St. Pius X reaches state championship game
The St. Pius X football team rode a stellar defensive performance and a three touchdowns by junior Kaleb Ducros to its first TAPPS Division I state championship game in 10 years.
The Panthers (10-1) handed Dallas Bishop Lynch its first defeat, 34-15, in the state semifinals Dec. 2 at Georgetown ISD Stadium. One year after having their own undefeated season end in the state semifinals, the Panthers meet Plano Prestonwood Christian for a shot at their 13th crown.
The state final is scheduled for 7 p.m., Dec. 9 at Waco Midway Panther Stadium. The Panthers last played for the title in 2007, winning the second of consecutive championships.
After allowing a safety, the Panthers turned the game early with a 98-yard touchdown drive, ending with Ducros’ scoring run. St. Pius X led 14-2 after a 67-yard touchdown pass from Grant Gunnell to Jalen Curry, followed by Ducros’ two-point run.
The Friars (12-1) pulled within five at halftime, but a 39-yard strike from Gunnell to Jacob Jefferson and a nine-yard touchdown from Ducros put the Panthers in control, ahead 28-9 entering the final quarter. Ducros scored again in the fourth for a 34-9 lead.
The St. Pius X defense limited the Friars to their second-lowest point total of the season. The only other teams to hold Bishop Lynch to less than 28 points were Prestonwood (17-13) and Argyle Liberty (7-0).
The Panthers face a Prestonwood (11-2) team that eliminated Fort Worth All Saints 55-48 in its state semifinal. The Lions have also defeated St. Thomas 42-0 and Addision Trinity Christian 45-15 in the playoffs.
Prestonwood averages 40.1 points per game and allows 15.5. Quarterback Wiley Green has passed for 3,360 yards and 44 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Ricky Baker (59 receptions, 893 yards, 11 TD) and Jeremiah Lewis (40-919-13) are the top receivers, with Timothy Taylor a 1,000-yard rusher.
The Lions’ only defeats during the regular season were to state semifinalists, including a 61-50 loss to All Saints to open the season.
St. Pius X continues to put up stellar numbers with 51.4 points per game and 22.0 allowed. The Panthers have topped 50 points six times, including a 56-12 playoff win against San Antonio Antonian Prep.
They followed with a 35-28 quarterfinal victory against Dallas Bishop Dunne, avenging a 21-18 loss last year. Remarkably, the Panthers’ 34 points against Bishop Lynch was their lowest total of the season.
Gunnell threw his 55th and 56th touchdown passes of the season in the state semifinal, entering the game with 4,164 yards and only five interceptions. Curry took staggering figures of 111 catches, 1,360 yards and 16 touchdowns into the game.
Jefferson topped the 1,000-yard mark and caught his 17th touchdown pass of the year. Trenton Waggoner has 10 touchdown receptions as well, with Chase Lane adding 55 catches, 769 yards and seven touchdowns through 10 games.
The top defenders have been Bruno Forestieri (68 tackles, 12 TFL), Colby Bonds (63 tackles, four sacks), Jacob Craig (57 tackles, 5.5 sacks), Ricky Lester (50 tackles, six interceptions) and Coby Roberts (42 tackles, two interceptions, two blocked field goals).