There’s an old cliché about always being the bridesmaid but never the bride.
It no longer applies to the Grapevine Faith football team.
After being beaten in the semifinals or finals six times over the past 17 years, the Lions finally hoisted a TAPPS state championship trophy this past Friday at Panther Stadium in Waco. And it took a heart-stopping finish to do so.
“If there is [a more heart-pounding] way to win a championship, I don’t know of it,” Faith coach Kris Hogan said. “It was tense to say the least.”
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The Lions (12-2) are champions of TAPPS Division II after stopping Austin Regents on a two-point conversion attempt in the second overtime. Regents lined up to kick the PAT, but Hogan sensed something was up.
He noticed several Regents players were cramping up, and the Lions’ staff had also noted several fake PATs during film study of the Knights (13-1). So Hogan called timeout to warn his defense to be ready for anything. His hunch was correct.
Regents shifted into a swinging gate look hoping to fool the Lions.
“I’m very pleased with the kids’ football IQ. There were people going everywhere, running in motion. You knew this was it, this was a last-ditch effort by Austin Regents,” Hogan said. “We just had to play defense from there. The kids had to lean on their training and play hard for one more play and that’s exactly what they did.”
Faith defenders sniffed out the play and pressured Regents into a rushed and errant throw.
Other area TAPPS finalists weren’t quite as fortunate in Waco. Colleyville Covenant lost the Division III title game to Houston Northland Christian, 21-17, and Arlington Grace Prep dropped the Division IV final to Shiner St. Paul 49-34.
Area UIL teams advancing to state semifinals include 5A Division II Aledo (14-0) vs. Mesquite Poteet (11-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Ford Center in Frisco, and 4A Division I Kennedale (11-3) vs. Abilene Wylie (12-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Birdville ISD Fine Arts/Athletics Complex.
Other remaining Metroplex semifinalsts are 6A Division I Allen (14-0) vs. The Woodlands (14-0), 1 p.m. Saturday at Austin’s Texas Royal Memorial Stadium, 6A Division II DeSoto (14-0) vs. Klein Collins (13-1), 4 p.m. Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston, and 5A Division I Denton Ryan (14-0) vs. Highland Park (12-2), 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the The Ford Center.
At Grapevine Faith, Hogan felt he had a championship team coming into the season, so the victory was as much relief as anything.
“We felt like anything less than a state title would fall short of our goals,” he said, noting his senior-laden and talented offense. “It’s a blessing and culmination of efforts over the years. [This team] really felt like they were carrying the mantle because we’ve had a lot of really good teams in the past.
“We’ve won a lot of games in the last decade. It’s a very relieved feeling to finally win one and I’m proud for the kids that came before these to build a great foundation.”