Plano Prestonwood Christian Academy 62
Eagle Football 73

Majestic running back Johann Cardenas ‘24 (verbal Vanderbilt) bolted and jolted, barreled and bullied for one of the colossal single performances in the history of Eagle Athletics – a jaw-dropping, mindnumbing, bone-crushing, school-record smashing 459 rushing yards with a magnificent seven touchdowns – to catapult St. Thomas to its first state championship final since 2001.

His otherworldly, see and still not-believe rampage delivered the most supreme, unrivaled, wildest, ultimate Black Friday deal of the century that keeps the state’s no. one ranked private undefeated (12-0). Eagle Football now faces four-time defending state champion Dallas Parish Episcopal December 1, 12 noon at Waco ISD Stadium.

The Eagles plastered a school record for points that continues their raucous playoff success in the wake of the program’s first unbeaten regular season since 2013 and second since 1939.

Forget your troubles, c’mon get happy
You better chase all your cares away
Shout “hallelujah”, c’mon get happy
Get ready for the judgment day

The relentless aggression from Cardenas fueled a shock and awe 24-7 advantage after the first quarter and a 38-20 lead deep into the first half.

Prestonwood threatened to close the scoring spree to a two-possession gauntlet early in the fourth period when receiver Luke Edgecomb ‘24 emerged into a sudden two-way game-breaker. He raced untouched 102 yards down the left sideline with an end zone interception for his 17th touchdown of the season. The quicksilver score dramatically flipped the see-saw momentum for a 52-27 advantage and the Eagles outlasted the visitors to the finish.

1.  Cardenas gorged a holiday feast not seen since Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag dished out for the Pilgrims.

After ball-hawking Demarcus Batiste ‘25 collected his second playoff interception in two games, the Eagles’ wrecking ball blasted four times including five yards for the touchdown for a commanding 17-0 count.

2.  Cardenas soon racked more unstoppable runs than the army of Cortes after their first dinner in Tenochtitlan. Three rushes for five, 48, and 25 yards pumped the Eagles in front 24-7 with their fourth score of the first-period ambush.

With less than two minutes before halftime, Cardenas roared six times in a seven-play series, consistently leaving an oncoming tide of tacklers shattered and splattered. The payoff for points from the 18-yard line was a burst to the left side, a quick-twitch pivot to avoid two defenders, hand to the turf to regain balance and break right into the secondary, and finally splitting two Lions at the goal line for his third score and a 38-20 cushion.

3.  Prestonwood had no hope for the seemingly straightforward aspects of the Eagles’ attack. After a second Edgecomb takeaway, Cardenas resumed his earthmoving with nine carries in 11 plays. His 30-yard gash set up his short-range touchdown for 45-27.

4.  The manchild of the moment continued a fury that was frighteningly entertaining to witness, as well as life imitating PS4. In the final furious and frenetic frames with no margin seemingly safe, Cardenas shoved aside Lions more violently than a coup d’état led by Claude François de Malet.

Lions treated as if they were Christians versus Lions, if you will.

Cardenas rolled for punishing romps of 56, 32, and 42 yards to the end zone in less than five minutes of game clock. The lucky seven of sixes grew his rushing touchdown total to 30 in 10 games.

5.  When the game breaks out of the phone booth and resorts into recess mode, teams are grasping for answers, because when the Eagles spread the field, no one has covered them.

The dynamic dual-sport, dual-threat Lewis (Kansas St. baseball) bedazzled twice in four possessions. He ignited the offensive tsunami with a play fake to Cardenas, then swept the left end, accelerated away from four desperate defenders inside midfield, and escaped down the right sideline for a 55-yard touchdown and 10-0.

Lewis then needed only three snaps to counter Prestonwood climbing within 11 points. Another run fake to Cardenas, another turbo blast against the grain, shutter-stepping and exploding to the right pylon for a 42-yard jaunt absolutely Instgramable. His 12th rushing score and 41st of the campaign stretched the margin to 31-13.

In the postseason, there can be results that defy expectation and there can be results that defy explanation.

The sun is shinin’, c’mon get happy
The Lord is waitin’ to take your hand
Shout “hallelujah”, c’mon get happy
We’re going to the promise land

The resounding knock raised Rich McGuire’s postseason record to 6-6 and 55-24 overall in his seventh season as head coach.

