Topic: State Championship Picks 2019
The road ends here with four games (actually seven but I do not do 6-man for my own sanity) at Midway ISD's Panther Stadium. For two matchups it makes sense as a neutral site. For two others it makes no sense at all. I understand some desire to centralize, but there has to be a better way than two Dallas area schools driving to Waco to play at noon on a Friday. I complain about this pretty much every year, so this will be the end of that for this preview. For the rest we celebrate another great season of games and twists and turns of a season. Congratulations to all the finalists!
Division I: Plano John Paul II vs. Dallas Parish Episcopal -- Friday 12:00 -- On the bottom side of the bracket we have the team we expected. The Panthers shot to the top of the favorite list with a season opening win over TCCH on ESPN2. They did have a fault against All Saints early on, but throughout the season showed themselves to be the dominant force in Division I. Parish has won every game outside of the All Saints loss and TCCH overtime win by at least 20. Most notably beating John Paul II on November 1st, 47-7. The Parish offense has been held under 40 just 3 times in 12 games. On the top side of the bracket we have the team we didn't expect. The Cardinals have won 3 playoff games this season after winning none since their first varsity season in 2006. JP2 has won 10 games this year after winning just 20 in all seasons combined. Since Coach Teague took the helm in 2017, the Cardinals have won 16 games in 3 seasons. In the 11 seasons before that, they won just 14 games total. These Cardinals are a far cry from the teams that lost 33 in a row. Its a tall task to reverse the 40 point defeat they suffered on the blue turf in November, but these have been the unexpected playoffs in Division I. The Cardinal offense must find the 49 point form they showed against heavily favored Nolan. While Prestonwood and DC are good teams, the 10 and 14 the Cardinals scored those nights led to losses for a reason. I wouldn't say the Cardinals have been inconsistent, no team winning 10 games is, but they have struggled offensively in some of the biggest games. The 7 points scored at Parish being a notable example. Thrilled to see the Cardinals make a dent in the Division I scene and reach their 1st title game, but the Panthers should be too much here in their 3rd appearance. I expect Parish to remain unbeaten in the finals, but I doubt it comes as easy as the first meeting of these two. Panthers win their 3rd state title 35-14.
Division II: Trinity Christian - Cedar Hill vs. Austin Regents -- Friday 7:00 -- On the opposite end of the unexpected John Paul II Cardinals, we find the Tigers and Knights meeting in a 3rd straight Division II title game. In 2017, the Knights kept pace for a while before the potent Tiger attack put some distance between them and secured a 62-30 victory. In 2018, Regents struck first with a safety but would fall behind 37-2 shortly after. The Knights made a surge in the 2nd half, but it was not particularly close ending at 49-24. It is the 4th straight title game for Regents, having lost the last 3. The Knights are 11-1 having fallen only to Division I FW All Saints. Only in that loss did the Knights allow more than 14 points in a game this season. In contrast, the Tigers have scored 40+ in their last 11 straight. The Sanders led Tigers are heading out of TAPPS after this year, but they are in good position to go out on top as winners of 3 straight titles. The TCCH defense has also only allowed more than 16 points in 1 game this season. I think this will be lower scoring than the last 2 meetings, but still the champs have to be favored. The TCCH run has brought their title game record to even at 6-6. The Knights runner-up streak has brought them down to just 2-5 in 11-man finals. Much like the Division I game, the chaos lover in me wants the upset but I just can't pick it. Tigers win their 7th state title, 38-22.
Division III: Lubbock Christian vs. Boerne Geneva -- Saturday 12:00 -- We made it all the way to the Division III game before we encountered any Eagles, but like last year its Eagle on Eagle crime in this group. Lubbock Christian has gone 13-0 and can be the only undefeated team in TAPPS 11-man this season. Covenant kept pace for an extended period, but the West Texas offense proved to be too much in a 63-32 semifinal win. That type of offensive output was the norm to start the season with 45 or more in each of their first four games. There were then some lulls in the middle part of the season, but the defense picked up the slack. Then in the playoffs the offense has returned with authority, posting 52, 56, and 63, in three victories. The Eagles have struggled in state title games, with just a 1-4 record. Geneva held a lead deep into the 2018 title game before Willow Park Trinity (also the Eagles) scored late to earn a 15-14 win. Geneva is back for their 2nd try at the title in just their 4th full varsity season. The Eagles started just 1-4, but have won 8 in a row to reach 9-4 and the title game. Most notably a win over Shiner St. Paul righted the Geneva ship. The Geneva offense has been lighting it up even more than Lubbock Christian, scoring 69 and 77 in the playoffs. In the middle, they scored just 21 against a strong Bay Area Christian side. They did manage 47 in a loss to Division I FW All Saints in the early season. I expect lots of scoring in this one, but I feel like I'm usually wrong when I say that. Lubbock Christian goes undefeated and wins its 2nd state title, 44-41.
Division IV: Hallettsville Sacred Heart vs. Shiner St. Paul -- Saturday 7:00 -- The Indians and Cardinals have met many times with various titles on the line. The 2011 state title game looked to be the last Division IV title with realignment dropping to 3 classes. The Indians won that one 21-7. Division IV did come back and the Cardinals went on to win Division III in the mean time. These two match each other at 7 titles each. Sacred Heart has taken two more defeats in the title game, but this one will decide who enters the small group with 8 11-man titles. November 1st turns out to have been state championship preview night, as these to met in addition to their Division I brethren. The Cardinals took that meeting 21-14 as part of their 9-3 season. The Indians have struggled a bit more with a record of 7-5. Though that seems a silly thing to care about given St. Paul won the title last year after starting 1-8. The Cardinals lost to two Division II sides and Division III finalist Geneva. The Cardinals have reached the title game in 7 of the last 10 seasons. Its the first state final since 2015 for the Indians. It feels like the Cardinals are always destined to win in Division IV despite having fewer than 100 students enrolled most years. Its always hard to beat the same good team twice in a season, but I have to take St. Paul. Cardinals win their 8th state title, 35-28.
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