FB: Weather, Turnovers and Defense Highlight TAPPS Championships

WACO, TEXAS (December 8, 2018) — The two major story lines in this year’s Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) state football championships have been the weather and turnovers.

And we know that the weather today may be bone-chilling cold, but not as wet as it has been on Thursday and Friday.

Our hats off to all of the athletes, coaches, team support personnel, drill teams, bands, cheerleaders and fans who have roughed out the elements when other schools around the state – in the regional rounds – have done everything possible to dodge the weather.

While it wasn’t necessary to be revealed, as we were treated to just two Thor Guard lightning prediction system sirens and Friday’s games were able to be played, TAPPS executive director Bryan Bunselmeyer indicated that the organization would have moved the Division I game to Saturday and adjusted times for today’s contests if the evening game was not able to be played on Friday.

Turnovers, which had a significant impact in four of the five contests so far, has resulted in scoring – aided by the weather – to be down.

And secondarily to some stout defensive efforts.

Friday’s two 11-man games of 29 and 22 points combined, respectively, are among the 25 lowest scoring 11-man championship games from the 131 that the organization has produced since 1978.

Dallas Bishop Dunne’s 13-9 Division I win over Dallas Bishop Lynch was the lowest scoring Division I contest in 14 years.

Winning the first of his seven state championships, Joe Prud’homme’s Fort Worth Nolan Catholic Vikings shutout Houston St. Pius X, 14-0, in 2004.

Prud’homme, who just completed his second year as the head football coach of Texas Wesleyan University, was on the broadcast team of TAPPS’ online video stream, TAPPS.TV, for the Falcons’ win.

The three six-man games on Thursday also produced the fewest number of points in the organization’s fifth year of having three divisions.

The combined scoring totals look like this:

2014 – 259 points
2015 – 366 points
2016 – 337 points
2017 – 328 points
2018 – 231 points

Even though Bulverde Bracken Christian kicked off the championship weekend with a repeat 50-0 playoff win over Huntsville Alpha Omega Academy in the six-man Division III title tilt, the Warriors’ three of their last four scores – including a 36-yard fumble return by Aiden Cantu for the first of them – came as a result of the Lions putting the football on the ground.

It would be Cantu’s second score of the day, the other coming off a 47-yard pass from Travis Wolf.

Wolf would throw for another score – one of the 55-yard variety – to Lucas McCrum, who added to his earlier 45-yard touchdown run.

And Bracken’s biggest star was Presley Day, who turned two of those last Lion turnovers into scores as part of a three TD day.

In the Division I championship game, the Tornadoes of Lone Star North High School in Gainesville entered the locker room at halftime feeling confident after getting a pair of long runs for scores that produced a 22-20 lead over two-time champion Austin Veritas Academy.

Then the turnover bug struck.

Veritas quickly flipped the script by putting 20 points on the board in the first seven minutes of the third quarter – all coming off of Tornadoes turnovers.

Running back Kevin P. put the ball on the ground on the Tornadoes’ first two second-half possessions before quarterback Jesus H. tossed a pass that the Defenders’ Eric Lundeen returned 34 yards to set up the third score.

Ahead 40-22 at the close of the third quarter, Veritas sealed the Defenders’ 60-38 win with a pair of scores that came as a result of taking nearly six minutes off of the fourth quarter scoreboard clock.

The first half of the Division II championship saw a scoring royale between Baytown Christian Academy’s Jordan Luke and Weatherford Christian School’s Manning Marsh as the pair scored three touchdowns each en route to the Bulldogs holding a 30-28 halftime advantage over the Lions.

But like in the Division I game, three Lion turnovers from Weatherford Christian School produced Bulldog scores.

After taking the opening kickoff to the Baytown 16-yard line, quarterback Jackson Floyd had his pass intercepted at the two-yard line and a 33-yard return put the Bulldogs near midfield.

Overcoming two 10-yard penalties, Treyvian Williams rumbled for 33 yards before four plays later he was on the receiving end of a 7-yard pass from Floyd on a fourth-and-four for the first of the three scores to stretch the lead to 36-28.

Another long drive – nine plays, to be exact – put the Lions on the 15-yard line early in the fourth quarter before quarterback Spencer Stults fumbled at the Bulldog 10-yard line.

Baytown would take more than four and a half minutes off the clock when Luke scored for the fourth time from three yards out on the eighth play of a 70-yard drive to go up 43-28.

After Stults left the game with an injury, the Lion offense sputtered and the Bulldogs forced a fumble from Marsh that Aden Lambeth recovered at the Weatherford 7-yard line with 3:06 to play.

