Corpus Christi Calallen coach Phil Danaher has more wins than any coach in Texas high school football history, but none of them has come in a state title game.
Danaher is hoping victory number 433 will be the sweetest of them all as he leads the Wildcats into the Class 5A Division II state championship game versus Aledo at 8 p.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium.
In 33 years at Calallen, Danaher has reached the state championship game one other time, a 28-0 loss to Hebron in 2005.
On the opposite sideline, Steve Wood reached the state title game in his first season at the helm of the Bearcats, inheriting the team in 2014 and subsequently guiding them to the 5A Division I championship. Aledo has won six state titles — all since 1998 and five since 2009.
But history won’t decide who hoists the trophy this season; this year’s players will. On the field it will be a contrast in styles — a bit of new school vs. old school.
“You don’t see that much anymore. It’s old-school football,” Aledo linebacker Rhett Harris said, referring to Calallen’s wing-T offense. Harris has recorded 85 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions this season.
Aledo’s offense averages 302 rushing yards per game, and 252 passing yards. The Wildcats prefer to keep it on the ground.
Calallen senior quarterback Gaige Lamb leads the team with 23 rushing touchdowns. He’s second for Calallen with 1,316 yards, behind sophomore Alec Brown’s 1,596 yards. Brown has 19 TDs.
“We have to win the battle in the trenches to stop this offense,” Harris said. “They’ll do a lot of misdirection so you have to be very focused so you don’t get outflanked.”
Wood said Aledo hasn’t faced an offense of this style since playing Ennis in the 2013 playoffs, when these Bearcats seniors were freshmen. Aledo did win that game, 29-6.
Calallen’s offense is averaging 313 yards rushing per game, while throwing for just 58 per game. The Wildcats score an average of just over 38 points. The Bearcats’ defense, meanwhile, has surrendered an average of 18 points.
“We’ve played teams that run the ball, but not like they run the ball,” said Aledo linebacker Will Trawick, who has 99 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and four sacks. “They’re very good at what they do, but I think we are too and it’ll be a great game.”
Class 5A Division II
Aledo Bearcats (15-0) vs. Corpus Christi Calallen Wildcats (14-1)
8 p.m. Friday, AT&T Stadium, Arlington