Aledo Answers Contender Or Pretender Question With 44-14 Win Over John Tyler
MESQUITE -- If you're always for the proverbial underdog, E.H. Hanby Stadium seemed like the place to be Saturday afternoon.
Aledo entered the Class 5A Division I state semifinal as a team seeking its second consecutive state championship and fifth title in six seasons. John Tyler, on the other hand, had to endure a complete rebuilding period earlier in the decade and was trying to get back to the promised land with players who had never even stood on the sidelines for a championship game.
There was promise, too. This Aledo team had actually suffered one loss on the heels of last year's 16-0 season, a real 42-7 beat down at home, granted it was to Bishop Amat of La Puente, Calif., in September. It also failed to impress against relatively unknown Canyon Randall team last week in its regional championship game while the Lions rolled McKinney North out of the gate.
But hope JT would overcome the semifinal hump that plagued it in two of the previous three seasons was sinking after 12 minutes of play and was gone by halftime.
East Texas' final remaining hope for a big school state championship fell 44-14 to one of the best dynasties in Texas football history.
"John Tyler is an excellent team," Aledo receiver Ryan Newsome said. "They have a lot of athletes. More than we do. But we just knuckled up, won the game and now have to turn the page. We don't have a lot of time to enjoy this one, but we'll make the most of it. They were a good team."
Newsome knows a thing or two. He's been a big part of the Bearcats' success the past three seasons and has 33 major college football offers, including holding three from the four College Football Playoff teams.
He delivered the first blow of the game on a 27-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation. The score came after the Lions (12-3) won the coin toss, elected to receive and went three-and-out.
Aledo (14-1) found a weakness in the JT defense and kept exploiting it. Each Bearcats scoring drive was either set up by a long run or scored directly on the play, and zone-read play between quarterback Luke Bishop and Jess Anders was particularly devastating.
Bishop carried 18 times for a team-best 137 yards and had a rushing score in addition to one touchdown pass. Running back Jess Anders had a score and 117 yards on 19 carries.
Newsome and running back Isaiah Anders also got into the act with 71 combined yards and two scores.
"We didn't help it with missed tackles either," JT head coach Ricklan Holmes said. "Overall, they were a little bit more fundamentally sound than we were today."
The Lions offense also sputtered in the face of heavy pressure from a big Aledo defensive front.
Instead of a Lions' victory, the Metroplex power notched its 30th straight win against in-state opponents. A streak that dates back to Aug. 31, 2013.
"We really sat down and talked," Bishop said in reference to the Bishop Amat loss. "We said, 'We can let this really beat us up and be a mediocre team or we can continue to get better.' Ever since then, we've had our nose in the ground working. As you can clearly see, we've gotten a lot better."
JT returned to Tyler immediately after the game.
Holmes will be tasked with a major overhaul project. As of the final whistle, the program has serious experience voids to fill at each skill position as well as along the offensive line.
Aledo will play Temple for the Class 5A Division I state championship at noon next Saturday inside AT&T Stadium.
"We had to knuckle up," Newsome reaffirmed. "We had to go up against the best team we've played all year."