COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF
WEEK 11 – TAPPS DIVISION I AREA PLAYOFFS, HOTZE FIELD INSIDE GRANGER STADIUM
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Sizzling St. Thomas (7-3, 4-0) hosts Addison Trinity Christian (0-10, 0-4) November 16 at 1:00 p.m. to open the TAPPS Division I state postseason. A victory would advance Eagle Football to the regional round November 23 against the winner of Fort Worth All Saints Episcopal (third place, District 1) and Dallas Bishop Lynch (second place, District 2).
SETTING THE SCENE
The Eagles have rallied from a staggering 0-2 out of the gate for five straight wins and seven victories in eight games. With quarterback Maddox Kopp ‘21 stretching seams and defeating schemes, and game breaking receiver Cameron Bonner ‘21 emerging as the offensive player with the highest ceiling, St. Thomas averaged nearly 40 points per outburst in their blitzkrieg to the district title.
It’s the eighth time in nine years Eagle Football stages a playoff match to Hotze Field inside Granger Stadium. It’s 6-1 record is marred only by the 42-23 defeat to eventual 2016 state champion Bishop Lynch.
In 2018, quarterback Peyton Matocha ‘19 (University of Miami) threw for three touchdowns, ran for a fourth, and running back Ian Wheeler ‘19 (Howard University) added two more as the Eagles hammered Plano John Paul II 52-32. It was the first playoff prize since the 2015 postseason and advanced Eagle Football to the state quarterfinals against Bishop Lynch.
In 2010, the Eagles fell on the road to ATC 19-7 to open the postseason and finish 6-6.
BREAK OUT THE BUSTS
For the second time in six games the opposing sideline is manned by a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. ATC head coach Mike Singletary, the former Worthing High School star, all-time Baylor Bear, and iconic Chicago Bear wrecking ball linebacker follows Cedar Hill Trinity Christian offensive coordinator Deion Sanders to Granger Stadium.
Kopp blistered St. Pius X for a career best five touchdown passes as the surging Eagles shook free from a shaky start to face plant the Panthers with a Surge Knight-like 47-21 beatdown so devastating it required an autopsy. The runaway wipeout cemented a second consecutive undefeated district title and the sixth crown for Eagle Football in eight years.
The Eagles surrendered back to back touchdown drives to trail 14-7 early in the second quarter. A gang tackle assault in the SPX end zone resulted in a safety and ignited an avalanche of 40 consecutive St. Thomas points.
Kopp reduced the SPX defense to an orange cone obstacle course. He connected on three touchdown strikes in the final 2:27 of the first half to detonate the latest rendition in a generational series was decidedly without Game of the Century of the Millennium of the Epoch of the Era anticipation and drama.
Kopp’s seek and destroy missiles included a 48-yard deep post route to the explosive Bonner, a 17-yard strike to receiver Drake Martinez ’21 in the left corner of the end zone, and a quick screen to running back John Fontenot ’21 who crashed the goal line from 11 yards five seconds before halftime for an overwhelming 30-14 advantage.
The Eagles gathered more giveaways than Neville Chamberlain negotiating about the Sudetenland.
Defensive back Aidan O’Hare ‘21 aborted the first SPX series with a swipe in the left flat that he returned 81-yards for an abrupt 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Late in the first half All-State safety Daniel Coco ‘21 contributed to the carpet bombing comeback with a perfectly timed primo pass break up deep in single coverage and then added an interception early in the fourth period after the outcome was safely decided. A third period steal by defensive back Cameron McCurry ‘21 was sandwiched around Kopp’s second touchdown throw to Bonner and a 29-yard boot from kicker Paul Langemeier ‘20 for a 40-14 lead.
WEEK 10 || FIRST HALF
WEEK 10 || SECOND HALF
STATE OF PLAY
There are games you anticipate, games you enjoy. And then there are encounters that summon you, like an oracle, to the edge of the cave. On the climb to the crown, many compete, few thrive, but one reaches the championship summit.
In the most righteous revival since Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, Kopp and the high octane offense have arrived in full force with every play call seemingly connected, purposeful, and with primo execution. The demolition defensive unit led by smash mouth linebacker Cooper Thomas ’20 (verbal Columbia University) has had the bulldozer setting ramped up to 12 while thrashing their four previous foes with stretches of 31-7 (Tomball Concordia Lutheran), 38-6 (San Antonio Antonian), 21-0 (San Antonio Central Catholic), and 47-14 (SPX).
In a sport where patience is an endangered outlook, turns out a growth mindset can work just as well as in the real world.
Yet, the Eagles are largely untested in the heart attack minutes of the postseason where a handful of snaps and decisions routinely determine playoff life and death. Avoiding self destruction in high leverage situations is paramount to success … survival … or destiny denied. The furnace of a playoff cauldron is unrelenting. The slightest inopportune moment can sabotage the best of teams and intentions.
The immediate task for Eagle Football – proving the recent series of complete performances is more than maulings of overmatched opponents and backing up the five-week bluster like a bold brash bomb off the bat of Bregman.
The money month extends with a double trouble dose courtesy Stevie Ray Vaughn. “The House is Rockin’” for TCA with a “Rude Mood.” Nothing personal, Mr. Singletary.
Well, the house is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’
Yeah the house is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’
Yeah the house is a rockin’, don’t bother, come on in
Kick off your shoes, start losin’ the blues
This old house ain’t got nothin’ to lose
Seen it all for years, start spreadin’ the news
We got room on the floor, come on baby, shake somethin’ loose
Eagle Fight Never Dies!