For the ninth consecutive season, the Aledo Bearcats are the undisputed district champions.
Despite 12 penalties, four turnovers and allowing a blocked field goal, the No. 1 Bearcats survived a scrappy Boswell squad and scored 28 second-half points on its way to a 49-24 victory over the Pioneers Friday night to win the outright District 6-5A championship at Bearcat Stadium.
The Bearcats ran the table in the regular season with a 7-0 District 6-5A mark and a 10-0 season record. Not only was it the ninth consecutive district championship, but Aledo has now won 68 consecutive district games dating back to 2007.
“Not too many teams can say they are 10-0,” Bearcats head coach Steve Wood said. “And how many teams can say they are district champs? But we had too many penalties and turnovers, but give Boswell credit for playing hard. I don’t know. We have been so smooth as far as that goes, but it seems like it caught up to us tonight and we have to clean that up in the playoffs.
“But we have to enjoy what we accomplished, although the coach in me wants everything to be perfect. But I am so proud of them. I am happy for them and we need to enjoy this and be thankful for what we have done and what we have got and be ready to go to work in the playoffs.”
The Bearcats will face Wichita Falls Rider, the second-seeded, small-school team from District 5-5A, in the Class 5A, Division II bi-district playoffs. The game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Northwest ISD Stadium.
Thanks to an interception return for a touchdown with under a minute left in the first half, the Bearcats held a slim 21-14 lead at the break.
If Boswell had gained any momentum before halftime it went away quickly in the third quarter. After forcing the Pioneers to punt, the Aledo ground game went to work.
After receiver Logan Bridges gained 19 yards on first down on a jet sweep, freshman Jase McClellan carried three times for 23 yards to move the ball across mid field. Later in the drive McClellan converted a third and one with a four-yard blast off right tackle to move the chains. McClellan led the Bearcats with 115 yards on 16 carries.
Tailback Donnie Evans gave McClellan a breather and scooted eight yards before senior quarterback Dillon Davis fired a 15-yard strike to Bridges to the Boswell 18. Bridges led all receivers with five catches for a season-high 189 yards.
On the next play, McClellan carried up the middle and broke three tackles on his way to a rugged 18-yard touchdown run with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. Quinn Davis booted the extra point to increase the Aledo advantage to 28-14.
Boswell, paced by five carries for 31 yards by senior tailback Damon Williams, worked its way down field. But when the drive stalled the Pioneers salvaged three points on a 30-yard field goal by Jackson Counts to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 28-17 with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Williams led all rushers with 134 yards on 24 carries.
The Bearcats used a big play on their next possession to put some more distance on the Pioneers. On first and 10 from the Aledo 42, Davis recognized the speedy Bridges was single covered. The senior gunslinger threw the ball as far as he could as Bridges easily beat single coverage and caught the ball in stride for a 58-yard score.
Reed Vierling added the PAT, and with 2:15 remaining in the third period the Bearcats increased their lead to 35-17.
In the fourth quarter the Bearcats defense got into the scoring act. With the ball at his own 15, Boswell freshman quarterback Brayden Thomas – lined up in shotgun formation – watched the snap from center sail over his head and across the goal line.
But before Thomas or another Pioneer could get to the loose pigskin, hustling AHS linebacker Aaron Hale pounced on the ball for an easy touchdown that effectively put the game away. Quinn Davis tacked on the extra point, and with 8:25 remaining in the game the Bearcats held a comfortable 42-17 lead.
With the game already decided, both teams each found the end zone one more time.
Boswell scored on a three-yard pass from Thomas to Dutch Patterson with 6:47 left to play as Counts added the PAT to cut the lead to 42-24.
Aledo got the touchdown back on a two-yard TD run by Evans, and Vierling’s PAT extended the lead to 49-24.
Davis completed 18 of 27 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns with a pair of interceptions as Aledo rolled up 549 total yards. Hayden Hyles caught four passes for 47 yards – both season highs – and Rosson also caught four passes for 47 yards. Preston Jefferis finished with three catches for 55 yards.
Evans rushed 14 times for 71 yards, and Davis had five carries for 20 yards.
“It was emotional playing in my final game at Bearcat Stadium,” four-year varsity member Wes Harris said. “Every senior each year before this game gets a chance to talk to the team, and I don’t know if I have ever cried that hard.
“It all hit me at once during my speech. Although we had a lot of penalties and mistakes, it ended well and it is great to go 10-0 in my senior year. I could not imagine playing ball anywhere else.”
Neither team scored on their respective first drives of the opening half.
After Aledo forced Boswell to punt again the Bearcats followed with a six-play, 66-yard drive that ended on a one-yard touchdown run by McClellan with 4:51 left in the first quarter. The big play in the drive was a 46-yard pass by Davis to Jefferis, who broke three tackles down the left sideline to the eight-yard line.
Vierling kicked the extra point to give the Bearcats a 7-0 lead.
The Bearcats forced three straight Boswell punts before finding the end zone again. Aledo followed with a five-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a big play.
After a personal foul penalty on AHS moved the ball back to the Bearcats’ 33, Davis found receiver Logan Bridges in single coverage down the middle. Davis fired a towering offering to a streaking Bridges, who caught the pass in stride and easily beat his single defender for a 67-yard touchdown.
Quinn Davis booted the extra point, and with 8:47 left in the first half the Bearcats extended their lead to 14-0.
After the teams traded punts, Boswell found the end zone for the first time in the contest. The Pioneers drove 57 yards on seven plays with the drive concluding on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to senior receiver Chris Delgado.
Counts added the extra point kick, and with 3:53 left in the half the Pioneers cut the Bearcats’ lead to 14-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Brannon Webb returned the ball 30 yards and Boswell was flagged for a personal foul penalty to move the ball to the visitors’ 42.
It took just three plays for Aledo to reach pay dirt. McClellan ran for 10 yards on first down and Evans followed with a carry of nine yards to bring the pigskin to the Boswell 23. On the next play, Davis fired a low bullet to the end zone where a sliding Bridges caught the ball to complete a 23-yard touchdown play.
With 3:04 remaining in the half, Vierling tacked on the PAT to increase the Bearcats’ lead to 21-7.
Boswell closed the first-half scoring on a brilliant individual defensive effort.
With less than a minute left in the half, Boswell defensive back Breshun Berry jumped a sideline route, intercepted a Davis pass and raced untouched for 35 yards down the right sideline and into the end zone with 52 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Counts added the PAT as Aledo led 21-14 at the break.
AHS notes: The Ladycats volleyball team will face Grapevine in the regional quarterfinals. The match will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Keller Fossil Ridge High School.