Seeking a third straight UIL state title last season, Aledo was upended by Mansfield Lake Ridge in the Class 5A Division I semifinals.
But the Bearcats (14-0) are back in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year, facing Mesquite Poteet (11-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Ford Center in Frisco in the 5A Division II bracket. And the players from Parker County have no plans on repeating last season’s disappointment.
“I would say we talk about it amongst ourselves in the locker room, just to kind of remind ourselves that we’re not going to feel like that again,” senior quarterback Dillon Davis said. “That feeling we had after we lost to Lake Ridge, we’re not going to let that happen again.
“It’s a motivator. We’ve moved on. We’re not dwelling on the past or thinking about it to the point that we’re worried. I think we’re just using it as a motivator.”
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When you win five state championships in seven years, as the Bearcats have since 2009, it’s not unrealistic that a state title becomes the expectation.
It’s a motivator. We’ve moved on. We’re not dwelling on the past or thinking about it to the point that we’re worried. I think we’re just using it as a motivator.
Aledo quarterback Dillon Davis on last year’s playoff loss
“There’s pressure. To say there isn’t any pressure would be a lie. There is, there just is, because expectations are so high,” said coach Steve Wood, who led Aledo to the state championship in 2014. “But I try not to put it on these kids. I try not to put it on the assistant coaches. Let’s just go out there and practice hard and coach hard and have fun while we’re doing it.
“In the end it’s a game, and in the end all you want to be able to say is that I gave it my best.”
Potentially adding to the pressure is that the entire season is being chronicled by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its exclusive video series Titletown, TX. After all, you need a title to be Titletown, right?
“The expectation is to win a state title and that would be awesome for the show, but you get to the point where you’re playing for your teammates,” Davis said. “I’m not trying to be mean, but I’m not playing for a show, I’m not playing anybody else. Just for my teammates — the guys who’ve been there with you through it all.
“If you do that, no matter if you’re successful or you fail, your team will have your back.”
There’s pressure. To say there isn’t any pressure would be a lie. There is, there just is, because expectations are so high.
Aledo coach Steve Wood
Still, Davis admits with his senior season captured for posterity, there’s a preferred ending.
“I do think about the end,” he said of his high school career. “Everyone has their picture-perfect ending they dream about at night and think about it. But whatever happens you’ve got to have fun out there and I’m just going to enjoy the rest of my season with my teammates.”
Class 5A Division II playoffs
Aledo (14-0) vs. Mesquite Poteet (11-3), 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Ford Center, Frisco
College Station (14-0) vs. CC Calallen (13-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Alamodome, San Antonio