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There are no easy games or easy brackets in the Texas high school playoffs. So those who thought Katy (Texas) High - No. 9 in the RivalsHigh Top 100 - had a smooth road to the Texas Class 5A Division I title game were mistaken.
Sure, No. 3 Euless Trinity, No. 26 Round Rock Stony Point, No. 33 Coppell, No. 72 Midland and previously ranked A&M Consolidated are all on the other side of Katy's draw.
And all Katy seemingly had to contend with was No. 63 Houston North Shore, a team it pounded, 44-6, in the season opener.
Playing its toughest game of the year, Katy needed a fourth-quarter comeback to advance to a regional final/state quarterfinal, holding off North Shore, 32-27.
After falling behind, 27-26, earlier in the fourth quarter, Katy used a nine-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a 22-yard scoring pass from Brooks Haack to Jordan Thompson with 7:06 left.
Katy then used its defense to stop two North Shore on its final two possessions.
"It's the way you want champions to respond," Katy coach Gary Joseph told the Houston Chronicle. "They didn't panic."
With the victory, Katy advances to face an unranked (but unbeaten) Pearland team that likes to put points on the board.
Pearland (13-0) averages scoring more than 42 points a game. The only question is its defense, which gives up an average of nearly 24 per game. That, however, wasn't an issue Saturday when it pounded Cypress Creek, 54-7.
"We have tried not to let the talk about our weaknesses this year get to us," defensive end Sam Ukwuachu told the Chronicle. "We just try to get better every week and we have. I think that shows right now."
Next week should provide the ultimate answer.
RivalsHigh take: Katy could take over the No. 1 spot in Texas before it even gets to the state final. The team has been playing very well all season and looks like the squad poised to win a title. This game with North Shore was more like the expected game - nothing like the surprising 44-6 beatdown earlier in the year.
For complete coverage of Katy-North Shore, check out this game story in the Houston Chronicle.
For complete coverage of Pearland-Cypress Creek, check out this game story in the Houston Chronicle.
In other Texas playoff games Saturday involving teams in the Top 100:
No. 26 Stony Point 42, A&M Consolidated 7
DeSoto 56, Bowie 24
You're not supposed to look ahead. But it turns out, Round Rock (Texas) Stony Point has been looking forward to a rematch with DeSoto since it won their first matchup, 46-29, back in September.
"We've been expecting this matchup," running back Sam Kelley told the Austin American-Statesman. "After we beat them the first time, we told them we'd meet them in the playoffs."
Such focus didn't prevent Stony Point from pounding A&M Consolidated in a Class 5A Division I game Saturday.
Kelley ran for 159 yards and two scores while Aaryn Sharp threw for a score and ran for two others as Stony Point advance to the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
DeSoto had a rout of its own, pounding Bowie, 56-24, behind 240 yards and four TDs from quarterback Ryan Polite.
The rematch figures to be high-scoring.
DeSoto (11-2) is averaging just under 48 points per game. Stony Point (13-0) is averaging 42.
RivalsHigh take: Stony Point and A&M Consolidated played a very close game early, then Stony Point turned it on. The triple-option game of A&M is not built to make major comebacks.
Two ranked teams usually produce a big game. This one was just a big rout.
Coppell quarterback Joe Minden completed 19 of 24 passes for 327 yards and five TDs to lead his team to an easy 49-7 victory.
That being said, Midland head coach Craig Yenzer told the Odessa American he was more impressed by Coppell's defense than its offense.
"I thought it really started with their defense," he said. "You're not going to stop them, and when you're going three-and-out on offense, boy, that really puts you behind the 8-ball."
At halftime, Coppell had outgained Midland, 457-34.
Coppell improves to 13-0 with the victory, but it has a big test next week when it meets No. 3 Euless (Texas) Trinity in a Class 5A Division I quarterfinal.
RivalsHigh take: Coppell is clicking on offense and defense. This was expected to be a much more closely contested affair and it simply wasn't. It could be an amazing game next week with Trinity - one in which Coppell could win.
For complete coverage of Coppell-Midland, check out this game story in the Odessa American.
No. 47 Guyer 55, No. 81 Abilene Cooper 7
Southlake Carroll 38, No. 83 Abilene 24
They're hardly celebrating in Abilene after a potential Class 5A Division II quarterfinal matchup between Abilene Cooper and Abilene High was derailed Saturday.
Instead, it will be a rematch of an earlier game between Denton Guyer and Southlake Carroll.
Josh Stewart and No. 47 Denton Guyer were too much for Cooper. Stewart caught a TD pass, returned a punt for another score and had two interceptions to key a 55-7 rout.
The game was tied at 0-0 after the first quarter, then Stewart's TD reception started a 24-0 second quarter that set the tone.
"If you let the ball get near Stewart, good things are going to happen, whether we're throwing to him or you're throwing to him," Guyer head coach John Walsh said. "I hope people keep throwing to him. We're going to."
Carroll, meanwhile used a 94-yard scoring pass from sophomore Kenny Hill to receiver Sabian Holmes break open a close game with Abilene.
That's right, Carroll trusted a sophomore to throw out of his own end zone when it was up by just seven in the fourth quarter.
"This time of the year, you've got to make special plays like that," Dragons coach Hal Wasson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We trust Kenny to make them, and we trust our receivers to make them."
The only question now: Can Carroll reverse a 28-14 loss it suffered to Guyer three weeks ago?
RivalsHigh take: This was a crash-and-burn weekend for the Abilene teams. Abilene Cooper was without three of its best players after they were thrown off the team. Abilene High played without Ronnell Sims and has not been a healthy team all season. It is a disappointing but expected end - given the circumstances.