After the longest and most unpredictable season in Texas high school football history, the 6A state title games will be the culmination of all the hard work that has gone in to make this season possible. It is a testament to school officials, athletic directors, coaches, and players to have reached the final two games of the season this Saturday.
And there is plenty of intrigue in these two games as well. One features the first ever father vs. son matchup in a Texas high school football state title game, while the other game features two teams squaring off for a state title for the fourth time in just nine years.
All told, there is plenty to watch for in these title games. Here are the top players and storylines for each matchup.
6A Division II: Cedar Hill Longhorns (12-1) vs. Katy Tigers (13-1) 1 p.m. Saturday
Tale of the Tape: These two programs are quite familiar with each other after they faced off in three straight state title games from 2012-2014 with Cedar Hill winning two of the three contests. The Longhorns are back in the state title game for the first time since their 2014 win over Katy. They boast a strong defense full of Division I talent that has only given up 16 points per game this season. Katy, meanwhile, is back for the first time since 2015 when it defeated Lake Travis in the title game 34-7. The Tigers have just as stout of a defense as Cedar Hill as they only have allowed 11.7 points per game this season.
Players to Watch: The main man for Cedar Hill is Tennessee commit quarterback Kaidon Salter. He is a true dual threat quarterback with 2,571 passing yards, 1,075 rushing yards, and 45 total touchdowns this season. “His ability to overcome adversity is his most impressive attribute,” Cedar Hill head coach Carlos Lynn said when asked what impressed him the most about his quarterback. “He is very important to the team because of his confidence and his ability to turn a bad play into a better play.” When Salter has let the ball fly, his top receiver on the season has been New Mexico State commit Javien Clemmer, 617 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, who has made an instant impact this year in his first year with the team since moving in from Arkansas. On the other side of the ball, the Longhorn defense is loaded. Katy will have to contain Texas Tech commit defensive end Charles Esters off the end as he has nine sacks on the season. Behind Esters, seniors Jaheim Lowe and Demari Ward have been mainstays at linebacker this year with 92 and 87 total tackles respectively. Lastly, the secondary has plenty of prowess too as Liberty commit cornerback Amarian Williams is coming off a two-interception game against Guyer in the semifinals, while Central Arkansas commit Brett Lynch is the third leading tackler on the team this season.
Katy quarterback sophomore Caleb Koger has stepped into the starting role for the Tigers and performed well, throwing for 1,460 yards and 23 touchdowns to just two interceptions, but the bread and butter of the Katy offense this year has been its ground game. The Davis brothers have wreaked havoc on opposing defenses from their running back positions this year with sophomore Seth leading the way with 1,625 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns and senior Jalen not far behind with 1,409 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns himself. When the Tigers do need to go through the air, their standout receiver is junior Nicholas Anderson, a three-star recruit who has 450 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the season. Defensively, Katy is stacked. It has two star cornerbacks in Florida State commit Hunter Washington and highly touted junior Bobby Taylor. If that wasn’t enough for Salter to keep tabs on in the pocket, they are joined in the secondary by Arizona commit safety Dalton Johnson, who had an interception in Katy’s quarterfinal victory. Up front, Rice commit Cal Varner is a threat off the edge, while two more Division I prospects, junior Ty Kana and senior Jaden Maronen, anchor the linebacking corps.
With two strong defenses, this will be a physical, hard fought game to open proceedings on Saturday. It will be intriguing to watch as these two teams write the fourth chapter in the history of their state title showdowns against one another.
6A Division I: Austin Westlake Chaparrals (13-0) vs. Southlake Carroll Dragons (12-1) 7 p.m. Saturday
Tale of the Tape: Nothing like a family showdown to cap off the Texas high school football season as Austin Westlake head coach Todd Dodge squares off with his son Riley Dodge, the head coach for Southlake Carroll. The Dragons return to the title game for the first time since 2011 and are led by an explosive offense averaging 46.7 points per game. For Westlake, the Chaparrals are looking to earn their second consecutive title after taking home the 6A Division II crown a year ago. Westlake boasts one of the best defenses in the entire state after only giving up just 72 points this entire season.
Players to Watch: No matter who has been at the helm, the Southlake Carroll offense has kept on churning. Ohio State commit and highly touted quarterback Quinn Ewers missed nearly half of Carroll’s games due to injury, but has returned and played better than ever in the last three contests for the Dragons, throwing for 870 yards and ten touchdowns to just one interception. Alongside him in the backfield is star sophomore running back Owen Allen, who has been a steady presence this season with 2,023 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground. When Ewers looks to throw, the two targets to watch out for are Minnesota commit Brady Boyd, 969 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and Landon Samson, the team leader in receiving yards with 1,202. Defensively, Barrett Baker leads the team in tackles from his linebacker position and will be a key cog in stopping the Westlake rushing attack. In the secondary, Cinque Williams and Josh Spaeth, who each forced turnovers last week, will be two players to keep an eye on as they try to keep the Westlake passing attack in check.
Although the Chaparral defense has gotten a lot of headlines this year, Cade Klubnik has put up impressive numbers leading the Chaparral offense. He has thrown for 3,274 yards and 32 touchdowns to just three interceptions, while also adding 493 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Joining Klubnik in the backfield are two talented senior running backs: Yale commit Zane Minors, 936 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, and Grey Nakfoor, 872 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. At receiver, Jaden Greathouse is already attracting Division I interest as a sophomore after he followed up an impressive freshman season by catching 64 passes for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season. On the other side of the ball, the Westlake defense has been a brick wall for opposing offenses this season. Leading tackler Brady Lamme, 91 tackles, and Duke commit Nick Morris, 88 tackles and 16 sacks, anchor the heart of the defense at linebacker, while seniors Jax Crockett and Michael Taaffe have been ballhawks in the secondary this season with five and three interceptions respectively. Up front, look for Hayden Bray to acquaint himself with the Dragon backfield as he looks to add to his 12 sacks on the season.
Many thought this would be a North Shore-Duncanville showdown, but after Westlake and Southlake Carroll pulled off upsets in the semifinals, it will be the Dodge Bowl instead. The storyline to watch in this one will be whether or not Southlake Carroll will be able to find any success against Westlake’s stonewall defense. The answer to that question could very well be the deciding factor in which team takes home the final state title of the 2020 Texas high school football season.