McGuire was the Touchdown Club of Houston Private Coach of the Year in 2020.  He has guided Eagle Football to 22 wins in its previous 24 games and now 19 victories in its previous 20 games at home.  The Eagles have won 23 of their previous 24 regular-season games.  Since 2018 they own a 26-2 district record with four undefeated titles plus a share in 2021.  In the previous three years, McGuire is 15-1 in the non-district with 11 straight triumphs.



The state title tilt is a rematch of the 2022 and 2019 semifinal tussles both won by Parish Episcopal, a pair of outcomes where Eagle Football ran low on octane and defensive resistance.

The reigning champs have won eight straight games and crushed two St. Thomas district rivals in the postseason, Tomball Concordia Lutheran 48-6 and San Antonio Antonian 73-41.

The most recent St. Thomas state football title was crowned in 1996 with a 34-31 slap on defending TCIL champion Dallas Jesuit.

The Eagles stacked a series of explosives to erase an early 10-0 deficit. Defensive back Greg Gatlin ‘98 (Rice University and now famed restauranteur) roamed 97 yards with an interception return for a touchdown and quarterback Brian Orlando ‘97 connected with Mike Orr ‘97 with a 79-yard scoring strike to move St. Thomas in front 34-17.

The staff for head coach John Carrigan included Robin Kirk, former Houston Oilers Johnny Meads and Willie Tullis, and former Houston Cougar quarterback Donald Douglas.

In 2001, quarterback Andrew Locke ‘03 (West Point rugby and St. Thomas Sports Hall of Fame Class ‘18) and defensive terror Chidi Waturuocha ‘02 led the Eagles to a 24-0 pounding of Fort Worth Nolan Catholic in the state semifinals. Eagle Football fell 38-28 to San Antonio Central Catholic in the state final showdown.

McGuire was the defensive coordinator for Tim Fitzpatrick during that unblemished 9-0 season in 2013. St. Thomas opened the postseason with a 47-28 shootout over Dallas Bishop Lynch. The voodoo of a 10-game winning streak into the regional final vanished in a frigid 20-14 overtime loss to Fort Worth Nolan Catholic in Teague.

The Eagle crew included Touchdown Club Private Lineman of the Year Joseph Lowery ‘14 (West Point), quarterbacks Michael Reul `14 and Michael Keating ‘16 (San Diego), defensive terrors Julius Pollard `14 and Lorenzo Neal `16 (Purdue), two-way Chris Zook ‘14 (West Point), tackle Campbell Clarkson ‘15 (U.S. Air Force Academy), running back William Heck ‘14, receiver Rawlings Elam `14, and clutch kicker Jack Brady ‘15 (Milsaps College).

Cardenas continues his grand slam return after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in October 2022. In eight scintillating regular-season starts, the Humvee running back romped, stomped, and blitzed for 1,624 yards with 21 touchdowns. The irrepressible immovable Cardenas ran roughshod through opponents for a then-career-best 275, 244, 178, 206, 159, 201, 165, and 196 yards with another 291 yards receiving. Including the two-game postseason, the better-than-faction totals read 2,208 rushing yards (253 yards per game and 9.5 yards a carry), 2,534 total yards, and 31 touchdowns.

In the assault are scoring gusts worth 77, 75, 48, 46, 42, 41, 33, 31, and 23 yards with 52, 50, 45, 41, 39, 36, and 24-yard scampers and a 19-yard scoring reception.

Before missing the regular-season finale and his abbreviated Week 10 outing, Lewis had orchestrated a myriad of mindnumbing highlights through an arsenal of awe-inspiring offense. His moxy was seen in a great understanding of protection and coverages. He was an accurate down-the-field thrower who didn’t risk the ball in jeopardy with the confidence to respond immediately to a broken play.

In pouring secret sauce all over a list of opponents, Lewis had scorching breakaway touchdowns of 91, 82, 81, 75, 69, 65, 61, 47, 46, 33, 31, and 31 yards plus rambling gains of 52, 49, 48, 37, and 35 yards. He owns a whomping worth of scoring throws for 77, 75, 72, 68, 63, 52, 50, 48, 43, 43, 41, 35, 34 and 33 yards.

