The Cooldown: Week 16

Football fans, it’s officially state championship weekend in Texas! 15 weeks are down and just one remains in the 2022 season. If you can’t make it to Arlington, tune in Wednesday- Saturday to catch the 2022 UIL State Championships on Bally Sports. The metroplex is well represented at UIL State this year. South Dallas contributed three teams to DFW’s cause, and we’ll have a recap of those three games below.

This is the last weekend until August without football. It will be a long time until we get to hear the pads pop and the crowd cheer. As always, football season came and went in a flash. There are plenty of teams that have a shot to etch their names in the history books this weekend, so let’s recap some state semifinal games and preview metroplex area teams competing for a state title this weekend.

DeSoto eliminates Denton Guyer

DeSoto suffocated Denton Guyer is a 47-28 win. The Eagles are headed back to the State Championship Game for the first time since 2016. The DeSoto defense made it hard for Denton Guyer to get anything going on offense. The Wildcats couldn’t establish the run and the receivers often didn’t get enough separation from DeSoto’s secondary to give Jackson Arnold an easy completion. Meanwhile, the DeSoto offensive line was routinely getting to the second level, making it easy for the Eagles trio of running backs to keep the DeSoto offense ahead of the chains. Aside from a short period to start the fourth quarter in which Denton Guyer went on a quick 14-0 run to make things interesting, DeSoto controlled this game from start to finish.

DeSoto quarterback Darius Bailey completed 10 of his 18 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Bailey only connected with two receivers with Cedric Harden Jr. catching three passes for 65 yards and a score and Johntay Cook catching seven passes for 58 yards. Bailey added seven carries for 78 yards on the ground. Deondrae Riden Jr. carried the ball 30 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Tre Wisner rushed for 78 yards on seven carries and Jaden Trawick added 53 yards and two scores on nine carries. The Denton Guyer defense couldn’t stop the run and DeSoto took full advantage.

Denton Guyer quarterback Jackson Arnold completed 15 of his 26 passes for 221 yards and rushed for 39 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Trey Joyner rushed for 86 yards and two scores on 19 carries. Sutton Lee caught three passes for 66 yards and Landon Sides caught three passes for 65 yards. Josiah Martin rounded out the receiving production with five receptions for 62 yards.

The DeSoto defense deserves a big shout out for its effort on Saturday. Nearly every time Denton Guyer needed a big play, it was the DeSoto defense that rose to the occasion. The Wildcats averaged just 3.1 yards-per-carry and kept the Denton Guyer receiving corps in check and out of the end zone.

South Oak Cliff eliminates Argyle

South Oak Cliff has won five playoff games in every way imaginable this year. The Golden Bears can score more than 40 points and win and can also drag an opponent down into the mud for a defensive battle. Friday was the latter as South Oak Cliff eliminated Argyle 14-6. The Golden Bears outgained Argyle 215-188 as the South Oak Cliff defense flexed its muscles, holding Argyle to 2.3 yards per-carry-carry and only allowed six completed passes.

South Oak Cliff quarterback William Little completed 11 of his 17 passes for 88 yards. Corinthean Coleman caught three passes for 41 yards to lead the Golden Bears in receiving. Joshua Manley chipped in three receptions for 29 yards. Jayvon Thomas led South Oak Cliff in rushing with 57 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Danny Green Jr. gained 50 yards and scored a touchdown on 17 carries.

Argyle quarterback John Gailey completed six of his 16 passes for 101 yards. Gailey’s favorite target was Will Krzysiak, who caught four passes for 65 yards. RJ Bunnell carried the ball 16 times for 56 yards and Jacob Robinson gained 51 yards on 11 carries. Landon Farris got just three carries and gained five yards. The Eagles six points came on two field goals from Carter Buxton.

Argyle had a fantastic season in its first year in the 5A ranks. In the end though, South Oak Cliff proved it’s a championship caliber program. The moment hasn’t been too big or too small for this group. The entire metroplex was behind South Oak Cliff when it won its first State Championship Game last year, and I’m sure the same will be true this weekend as The Mecca goes for its second straight 5A DII State Championship.

Duncanville eliminates Prosper

Duncanville advanced to its fourth 6A DI State Championship Game in the last five years after a 41-0 shutout of Prosper. This game featured a lengthy lightning delay and driving rain for the majority of the game, but the wait was worth it for the Panthers. The weather certainly had an impact on this game as neither team was able to throw it around normally. Duncanville averaged 8.8 yards-per-carry while Prosper mustered less than a yard-per-carry. That was the main difference in this game turning out as lopsided as it did.

