Div. 1 State Championship: Dragons Win!!

Date: December 17th, 2011
Time: 4:00pm
TV: Fox Sports Southwest

When the playoff brackets crystallized five weeks ago, Carroll and Hightower were only considered outside favorites in their respective regions.  Many pointed to the second round game between Allen and Euless Trinity in Region 1, and thought the eventual region (and potentially state) winner would emerge from that game.  Carroll, despite entering the playoffs with an undefeated record, was overlooked as a primary favorite.

If Carroll flew under the radar on its side of the bracket, Hightower was almost off the grid entirely.  An undefeated Cy Fair team and a rapidly improving Pearland squad were considered most likely to win Region 3.  Hightower wasn’t expected to survive the second round match-up with North Shore.  Carroll and Hightower have earned their places in the state championship after an unpredictable and tightly contested Division 1 bracket.

For Carroll, this year’s playoffs have been a redemption tour of sorts for everyone who left this storied program for dead after Todd Dodge’s exit and four barren post-season years.  The Dragons have fought every step of the journey and survived close calls against Plano East, Arlington Bowie and Dallas Skyline to reach this point.  Hightower is making its first state game appearance since finishing as runners up to Allen in 2008.  The Hurricane program has enjoyed success since the day it started varsity football in 2000.  The second and third round wins over North Shore and Cy Fair transformed Hightower from outsider to contender before the Hurricanes knocked off defending state champions Pearland in round four.

The quarterbacks- Kenny Hill for Southlake Carroll and Bralon Addison for Hightower- merit their many headlines, but neither team would be in the state championship game without their supporting casts.  Both teams have displayed remarkable overall balance in all phases during their playoff runs.  The entertainment value for this game will be off the charts if Carroll and Hightower bring their best efforts.  The paper match-up hints at a potentially high scoring game.  Southlake Carroll, and its newly discovered Silver Fox Swag, can win its eighth overall state championship and first with head coach Hal Wasson.  Hightower will compete in its second ever state championship.

Individual Stat Sheet

Quarterbacks:

Kenny Hill, Jr., Southlake Carroll – 224-362, 2777 yds, 23 tds, 9 ints;  256 car., 1267 yds, 22 tds
Bralon Addison, Sr., FB Hightower – 129-229, 2103 yds, 21 tds, 3 ints;  169 car., 1442 yds, 18 tds

Running Backs:

Joshua Wilhite, Sr., FB Hightower – 214 car., 1325 yds, 15 tds
AJ Ezzard, So., Southlake Carroll – 119 car., 604 yds, 7 tds
Jaquinn Henderson, Sr., FB Hightower – 83 car., 559 yds, 8 tds
Steven Bergmark, So., Southlake Carroll – 65 car., 407 yds, 4 tds

Wide Receivers:

Sabian Holmes, Sr., Southlake Carroll – 74 rec., 1198 yds, 13 tds
Peyton Williams, Sr., Southlake Carroll – 90 rec., 1162 yds, 10 tds *Out due to injury (DMN)
Ryan Nelson, Sr., FB Hightower – 43 rec., 790 yds, 8 tds
Donald Weathersby, Sr., FB Hightower – 36 rec., 534 yds, 8 tds

Final Thoughts

Southlake Carroll

1. QB Kenny Hill – Anytime a sophomore in Carroll’s offense completes 73% of his passes with a 3-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio, you can expect great things from that player in the future.  One year, 1,300 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground, and 2,800 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air later, I’d say he’s living up to that billing.  We expect Kenny to have plenty of room to operate on Saturday.

2.  Containing Bralon Addison – Carroll has given up some yardage to mobile quarterbacks (Orlando Thomas, Kolby Listenbee, and Devante Kincade) on the ground, but did a good job of limiting them through the air.  With all due respect, they’re facing a different level of athlete in Bralon Addison and will need all hands on deck to keep him from taking over the game.  Bottom line for Carroll, find a way to stop Bralon Addison and you win this game.

3.  Program Pedigree – This current group of Carroll Dragons haven’t played in a state championship yet, but they have grown up during an era full of state championship experiences.  The program enjoyed five straight state final appearances from 2002-2006 and only a one point loss in the 2003 final kept the Dragons from winning all five.  These guys know the drill and they aren’t just happy to be here.

FB Hightower

1.  QB Bralon Addison – For lack of a better term, he’s an athletic freak who has been breaking ankles at the varsity level since his sophomore year.  He’s a nightmare to defend because you have to account for every inch of turf or he’ll take it to the house. Even when you do put him in a tough situation, he always seems to make a spectacular play to escape.  Over his last five playoff games, he has carried the ball for 780 yards and 10 touchdowns.  He’ll need a lot of those “wow” plays on Saturday if his team is going to come out on top.

2. Knock Kenny off the Hill –  There isn’t a ton of explosiveness coming out of the Carroll backfield, but they’re very effective letting Hill dominate the ball and move the chains. From Hightower’s perspective, they want to maximize the amount of snaps for Bralon Addison. In order to do that, they need to force passing situations on third downs and get off the field.

3.  Penalties – The Hurricanes have committed less than 6 penalties only twice this season and have committed over 10 penalties for 100+ yards on seven different occasions.  It goes without saying, but it’ll be crucial for them to cut down on the number of penalties in a what is expected to be a tightly contested game.  The last thing you want to do at this stage of the season is constantly bail your opponent out.

Predictions

5A Projector – Southlake Carroll – 30, FB Hightower – 24
KT2000 – Southlake Carroll – 45, FB Hightower – 35
ktchamp97 – FB Hightower – 28, Southlake Carroll – 24
jc84chill –  FB Hightower – 28, Southlake Carroll – 24