Lewis was turnover-free for nine-plus games and has a 29-2 TD-to-interception ratio (55-9 in his two-year Eagle career).

To steal lyrics from the bygone rock & roll ages, Lewis is a gridworld wizard.

Ain’t seen nothing like him in any amusement hall

How do you think he does it? I don’t know!
What makes him so good?

Lewis is completing a sizzling 73% (158-217) for 2,201 yards. His 143.3 rating includes an outrageous 15 yards per completion. He’s rushed for 901 yards and a stunning 17 yards per carry.

Offensive coordinator Matt Hudson adheres to the adage that roughly half a dozen explosive opportunities are available per game and elite outfits must capitalize on the vast majority to achieve championship-contending status.

After a methodical 11-play opening drive that resulted in a 31-yard field goal from Michael Taylor ‘26, the Eagles required only 11 plays for their next 28 points before a seven-snap series punched the sixth score of the first half.

The Eagles typically adhere to the Barry Switzer school of quick hang-a-half-hundred and get the hell out, made renowned during the 1970s Boomer Sooner domination.

St. Thomas racked at least 42 points in eight of its 10 regular-season wins. Outside the 28-13 verdict over Kinkaid that involved a 21-0 second-half breakout, Eagle Football pumped 48 points per game with liberal substitution in five games during a six-week stretch.

The postseason pyrotechnics have provided 108 points.

In addition to the weekly thrillaramas courtesy Lewis and Cardenas, Keenan Bonner ‘24 ripped 61 and 37-yard scoring surges among his three touchdowns in the season-opening rally against St. John’s. Edgecomb averaged 15 yards per catch and 112 yards per game entering the playoffs while Benton was good for 19 yards a reception.

¡UNO!, ¡DOS!, ¡TRÉ!
The Eagles haven’t trailed since the 13-7 halftime deficit at Kinkaid in Week 6. They have led or been tied for 26 straight quarters. In the season-opener at home against St. John’s, St. Thomas was down 49-47 into the fourth quarter and responded with a raging 16-0 salvo to prevail 63-49.

The verdict over Prestonwood was a long-awaited and sweet payback for secondary coach David Jones ‘16. The 2016 TAPPS Male Athlete of the Year endured season-ending defeats to the Lions in the 2014 and 2015 state semifinals and then had his Eagle Basketball career extinguished by PCA in the 2016 state Final Four.

Cardenas was ranked in the preseason among the state’s top 100 football recruits and vividly showcased in the 64th edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, a prelude to his remarkable return from the ACL injury.

St. Thomas was the no. 1 private in Texas in the final state rankings by Texas Football (10th straight poll in the top spot), the no. 1 TAPPS in the state by MaxPreps, and the wire-to-wire no. 1 private in Greater Houston by the Houston Chronicle.

In November, Lewis was nominated for Male High School Athlete of the Year by the Harris County Sports Authority for their seventh annual Houston Sports Awards. The star-studded evening saluting some of the year’s most iconic athletes, legends, and moments is January 30 inside 713 Music Hall.
Recognized in the 2024 Hall of Fame Class are Warren Moon, Cynthia Cooper, and Lance Berkman.

Lewis was featured in the Hank Aaron Invitational, a showcase game at Truist Park in Atlanta in July capping two weeks of competition, coaching, and evaluation at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida.

Lewis was among an elite group of 44 players invited for the exclusive event, powered by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation and in partnership with USA Baseball. Lewis then signed in November to continue his student-athlete career at Kansas St.

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Claims Second Straight Regional Title

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Cashes District Title with Undefeated Regular Season

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Cosmic Cardenas ’24 Soars and Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Moves to 9-0

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Racks Record-Smashing Eighth Straight Win

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Cruises to Homecoming Win for 7-0

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Roars in District Opener for 6-0

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Storms to 5-0 Start

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated State No. 1 Private Eagle Football Dominates for 4-0 Start

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Undefeated Eagle Football Dazzles Behind Undaunted Donte Lewis ’24 and Johann Cardenas ’24 Duo

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Lethal Lewis ’24-Benton ’24 Combo Ignites State No. 1 Eagle Football to Convincing 2-0 Launch

GAMEDAY CENTRAL || Eagle Football Enjoys Electric Season-Opening Explosion

Eagle Fight Never Dies!