By George Slaughter
The Katy Tigers continue their championship quest Saturday, when they face the Buda Hays Rebels.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium in Waco. The game will also be broadcast on TexanLive.
The Tigers, 11-1, defeated Clear Falls, 51-14, last week. They defeated Shadow Creek and Houston Lamar in previous playoff games. Katy’s bi-district game against Fort Bend Elkins was canceled due to coronavirus cases on the Elkins team.
For Katy, Saturday’s game marks the first time since 2017 in which it has reached the semifinals. It is the first visit to McLane Stadium, but not the first to Waco. Coach Gary Joseph said the Tigers in 2012 played Cibolo Steele at Floyd Casey Stadium, Baylor University’s former stadium. The Tigers in 2007 and 2008 played regular season games against Lewisville Hebron at Waco ISD Stadium.
Katy sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger has settled into his new role, completing 63 of 117 passes for 1,141 yards and 16 touchdowns against only two interceptions.
Junior Nic Anderson, senior Taylor Saulsberry, and senior Fuller Shurtz are the team’s leading receiver. Anderson has 24 catches for 391 yards and three touchdowns. Saulsberry has 12 catches for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Shurtz has 11 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns.
The rushing game has also been impressive for Katy, with senior Jalen Davis leading the way. He has 147 carries for 1,008 yards and 16 touchdowns. Sophomore Seth Davis, Jalen’s younger brother, has 132 carries for 969 yards and nine touchdowns.
“They compliment each other well,” Joseph said.
The Rebels, 10-3, are in their third season under coach Les Goad. They finished 8-3 in their previous two seasons, losing in the bi-district round both times.
This year has been different, as it is the first time that Hays has reached the football semifinals since 1996. The Rebels reached the state title game that year. This year also marks the first time Hays has reached the quarterfinals in Class 6A.
“Hays is coming off a tremendous postseason run,” Joseph said. “Their offense is hitting on all cylinders, led by their quarterback Durand Hill, a dual-threat who is adept at running the Slot-T offense. Bryant Lewis is their number-one deep threat, using his 4.4 speed for a big advantage. Michael Bouldin is the Bell Cow of the offense, both running and receiving.”
Goad said it is an honor for Hays to compete against Katy for the chance to play in next week’s state championship game.
“Katy is a very talented and well coached team that plays great defense and has an amazing running attack,” Goad said. “We will have to protect the football and get some stops in order to compete with them. We look forward to playing at Baylor University.”
Last week, the Rebels defeated Austin Vandegrift, 38-10. They defeated San Antonio Taft, San Antonio Johnson, and Cedar Park Vista Ridge in their previous playoff games.
The Hays-Katy winner will play the winner of the Guyer-Cedar Hill game, which is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at McKinney ISD Stadium.