— By GREG WEBB
ARLINGTON – The Aledo Bearcats collected more than just the ultimate prize in winning the Class 4A, Division II football title on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
With its 38-10 win over the Brenham Cubs, Aledo closed out its 2013 campaign with a 16-0 season record — just the tip of the iceberg among a number of records at the team and individual levels.
The championship is Aledo’s fourth in the past five years and its fifth overall. Their first was in the 1998 season as a Class 3A team. The last four have been 4A titles.
After a scoreless third quarter saw the Bearcats leading by a “precarious” 17-3 margin, in light of Brenham’s penchant for long passing plays in the opening half, Aledo used big plays of its own to take command down the final stretch.
In the first play of the fourth quarter, Aledo quarterback Luke Bishop found senior wideout Taco Anderson for a 43-yard scoring pass, the first of Anderson’s two touchdowns in the title game, both in the decisive fourth quarter. Bishop, who would find Anderson again for the final score of the game with an 18-yarder, finished the day with a 6-of-10 passing performance, and half of the completions resulting in touchdowns. The junior signal caller also had 133 yards rushing on 13 carries and was named by the attending media as the Most Valuable Offensive Player of the title match.
Overall, the Bearcats rushed for 356 yards and registered 513 yards of total offense. Aledo’s Jess Anders finished with 119 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Aledo junior Ryan Newsome also scored twice for the Bearcats, the first on a 28-yard pass just before halftime and then on a 59-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Aledo senior middle linebacker Jordan Mittie was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player.
After the Aledo defense issued another second-half three-and-out, the Bearcat offense wasted little time in putting an adamant end to any lingering doubt regarding the championship.
Junior QB/WR Ryan Newsome assumed the quarterback slot for the next offensive snap and headed off left tackle toward an open seam in the secondary. The balance of the run turned into a foot race between Newsome and the Cub defensive backs. Newsome handily won the sprint, putting the Bearcats up, 31-3, and leaving the Aledo faithful breathing easier, with perhaps a hint of celebratory startup.
Then, there are the records ...
The Bearcats enhanced their already-prolific point production for the season by adding another 38 to the state and national record. The new record stands at 1,023 points.
“The offense gets a lot of attention for all the points they have scored,” Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan said, “but you have to consider how much our defense helped that, this year.
“And the kicking game has been great all year long, as well.”
With nine blockers, a snapper and a holder in the mix, kicker Chance Alvarez added another handful of successful point-after kicks, bringing the current state and national record to 207 for consecutive PATs. Alvarez also holds the state and national high for PATs in a single season, finishing with 132. The senior kicker and his unit also hold the state mark for career points-after, with 305.
The first quarter of the game had similarities to the semi-final match with Ennis from the week before for Aledo. It’s first two penetrations, one a sustained effort from deep in its own territory, yielded the Bearcats a Parker Shaunfield field goal. The 33-yard boot represented the only scoring in the opening period of the game.
“The main reason we started off the way we did was because of Brenham’s defense,” said Buchanan. “They have a very good defense and they were just playing well in the first half. I think we kind of wore them down a little bit as the game went on, but we also started throwing the ball more which I think helped the overall offense.”
Brenham’s passing game was the biggest threat to the Bearcat defense, which held the Cubs’ running game well below its per-game average. Brenham ran the ball 32 times, totaling just 110 yards.
Aledo took advantage of early Brenham mistakes in the first half. After a long pass found the Cubs inside the Bearcat 5-yard line with a first and goal, a bad exchange between Brenham signal caller Caleb Hill and running back Earnest Patterson put the ball on the ground and was quickly recovered by senior linebacker Tyson Mauser.
Mauser also had a pick late in the contest.