Despite being one of the blue bloods in Texas, many people did not expect the Temple Wildcats to be one win away from a state title (including us). Yet, here they are, taking on a different role in 2016: giant killers.
The Wildcats made some major noise two weeks ago when they took down previously undefeated Manvel. For the encore, the Wildcats beat another Houston-area undefeated team in Richmond Foster in the semifinals. With the last two wins, the Wildcats are heading back to AT&T Stadium to try and finish the job with their their first state championship since 1992.
One of the catalysts for this remarkable run has been their defense. In each of the previous two games, the Wildcats have made key defensive stops and forcing turnovers late in games to win. Ashton Jefferson and Ben Norman combined to take the ball away from Foster receiver CeeDee Lamb to seal the win. Leading tackler Rogers Franklin also leads a Temple defense that has proven its toughness and resiliency time after time in the postseason.
On the other side of the ball, the offense has also been able to come up with big plays when they’ve had to have them. Quarterback Reid Hesse threw for 360 yards in the win over Richmond Foster and he’ll have two outstanding targets to look for on the outside in D’Yonte Heckstall and Zaccheus Johnson. Both of them will be key against a Highland Park defense that has also made life difficult for high-flying offenses.
Highland Park is the winningest high-school program in state history with 800 wins. Temple is not far behind at 750 wins, but the Wildcats are determined to take down one more giant in the crazy world that is Texas high school football.
Temple faces Highland Park on Saturday at 12 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
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