High School Football

DESTINATION: JERRY WORLD

No. 9 Katy routs Buda Hays in semis, sets up championship showdown with Cedar Hill

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 1/9/21

WACO—Buda Hays’ Slot-T offense was thought to be a test for Katy High’s defense. As a whole, the Tigers were thought to be threatened, finally, for the first time this postseason when they lined up against the Rebels.

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High School Football

DESTINATION: JERRY WORLD

No. 9 Katy routs Buda Hays in semis, sets up championship showdown with Cedar Hill

Posted

WACO—Buda Hays’ Slot-T offense was thought to be a test for Katy High’s defense. As a whole, the Tigers were thought to be threatened, finally, for the first time this postseason when they lined up against the Rebels.

None of those pipe dreams ultimately came to fruition.

Katy decimated Buda Hays, 63-7, in their Class 6A-Division II state semifinal on Saturday afternoon at McLane Stadium, scoring on all six of their first half possessions to lead 42-0 at the break and book an early trip to next week’s state championship game.

No. 9 state-ranked Katy is in the state title game for the first time since 2015, which also happens to be when the Tigers won their eighth state title. Katy (13-1) plays Cedar Hill (12-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, at AT&T Stadium, home of Jerry Jones' Dallas Cowboys.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” senior receiver and team captain Taylor Saulsberry said. “We’ve gone four years and not been able to win it. Now we have the chance, it’s great. It means a lot to all of us. When you grow up in Katy, you dream of winning state championships. This means everything.”

Katy is making its 15th trip overall to the state championship game. This year’s postseason journey has been one of thorough domination, as the Tigers have outscored their foes by a combined score of 223-52 and are winning by an average margin of 42.8 points.

The state semi was no different than any of Katy’s other three playoff wins. The Tigers outgained the Rebels 435-183 in total yards, had 22 first downs to Hays’ 11, and did not punt.

Katy led 21-0 after the first quarter, buoyed by excellent field position set up by two fumble recoveries by junior linebacker Ty Kana and senior defensive end Cal Varner III, placing Katy on the Hays 25- and 27-yard lines, respectively, for easy scores.

Of its six offensive possessions in the first half, Katy started on its side of the field just twice: from its own 49 and 16.

“Our defense did a great job getting awesome field position for us,” said sophomore running back Seth Davis, who compiled a game-high 174 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. “It was easy getting those points on the board.”

The Tigers outgained the Rebels 248-74 in total yards by halftime. They scored touchdowns on their first nine possessions—Davis had the hat trick and even tossed a 12-yard score to junior receiver Nic Anderson on a flea-flicker, senior running back Jalen Davis (112 yards on nine carries) scored twice, quarterbacks Caleb Koger and Bryce Nirider each threw touchdowns, and Nirider added another score on a 1-yard keeper.

“We worked hard all week,” coach Gary Joseph said. “They (Hays) gave us something we don’t see all the time, and the kids really responded. You could see as the week went on that we were getting better and more comfortable with what we were doing.”

Hays’ Slot-T offense was supposed to be an intriguing force for Katy’s vaunted defense. It wasn’t. Buda Hays, which entered the game averaging 227.8 rushing yards per game on 6.5 yards per carry, ran for a total of minus-4 yards on its first 18 carries and finished with six rushing yards on 27 carries.

Against the Rebels’ misdirection, the Tigers’ defense was aligned almost perfectly often, earning a living in the Hays offensive backfield. Five times, Katy defenders tackled Hays ballcarriers for negative yards. Four other times, Hays ballcarriers did not gain a yard.

“We executed the game plan to perfection,” Kana said. “It’s indescribable. There’s no defense like this. Coach Joseph, when it comes to defense, is a mastermind.”

Next up for the Tigers is a familiar face in the Longhorns, whose only loss this season was a 14-point setback to Duncanville on Nov. 13. It will be the fourth meeting with a state championship on the line between the two programs. Katy beat Cedar Hill, 35-24, in 2012, then fell to the Longhorns each of the next two seasons, 34-24 and 23-20, respectively.

“They’re a great team,” senior linebacker Shepherd Bowling said. “They have a great quarterback, so we’ll have to do a great job of stopping that. We’re excited.”

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