish to eliminate the Dragons 35-9.

The Duncanville dominance started on the opening drive when Omari Abor came up with a strip sack of Southlake Carroll quarterback Kaden Anderson and returned the fumble for a touchdown. It was a dominating performance for the Duncanville defense. Duncanville quarterback Solomon James played his best game in a Panther uniform. James completed all 12 of his passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 34 yards and a score. Speaking of those Duncanville uniforms, the all-black “D’Ville” uniforms might be one of the best in the area. Malachi Medlock led the Panthers on the ground with 143 yards on 24 carries. Star freshman receiver Dakorien Moore led the Duncanville receivers with two receptions for 85 yards and a score. Lontrell Turner added four receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown and Medlock caught three passes for 17 yards and a touchdown.

Southlake Carroll was able to move the ball for much of the afternoon but was unable to finish drives. Kaden Anderson completed 15 of his 25 passing attempts for 212 yards and two interceptions. Owen Allen carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards and James Lehman added three carries for eight yards and the lone Southlake Carroll touchdown. Landon Samson ended his outstanding career with the Dragons with three receptions for 109 yards and RJ Maryland added three receptions for 61 yards. The rushing numbers prove just how dominate the front seven was for Duncanville’s defense.

South Oak Cliff eliminates Lubbock Cooper

The historical context of South Oak Cliff making the 5A DII State Championship Game is being celebrated across the metroplex this week. I know a lot of DISD schools will be out at AT&T Stadium to support the Golden Bears against Liberty Hill, but I would urge the entire metroplex to come out and support an incredible group of student-athletes trying to make history. DISD hasn’t had a school win a state title since Dallas Carter in 1988, though that title was later stripped and awarded to Carter’s opponent in that game. So that technically means the last team DISD team to win a State Championship was in the 1950’s and the last to make a State Championship Game was in 2004. South Oak Cliff deserves the support of the entire metroplex.

Kevin Henry- Jennings completed 13 of his 18 passing attempts for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Ke’Undrae Hollywood led the Golden Bears on the ground with 104 yards on 17 carries and Qualon Farrar added seven carries for 36 yards and two scores. Tedrick Williams also scored a touchdown on the ground on one of his two carries. Kylin Mathis led the receivers with five receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Randy Reece opened the game by returning the kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown and South Oak Cliff never looked back, eliminating Lubbock Cooper 44-10.

Denton Guyer eliminates Tomball

Denton Guyer watched Austin Westlake dismantle Katy 45-14 to advance to the 6A DII State Championship Game before the Wildcats took the field for the second game of a double-header at McLane Stadium. Denton Guyer one-upped its opponent in the 6A DII State Championship Game by eliminating Tomball 59-14.

Denton Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold completed seven of his nine passing attempts for 138 yards and three touchdowns before his night ended early. Arnold also added 74 yards on the ground before the starters were replaced with the backups. Grayson O’Bara, Sutton Lee and Dylan Rivero all caught touchdown passes. Isaiah Roque added five carries for 68 yards and a score. Jackson Foster and Byron Phillips also scored touchdowns on the ground. It was an all-around dominating performance from Denton Guyer. The Wildcats will face a much tougher opponent in the 6A DII State Championship Game, but junior quarterback Jackson Arnold has experience playing against Austin Westlake on the biggest stage.

State Championship Preview

3A DI State Championship Game

Brock (15-0) vs Lorena (13-2)

Brock takes on Lorena on Thursday afternoon at 3:00 in the 3A DI State Championship Game from AT&T Stadium. Brock and Lorena are both 1-1 all-time in State Championship Games. Brock eliminated Mount Vernon 35-28 in overtime on a pass to tight end Nathan Jones, who was lined up at center as an eligible receiver. Lorena defeated Lago Vista 55-17 to advance to the State Championship Game.

Prediction: Brock: 28 Lorena: 21

3A DII State Championship Game

Gunter (15-0) vs Franklin (15-0)

Gunter will face Franklin in the 3A DII State Championship Game at 7:00 on Thursday night from AT&T Stadium. The Gunter offense averages over 51 points-per-game but will face the top defense in 3A DII in a Franklin squad giving up just 8.9 points-per-game. Gunter is 2-1 in State Championship Games and Franklin is 0-2. Quarterback Hudson Graham and running back Ethan Sloan will look to lead Gunter to its third State Championship in school history.

