Nolan Catholic is in a familiar spot: the TAPPS state title game.The Vikings (9-4) will be going for their third straight Division I championship Friday night when they meet Plano Prestonwood (12-1) at Tiger Stadium in Corsicana. Nolan, which lost to Prestonwood six weeks ago, has navigated its way to Fridays rematch through its own reliable formula: Run the ball, limit mistakes, take advantage of opportunities.Were not dependent on throwing it 40 or 50 times a game, coach Joe Prudhomme said. That works well in August and September, but in November and December, it gets dicey.Last Fridays 55-20 victory over Argyle Liberty Christian was a near-perfect display of that, Prudhomme said. The Vikings racked up 339 rushing yards, averaging 6.32 yards a carry. Quarterback Jacob Walden wasnt explosive through the air, but he was efficient, completing 5 of 8 passes for 78 yards. And on defense, Nolan was sparked by a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown by Miles Murray to start the nights scoring.I thought we played really, really well, Prudhomme said. We went in with a plan, and there was very little to no deviation from it.The Prestonwood Lions beat Nolan 36-34 on Oct. 26. Theyre incredibly athletic, Prudhomme said. They fly to the ball. Theyre very aggressive.If not for Prestonwoods 2010 title-game win against Nolan, the Vikings would be seeking a sixth consecutive TAPPS title. Nolans half-dozen championships since 2004 are very much a part of the 2013 team, too.Theyve all contributed in some way through the years, Prudhomme said. It helps. Every time they get that experience, all that layers itself over a number of years. Most of our seniors have been a part of it. They understand what the stakes are. That helps a lot. That to me is the biggest thing going for us is that weve been there so many times. Theres kind of an expectation.Focus on the detailsHow do you oil a well-oiled machine? Thats the task Aledo coach Tim Buchanan and his coaching staff have ahead of them this week as the 13-0 Bearcats prepare for a Class 4A Division II state quarterfinal game against 8-5 Wichita Falls. The biggest deal is just work on little things, Buchanan said. My coaching philosophy has always been take care of the little things and winning will take care of itself. We found a lot of little things we did wrong on Saturday that the coaches spent the majority of Sunday trying to fix.Aledo got out to a 27-0 first-quarter lead to beat previously undefeated Canyon 54-14 last week. The Bearcats play Wichita Falls on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Justin Northwest ISD Stadium. Wichita Falls went 5-5 in the regular season, but the Coyotes have been a dangerous team to face in the playoffs, Buchanan said. Keeping his teams focus on this weeks game, and not on a potential semifinal matchup with Ennis or Mesquite Poteet two teams with explosive offenses will be the goal for Buchanan. First time we overlook somebody, its going to be Wichita Falls playing Ennis or Poteet, Buchanan said. Theyve got a football team that can very easily beat us if we dont play well.
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @RyanOsborneFWST