Only four teams remain in the hunt for the 5A Division II State Title and either the Lone Star Rangers or the Lake Dallas Falcons will be fighting for a chance to compete in the ultimate final round, the UIL State Championship Game.
5A Division II State Semi-final
Lone Star (13-1) VS Lake Dallas (12-2)—Fri., 12/11 @ Allen High School
Whether you’re a PS4 aficionado or an old-school Sega Genesis master, you’re familiar with the Mortal Kombat franchise. With MK, the ultimate test for individual gaming supremacy was found in the Mirror Match—it’s easy to whip up on the competition when you’re rocking Sub-Zero against everyone not named Sub-Zero.
The similarities between Lake Dallas and Lone Star are almost unsettling: Both teams are led by versatile quarterbacks that are just as adept in the pocket as they are once they leave it. Each team’s QB has a myriad of game-changing weapons with which to toss to, or to feed the rock for a quick ground gain.
Heck, just a few years ago, Lake Dallas was a fringe-4A team—far closer to 3A enrollment than 5A. The Lone Star Rangers, just two years ago were a 3A team.
So, in this classic Mirror Match, who can put the freeze on the opposition’s scoring attack?
Lake Dallas (12-2) District 6-5A Champions
Head Coach: Michael Young
How they got here:
Bi-district: W—49-14 (FW Brewer)
Area: W—35-14 (Burleson)
Regional: W—51-21 (EP Eastlake)
Quarter Final: W—41-38 (Everman)
Averaging just over 40 points per game this season, while allowing just under 18, the Lake Dallas Falcons can clearly get it done on both sides of the ball.
Their offense is by do-it-all Dagan Haehn (2,028 yds passing, 25 TDs) a QB with the same set of gifts as who as Lone Star’s Shelley—he can get it done in the air, and when the pocket dissipates, as he has rushed for 808 yds with 5 TDs.
It’s no coincidence that the Falcons’ 11-game win streak started with Haehn’s first game back after suffering an ACL injury last spring.
Haehn has many weapons at his disposal. His primary receiving target is ATH Keegan Brewer (1,499 yds receiving, 22 TDs), who has also seen success from the backfield, rushing 78 times for 507 yds and six scores.
RB/LB Courtenay Holder (492 yds, 15 TDs) isa short-yardage workhorse as a running back, and runner’s worst nightmare as a linebacker. On offense, Holder has shown a preternatural knack for getting it done in the red zone. Brian Griffin is also a threat to score, as he has compiled 485 yds with seven TDs on the year.
You take these playmakers, put them behind an o-line that features multiple 250-plus pounders, and you have the recipe for a team that racks up the yardage with ease (420.5/g). It only looks easy because they are just that good.
Lone Star (13-1) District 9-5A Champions
Head Coach: Jeff Rayburn
How they got here:
Bi-district: W—24-10 (Prosper)
Area: W—55-13 (Forney)
Regional: W—56-7 (Marshall)
Quarter Final: W—49-34 (Lancaster)
Simply put, QB Jason Shelley is money in the bank. Rather, he’s the check that keeps the electric Rangers offense running in full effect. Haehn’s numbers are impressive; especially considering the time he missed due to injury, but Shelley’s numbers fit easier in a video game than on a real-life gridiron—3,173 yds passing, 37 TDs, with 1,416 yds rushing and an additional 16 scores. 53 total TDs?! Yes sir or madame.
Shelley’s key go-to receiver is Jaylen Dixon, a true burner who has reeled in 66 catches for 941 yards and 15 TDs. Dixon, like his Lake Dallas counterpart, Brewer, is also quite effective as an RB, as he has 492 yds rushing with 3 TDs.
WRs Jrayton Fuksa (782 yds, 5 TDs), Coby Shelton (739 yds, 10 TDs) and Michael Johnson (509 yds, 5 TDs) are also not to be overlooked in the embarrassment of riches that is the Rangers’ aerial assault.
Since Shelley’s numbers read more like two upper-tier players in one , the Rangers’ running back tends to get overlooked; which is too bad, as to look past RB Darrin Smith (620 yds, 9 TDs), would be a fatal flaw.
And the Mirror Match Goes to…
This game is going to have it all. Well, minus cheat codes and anyone’s ability to literally control ice in multiple forms a la Sub-Zero. At least I think. But I don’t know, the talent on both sides is seemingly limitless…chucking frozen laser beams just might be a real possibility.
Don’t be surprised if there are a combined 80 points scored. This by no means takes away from either team’s defenses (which are both outstanding). This is just how good both the Falcons and Rangers are at scoring.
Lone Star Rangers 38 Lake Dallas Falcons 33