By George Slaughter
For Katy, the town has been painted, the red Tigers paraphernalia is out, and fans Friday morning gave a warm send-off to the team, which departed to Arlington in preparation for its state title game against Cedar Hill.
All that’s left is to play the game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.
The programs have faced each other for the state title three times before. Katy defeated Cedar Hill for the state title in 2012, but the Longhorns returned the favor in 2013 and 2014.
On defense, the Tigers must contend with senior quarterback Kaidon Salter. In Cedar Hill’s 27-17 semifinal win over Denton Guyer last week, Salter completed 19 of 25 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. Senior wide receiver Anthony Edwards IV caught seven of those passes and scored the touchdown. Senior wide receivers Brian Rainey had four catches for 44 yards and Javion Clemmer had five catches for 31 yards.
Salter is also formidable as a runner. He had 31 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Cedar Hill coach Carlos Lynn said the Longhorns had to focus on execution, no turnovers, and winning up front, that is, dominating the line of scrimmage, to be successful.
For his part, Joseph said he did not know if anyone could stop Cedar Hill’s offense.
“We need to be who we are, play together, be disciplined, and not try and do too much,” Joseph said.
On offense, the Tigers are looking to sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger to continue his growth in their offensive scheme and continued leadership of the team. In last week’s 63-7 semifinal win over Buda Hays, Koger went 5-of-6 for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Top Katy receivers include junior Nic Anderson (25 catches, 403 yards, four touchdowns), senior Taylor Saulsberry (14-348, five touchdowns) and senior Fuller Shurtz (12-250, four touchdowns).
Koger didn’t need to pass that much against Buda Hays, however, because the Tigers have a strong running game featuring the Davis brothers. Sophomore Seth Davis had 14 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns, and senior Jalen Davis had eight carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Overall, Seth Davis has 146 carries for 1,138 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jalen Davis has 155 carries for 1,119 and 18 touchdowns.
“We have to be able to score, finish drives, and take care of the ball,” Katy coach Gary Joseph said.
Lynn said the Longhorns had to have good tackling and be sound fundamentally.
The 2014 title was the last for Cedar Hill. The Longhorns are making their fifth title game appearance and playing for their fourth title.
Katy last won the title in 2015. The Tigers are making their 15th title game appearance and playing for their ninth title.