Cedar Hill falls in 6A-II title game
Katy dominates contest, takes over No. 2 spot in all-time state football championships
ARLINGTON — Throughout this postseason, Cedar Hill head coach Carlos Lynn never lacked an appreciation for the moment. He felt blessed with every step toward Saturday’s state championship game, knowing just how difficult it is to get to this juncture.
“There’s a lot of great coaches that have come through the state of Texas and hadn’t been there,” Lynn said earlier this postseason.
Lynn and his team made it the final, but upon arrival they were reminded why they never lacked appreciation in the first place.
Katy, playing Cedar Hill in the state title game for the fourth time in the last 10 years, evened the series with a dominant performance, beating Cedar Hill 51-14 in the Class 6A Division II championship Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
“I thought we were as prepared as we could be, but our team didn’t execute today,” Lynn said after the game. “We had some things we just couldn’t do, and in a game of this magnitude those are the things that will get you beat ultimately.”
Cedar Hill didn’t score until a four-yard scramble by quarterback Kaidon Salter with 4:28 left in the third quarter, the team’s first third-down conversion of the game. It was set up by a 67-yard run by Kylon Ashton on a fake punt. Before that, the longest offensive play Cedar Hill had was a 21-yard carry from Anthony Thomas IV.
Salter, a Tennessee signee, had two rushing touchdowns on the day, but he also had two interceptions. He finished his senior season with more than 3,000 passing yards, over 1,000 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns in 14 games.
“I’m leaving for college tomorrow and I wanted to end it off with a win, but it was all in God’s plan,” Salter said. “We came out with the L today and we can’t do anything about it.
“We did what we could do and we didn’t execute well today … they came out on top and they put it on us.”
It was Katy’s ninth state championship, which is tied for second in state history. Aledo won its 10th state title on Friday with a win against Crosby.
Earlier this season, Lynn said there were two ingredients that create a state-championship caliber team: an elite quarterback and a strong defense. Against Katy, both struggled.
The Katy defense forced four punts and had a diving interception from Shepherd Bowling on Cedar Hill’s five first half possessions. Cedar Hill entered Saturday’s game scoring an average of 20.3 first half points per game. Cedar Hill wasn’t shut out once in the first quarter this season, but entered the locker room at halftime trailing 24-0.
Lynn said after the game that his team couldn’t afford a slow start against an offense designed to run the ball and control the clock. By halftime, it was already too late.
“Their game plan was probably to the T for them with how they wanted the flow of the game to go,” Lynn said.
With each passing score, the chances of Cedar Hill walking out of AT&T Stadium with a state title exponentially dropped. Midway through the third quarter, however, all chances were seemingly lost. Katy defensive back Hamilton McMartin took a Cedar Hill fumble 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Tigers a 34-0 lead.
“Our effort and our energy was there,” Lynn said, “but our execution wasn’t today.”
Lynn was grateful for this Cedar Hill playoff run. Senior Charles Esters III was, too. Esters was a key player on last year’s team — a team with championship aspirations struck down by an improbable comeback win for Denton Guyer in the second round.
Senior Kevin Young Jr. was thankful in the week leading up to Saturday, as well, even though he couldn’t play.
Young, the Longhorns starting running back, broke his ankle in the season finale against Waco Midway. It ended his final high school season. Throughout the playoffs, Cedar Hill played with a “KY5” sticker, designed to honor Young’s initials and jersey number, on the back of their helmets.
This week, instead of preparing for the state title, Young was moving around Longhorns practice on a scooter.
“It’s pretty hard,” Young said earlier this week about not playing. “Everybody on the field, we’ve dreamt of this since we were in middle school. It’s kind of hard being out here without playing, but I’m glad and thankful we’re here.”
Ultimately, Lynn’s mentality about a state title is based on how hard it is to accomplish it. If it helps, the opposing coach, Katy’s Gary Joseph, feels the same way. Joseph won his fifth state title in nine tries on Saturday. Two of his losses came to Cedar Hill.
“It’s extremely hard,” Joseph said about winning a state championship. “There’s nothing easy about this. It’s a process and these things aren’t cheap, and they’re tough to do.”