After beginning the postseason with visions of winning its first-ever playoff game, the John Paul II football team now finds itself two victories away from a state championship.
The Cardinals' (9-3) hallmark campaign on the gridiron is headed to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools state semifinals after scoring a 49-15 victory over previously unbeaten Fort Worth Nolan on Friday at Grapevine's Mustang-Panther Stadium.
After a back-and-forth start, in which John Paul led the Vikings, 20-15, after one quarter, the Cardinals would outscore Nolan, 29-0, for the remainder of the contest. They did so on the strength of a six-touchdown performance from junior quarterback Grayson James, who threw for five scores through the air and added another on the ground.
Overall, James passed for 402 yards in the win -- spreading that wealth among seven different pass-catchers, led by big nights from junior Jerand Bradley (171 receiving yards and two touchdowns) and junior Myles Parker (121 receiving yards, three touchdowns).
On the ground, senior Carson Collins punctuated the rout with a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:21 left in the ballgame, while junior Grant Robinson added 40 rushing yards.
Just as notable was the defensive effort turned in by John Paul, which limited a high-powered Nolan attack to 288 yards of offense and forced four turnovers in the win, including a second-quarter pick by senior Cam Peters that set up a James touchdown run for a 35-15 halftime lead.
Previously dispatching of San Antonio Central Catholic in the opening round of the postseason last week, 21-16, for its first-ever playoff win, John Paul is now among the final four in the TAPPS Division I bracket and awaits the winner of Saturday's meeting between Prestonwood Christian and San Antonio Antonian.
The Cardinals, of course, have plenty of history with rival Prestonwood. The Lions previously defeated John Paul in the regular season, 22-10.