Written and photos by: Nick Debose Duncanville QB Keelon Russell
The 2023 Texas University Interscholactic League Football State Championship was the perfect way to end the Texas High School Football Season. Every game from Six-Man to 6A was played at the beautiful AT&T Stadium aka "Jerry's World". We didn't catch them all, but the games we did see were legendary.
Timpson Bears won the 2A Division I title led by Athlete Terry Bussey. Bussey, who is currently a Texas A&M commit won't sign until February, so coaches from Texas A&M, Texas, and LSU were on hand to watch the Bussey show. Bussey put on a show with 311 yards passing, 155 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and 7 tackles on defense. It's no wonder why he is one of the most highly sought after recruits in the nation. Tyler Lane was named Defensive MVP with a game high 17 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack.
The Gunter Tigers won the 3A DII title with a 30-14 victory over a tough Tidehaven team lead by Baylor commit Joseph Dodds. Gunter QB Walker Overman was named Offensive MVP with 149 passing, 172 yards rushing, and 2 touchdowns. Linebacker Major Thornhill was named Defensive MVP with 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and a sack.
Anna won their first state championship with a 26-0 shutout victory over Tyler Chapel Hill. Anna was lead by Edward Chumley, who had 102 total yards and 3 touchdowns. While Linebacker CJ Miller was named the Defensive MVP with15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Gilmer Buckeyes won their 4th state title with a thrilling 28-26 victory over Bellville. Running Back Will Henderson put on a show and took home Offensive MVP honors with 227 yards and a touchdown rushing and 53 yards receiving. Defensive Back Brendan Webb was named Defensive MVP with 2 tackles, a forced fumble, and a crucial interception in the red zone.
The Aledo Bearcats won their 12 state title with a dominating 51-8 performace over Smithson Valley. The Bearcat offense was lead by Quaterback Hauss Hejny. The TCU commit had 202 yards and 2 touchdown passing, while rushing for 72 yards and a score. The games Offensive MVP went to Aledo Running Back Hawk Patrick-Daniels who had 194 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. The Defensive MVP went to LSU commit Davhon Keys. Keys had 12 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and a sack to lead the Bearcats defense who only allowed only 69 total yards.
The best game of the day on Saturday was a thriller between 2-time defending champs of Dallas Oak Cliff and Port-Neches Grove. It was a rematch from last years state game with a different result as PNG defeated SOC 20-17 to claim the 5A DII title. The PNG offense moved the ball, but the stout SOC defense held them to 4 Gio Oceguera field goals. Oceguera's performance got him the Offensive MVP honors. PNG highly recruited Junior Tackle Jackson Christian led the way as Shea Adams scored the winning touchdown with 3:32 left. Linebacker Max Scroggs (Defensive MVP) and the Indian defense stopped SOC to secure the win.
The 6A D1 game was a rematch between Duncanville and Galena Park North Shore for the 5th time of the last 6 years. The was suppose to be one of the best games of the day, but turned into a blowout by Duncanville to claim their 2nd straight state title. LSU commit Caden Durham put on one of the best performances in Texas UIL history rushing for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Keelon Russell was equally impressive with 288 yards and 3 touchdown through the air and rushed for another score. Russell threw tow of his scores to Wideouts Zach Turner and LSU commit Dakorien Moore. Duncanville Defensive End Colin Simmons lived up to his #1 ranking as top player in the state by putting on a dominate defensive performance with 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble. The Texas commit was named the games Defensive MVP.
The DeSoto Eagles put on a record setting performance in the last game of the Texas High School Football Season. The Eagles won their second consecutive state title with a 74-14 victory over Humble Summer Creek. The Eagles 74 points was a 6A DII record. DeSoto Quarteback DJ Bailey led the way with 284 yards and 4 scores passing. The Sam Houston commit even ran for a score on his way to being named Offensive MVP. The Eagles defense was led by Defensive End Keylan Adams who had 6 tackles, sack, and an interception while being named the games Defensive MVP.
The Texas UIL State Championship and the Texas High School season was one for the ages. It comes to a bittersweet end. But not for long in Texas as football is a year around way of life. See you in 2024!