Duncanville quarterback Keelon Russell completed seven of his 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Dakorien Moore caught three passes for 83 yards and a score to lead the Duncanville receiving corps. Caden Durham was the star of the night on offense, rushing for 206 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. JaQualon Armstrong gained 96 yards on 10 carries and Moore rushed for 59 yards on two attempts. Kaleb Kenney rounded out the rushing production with seven carries for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Prosper quarterback Harrison Rosar completed 12 of his 28 passes for 118 yards and added 12 yards on the ground. Trevor Montayne lead the rushing attack with 14 yards on six carries. Nathan Tenbarge led the receivers with five receptions for 71 yards and Hunter Summers added four receptions for 27 yards.

Prosper had a fantastic season, advancing to the state semifinal round for the first time as a 6A program. At the end of the day, Duncanville had too much speed for Prosper to deal with. As good of a season as Prosper had, this night was about the Panthers. Duncanville is no stranger to AT&T Stadium but hasn’t had much success there. Duncanville has a chance to rewrite history this weekend.

Games to Watch

6A DI State Championship Game

Duncanville (14-0) vs Galena Park North Shore (15-0)

For the fourth time in five years it will be the Panthers from Duncanville taking on the Mustangs from Galena Park North Shore in the 6A DI State Championship Game. Kickoff is set for Saturday night at 7:00. Duncanville was a play away from beating North Shore for the 2018 state title. Instead, the Panthers are 0-3 against the Mustangs and looking to avoid an 0-4 record against North Shore on the biggest stage.

North Shore sophomore QB Kaleb Bailey suffered a season ending injury and the Mustangs have been using top wide receiver David Amador, or “Touchdown Dave” at quarterback throughout the playoffs. Bailey played a big role in North Shore’s victory over Duncanville in the 2021 title game as a freshman, passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns. On the flip side, Duncanville was without a key playmaker in 2021 in running back Caden Durham, who will play in the 2022 State Championship Game.

North Shore has put up points against good teams in the playoffs with Amador at quarterback. Amador and the North Shore rushing attack hasn’t faced a player the caliber of Colin Simmons yet in the playoffs. I think Simmons will have a big game en route to Defensive MVP and coach Reginald Samples will get his first title. I am taking Duncanville to beat North Shore and end a three-game losing streak to the Mustangs in the state title game.

6A DII State Championship Game

DeSoto (13-2) vs Austin Vandegrift (14-1)

DeSoto returns to the state title game for the first time since 2016 to face Austin Vandegrift on Saturday afternoon at 3:00. DeSoto eliminated Denton Guyer 47-28 in its most dominate showing of the season. Austin Vandegrift beat Katy in a 38-35 instant classic to advance to the 6A DII State Championship Game. Both teams had to beat schools that have been to Arlington recently. DeSoto made it look easy and Austin Vandegrift had an answer every time Katy threw its best punch. This should be a fun matchup.

DeSoto’s offense is one of the most exciting offenses in the state. QB Darius Bailey has a big arm and loves to air out to a talented receiving corps, led by Johntay Cook. The five-star Texas commit knows how to get open, even in double coverage. He also opens up opportunities for Cedric Harden Jr. and Caimon Mathis. Deondrae Riden Jr. had a great season as the primary back for DeSoto. Riden left the Denton Guyer game with an injury but will play, according to Shawn McFarland of the Dallas Morning News. Tre Wisner and Jaden Trawick are also capable backs to give DeSoto a three-headed monster it will use early and often against the Vipers.

Austin Vandegrift plays similarly to Katy, using a bruising offensive line to pave the way for its running backs. Alex Witt rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season and will need to have a big game to open up the passing attack. QB Brayden Buchanan’s favorite target is Miles Coleman. Austin Vandegrift had a great season and avenged a regular season loss to Dripping Springs in the playoffs before eliminating Katy. I think the magic runs out on Saturday as DeSoto defeats Austin Vandegrift to take home its second title.

5A DI State Championship Game

Aledo (13-2) vs College Station (13-2)

Aledo returns to Arlington for the first time in 2020 to take on College Station on Saturday morning at 11:00. The Bearcats reached the 5A DI State Championship Game in their first season in 5A DI. College Station was a participant in this game last year, losing a heartbreaker to Katy Paetow in overtime.

Aledo and College Station started the season in similar, disappointing fashion. Aledo lost to Parish Episcopal 24-17 and College Station lost to Lovejoy 52-27. Both teams rebounded from a slow start to advance to the 5A DI State Championship Game. Aledo QB Hauss Hejny can run as well as he can throw. Davhon Keys and Hawk Patrick- Daniels are also dynamic playmakers on offense, and freshman tight end Kaydon Finley should play a role in this game as well.

One name missing from the box score for College Station will be RB Marquise Collins. The Duke commit suffered a season ending knee injury before the season even started. Instead, it’s been the emergence of sophomore Ayden Martinez-Brown at running back that has kept the Cougars offense afloat. QB Arrington Maiden has also progressed this season and will need to have a big game if College Station has a chance to beat Aledo. The Bearcats have won 10 State Championships and they proudly display that on their helmets. College Station has just one State Championship, but it beat Aledo to win that title. I think Aledo will avenge that loss on Saturday and win its first 5A DI State Championship.

