Houston–Three down, three to go.
A week after surviving a back and forth battle with the revenge minded North Shore Mustangs by the score of 32-27, the same team they had beaten 44-6 at GPISD Stadium in late August, the Katy Tigers will now turn their attention to a team that has seemed to it up a notch during the playoffs.
“I’m proud of our kids for hanging in there and maintaining their composure against North Shore,” said Katy head coach Gary Joseph. “Pearland [is going to be] the best offense we’ve faced all season overall.”
The Pearland Oilers (13-0), who have scored 41.3 points per game and have over 5,000 yards of total offense, are what separates the Tigers (13-0) from winning Region III for the 11th time and they hope to do just that when the teams play for the UIL 5A Division I Region III Final Saturday in high school football action.
“Katy is who Katy is,” Pearland head coach Tony Heath said noting their tradition. “Everything they do, they do it good.”
Pearland’s dynamic offensive attack is spearheaded by running back Dustin Garrison. A candidate for a Houston Touchdown Club Award, Garrison has rushed for 2,268 yards this season and 34 TD’s. Garrison had a rather pedestrian game last week when he rushed for 64 yards but he still finished with 3 TD’s in the Oilers’ 54-7 win over Cy-Creek last week.
“He has great quickness, great vision and he does a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield,” Joseph said.
Pearland attack is balanced and if teams’ key too much on Garrison, then they will have no choice but to try and stop quarterback Trey Anderson (2,008 yards passing and 18 TD’s) from connecting with receiver Myles Kanipes, who has 36 receptions, 738 yards receiving, 8 TD’s. Sam Ukwuachu, a Boise State commit who generally plays defensive end, can also be a dangerous target and already proved himself to be clutch when he caught the game winning score with 0:11 left in the Oilers’ district opener against Clear Springs in Week 4.
“[Kanipes] is one of the best three offensive weapons for them and he’s a big playmaker,” Joseph said. “He’s got tremendous speed, great vision and he’s one we’re gonna have to try and slow down a little bit because he’s a very fine football player.”
Katy running backs Donovonn Young and Adam Taylor (3,532 yards rushing combined) take most of the headlines but Joseph felt it was going to be crucial that the fullbacks and their starting tight ends to step up in order for them to have the best chance to come out with a win.
“The fullbacks Joey Chapman and Vernon Jefferies are gonna have to block well,” Joseph said. “Jake Dill is gonna have to be able to [block and] control their defensive ends because that’s gonna be a big part of the game for us.”
Pearland has tied a school record for wins at 13, set back in 2001 when they reached the State semifinals. Two weeks ago the team demolished a Beaumont West Brook school that spent almost the entire season ranked in the state polls and last week defeated Cy-Creek by 47, Creek having been a team that had blown out defending Region III champion Cinco Ranch.
The Oilers defense, which had been suspect earlier in the season, seems to have really come on as of late. From the beginning of October till the end of October, the Oilers allowed at least 18 points every game. Since, they have yet to allow a team to score more than 20 points before garbage time and they have averaged to defeat their opponents by 32.5 points, a fact which doesn’t tell the whole story because most of the games were bigger blowouts than the score indicated.
Heath feels that although it may seem reasonable to assume the team has gained immeasurable confidence from their last two victories, he asserts that the confidence has been there all along.
“I think our kids believe in themselves and each other because you have to do that before doing anything else,” he said. “We’re in the fourth week just as Katy is and we’re excited about playing this game.”
This the 12th appearance in the Regional Final for Katy since 1997 and 5th one against a team from 24-5A. In 1998, the Tigers defeated Clear Brook 40-0 (D-2); in 1999, the Tigers defeated Galveston Ball 24-10 (D-2); in 2004, they were stunned by Houston Clear Lake 35-34 in overtime (D-2) and last year they defeated Clear Springs 38-21 (D-2).
This is Pearland’s third appearance in a regional final since 2001. That year, they defeated Alief Hastings 21-10 (D-1) and in 2006, they squeaked by Cy-Fair 16-15.
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