Video: Xcellent 25 Football Rankings
One of the biggest Texas championship showdowns includes No. 4 Allen vs. No. 12 Lake Travis.
Training for the 2017 UIL football season began in the heat of August. Almost five months later, just days before Christmas, comes the climax this week with 12 state championship games spread over four days under one roof.
That roof is pretty sizable — AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Three title games will be played each day, beginning with the smallest classifications on Wednesday and concluding with the Class 6A championship games on Saturday.
The feature game of the week is the Class 6A Division I final Saturday afternoon with 15-0 Allen, No. 4 in MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national ranking, facing defending champion Lake Travis (Austin), No. 12 nationally with a 13-2 mark.
To reach this point, the 11-man teams first had to gain a postseason berth in district play and then advance through five rounds of playoff games. The Class 1A six-man teams had to navigate four rounds of playoffs.
A state championship game berth is well-earned.
Five of the 12 championship games match teams with perfect records and five others involve one unbeaten team.
Eight teams have a chance to repeat as state champions. West Orange-Stark (West Orange) in Class 4A-DII is attempting to win its third consecutive title. The other back-to-back candidates: Lake Travis (Austin) 6A-DI; Highland Park 5A-DI; Aledo 5A-DII; Carthage 4A-DI; Gunter 3A-DII; Refugio 2A-DI; Borden County (Gail) 1A-DI.
Here's the state championship lineup:
Class 1A (Six-Man) Division I, 11 a.m.
Borden County (Gail) 14-0 vs. Jonesboro 13-1
A rematch of last year's state title game won 60-12 by Borden County. Borden County punched its return ticket with a 70-38 semifinal throttling of Happy. Nick Proulx
rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns. Trace Richey
ran for 123 yards and added an interception. Jonesboro was paced by senior Wyatt Young
with 168 rushing yards and six touchdowns in an 83-56 semifinal win over Tioga. Andy Sarmiento
added 152 rushing yards and a score.Class 1A (Six-Man) Division II, 2 p.m.
Balmorhea 13-0 vs. Strawn 15-0
Since falling short in last year's state final, Balmorhea's goal was to make amends with a return trip to Arlington. With a 96-66 semifinal victory over Valley (Turkey), the Bears got their wish. Kyle Garcia
(305 rushing yards) and Marcos Mendoza
(192 yards) combined for seven semifinal touchdowns. Strawn, which won its most recent state title in 2008, took out Milford in the semifinal round, 102-71. The Greyhounds, state champion in 2008, can make history with senior kicker K-Lani Nava
, believed to be the first female to play in a UIL state championship game. Extra points count for two points in six-man football and the senior has converted on 63-of-74 for 126 points.Class 2A Division I, 7 p.m.
Mart 14-1 vs. Refugio 13-1
Mart, a five-time state champion most recently in 2010, eliminated Stratford 33-13 in its semifinal to advance to its tenth title game. Senior quarterback Jace Terry
ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another. Cooper Baize
led the Mart defense with 17 tackles. Refugio, defending state champion, will make its third consecutive appearance in the finals after a 63-21 semifinal shellacking of San Augustine. Daryon Ramirez
rushed for 235 yards and one score. Ysidro Mascorro
added 114 yards and two scores. Jacobe Avery
reached the end zone three times. The Bobcats are seeking their fifth state crown.Thursday
Class 2A Division II, 11 a.m.
Muenster 15-0 vs. Tenaha 15-0
Muenster rallied from a four-point halftime deficit for a 32-28 semifinal victory over Wellington. Quarterback Parker McGrew
threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns while Danny Luttmer
had a pair of interceptions and a go-ahead 81-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter. Tenaha, a state finalist in 2012, earned a return trip with a 60-22 semifinal rout of Burton. Trai Gardner
was the star with a 96-yard interception return, catches of 71 and 53 yards and a 65-yard run, all ending in touchdowns. Class 3A Division I, 3 p.m.
Brock 14-2 vs. Rockdale 12-3
In only its fourth UIL season, Brock earned its second finals berth with a 49-21 rout of Kemp. Two veterans of Brock's 2015 state championship club had big games. Dawson Littlepage
rushed for 99 yards and Tanner Patino
had 90. They combined for three touchdowns. Rockdale, a Class 2A state champion in 1976, built a big lead early and held on for a 31-21 semifinal triumph over 2016 finalist Yoakum. Senior quarterback Torry Locklin
rushed for 311 yards and three touchdowns. Jaquayln Crawford
added 125 yards and a score.Class 3A Division II, 7 p.m.