5A DII State Championship Game

South Oak Cliff (12-3) vs Port Neches-Groves (13-2)

South Oak Cliff is looking for its second straight 5A DII State Championship when it takes on Port Neches-Groves on Friday night at 7:00. South Oak Cliff’s brutal non-district schedule and championship experience in 2021 paid off in a big way as the Golden Bears navigated a tough playoff road and won a handful of close games. Port Neches-Groves avenged a regular season loss to Fort Bend Marshall and eliminated 2021 state finalists Austin LBJ and Liberty Hill en route to Arlington.

South Oak Cliff has dominated the ground game this season, using a mix of Danny Green Jr. Tedrick Williams and Jayvon Thomas. William Little has had some of his best games this season in the playoffs. Little will need to connect with Corinthean Coleman, Jamyri Cauley and the South Oak Cliff receivers to make the Golden Bears offense harder to defend.

Port Neches-Groves QB Cole Crippen has plenty of options of where to go to with the ball at running back and receiver. Landon Guarnere, Shea Adams, Chance Prosperie and Isaiah Nguyen will all play a role on Friday night. Crippen and his offense haven’t faced a secondary as talented as South Oak Cliff’s. The Golden Bears might just have the most talented secondary in the entire state, with all four starters headed to either power five schools or SMU.

On another note, both of these teams represent relatively new blood in Arlington. South Oak Cliff made its first State Championship Game last year, and Port Neches-Groves hasn’t been back to the State Championship Game since 1999. Both teams have massive fanbases and followings, so this game has the potential to be the highest attended game of the weekend. I think South Oak Cliff will win its second straight title in front of a record attendance crowd.

3A DI State Championship Game

Brock (11-4) vs Franklin (15-0)

Brock will look to avenge a loss in the 2021 3A DI State Championship Game against Franklin on Thursday night at 7:00. Franklin won its first title in its 107-year history in the 2021 3A DII State Championship Game. Now the Lions will look to win a title in 3A DI.

Brock started 0-4, including two losses to state finalists Wimberly and Gunter, in a tough non-district schedule. That 0-4 start feels like forever ago as the Eagles have reeled off 11 straight wins. QB Tyler Moody and RB Reid Watkins have put the offense on their backs this season. If Brock wins, those two will have had big performances.

Franklin RB Bryson Washington is one of the best players in the 3A ranks this season, and he is even tougher to stop in the Slot-T offense Franklin runs. Jayden Jackson has also had a big season on the ground and figuring out which of Washington and Jackson has the ball on any given play will be a tall task. The Brock defense will need to know the Slot-T like the back of their hands by Thursday night. Only time will tell if the Eagles defense passes the semesters toughest test. Ace the final test and a second state title might be coming to Brock. If not, it could be a long night for Brock fans. I think Franklin’s rushing attack will be too much for the Eagles, however, if there is any 3A team in the state capable of beating Franklin, it’s Brock.

3A DII State Championship Game

Gunter (14-0) vs Poth (14-1)

Gunter is looking for a third state title in the last seven years as it takes on a Poth team playing for its first state title since the 1960’s on Thursday afternoon at 3:00. Gunter fell to Franklin in the 3A DII State Championship Game a year ago and will want to wash away the memories of defeat at AT&T Stadium with a win this Thursday.

Gunter’s offense is among the most dynamic in class 3A. QB Walker Overman has plenty of dynamic playmakers to spread the ball around to. Ethan Sloan tops that list as a player that should go down as one of the best to ever play at Gunter. Cannon Lemberg and Ivy Hellman caught second half touchdown passes to power Gunter past Canadian last week. Those two will be involved in the offensive game plan against Poth.

Poth likes to get it done on the ground with Matthew Bunn and Zane Raabe. QB Raabe can also sling it around, which only opens up things for him on the ground. Both of these teams average more than 40 points-per-game. This game will likely come down to which defense gets more stops.

Gunter has the experience of playing for a title in AT&T Stadium. Poth hasn’t won a title since 7on7 a few years back in College Station. I think Gunter will ultimately prevail over Poth as the more talented and more experienced team.

Offensive Player of the Week

My Offensive Player of the Week is DeSoto running back Deondrae Riden! DeSoto eliminated Denton Guyer and was always going to need a lot of yards and points to do so. Riden delivered on both, carrying the ball 30 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns! Riden will need to have another strong performance next week in the 6A DII State Championship Game.

Defensive Player of the Week

My Defensive Player of the Week is Duncanville defensive back Vernon Grant III! Duncanville preserved its shutout of Prosper thanks to Grant’s interception as the Eagles were driving late in the game. Grant and the Duncanville defense will need to shut down the Galena Park North Shore offense to bring Duncanville its first state title under Reginald Samples.