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In one of the biggest matchups of the season in Texas high school football, the Katy Tigers did what they do best: put on a show. At Freedom Field in Alvin, Texas on Saturday afternoon, head coach Gary Joseph led Katy to a 49-24 win over the reigning 5A Division I State Champions Shadow Creek in the Region 3 Finals of the 6A Division II Playoffs. There was rarely a time in the game where the Tigers seemed to miss a beat.
Coming into the game, fans were looking forward to a matchup that featured heavy talent at the quarterback position: Baylor signee Kyron Drones of Shadow Creek and Katy's sophomore playmaker, Caleb Koger. Drones would succeed Saturday afternoon in proving his ability to keep plays alive, but the young talent Koger won the day as he threw five touchdown passes and tacked on 193 yards in the air. Just when Shadow Creek seemed to take the first bit of momentum in the game by kicking a 41 yard field goal after blocking Katy's first punt attempt, Koger came out onto the field and delivered a 50 yard dime to his junior receiver Nicholas Anderson less than two minutes later. Katy's next score would look nearly identical to their first, as Koger completed another deep bomb, this time to Fuller Shurtz. Koger's four touchdown passes in the first half were each thrown to a different receiver.
The Tigers' defensive unit complemented Koger's performance by holding Shadow Creek to zero offensive touchdowns in the first half. To add on to their second quarter surge, Katy's Bobby Taylor picked up a Shadow Creek fumble and ran it in 15 yards to the end zone, giving Katy a 28-10 lead. They would head into the locker room at halftime leading 35-10.
Despite a bumpy first half that consisted of penalties, personal fouls, and being scored on numerous times, Shadow Creek played a respectable second half, as they tied with Katy 14-14. Kyron Drones ran a 40 yard keeper down to Katy's 24 yard line in the third quarter that would set up a 16 yard touchdown pass to University of Houston signee CJ Guidry two plays later. The future Big XII quarterback later completed a short touchdown pass to Lawrence Armstrong and connected to Greg Hancock on a successful two point conversion with 1:22 left in the game. Both sides of the stadium applauded Drones and the rest of Sharks' effort and pride after scoring on this drive.
The Tigers advance to the State Quarterfinals where they will play Clear Falls from District 24 on January 2. Currently, their future is bright, as they have dominated their path with a sophomore-filled backfield. With Tompkins' loss of Jalen Milroe at quarterback next season, Katy will be back on track to reclaiming the District 19 trophy.
As for Shadow Creek, they're in good hands. Advancing to the third round of the UIL Playoffs is a very admirable accomplishment, not to mention that they did it in their first year of 6A classification. Moreover, the Sharks lost in this round to a historically good high school football team. As time progresses, the Sharks will only grow more comfortable with who they play and likely become another 6A force. More individually, the 2019 State Champion Kyron Drones looks to have a good opportunity at having playing time next season for Baylor, given that Charlie Brewer has transferred to Utah. Drones' college career will be one that many people will be excited to watch.
With all talent being accounted for, it is likely that Katy and Shadow Creek will meet in the Regional Finals in the seasons to come, just as Katy did with North Shore for four years in a row (2016-2019). Surely, Katy and Shadow Creek will be a fun matchup to always keep an eye on, but as for now, the Tigers have won the first chapter and they don't plan on stopping.