By Nolan Ruth
The Community News
The Aledo Bearcats completed their quest for history Friday afternoon at AT&T Stadium in Arlington as they defeated the Crosby Cougars (12-4) in the 5A Division II State Championship by a score of 56-21.
This year’s title makes Aledo’s grand total a record 10 state titles. No other team in the state of Texas has reached that milestone.
“It didn’t start tonight,” Tim Buchanan spoke about where the program has come. “It started back in 1993. When you look at the people who were the foundation of what we’ve done, they didn’t get any rings or medals. That’s what I think about. That’s what makes it so special.”
It took a bit for the Bearcat defense to get its footing, as Crosby took the opening possession 75 yards on 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead.
It took only three plays for the Bearcats to respond as Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi threw to Jo Jo Earle on third down, and Earle raced 75 yards to the end zone to tie the game.
The Aledo defense got a stop on the next drive but a penalty gave the ball back to the Cougars. They wasted no time cashing in on their second chance and took a 14-7 lead.
Once again, the Bearcats responded. This time it was Demarco Roberts taking it 32 yards to begin his epic game.
After the Bearcats came up with another stop, they did not allow another point until the fourth quarter. The ensuing possession saw arguably the play of the game.
Aledo faced a fourth down and was in punting formation. Facing a heavy rush, Clay Murador made the decision to pull the ball in and run.
Crosby was not prepared for the speed of Murador and he was able to pick up the first down and get out of bounds.
“They had blocked several punts,” Buchanan said about the play. “We knew they were going to come after us…Murador is the fastest kid at Aledo High School. Literally, as a freshman last year he could outrun anyone.
“We decided that if he saw the rush coming and could not get the punt off, he should take it around the left side. I think that was probably the play that changed the game right there.”
The first quarter ended with the game tied at 14. It was in the second quarter that the Bearcats broke it open.
Aledo opened the second quarter with points almost immediately. Roberts walked right up the middle to score from five yards out to put the Bearcats up for good.
Cap Mooney, who was named defensive player of the game, came up with a big interception to get the ball back. Five plays later, Roberts scored from 25 yards out.
Crosby made a drive late in the half but missed a field goal, giving the Aledo offense enough time to drive down the field and score one more time before halftime on a 20 yard Roberts run.
The Bearcats led the Cougars 35-14 at the half.
When the Bearcats came out in the second half, they had one goal. Keep the pedal down and run out the clock.
They did that to perfection as the only points to come in the third quarter came on a one yard run by Roberts in which he flipped over the line and into the end zone.
Leading 42-14 in the fourth quarter, Fowler-Nicolosi helped extend the lead with a 20 yard touchdown pass to Brian Fleming.
Crosby scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Roberts was not done. On the third play of the ensuing drive, Roberts broke free and ran 54 yards to the house to score his sixth touchdown, capping off his Offensive MVP performance. The starters were pulled in the next two drives, and the clock ran down to bring the final score to 56-21.
“He’s a little frustrated with me right now because he didn’t break Johnathan Gray’s Record,” Buchanan joked about the performance of his running back. “None of that happens without our offensive line though. They do a great job of finding ways to get him to the second level.”
The Bearcats finish the season with a 13-1 record and their tenth state title, all coming in the last 22 years.