Aledo receiver Taco Anderson smiled with every word he said.
He had plenty of reason to smile Saturday, sitting next to coach Tim Buchanan in a postgame presser, his pads still fastened, eye black smeared from his forehead to his chin.
Anderson, a senior, went out a state champion, catching two touchdown passes in Aledo’s 38-10 win over Brenham in the Class 4A Division II championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
For the Bearcats, the win was the finishing touch to a record-setting season that saw the Bearcats break the national scoring mark, surpass 1,000 points on the year and go undefeated.
And for Anderson and his fellow seniors, it was the chance to take ownership of their own legacy in a program that’s won four state titles in five seasons.
“Players on 2009-11 title teams were just heroes to us,” Anderson said. “It means everything to us now that we’re basically them, that we’re part of a prolific team like that.”
Aledo’s season featured a 91-0 win. It opened with a 44-3 win over state semifinalist Highland Park. And the closest it came to ending was a 29-6 win over Ennis two weeks ago.
It started, of course, in the off-season with a leave-your-legacy message from the coaches to the seniors, many of whom played on the 2011 title team.
“You’re going to be remembered for what happens your senior year,” Buchanan said. “Twenty-five, 30 years from now when you come back for your class reunion, did you win a state championship? Or were you just a junior on that state championship team?”
Jordan Mittie, the son of TCU women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie, earned defensive MVP honors against Brenham. He played on the 2011 title team, which was powered by the nation’s top recruit, Johnathan Gray. But Saturday’s win was redeeming, Mittie said.
“I think it leaves a huge legacy, because this is the first team since the 3-peat to win it without Johnathan Gray, so we had to get that off our back first, and it feels good,” he said.
But how does this year’s team compare with previous Aledo teams? And, where’s its place in state and national lore?
The debate will likely linger; the 2013 Bearcats are, after all, the most prolific high school team ever.
But the only comparisons being made Saturday were to Aledo’s last three title teams, in particular the 2010 team that also went undefeated.
“But I’m going to say the thing that makes this team probably better is the kicking game,” Buchanan said. “Those two kickers we have and the coverage we have — if it wasn’t a touchback, we typically tackled them inside 20-yard-line.”
The players just like being in the same conversation as the 2009-11 teams. Senior Tyson Mauser called it “surreal.”
And while their loyalties lie with all teams in Aledo’s history, senior Jonny Carter said this year’s version of Bearcats could’ve held their own against any of those squads.
“I don’t know about [2013 team being better than previous three title teams], because I have played with the teams the years before that have won state,” Carter said. “But I would say we would give them a run for their money for sure.”