Eight seconds later, Bryce Gillum, on the next play, produced the Bulldogs’ final score that would give Baytown Christian its second title in three years.

Meanwhile, the two 11-man games on Friday would become TAPPS comeback classics – with some of the defense referenced earlier.

Geneva School of Boerne posted its 14-3 halftime lead with bookend first half scores that came on their opening drive and a short two-play drive late in the second quarter that was setup after Ethan Houser’s 75-yard interception return of an errant Steven Gabaldon pass.

Both Boerne touchdowns – of three and two yards – came from running back Devin Ahrens to offset Trinity Christian’s 24-yard field goal from Colby Bixler – the only result from Willow Park’s 199 yards of offense in the first half.

After the teams traded a pair of punts in the scoreless third quarter, Trinity Christian needed just two long Gabaldon passes to get to the end zone after Boerne failed to convert on a fourth-and-two from the Willow Park 34-yard line.

Gabaldon connected with Carson Wert for 16 before the 50-yard pass-and-catch that electrified the crowd when Preston Gist tipped Gabaldon’s throw up with one hand before coming down with it and racing down the left sideline to cut the Boerne lead to 14-9 after a two-point conversion run failed.

The TCA defense held Boerne on its ensuing possession, forcing the Eagles to punt with 6:15 left in the contest.

Willow Park would then mount an 11-play, 70-yard drive that featured six first downs – two of which came on critical Geneva School of Boerne penalties – and would overcome a TCA illegal procedure call at the 1-yard line and a fumble on the second-and-one that Gabaldon would carry in for the score with 31 seconds left to play.

It was enough to give Willow Park its first 11-man state championship just three years after playing six-man football.

And then there was the Bishop Bowl II – Lynch vs. Dunne for the Division I 11-man state championsip.

Lynch won the state title from Dunne two years ago, but lost earlier this year before reeling off five straight wins to get to Friday’s title game.

Dunne’s defense opened strong holding the Friars to two three-and-out drives and running back Charles Crawford to a yard on four carries.

Setting up for its second drive of the first quarter at its own 38-yard line, Dunne rolled 62 yards on 11 plays into the second quarter and got on the scoreboard first when QB Simeon Evans connected with Andrew Armstrong from 17 yards out and 8:34 to play in the first half.

Lynch would block Tucker Littleton’s 34-yard field goal attempt with 4:21 left in the second quarter and have William Johnson return it to midfield to give the Friars a chance to answer Dunne’s score.

After getting a break on a personal foul call against the Falcons facing fourth-and-10 from the Dunne 40, the Friars would need just three plays to get to the Falcon three-yard line.

With Crawford in the wildcat formation, he mishandled the snap that went by him and fell on 20 yards back at the 23-yard line to set up a 40-yard field goal attempt from Carson Garrett with five seconds left that went wide left.

On its first series of the second half, Dunne’s Jaden Hullaby – the game’s leading rusher with 92 yards on 26 carries – put the ball on the ground and the Friars came up with at the Falcon 23 just 62 seconds into play.

Quarterback Kaidon Salter quickly found tight end Jack Bradley for 19 yards to the Dunne four-yard line, but an illegal procedure call and a bend-but-don’t break Falcon defense forced the Friars to settle for a 22-yard Roberto Diaz field goal 4:17 into the second half.

Then it was turn for the Friar defense to come to life.

They would hold Dunne to three straight three-and-out series that took the game into the fourth quarter with the Falcons still holding a 7-3 advantage.

Lynch’s offense was stymied, including a controversial reversal of an initial no call for intentional grounding that put the Friars back to their own 7-yard line.

The Friars would be forced to punt, but the Falcons muffed the punt, Lynch recovered and found new life at their own 42-yard line.

Seven plays and a 15-yard face mask penalty on Dunne later, Crawford would scamper in from two yards out to give the Friars their first lead, 9-7, with 8:59 left to play after Diaz’s extra point was no good.

With its offense stalled after a quick first down, Lynch gave the Falcons new life with a personal foul call but Grayson Murphy intercepted an errant Evans throw at the 9-yard line and returned it 44 yards into Dunne territory with 6:26 left to play.

The Falcon defense held, forcing the Friars to punt the ball away to the Dunne 26 after a short 19-yard punt.

Dunne got a quick 28-yard scamper from Evans to get into Friar territory at their 46-yard line.

The Falcons methodically took seven plays and almost four minutes off the clock to setup a second-and-six from the Friar 20-yard line.

Once again, Evans would find Armstrong along the left sideline – the Friar side of the field – and he would roll in for his second score with just 42 seconds remaining that proved to be the winning blow to the Friars’ hope for a seventh TAPPS state championship.