By George Slaughter
Katy is preparing for Saturday’s football state title game against Cedar Hill. It’s an exciting time, as Katy cheerleaders painted city buildings with inspirational messages Monday afternoon and football fans break out their red Tigers paraphernalia.
Yet for one fan, Ward B City Council Member Rory Robertson, Saturday’s game is more personal.
Robertson, elected last November to his first term on the council, played offensive guard for Katy’s 1992-94 teams. His senior season, he was a captain and the team made it to the state title game.
“I was fortunate,” Robertson said. “it was a huge honor. I still recall those days very positively. Coach Mike Johnston and Coach Gary Joseph are both wonderful individuals.”
Joseph returned the compliment when remembering Robertson’s contributions.
“He was smart, hardworking, and part of a good offensive line that led us to the finals,” Joseph said.
Unfortunately, Plano won that title game, 28-7, at Kyle Field in College Station. Home Sports Entertainment broadcast that game and the video is on YouTube today.
“My memories of that game are awesome, though I wish it went the other way,” Robertson said. “I’m hoping this year’s story will be different.”
Different not just because Robertson remains a Tigers fan, hopeful for a win, but also because his son, Axel, is a junior kicker on the team.
For someone to play for a state title is one thing. To see one’s son playing for a state title, years later, with the same school, is special.
“I love the full circle with Coach Joseph coaching my son,” Robertson said. “I’m very excited about this Saturday.”
Robertson has come to know many of the student-athletes playing for Katy during his time as a youth sports coach, which adds to the special feeling he and other fans will have Saturday.
“The community rallies behind this team and sports the team,” Robertson said. “Even in years when the record was poor, the attendance was great. I’ve always loved this about the community. In 1994, the entire town pretty much closed down and went to College Station for the game.”
One can expect the same thing Saturday. Cedar Hill, Saturday’s opponent, is 13 miles away from Arlington. Katy is 271 miles.
“I’m sure there will be a huge caravan going to Arlington,” Robertson said.
As with any season, teams must overcome challenges to be successful. This year, the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed things. People had concerns about whether the teams would play in the first place. School district officials and coaches reworked schedules in response to coronavirus concerns on various teams. Katy’s first scheduled playoff game, against Fort Bend Elkins, had to be cancelled due to coronavirus cases on the Elkins team.
“It’s a real testament to the character of the boys and coaches,” Robertson said. “The external things existed, but they did not let affect their team. They came out stronger each week. They rallied back from their lone defeat in district (a 24-19 setback against Tompkins in November) to being a very strong team right now.”
That loss snapped a 75-game district win streak for the Tigers, and Tompkins went on to win its first-ever district football title. At the time, Joseph said he told his players to not let one loss turn into two. So far, so good on that admonition.
Said Robertson: “It’s not how you start, but how you finish, and that’s what I’m hoping for the Katy Tigers.”
Katy-Cedar Hill Game Notes
- Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.
- Katy and Cedar Hill have faced each other three times for the state title. Katy defeated Cedar Hill in the 2012 game. Cedar Hill won the 2013 and 2014 matchups.
- The 2014 title was the last for Cedar Hill. Katy’s last title came in 2015.
- Katy is making its 15th title game appearance and is playing for its ninth title. Cedar Hill is making its fifth title game appearance and is playing for its fourth title.
- Katy won its first state title in 1959 under coach Gordon Brown. The Tigers finished 15-0 that season. The Tigers won titles in 1997, 2000, and 2003, under coach Mike Johnston, for whom the field at Legacy Stadium is named. Joseph led the 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2015 title teams.