— Aledo vs. Brenham
Time: Noon, Saturday
Site: AT&T Stadium
1 AT&T Way, Arlington
Type: Class 4A, Division II, Championship game
Last year: Did not play
Brenham Cubs (14-1)
Season: Winner of District 18-4A (8-0)
Last week: Beat Calhoun, 56-21
Players to watch: RB Earnest Patterson (5-6. 145, 4.4); OL Austin Schlottmann (6-5, 285); DB Courtland Sutton (6-2, 200); QB Caleb Hill; RB Ryan Nunn (5-10, 180, 4.5); QB Walter Thomas; WR James Homan (6-1, 170).
Aledo Bearcats (15-0)
Season: Winner of District 7-4A (7-0)
Last week: Beat Ennis, 29-6
Players to watch: LB Jordan Mittie (6-2, 210, 4.8), OT Cory Stitle (6-2, 265, 5.0), QB Luke Bishop (5-10, 170, 4.7), ATH Ryan Newsome (5-8, 168, 4.5), FB Daythan Davis (6-2. 218, 4.7), WR Taco Anderson.
Game notes: While Aledo had its rare slow start in last week’s semifinal against Ennis, the Brenham Cubs were skating through their first half against Calhoun. The Cubbies had built a three-touchdown lead going into the locker room and coasted through the balance of the match to secure their appointment with the Bearcats.
Brenham quarterback Caleb Hill was quite efficient with his passing, completing 12 of 18 attempts for 245 yards and four TDs. Hill spread his completions among five receivers.
Taking care of the ground game in the semifinal match, as he has for virtually the entire year, was Earnest Patterson, who had 22 touches and gained 144 of Brenham’s 165 yards rushing while adding two scores. The “compact” Patterson (5-6, 145) has gained more than 2,300 yards through 15 games, and is a terror in the open field with 4.4 speed.
Unlike Aledo, Brenham has been through the gauntlet several times during the playoffs, winning its first three postseason contests by a total margin of nine points. But the Cubs survived the close contests and won the past two games handily.
“I think it was very important, and helpful, to us to play in a competitive game [with Ennis], with a 0-0 score at halftime,” said Aledo senior linebacker Jordan Mittie, when asked how valuable the contest was to the Bearcats a week ago. “I know our offense hasn’t really seen that this year, but they kicked it into gear in the second half, so I think that was good for us as a team.
“[Our defense] held them scoreless in the first half, but [Ennis] came out with a lot of energy and I think we may have been a little flat, but I think we found our energy after halftime.”
Mittie and his band of seniors, several who played varsity ball as sophomores, and many more who were on the losing end of the Denton Guyer playoff last year, should be well prepared to play in the show on Saturday.
“This group [of seniors] has been together a long time and I think that has helped out our younger teammates as we’ve gone through the playoffs. I think we are very focused for the game this week.”
Obviously, the Bearcats will be “pulling out all the stops” on Saturday, and this particular squad has a wealth of stops to pull. While it is a good problem to have, getting game-play reps, even for all of the starters, has been at issue through most of Aledo’s games because of the total domination through most of the schedule, and sitting the first team after the half or after the first series of the third period.
Aledo head coach Tim Buchanan and his staff, who have hankered for the level of competition Ennis provided in the semifinal, is thankful that the Bearcat offense experienced the lesson in finishing.
“We were moving the ball well in the first half last week, but we weren’t finishing,” Buchanan said. “I think it was huge the way our offense responded in the second half and what was good about it was the way our kids stayed focused through the whole game and finished out the way they did.”
Since most of the 2013 Aledo varsity players were probably in the stands watching Aledo beat the Cubs, 35-21, in the 2009 state final, and the same for the Brenham kids, there is little resembling a rivalry, yet.
“Our kids remember the game, as do their kids,” Buchanan said, “but I don’t see that having an effect on this game.
[Brenham head] Coach Glen West and I are good friends, and our wives are good friends. We serve together on the Texas High School Coaches Association Board of Directors together. He’s a good coach and just a good quality guy. It’s too bad there will be a winner and a loser coming out of this game, and if he was playing someone else besides Aledo I would be pulling for him.”
For the Buchanan family, there is yet another interesting turn to the Aledo-Brenham match-up, (as there was in 2009). Buchanan’s wife, Rebecca, has a slew of relatives from the Brenham area.
“Rebecca’s parents, aunts and uncles have been very supportive of Aledo football during the season, driving up to make regular-season games and playoff games, as well,” Buchanan said. “They keep telling me they will be wearing orange and black to the game on Saturday, so we’ll see.”
Aledo, focused and with all hands on board, is likely the strongest 4A team in Texas, Division I or II, and would be a more-than-worthy match for a major chunk of 5A schools in the state. They are, on both sides of the ball, the most talented Bearcat squad this writer has seen in seven years of coverage. They should collect state title No. 5 on Saturday.