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Cedar Park Wins Battle Of Newcomers In Class 4A DII Game

Texas high school football playoffs

Cedar Park wins Texas high school football Class 4A Division II State Championship

Five games into this nine game State Championship marathon at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington we have seen no shortage of offense. In fact, the first 2 days (leading up to this game) of action has had 10 teams total nearly 300 points overall and 3 of 6 games were decided by four TD’s or more. However, the final game of day two, the Class 4A DII State Championship game finally bounced this trend. No one in the state really saw this match-up between Lancaster and Cedar Park coming; two newcomers to the title game stage led by head coaches (Chris Gilbert and Joe Willis respectively) taking the reigns in their first seasons with their programs.

Against all odds the two made it this far and neither seemed willing to go down without a fight and leave Arlington disappointed. The two “unexpecteds” put on a stellar show in a gritty defensive battle that forced fans to hold their breath in anxiety throughout. With local rival powerhouse Austin Lake Travis (with five Class 4A championships in a row from 2007-2011) moving up to 5A, Cedar Park finally had an opportunity to move out of its shadow and take over the spotlight (CP fell to Lake Travis in heartbreaking fashion in consecutive State Quarterfinal games in 2010 and 2011). The Timberwolves did just that, anchored by their infamous “Black Rain Defense” in a 17-7 victory over another team with the all too familiar “LT” logos on their helmets for their first Class 4A DII State Championship.

Lancaster took an early 7-0 lead thanks to a Demarcus Ayers 27-yard touchdown rush to complete a 60-yard drive with 9:36 to play in the first quarter. The Tigers amassed 123 total yards in the opening quarter. Both defenses stiffened up and didn’t allow another point to score until 15 seconds was all that was left before halftime, and even that was a close call. A fourth down dive from the 1 yard line by Cedar Park’s Ethan Fry pulled the game even at 7 a piece. The defenses only turned up the heat even more following halftime; the 3rd quarter saw neither team reach the end zone. In a game in which both offenses struggled to put points on the board, a doomed offensive drive by Lancaster changed the whole game. Three consecutive false starts, followed by an intentional grounding penalty on third down, led to a botched punt snap on 4th down (which controversially may or may not have been caused by a defensive lineman illegally slapping at the ball). The miscue by the Tigers special teams seemed to give Cedar Park a gift of the ball at the 6-yard line.  However, two holding penalties forced the Timberwolves to kick a 22-yard field goal on the opening play of the 4th quarter for the go-ahead score.

Cedar Park’s “Black Rain Defense” backed up the name for the remainder of the game. An interception set up a 14-yard game sealing rushing TD by Cedar Park’s Mikal Wilson, the UIL Offensive Player of the Game, with just three minutes left on the clock. However, the Tigers still looked to make things interesting with a comeback. The Lancaster offense drove down the field and appeared to cut the lead to only a field goal with a spectacular circus touchdown grab in the back corner of the end zone, but the official made the call that the receiver was forced out of bounds. Fox Sports Southwest replay did in fact show the receiver’s foot came down on the blue turf of the end zone at Cowboys Stadium. However, there are no replay challenges in Texas High School Football, so the call on the field was final.  The ensuing snap went over Demarcus Ayers head, and the Cedar Park defense recovered the fumble to put all comeback hopes to rest and take the title tilt 17-7.

The impressive defensive play by the Timberwolves culminated in only 222 total yards allowed, including only 46 yards allowed in the suffocating second half, as Lancaster only reached the end zone one time on the day. Lancaster’s defense did not go unnoticed as well, as Daeshon Hall (6 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 sack, also 1 rec for 17 yards) was named the UIL Defensive Player of the Game.  Thanks to Cedar Parks championship victory, two streaks remain intact. The Central Texas/Greater-Austin area has had a UIL state champion every year since 2004. The win also marks the sixth consecutive year a District 25-4A team has won the Class 4A title.

By Taylor Brasher
LSG Intern

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