ARLINGTON — San Antonio Northside Brennan came into Friday night’s Class 4A Division I state title game against defending champ Guyer with some eye-popping defensive stats on its side.
Perhaps that’s why the Bears deferred to the second half after winning the opening coin toss to establish their dominance right off the bat.
Brennan’s momentum, however, quickly died at the hands of the defending state champions as the Wildcats scored early and used a great defensive effort of its own to knock off the Bears 31-14 to claim their second straight state championship at AT&T Stadium in front of 20,142 people.
“I said it from day one in spring football that we had the best defense in Class 4A in Texas,” Guyer head coach John Walsh said. “Today, they came out with a chip on their shoulder because they read everything [about Brennan’s defense] all week. I’m so proud of how they performed.”
The Wildcats (14-2) held Brennan (15-1) to 268 total yards after the Bears entered the game averaging 431 yards per game. As well as Guyer’s defense played, it was the Wildcats’ offense that stole the show against a previously impenetrable defense.
The Guyer offensive effort was led by offensive MVP selection Jerrod Heard, the senior quarterback who’s committed to Texas. Heard was a perfect 9-for-9 for 95 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats racked up 313 yards of offense against a Brennan defense that entered the game allowing 99.5 yards per game.
“If you go to last year’s title game [a 48-37 victory over Georgetown] and this year’s title game, if you expected anything less from Jerrod, you’re not a very smart person,” Walsh said.
The Bears’ decision to play defense first appeared to pay off quickly as they held the Wildcats to a three-and-out, but that gave way to misfortune for the state championship game newcomers.
Star returner Jaelan Collier muffed the punt, which was recovered by Guyer’s Remington Reed at the Brennan 45-yard line.
“Their experience showed in the big game. We had too many self-inflicted wounds, and they're too good of a team for that,” Brennan coach Stephen Basore said.
That’s when Guyer started grinding the clock with an 11-play drive that consumed 4:13 off the clock and ended in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Heard to David Haynes on third-and-goal.
Before Brennan’s offense had the ball, 6:20 had run off the clock and the Wildcats got on the board against arguably the best defense they had seen all season.
“If you keep that [Brennan] defense fresh, they’ll have great stats,” Walsh said. “You have to keep them on the field and grind out first downs and be patient.”
Brennan had given up just six offensive touchdowns all season — only two against the first-team unit. The Bears also had one of the top defensive players in the country in Derick Roberson, a Texas-bound defensive end, who entered the game with 20 sacks. The Bears outscored their first 15 opponents 816-51 and had nine shutouts.
Roberson was held to one solo tackle, as Guyer’s game plan worked perfectly to combat the dynamic defensive star.
“We were going to double him in pass protection, run away from him and we were going to read him,” Walsh said. “As far as I know, I don’t remember him making a tackle.”
Walsh said getting on the board early against Brennan made the Bears uncomfortable.
“They haven’t been behind,” Walsh said. “It was real important to get up on them, stay up and make them press.”
Senior defensive end Thomas Ferguson said he knew things would go Guyer’s way after Heard found Haynes for that opening score more than halfway through the first quarter.
“As soon as we had a lead, we were looking over there and they didn’t know what to do,” Ferguson said. “That’s what we were banking on. We knew if we got up on them, they wouldn’t know how to handle it.”
The Wildcats knew all about handling a lead, rushing for 128 of their 218 yards in the second half and grinding the clock down. They also won the execution battle after last week’s state semifinal win when they nearly blew a game because of penalties and turnovers.
Brennan had a turnover and several key penalties amounting to 64 yards, while Guyer had just 25 penalty yards and no turnovers.
“One thing I give my kids credit for is we make mistakes at times and we blow a few things, but we won’t do it twice,” Walsh said. “They saw what it did last week and they knew they couldn’t have stupid penalties and turnovers, and we did a great job of that.”
But in the end, Heard was too much for a Brennan defense that had not faced a test like the one it saw against Guyer, and now he’s a two-time state champion quarterback.
“Heard is definitely the best player we’ve gone against, and he showed it tonight,” Brennan linebacker Grant Watanabe said.
That was a consensus opinion from both sides in the midst of the postgame celebration.
“He’s a great leader,” Ferguson said of Heard. “I’m so proud of him. I’m honored to be able to play with him. He carried us here, and he did what he does.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.
Guyer 31, San Antonio Brennan 14
G — David Haynes 14 pass from Jerrod Heard (Brad Grems kick)
B — Da’Shawn Key run (Ethan Valdez kick)
G — Heard 4 run (Grems kick)
G — Grems 20 FG
G — Heard 28 run (Grems kick)
B — Key run (Valdez kick)
G — DJ Breedlove 33 run (Grems kick)
Rushing — G: Jerrod Heard 23-146, DJ Breedlove 10-59, Anthony Taylor 13-34, TEAM 3-(-22). B: Da’Shawn Key 17-125, Nathaniel Wells Jr. 3-2, DJ Allen 1-2.
Passing — G: Jerrod Heard 9-9-0-97. B: Da’Shawn Key 8-14-0-125, Zach Simmons 1-1-0-13.
Receiving — G: DJ Breedlove 4-34, David Haynes 2-29, Tyler Smith 1-21, Jonathan Pershall 1-8, Eric Ramon 1-5. B: Nathaniel Wells Jr. 1-48, Daniel Gonzalez 2-38, Wesley Moss 3-25, Da’Shawn Key 1-13, DJ Allen 1-8, Dayne Thomas 1-6.