Celina Noah Bentley

Celina junior Noah Bentley quarterbacked the Bobcats to the state semifinals in Class 4A Division II.

The 2021 high school football season came to a close on Dec. 15-18 with 12 teams capturing titles during the latest edition of the UIL State Football Championships.

Locally, football fans were treated to everything from signature performances to thrilling ballgames and memorable upsets. No matter the week, be it Thursday or Friday — and even a few Saturdays during the postseason — the Metroplex didn’t lack in entertainment on the gridiron.

As the dust settles from the 2021 season, here’s a look around the Star Local Media coverage area at some of the year’s memorable moments within each of our 14 markets.


Matt Welch: The spotlight never dims when it comes to Allen football and that remained the case in 2021 after the program hired Chad Morris as its next head coach following the retirement of Terry Gambill. With Morris came near-wholesale turnover within the Eagles’ longtime coaching regime, ushering in a new era on the gridiron for one of the state’s premier programs.

Early on, the waters were choppy — Allen had an 84-game regular-season winning streaked snapped by Atascocita in just Morris’ second game, and the Eagles battled through uncharacteristic lulls like five turnovers committed against Tyler Legacy.

But as the season wore on, Allen’s progress was evident. The Eagles again got the better of Denton Guyer on their way to a 16th consecutive district championship and improved on last season’s playoff run with a trip to the regional finals — leaving Allen with plenty to build on as it embarks on Year Two under Morris.


Matt Welch: Recent times have been tough for Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD’s three Class 5A football programs — all of whom have made changes at head coach within the past two years.

As all three forge new identities within their respective programs, Creekview got to reap the fruits of that labor with its first playoff appearance since 2015.

The Mustangs wasted no time wiping the slate clean upon head coach Tony Castillo’s arrival, shedding the flexbone offense it had run under the previous regime and implementing a spread attack that contributed to the program’s best offensive season since that aforementioned 2015 campaign.

Senior running back Isaiah Evans was a workhorse with more than 20 carries per game on his way to a top-15 finish among the area’s 5A running backs at 1,243 yards, and senior Sean Sallis was on the outside to make opposing defenses pay for keying in on the run.


Matt Welch: Celina felt like it left some meat on the bone during a unique 2020 season. The Bobcats used that year’s hardships to fuel the program’s first state semifinal campaign since 2015.

It made for another worthy chapter in the history books of one of Texas’ most prestigious high school football programs — Celina went 12-2 and, at times, looked nothing short of dominant in doing so. The Bobcats’ 12 wins came by an average of 41.0 points, cemented by the brute force of Celina’s offensive and defensive lines to pave the way for a litany of talented skill players.

The team avenged 2020 losses to Melissa, Paris and Aubrey along the way, twice getting the better of the rival Chaparrals to set up a finish among the final four teams in 4A Division II.


David Wolman: Whether it was players lost to injury, transfer or graduation, Coppell saw a lot of fresh faces taking over at positions across the board from last season's bi-district finalist.

Lineup changes and all, the Cowboys, for the second straight season, put themselves in a position to battle for a playoff spot in a win-or-go home contest in the final game of the regular season against Flower Mound.

Although Coppell lost the game 45-21, the Cowboys will have quality pieces going forward – especially at the skill positions. Junior quarterback Jack Fishpaw threw for 2,248 yards and 18 touchdowns – 802 yards between junior wide receivers Carter Kincaid and Zach Darkoch and sophomore Luca Grosoli.

Junior Blake Robbins led the Cowboys in rushing with 374 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, junior inside linebacker Ike Odimegwu had more than 90 tackles this season.


Matt Welch: Although Lewisville carried the torch for much of Lewisville ISD’s latest football season, Marcus continued its run of excellence by getting the better of the battle for the District 6-6A championship.

Despite some tough moments early in the year, including a 17-14 loss to rival Flower Mound on Sept. 24, the Marauders steadied the ship and won their final six games of the regular season to capture a third straight district title.

Marcus shifted gears after topping Coppell in double overtime, 39-37, and followed that up with four wins by an average margin of 20.5 points. The Marauders’ defense was integral to the team’s strong finish, surrendering 21.5 points per game on the year, while senior Dallas Dudley etched his spot in the record books by becoming the program’s all-time leading receiver.


Devin Hasson: Five Frisco ISD teams qualified for the playoffs, but it was Wakeland that was the lone team standing in the third round and they did so by winning a game that will be talked about for some time. The Wolverines, the third seed out of 5-5A Division I, were flying under the radar at the start of the playoffs, but that perception changed in the area finals, when Wakeland stunned state-ranked Highland Park in a 29-28 victory.

Trailing with time winding down, the Wolverines pulled a wrinkle from deep in the playbook, as running back Jared White took the handoff and then threw a jump pass to Tripp Riordan for a 6-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left. They were not finished, as they went for the two-point conversion and were rewarded for the choice when White powered into the end zone to give them a 29-28 lead.

An interception by Michael Flanagan sealed the win, as the Wolverines advanced to the regional semifinals for just the second time in program history.


David Wolman: Lake Dallas came into this season with new leadership at the top. Longtime defensive coordinator Jason Young was elevated to head coach after Michael Young hung up his whistle in June to become Little Elm ISD athletic director.

