September 7, 2011

Aledo, Lake Travis on championship run

Aledo vs. Lake Travis has a familiar ring.

Aledo vs. Lake Travis has a familiar ring.

Or, actually, six rings.

The two most dominant Class 4A teams in the state -- Aledo has won two straight 4A Division II championships and Lake Travis has won four straight 4A titles (the past three in 4A Division I) -- will meet Friday night in Aledo to conclude a memorable home-and-home series.

"It's a lot more fun getting ready for a game like this than it is getting ready for one you should win by 50 or 60 points," Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said.

But don't expect a repeat of last year's defensive struggle, in which both offenses were mired in a muddy field. The Bearcats won 14-10 and snapped a 48-game Cavaliers win streak.

This year's game will be played on Aledo's bone-dry turf. The 2-0 Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in the AP 4A poll, have scored 78 points. Aledo, the No. 7 AP team, is 1-1 but still has 97 points.

"If we score just 14 points this year, I'm afraid we're going to get beat by about 30," Buchanan said. "Nobody is going to stop their offense. We just have to contain them and try not to give up big plays. I think the winning team in this game will score more than 40."

In the Bearcats' first test of the season, it was Stephenville that passed; backup quarterback Tyler Jones entered the game and completed 20 of 27 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets scored 48 points on Aledo's defense.

"We're young in the secondary," Buchanan said. "It was good for us in the Stephenville game. And this will be another great learning experience for our young guys."

The Bearcats bounced back with a 50-7 win against Weatherford, and the Roos offense wasn't a challenge.

"I really think our loss to Stephenville isolated some of our problems," senior linebacker Dayne Davis said. "We came back the next week to practice and started fixing those things."

James Place, Aledo's only returning defensive back starter, missed the second half against Stephenville with a concussion. He could have played against Weatherford, but Buchanan held him out one more week. He will be back for Lake Travis.

"We need to stay healthy through this one," Buchanan said. "If we can do that, and get everyone matched up in the secondary, I think we will be OK."

Last year, playing Stephenville and Lake Travis was Aledo's best playoff preparation. No district team could compete with the Bearcats.

"It's hard to say that a game that early gets you ready for the playoffs, but our district really isn't that tough. We try to schedule the toughest games we can for our nondistrict games," said Aledo running back Johnathan Gray, who already has 556 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

"Playing Lake Travis and Stephenville actually does get us ready for the playoffs."

Aledo needed a comeback after trailing Lake Travis 10-0. The Bearcats won the game on a fourth-down rush from Gray with six minutes left .

"It's probably one of the most physical games I can remember," Davis said. "No one could make cuts. It was just everyone playing head-on, trying to shove it down the other team's throat."

Lake Travis coach Hank Carter is expecting another close game.

"Anytime two programs like these get together, it's going to be a very competitive, physical game," Carter said. "I know both teams have a lot of pride and have a lot of kids back with championship experience."

Aledo expects around 9,000 people to attend the game Friday, including media, band members and school personnel.

The fire marshal capped ticket sales at 8,100. Last year, Lake Travis had to bring in extra stands to fit 7,200.

Aledo won in a hostile road environment. Lake Travis will be motivated to return the favor.

"We've been practicing all summer for this," Aledo senior quarterback Matthew Bishop said. "After losing to Stephenville, I can't wait to play them again. I'm sure Lake Travis is feeling the same way against us."

Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760

Related content



Sports Videos