Prediction: Gunter: 35 Franklin: 32

4A DI State Championship Game

Stephenville (15-0) vs Austin LBJ (15-0)

Stephenville will take on Austin LBJ in the 4A DI State Championship Game on Friday morning at 11:00 from AT&T Stadium. Another matchup of undefeated teams, Stephenville will have its hands full with a talented Austin LBJ squad. Stephenville is a perfect 5-0 in State Championship Games while Austin LBJ is making its first appearance in a State Championship Game since it started playing football in 1974. Both teams won thrillers in the State Semifinal round as Stephenville eliminated Wichita Falls Hirschi 38-35 and Austin LBJ eliminated Tyler Chapel Hill 38-35. Ironically, both games ended in the same score and both were played at The Star in Frisco. Now, each team will make the trek just north of Frisco to Arlington to decide the 4A DI State Championship.

Prediction: Stephenville: 31 Austin LBJ: 27

5A DII State Championship Game

South Oak Cliff (14-1) vs Liberty Hill (13-2)

South Oak Cliff takes on Liberty Hill in the 5A DII State Championship Game on Saturday morning at 11:00 from AT&T Stadium. This might be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend with two drastically different styles of offense. South Oak Cliff runs a spread offense and will be the most athletic team Liberty Hill has faced by a wide margin. Liberty Hill runs a Wing-T offense and will run the ball more than any team South Oak Cliff has faced. South Oak Cliff did shut down a talented Frisco rushing attack, but Frisco doesn’t run it as often as Liberty Hill does. In the end, I don’t think Liberty Hill will be able to keep up with South Oak Cliff’s athleticism as Kevin Henry- Jennings, Randy Reece, Ke’Undrae Hollywood, Qualon Farrar and Kylin Mathis score enough points to put the game out of reach. As former Duncanville and Red Oak quarterback Chris Parson said “Got my bread on SOC.” I wouldn’t bet against CP and I certainly wouldn’t bet against this South Oak Cliff team.

Prediction: South Oak Cliff: 47 Liberty Hill: 35

6A DI State Championship Game

Duncanville (13-1) vs Galena Park North Shore (14-1)

Duncanville faces Galena Park North Shore in the 6A DI State Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 from AT&T Stadium. Duncanville will look to deliver coach Reginald Samples his first State Championship after losing to North Shore in the 6A DI State Championship Game on the last play in 2018, and again by a few scores in 2019. Is the third time the charm for Duncanville against North Shore? This is an intriguing matchup as the strength of both teams is on defense. The difference in this game could come down to how each quarterback handles pressure. Duncanville quarterback Solomon James is a senior, though it’s his first season at Duncanville, and is coming off of his best performance for the Panthers. North Shore quarterback Kaleb Bailey is just a freshman but captained the North Shore offense to a 49-21 win over Lake Travis last weekend. This should be a great game, but I am taking Duncanville to defeat North Shore to win the 6A DI State Championship.

Prediction: Duncanville: 28 Galena Park North Shore: 20

6A DII State Championship Game

Denton Guyer (14-1) vs Austin Westlake (15-0)

Denton Guyer takes on Austin Westlake in the 6A DII State Championship Game on Saturday night at 7:00 from AT&T Stadium. Denton Guyer was shutout by Austin Westlake 24-0 in the 2019 6A DII State Championship Game as these two teams meet for the second time in three years. Austin Westlake is looking for a third straight State Championship and to send coach Todd Dodge into retirement on a high note. Denton Guyer is looking for revenge from that 2019 State Championship Game and to deliver coach Rodney Webb his first State Championship. Slowing down Austin Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik and receiver Jaden Greathouse won’t be easy, but Denton Guyer has an excellent secondary, led by Peyton Bowen and Marquan Pope. Denton Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold got his start for the Wildcats in the 2019 State Championship Game, filling in for Eli Stowers, who suffered an injury early in that game. Since then, Arnold has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the class of 2023 and should be prepared to take on a team many consider to be the best in the state.

Prediction: Austin Westlake: 45 Denton Guyer:28

Offensive Players of the Week

My Offensive Players of the Week are Brock quarterback Tyler Moody and Brock tight end Nathan Jones! Moody connects with Jones for the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to push Brock past Mount Vernon 35-28 and send the Eagles to the 3A DI State Championship Game! Jones lined up as the center as an eligible receiver and released to the flat as Moody and the rest of the offense was rolling right. Moody then looked left and found Jones all alone for the game-winning touchdown!

Defensive Player of the Week

My Defensive Player of the Week is Duncanville defensive end Omari Abor! Duncanville set the tone for its matchup with Southlake Carroll from the first possession when Abor came flying around the edge to sack Kaden Anderson and force a fumble. Abor recovered that fumble and returned it for a touchdown to give Duncanville a 7-0 lead before its offense even touched the field!

Cover Photo of Duncanville's Jaylen Early and Lontrell Turner courtesy of the Dallas Morning News and Staff Photographer Elias Valverde II.