State Championship Football Notebook

Lazic, Anderson, sophomores shine in Tigers’ state title win

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 1/17/21

ARLINGTON — Katy was proficient in all three phases of the game during its 51-14 Class 6A-Division II state championship win over Cedar Hill on Jan. 16 at AT&T Stadium. Whether it was offense, defense or special teams, the Tigers were on top of their game.

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State Championship Football Notebook

Lazic, Anderson, sophomores shine in Tigers’ state title win

Posted

ARLINGTON — Katy was proficient in all three phases of the game during its 51-14 Class 6A-Division II state championship win over Cedar Hill on Jan. 16 at AT&T Stadium. Whether it was offense, defense or special teams, the Tigers were on top of their game.

Offensively, Katy totaled 390 yards and averaged seven yards per play. Defensively, the Tigers held the Longhorns to nine first downs and just 2-of-10 conversions on third down. And on special teams, senior kicker Nemanja Lazic tied a University Interscholastic League state record.

Lazic’s 48-yard field goal with 3:31 left in the second quarter tied the longest field goal make in a state final, regardless of classification. Lazic shares the record with another Tiger, Kris Perez. Perez hit a 48-yarder in Katy’s 2015 state final win over Lake Travis.

“It feels amazing setting a record like that,” Lazic said. “I didn’t even know it tied a state record until someone from the stands told me going back into the locker room. But all credit goes to the eight guys blocking for me, my long snapper Aiden Wendt and my holder Hamilton McMartin. They make the job a whole lot easier and they deserve the same amount of credit as me.”

Lazic made all three of his field goals in the state final, from 48, 21 and 38 yards.

“Kicking in a stadium like that is something special,” Lazic said. “I just think about how it’s the same length of the field and the same goal posts, so my routine shouldn’t change. That’s what makes me relax playing in a stadium like that.”

ONE FOR NIC

After watching his older brothers, Rodney and Ryder, win state championships as Tigers, junior receiver Nic Anderson “felt like I had to win one.”

“I had to bring one home to the family, complete the set,” Anderson said.

Rodney, the oldest of the trio, won a state title in 2012 as a sophomore running back. Ryder was a junior defensive end on the 2015 title team.

Nic can now add himself to the family’s legacy of champions after the Tigers’ win over Cedar Hill last weekend. Anderson had a catch for 30 yards in the state final, and for the season finished with 30 catches for 480 yards and five touchdowns.

“It’s unreal,” Anderson said. “My family knows how hard my team and I have worked, and I know they’re so proud to see it finally pay off.”

He added, laughing, “I still have a year left to get one more ring than my brothers, so that’s my goal.”

Anderson said his older brothers told him to play his best, have fun and remember the moment of playing for a state title. He improved this season getting better at concentrating on the ball and focusing on runs after the catch. He worked tirelessly on route running to make sure he was consistent every time.

“They’re each their own person,” coach Gary Joseph said of the Andersons. “Nic is the quietest of them all. Rodney wasn’t a rah-rah guy. Ryder liked to hear himself talk. There’s certainly a difference in them. Nic is one of those kids that’s matured later. Rodney was pretty mature enough to play as a freshman here. Nic is just now starting to mature. His strength has gotten so much better, his speed has gotten better. They mature differently.”

Anderson said he will never forget this season.

“I think of all we had to sacrifice as a team to get what we strived for,” he said. “I mean, we literally gave up holidays to reach our goal.”

MORE IN STORE

The Tigers have a bright future. Sophomore running back Seth Davis was Offensive Player of the Game for the state final. Quarterback Caleb Koger was a sophomore as well.

Davis rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in the championship game. His older half-brother, starting senior running back Jalen Davis, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

“I think I’ve learned a lot from him, and he’s learned a lot from me,” Jalen Davis said. “I love him more than anything, and I’m blessed to share the backfield with him for this team. I’m extremely proud people are taking notice of my little brother. We’ve always worked hard and have always been competitive at a young age. It’s paying off.”

Koger persevered through an early quarterback competition and a rough outing in the Tigers’ only loss of the season to Tompkins on Nov. 5, when he completed just half of his 14 passes for 81 yards and two interceptions.

But since that loss, Koger has played brilliantly, throwing for 14 touchdowns and no interceptions over the final eight games of the season. In the state final, Koger, who masterfully executed play-fakes to thwart the Cedar Hill defense, completed five of nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

“I told you after the loss that that game was probably a bit too big for him at the time, but he grew up and his teammates allowed him to grow up,” Joseph said. “They never wavered in their support of him and they knew he was going to be the guy to get us to this point. He’s got a great future in front of him as long as he keeps working and improving. The best is yet to come.”

A VISIT FROM ANDY

Dallas Cowboys quarterback and former Katy High star Andy Dalton visited the team the morning of the state championship game to offer a pregame speech.

“He told us about how he came from the ‘B’ team to freshman team and didn’t start until his senior year,” senior defensive back Dalton Johnson said. “It lets everybody know that it’s all worth it to go through this. He lost state, but he had a great time at Katy. Fortunately, we were able to win. I love this team and this class. It’s worth it.”

Dalton was a third-team all-state selection his senior year in 2005, when he threw for 2,877 yards and 42 touchdowns in leading Katy to the state finals.

Johnson said the players were inspired by Dalton’s talk. It was proof that what they had to go through this year, all the protocols and restrictions because of COVID-19, were worth it.

“Most of us are used to socializing, but we knew what it took to get here, and we wanted it bad enough,” Johnson said. “We stayed within the team or family, even over breaks. Coaches got corona, players got corona. Overcoming that, we knew what we had to do. The bond we created because of that led us to this state championship even more, I would believe.”

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