Photo via John Glaser, TexasHSFootball

 

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The Woodlands football team is having its best season in school history. If the Highlanders don’t win this weekend, then it would still probably be the second-best season ever.

The Highlanders sport a sparkling 14-0 record heading into Saturday’s 6A Division I state semifinal against Allen, which is also 14-0. If The Woodlands doesn’t win this week, then its record would match that of the 2003 Highlanders squad that went 14- 1. But, that 2003 team made it to the state final. The 2000 team made it to the state semifinals and the 2011 team lost tin the state quarterfinals.

This year’s team has one goal — aim for perfection and finish the run. The Woodlands has proved it can hang with the big dogs, cats, and Tigers. They beat Cy Fair and Spring to start the season before walloping the Katy Tigers, 26-3. They outslugged Lufkin, 64-42, and waltzed through district unscathed and untouchable.

The road to the state semifinals has included wins over Mesquite Horn (41-21), Sachse (51-40), Austin Bowie (52-31) and Round Rock (41-18). Folks in The Woodlands, and around the state, have rallied around this Highlander football team after news of the injury of senior linebacker Grant Milton, who suffered a brain injury in the Bowie game.

The Woodlands returns to the state semifinals at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin, where they met Midland Lee in the 2000 5A semifinals. The Highlanders did something that day no other high school team could ever do — hold legendary running back Cedric Benson to no touchdowns and less than 100 yards rushing.

However, Midland Lee won that game and then crushed Austin Westlake the following week. The Woodlands finished that season at 11-3.

The 2003 team went 14-0 before losing to a very talented North Shore team, 23-7, on a cold day at Rice Stadium. The Highlanders have made the playoffs every year since 1996, and their most recent deepest run have been in 2011 when they lost to a scary good Dallas Skyline team in the state quarterfinals, 35-31. The 2011 team finished 12-2.

The last time The Woodlands advanced to the third round was 2013, when the Highlanders met the nation’s top team — Allen — in the 5A regional in Waco. Allen won the game, 56-21, en route to their second of three-consecutive state championships.

But this is 2016, and anything can happen as we’ve seen in recent upsets and shake ups in the playoffs. The Woodlands is as hot as any other team in 6A. They’ve won 14 straight games and 22 of their last 23.

Kickoff for this week’s game against Allen is set for 1 p.m. The winner moves on to AT&T Stadium the following week to play for the state championship against the winner of Atascocita and Lake Travis.

 

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