Games to watch: High school football state finals

Class 6A

Division I

Southlake Carroll vs. Austin Westlake, 7 p.m. Saturday, Cowboys Stadium

The Dodge Bowl has arrived. Todd Dodge is the coach at Westlake (13-0). His son, Riley Dodge, is the coach at Southlake Carroll (12-1), where dad claimed four state championships during his seven years leading the program. The elder Dodge earned his fifth title last year while guiding Westlake through the 6A Division II bracket, and now has the Chaparrals in the Division I final. The Dodges were supposed to meet in their 2020 opener, but that game was scrubbed after the start of the season was delayed due to the coronavirus. And they had to overcome steep odds to make this dream matchup of Southlake Carroll’s offense and Westlake’s defense a reality, with Carroll upending two-time state finalist Duncanville, and Westlake shocking two-time state champ North Shore. “It would be crazy for one Elizabeth Dodge – his momma and my wife. I’m not sure that she would be too fired up about that,” Todd Dodge told the Texas High School Coaches Association. “I think she would, but it would be nerve-wracking. One of the things that we’d have to do is change a lot of what we say to our players, what our players say to each other, and the signals we use. We’d have to be real creative with the things we have to change for one week.”

Division II

Katy vs. Cedar Hill, 1 p.m. Saturday, Cowboys Stadium

The Division I pairing boasts new and novel storylines. This one’s more familiar, but equally engaging. Katy (12-1) and Cedar Hill (12-1) met in three consecutive state finals from 2012 to 2014, with Katy winning the first 35-24, and Cedar Hill prevailing in the last two, 34-24 and 23-20, respectively. The Tigers returned to the finals in 2015 to beat Lake Travis 34-7 for a then-record-tying eighth state title. But Richland Springs and Aledo have since surpassed Katy, with each claiming their ninth title in 2019. Now that Katy’s back for its state-record 15th championship-game appearance, it can pull even again with another win over the Longhorns. They’re here for the first time since 2014 after securing Region II with a 27-24 overtime win over Rockwall Heath, and ousting Denton Guyer 27-17 in the state semifinals. Katy rolled over Clear Falls 51-15 to win Region III, then crushed Buda Hays 63-7 in the semis. Junior Jalen Davis carried nine times for 111 yards and two TDs against Hays, while sophomore Seth Davis, Jalen’s younger brother, carried 14 times for 169 yards and three TDs – and threw a TD pass.

Class 5A

Division I

Denton Ryan vs. Cedar Park, 7 p.m. Friday, Cowboys Stadium

Denton Ryan (14-0) cruised back to Arlington for its second consecutive state-finals appearance. Motivated by last year’s 28-22 loss to Shadow Creek, the Raiders are winning by an average of 29.3 points per game, but their last two opponents tested their resolve. They hung on to beat Dallas Highland Park 17-7 for the Region II title, and survived Mansfield Summit 49-35 last week behind two defensive scores and the efforts of QB Seth Henigan, who threw for two TDs and caught a TD pass. Ryan is seeking its first state title since 2002. Cedar Park (14-0) is the finals for the first time since securing its second state championship with a 22-6 win over Frisco Lone Star in 2015. The Timberwolves toppled Manvel 52-42 for the Region III crown and blasted Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial 61-28 in the semis. Cedar Park QB Ryder Hernandez completed 25 of 34 passes for 399 yards and seven TDs in the win.

Division II

Crosby vs. Aledo, 1 p.m. Friday, Cowboys Stadium

Crosby (12-3) continued its incredible playoff journey last week in an instant classic, outlasting Liberty Hill 62-61 in overtime. QB Denriquez Dunn and RB Reggie Branch also continued to put up eye-popping numbers, with Dunn throwing for 211 yards and four TDs (one rushing), and RB Reggie Branch recording 17 carries for 121 yards and four TDs, and eight receptions for 82 yards and one score. Dunn now has 1,094 yards and 14 TDs through the air, and five rushing scores, in the playoffs, and branch has 13 rushing TDs and five receiving TDs. The Cougars are making only their second championship game appearance – and first in 60 years. They fell 20-0 against Albany in the 1960 3A final, and they’ll have to dig deep to avoid going 0-2 on the big stage. Aledo (12-1) boasts a state-record nine state championships, with eight of those in the last 11 years. The two-time reigning 5A Division II champs claimed their last two titles with wins over Fort Bend Marshall. Aledo won Region II with a 52-48 victory against Lucas Lovejoy, and defeated Wichita Falls Rider 55-28 in the semis.

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