Star-Telegram and dfwvarsity.com editor Eric Zarate, left, and reporter Travis L. Brown of the High School Huddle sound off on this week’s UIL Class 5A and 4A state championship games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, including predicted outcomes. Visit dfwvarsity.com to catch the show and to find photo galleries from many area games.
Denton Guyer Wildcats (13-2)
vs. San Antonio Northside Brennan Bears (15-0)
Class 4A Division I championship, 8 p.m. Friday
Eric: The Guyer Wildcats are defending 4A Division I champs. Guyer’s defense limited Highland Park quarterback Brooks Burgin, a 3,300-yard passer, to 199 yards and zero touchdowns in last week’s 22-16 win. Of course, the Wildcats’ offense is led by quarterback Jerrod Heard, whose 2,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards have accounted for 46 touchdowns. Brennan is just 3 years old. The Northside ISD names all its schools after Supreme Court justices. The Bears are another great defensive team, allowing only three TDs in the playoffs. Brennan runs the ball well, with 3,600 rushing yards compared to 1,600 passing yards. Junior quarterback DeShawn Key is their dual-threat player, with 1,500 passing yards and 1,400 rushing. Guyer makes it two straight.
Travis: Guyer began the season as one of the top picks to take one of the 4A state titles this season, but went through a somewhat up-and-down early part of the season, including a loss by forfeit for an ineligible player. Despite that, the Wildcats find themselves in the Division I state final again. Guyer certainly has the previous state experience as well as plenty of experience in AT&T Stadium. It’s somewhat of a home game for the Wildcats, so I give this one to Guyer.
Aledo Bearcats (15-0) vs. Brenham Cubs (14-1)
4A Division II championship, noon Saturday
Eric: What can you say about Aledo: A national-record 985 points already, and an offense ready to pass 8,000 total yards for the season. Jess Anders is the leading rusher, with 1,400 yards, but four others have 600-plus rushing yards. Ryan Newsome has touched the ball 117 times — on catches, carries, punt and kickoff returns — and he has scored 24 touchdowns. Brenham’s offense isn’t shabby either, gaining 5,900 yards. Cubs junior running back Earnest Patterson has 2,300 yards and 25 TDs. The Brenham defense did come up with four sacks last week in a semifinal win against Port Lavaca Calhoun. It will need that kind of pressure to keep Aledo quarterback Luke Bishop and the rest of the offense off their game. I just don’t see that happening. Aledo wins this one.
Travis: This year’s edition of the Aledo football team is already being mentioned as one of the greatest high school football teams this state has produced. I certainly believe Aledo will take home a state title, and I think last week’s test against Ennis will certainly help Aledo seal the deal this weekend. The starters were forced to grind it out all the way through the game for one of the first times this season and even got banged up a little bit. Should Aledo face some adversity against Brenham, they’ll be much more battle-tested than they had been in any other game this season.
Allen Eagles (15-0) vs. Pearland Oilers (14-1)
5A Division I championship, 4 p.m. Saturday
Eric: Allen is going for a second consecutive 5A Division I title. The Eagles certainly have the tools for it. They have rolled through opponents, and they have that $60 million stadium. It’s certainly a means to get your kids ready for the big games, because Allen has played so many big games the past two years. I think Allen will be ready for this, and Pearland will come up just short.
Travis: After a nail-biting win over DeSoto on Saturday, both Allen players and coach Tom Westerberg allowed themselves to look ahead a little bit. A perfect 16-0, state-title-winning season has been on Allen’s radar and has been a point of motivation all season for Westerberg to his troops. Quarterback Kyler Murray said this team will make history, being the first team at Allen to go undefeated in route to a state championship, and it’s something this team has talked about and wants badly. It will set this year’s team apart from the previous state winners, including last year’s team. Watch out for Pearland, though. The Oilers have a history of dashing the dreams of North Texas powerhouse teams. In its last state title game appearance in 2010, Pearland upset a Euless Trinity team led by all-around athlete Brandon Carter 28-24, so playing up to tough competition isn’t unusual for this team. That being said, Allen wants this badly and will take it.
Cedar Hill Longhorns (13-2) vs. Katy Tigers (15-0)
5A Division II championship, 8 p.m. Saturday
Eric: There’s lots of intrigue because this is a rematch of last year’s 5A Division II championship, won by Katy 35-24. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Cedar Hill, which certainly has to be the underdog. The Longhorns have that title-game loss as a vivid memory. What greater motivation do you need? Cedar Hill does have a strong history of playoff success, maybe not Katy’s five championships since 2000, but the Longhorns did win a title in 2006. I’m sure Katy will travel well, but this has to count as a home game for Cedar Hill. I expect it to be a great game and exciting game, but I just think the Longhorns will not be denied this time.
Travis: Katy is the most successful team to come out of the Houston area, and that certainly includes the NFL’s Houston Texans. Katy is one of the state’s dynasties and knows how to win a state title. In a rematch of last year’s Division II title game, these teams will know what it takes to win. However, I give Katy a slight edge in this one.