HOUSTON – Katy Taylor is the best story of the Texas high school football playoffs.
Entering the playoffs, the Mustangs were coming off a 5-5 regular season, finishing fourth in District 19-6A and suffering three-straight losses, including getting shutout by Katy, 57-0.
The Mustangs weren't a favorite entering the Class 6A Division II bracket. Not by a long shot.
"We felt disrespected," Katy Taylor junior Trevor Woods said. "We wanted to change the way people looked at Taylor High School."
But Katy Taylor since then has done nothing but win, advance, make history and now are one win away from playing for the Class 6A Division II State Championship.
"It's been great for these kids that have put in so much hard work," Katy Taylor second-year coach Chad Simmons said. "At one point almost written off. We didn't know the last Friday of the season whether we were even going to get into the playoffs. Of course, we did."
Since getting in, Katy Taylor has rattled off wins against Fort Bend Elkins (51-41), Memorial (21-14), Humble (35-14) – to advance to its first-ever Regional Final – and then beat Cypress Creek (58-20) to advance to the State Semis.
"Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a part of this school," Katy Taylor running back Casey Shorter said. "Seeing that we've done something great is just amazing. I've been playing with these guys since Pee-Wee ball, just seeing what we've become is just incredible."
FEATURE: "We still feel like people are sleeping on us and not respecting our name." @Trevorw_43 @TaylorMustangFB in State Semis for the first time ever.
READ: https://t.co/ffwDM7MyZO #txhsfb @caseyshorter22 @HaydenConner @THS_Mustangs @brycefoster2021 @joeagleason @dctf pic.twitter.com/IkDHE3TzJ1
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) December 11, 2019
What the biggest difference between now and mid-October when Katy Taylor was taking its lumps week-in and week-out, Simmons said is they are healthy.
The buy-in is strong, they've gotten better at technique and things they needed to work on, Simmons continued and "it's a completely different team from midseason to now".
"We're enjoying it," Simmons said. "Staff enjoys one another, kids enjoy one another. We're trying to stay focused and continue the run."
So, after four-straight wins in the playoffs, moving them to 9-5, and now the last fourth-place team remaining standing in the postseason, does Katy Taylor feel respected now?
"Even at this point we still feel disrespected," Woods said. "We still feel like people are sleeping on us and not respecting our name. We just want to keep on going and prove to them that we're the real deal."
Katy Taylor will get another chance to gain people's respect this week when it travels up to Waco to face Austin Westlake in the State Semifinals.
If the Mustangs win, they will punch their ticket to the Class 6A Division II State Championship and in hand arguably gain the respect of the State of Texas.
"It's a crazy feeling, I'm not going to lie about that," Katy Taylor running back CJ Tolbert said. "It's just amazing, playing with my brothers that I've been with since freshman year. We're accomplishing the goal we've all been dreaming about since freshman year.
"We were made to leave a legacy, that's what we're doing."
HOUSTON - Once Braden Hay reached the end of the handshake line, the senior safety turned back in the direction of the Katy Taylor fans inside NRG Stadium.
The senior safety broke into a jog, holding his white helmet by the facemask in his left hand, while with his right he held up four fingers signifying the number round that the Mustangs were bound for.
A 35-14 victory over Humble on Saturday night secured for the first time in program history Katy Taylor's place amongst the final eight Class 6A Division II football teams in Texas left playing heading into December next week.