It’s most likely a coincidence that Guyer senior quarterback Jerrod Heard has been on the sidelines at Guyer football games since the Wildcats broke through on the state scene with their 2008 state semifinal appearance.
It’s no coincidence at all, however, that Heard has a chance to cement Guyer’s place among the top programs in the state with a second straight Class 4A Division I championship Friday night at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
“We’ve talked casually about it,” Guyer coach John Walsh said. “We talked in offseason a little bit about if we did get it back to back, we’d be in pretty small company. We knew we had a chance to do something special.
“We want to win titles and championships, but we also want the respect of the state of Texas in high school football.”
A win Friday would mean Guyer would become just the fifth school since Classes 5A and 4A were split into divisions in 1996 to repeat as state champions in either 5A or 4A Division I. Allen, in 5A Division I, also has a chance to repeat this weekend to join Katy, Lake Travis, Midland Lee and Southlake Carroll.
One consistent part of Guyer’s sideline since 2008, aside from numerous coaches, has been Heard, who was a ball boy as a seventh-grader in 2008, and again in 2009, before being called up for the postseason in 2010 as a freshman and seeing playing time in a blowout playoff win over Abilene Cooper in Arlington.
Friday will mark the 60th time that Heard has suited up for a high school game, a nearly unprecedented number. Four straight trips to the state championship game could net a player 64 career games.
“Even being on the sidelines and just seeing that action up close and seeing Guyer get on the map up close, it helped in the long run and got me here,” Heard said. “Going through that and being next to [former quarterback] J.W. [Walsh] and getting pulled up as a freshman and playing in that Abilene Cooper game, that meant a lot.”
That Cooper game came during Guyer’s run to the Class 5A Division II state final, a game the Wildcats lost to Cibolo Steele in J.W. Walsh’s final game under center before heading off to Oklahoma State. Ever since then, the Wildcats have been Heard’s team, and he’s made plenty of memories of his own over three years as a starter.
Heard has racked up a 36-7 record as a starter, before figuring that Guyer had to forfeit its win over Colleyville Heritage this season. In 43 games as a starter, he has thrown for 6,417 yards and 66 touchdowns. He’s rushed for 4,790 yards and 65 scores.
“What Jerrod would tell you is he’s just part of this team, but I don’t think there’s any question who drives that boat, and it’s Jerrod,” said Guyer offensive coordinator Mitch Stovall, who has been at Guyer since the school opened in 2005. “You can ask anyone in this fieldhouse — player or coach — and they’ll tell you Jerrod’s the guy, and rightfully so. As Jerrod goes, we go.”
Heard has made that perfectly clear on several occasions, including Saturday’s state semifinal victory over Highland Park when he scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes to complete a comeback that saw Guyer score all of its 22 points in the fourth quarter to advance to its third state championship game in four seasons.
“We hadn’t moved the ball all day [on Saturday], and then we had two minutes to go 70 yards,” senior tight end Jonathan Pershall said. “I was pretty nervous, and Jerrod was like, ‘Don’t worry, we’re about to go score,’ and I was like ‘OK, let’s go do it then.’”
Now Heard has a chance to go down as one of the few quarterbacks in Texas history to repeat as state champion in the state’s largest classifications.
Heard was a star of the state championship weekend last year when he accounted for all seven of Guyer’s touchdowns in a win over Georgetown, in which the Wildcats trailed by 16 points in the third quarter.
Another transcendent performance Friday, against a Brennan defense that has allowed just six offensive touchdowns all season, would go a long way toward cementing Heard’s legacy as he finishes up his high school career.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the history of Class 4A,” John Walsh said. “Whether it’s running, passing, the leadership, winning championships — he passes all those bullet points. I think winning back-to-back titles would cement his name in the record books.”
After not being tested through much of the past two regular seasons, Heard has saved his best for the biggest moments.
There was the state semifinal win over Tyler John Tyler last season when he rushed for 318 yards and completed a fourth-and-3 pass to get a first down in the midst of the Wildcats’ last-minute, game-winning drive. There was last week’s performance against Highland Park after he’d struggled through the first three quarters, and most notably there was the performance in front of a television audience against Georgetown last year that had the Guyer quarterback trending nationally on Twitter.
Of all of Heard’s great performances, the Georgetown game likely will stand out above the rest, as he put his team on his back in the second half to give Guyer its first state championship on its second try. After Georgetown went up by 16 points, he scored three straight rushing touchdowns in the final six minutes of the third quarter to give Guyer the lead.
“At halftime last year, we were doing our adjustments and we just said ‘Hey, you’re the best player in the state. Take over,’” Stovall said. “And he just calmly looked at us and said, ‘I got this; don’t worry.’ Well, two quarters later, Jerrod had it.
“Of course, I’ve never been able to say ‘Hey, I got this’ in the state title game and know I was fixing to take over. But that’s how Jerrod rolls.”
Another performance like last year’s will vault Heard into even more elite company and get him one more ring — the ultimate gauge of quarterbacks at any level.
“Quarterbacks and titles are always synonymous, whether you’re talking about high school, college or NFL,” Stovall said. “‘How great was he? Well, how many titles did he win?’ Of course, Jerrod was fortunate enough to be a part of a title team last year and has a good chance to be a part of one this year, too.
“His legacy’s already been cemented in Texas high school football, and I believe after this weekend that legacy will be chiseled just a little bit deeper.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.