Gunter 15-0 vs. Newton 14-0
Defending state champion Gunter stretched its winning streak to 31 without throwing a pass in a 56-27 semifinal thumping of Canadian. Quarterback Daylan Bower
finished three drives with short scoring runs. Braiden Clopton
ran for two scores and returned an interception 55 yards for another. Newton trailed 14-0 early, but rallied to a decisive 55-28 semifinal rout of Boling. Darwin Barlow
rushed for 149 yards and Josh Foster
threw for 142 yards. The two were involved in a 69-yard hook-and-lateral touchdown that gave the Eagles a 27-21 lead they would not relinquish.Friday
Class 4A Division I, 11 a.m.
Kennedale 14-1 vs. Carthage 15-0
Kennedale cleared the semifinal round that was its undoing the previous season with a 54-28 semifinal triumph over Stephenville. Kennedale is making its first title-game appearance. The Wing-T attack clicked with DJ Kirven
rushing for 348 yards and five touchdowns while fullback Jaden Knowles
had 173 yards and two scores. Carthage, which won its fifth state title a season ago, jumped to a quick three-touchdown lead and withstood a late charge from La Vega (Waco) for a 46-39 semifinal victory. Keaontay Ingram
, a Texas Longhorn pledge, rushed for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns including a 46-yard capper.Class 4A Division II, 3 p.m.
Pleasant Grove (Texarkana) vs. West Orange-Stark (Orange) 13-0
Pleasant Grove nailed down its first state final in the 35-year history of the school with a 45-14 thrashing of Graham. Running backs Bruce Garrett
(168 yards) and TJ Cole
(128 yards) each scored twice while the defense amassed five sacks. West Orange-Stark owns a 40-game winning streak and has a chance for its third consecutive state title. In a 30-21 semifinal victory over Wimberley, the Mustangs displayed big-play ability with Jarron Morris' 77-yard punt return and a 99-yard run by Chaka Watson.Class 5A Division I, 7 p.m.
Highland Park (Dallas) 14-1 vs. Manvel 14-0
Highland Park earned a shot at a fifth state title and second in succession after a 44-35 victory over previously unbeaten Ryan (Denton). John Stephen Jones
, grandson of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, threw for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Manvel, a state finalist in 2011, gets another crack at the throne after a 35-10 semifinal victory over defensive-minded Angleton. Deneric Prince
rushed for 126 yards and a score while Ladarius Owens
had 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Receiver Kam Scott
made three catches for 113 yards and a score.Saturday
Class 5A Division II, 11 a.m.
Aledo 15-0 vs. College Station 13-2
Aledo has a chance to become the fourth UIL school with a record eight state titles thanks to a 28-21 semifinal victory over Legacy (Mansfield). Sophomore running back Jase McClellan
rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns including a 46-yard game-winner with 1:48 remaining for the defending state champs. College Station reached its first state final with a 49-21 thumping of previously-unbeaten McCallum (Austin). Quarterback Marquez Perez
, committed to Tulsa as a receiver, threw for 241 yards, rushed for 93 and had a hand in five touchdowns.Class 6A Division I, 3 p.m.
Allen 15-0 vs. Lake Travis (Austin) 13-2
Both programs are familiar with the state final landscape. Allen has worn the crown four times, including three in succession from 2012-2014. Lake Travis captured No. 6 last year and won five in a row from 2007-2011. In a 28-7 semifinal win over Cedar Ridge (Round Rock) Allen was outgained but feasted on five turnovers by its opponent. Luke Jaksick
returned an interception 32 yards for the third score. Lake Travis receivers Garrett Wilson
and Hudson Card
showed off their passing skill, throwing touchdown passes to each other on trick plays in a 28-14 takedown of previously unbeaten Katy in a state semifinal. Quarterback Matthew Baldwin
, an Ohio State pledge, threw for 225 yards before leaving with a knee injury.Class 6A Division II, 7 p.m.
Midway (Waco) 15-0 vs. Cy-Fair (Cypress) 14-0
Both teams are making their initial state final appearance. Midway dodged a bullet in the state semifinal round, squeezing out a 28-26 victory when a late Longview field goal missed the mark. Tanner Mordecai
, an Oklahoma pledge, threw for 193 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. Cy-Fair's defense limited previously unbeaten Westlake (Austin), averaging 47 points a game, to a pair of field goals in a 14-6 semifinal victory. Patrick Atkinson
, an Air Force Academy Pledge, had 11 tackles. Quarterback Cam Arnold
threw a pair of scoring passes.