From one Young to another, this season was a renaissance for the Falcons -- especially on offense. With senior quarterback Brendan Sorsby under center, the Falcons averaged 30.1 points per game and won four games after going 1-8 in 2020. Lake Dallas' per-game point average is nearly triple that of a year ago when the Falcons averaged just 12.8 points.

Sorsby had some monster performances along the way, including an eight-touchdowns gem in the Falcons’ 56-32 win over Lebanon Trail on Sept. 17. The quarterback passed for 233 yards and ran for 152 in that victory.


Matt Welch: The Farmers finally got their turn in the spotlight in 2021, posting an 11-2 record and qualifying for the regional semifinals for the first time since 1996.

Matching its largest win total since 1999, Lewisville strung together some of the program’s most impressive football in decades this fall — senior Damien Martinez enjoyed a fitting coda to his decorated high school career by earning MVP honors in 6-6A and the Lewisville defense went from 36.5 points allowed per game in 2020 down to 24.3 allowed this year.

The Farmers authored a 9-1 regular season before topping McKinney Boyd and Arlington Martin in the playoffs — avenging a loss to the latter from last season. They became just the third football team from Lewisville ISD to advance to the third round since 2007.


David Wolman: With 18 returning starters, Little Elm leaned on its experience as it dove into its second season as a Class 6A school. 

The season was a tale of two halves. 

The Lobos started the season 5-0, the last of which was a 59-56 overtime victory over Prosper. But the rest of the season didn't go as well as Little Elm had wanted as they lost their last five games, falling short of the playoffs. 

Despite struggling in the second half of the season, senior quarterback John Mateer had his sights set on a school record. And break it, he did.

He finished the season with 2,449 passing yards -- breaking the record that he set a year ago -- to go along with 847 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns. Mateer was named the 5-6A offensive player of the year.


Matt Welch: Qualifying for the playoffs hasn’t come easy for McKinney North. The Bulldogs walked a two-year tightrope laced with dramatic finishes in 7-5A Division I to extend their postseason streak to six consecutive years.

North finished in a three-way tie for second place at 4-2 and positioned itself for a return to the playoff thanks to a late-season upset of powerhouse Longview, 37-35.

The Lobos were ranked No. 9 in the state at the time but struggled to protect the football against the Bulldogs — North’s defense generated five takeaways in the win, including four in a first half where it built a 30-21 halftime lead.

Senior Dylan Frazier had a hand in multiple turnovers, which, coupled with a 229-yard performance by the Bulldogs’ ground game, helped land North one of the signature regular-season wins in program history.


Devin Hasson: There were a few notable storylines in Mesquite ISD football, including the Skeeters returning to the playoffs in the first season under head coach DeMarcus Harris, but it was a private school that grabbed the headlines.

After several near misses in recent years, Dallas Christian, in its 18th state title game appearance, broke through to win the ninth championship in program history, and first since 2008, with a 33-14 victory over Houston Second Baptist.

The Chargers got another big game from Jalil Brown, who had 31 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Luke Carney rushed for one score and threw for another to Max McAda.

The Dallas Christian defense took care of the rest. Led by all-state safety Gabriel Grubbs, the Chargers held Second Baptist to 166 total yards and forced three turnovers, as longtime head coach Mike Wheeler hoisted the state championship trophy once again.


Matt Welch: Amid a challenging year on the gridiron for Plano ISD, Plano East senior Ismail Mahdi still managed to assert his status as one of the top running backs in the area. Despite missing time late in the regular season due to injury, Mahdi still finished the year ranked in the area’s top 15 rushers at 1,362 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Also the Panthers’ second-leading receiver at 295 yards and two scores, plus a passing touchdown, Mahdi had a hand in 17 of the 32 touchdowns tallied by the East offense in 2021.

He helped keep the Panthers in the playoff chase early, topping rival Plano West and dropping narrow bouts with postseason qualifiers Hebron and Lewisville, but a knee injury in late October contributed to a four-game losing streak to close out East’s season.


Devin Hasson: The gridiron torch has been passed back and forth between the Garland ISD teams over the years, but looking back over the last decade, it has been Sachse that has been the model of consistency.

The Mustangs, who have won five district championships in the last 10 years, finished second behind Garland this season, but they returned to the playoffs for the ninth time during that span, making them the lone GISD team that can make that claim.

Sachse has had its share of playmakers over the years and this season’s star was quarterback Alex Orji. The senior, who signed with Michigan on Dec. 15, was one of the top dual threats in the area, completing 127-of-247 passes for 2,064 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air and rushing 159 times for 1,187 yards and 24 scores on the ground.


David Wolman: After losing out on the playoffs last season on a coin flip, The Colony rebounded from a 1-3 start to win three of its next four games to position itself for a potential playoff berth.

The Cougars began that turnaround with an impressive defensive showing in a 24-3 victory against Frisco Centennial, forcing four turnovers and holding the Titans scoreless over the final three quarters after they made a field goal in the first quarter. 

The Colony suffered a setback the following game in a 42-3 loss to defending 5A Division I state champion Denton Ryan, but the Cougars proceeded to get back on track in a big way. Junior running back Kamden Wesley rushed for 10 touchdowns and 602 yards over the next two games, as the Cougars defeated Frisco Heritage 50-36 and Frisco Independence 44-32.

The season didn't as well as The Colony had hoped, as it dropped its final two games, including a 37-7 setback to Frisco Reedy in the final week of the regular season.


You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

Recommended for you

Load comments