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10C

Friday, December 11, 2015

SportsDayDFW.com

The Dallas Morning News

Football State Semifinals
CLASS 4A DIVISION II | Celina (14-0) vs. Gilmer (14-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Mesquite Memorial Stadium

Sting of 53-point loss stays with Celina
Bobcats get chance at
redemption from 2014
semifinal loss to Gilmer

C

ELINA — Blowouts are
nothing new to the Celina football program,
which has claimed eight state
titles and once won 68 straight
games. The Bobcats often
dominate their opponents, so
a lopsided score won’t stand
out in their results.
Unless you’re talking about
67-14.
That was the final score of
last year’s Class 4A Division II
semifinal, when the mighty
Orange left SMU’s Gerald J.
Ford Stadium as the Orange
crushed. Gilmer walked off the
field in celebration and won
the state title the following
week.
“It was a beatdown,” said
Celina quarterback Conner
Pingleton. “That’s for sure.”
Another sure thing is that
Celina (14-0) will remember
that loss when it gets another
shot at Gilmer (14-0). The
chance at redemption comes
at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a 4A Division II semifinal at Mesquite
Memorial Stadium.
“The players have been
thinking about it for a year,”
Celina coach Bill Elliott said.
“We’re glad we’re getting a rematch with them. Hopefully it
will be a different outcome
this time.”
It will need to be a wildly
different outcome for the Bobcats, who trailed 33-0 after
one quarter last year. Although Gilmer now has a 30game win streak, it hasn’t
pummeled opponents the way
it did a year ago. Gilmer lost
many of its offensive stars, and
this year relies more on a stingy defense that has helped it

HIGH SCHOOLS

MATT WIXON
[email protected]

State semifinal
previews, 11C

pull out four wins by a touchdown or less.
Bur Gilmer is still an excellent team. Big, fast and physical.
“They’ve got a lot of guys
who can make plays,” Pingleton said. “But so do we.”
Pingleton is one of those
guys. The junior has completed 200 of 266 passes (75 percent) for 3,384 yards and 43
touchdowns with only six interceptions. Celina can still
run the ball, led by Pingleton
(89 carries for 741 yards) and
Jarren Alexander (84-664),
but the Bobcats now operate
out of the spread offense. It’s
far different from the powerrunning juggernauts of the
past, including those during
the state-record 68-game winning streak from 1998 to
2002.
A lot has changed at Celina,
both on the football field and
in the community. Celina had
about 1,800 residents in
2000, and the population is
now around 7,000. A city plan
estimates that the population
will be nearly 50,000 in 15
years.
What seems unlikely to
change in Celina, however, are
the expectations of the football team. Since Celina
emerged as the king of smallschool football in 1995, when
it started a string of seven state

Rachel Woolf/Staff Photographer

Quarterback Conner Pingleton has passed for 3,384 yards and 43 touchdowns with only six interceptions to lead Celina
to a 14-0 record. Celina seeks its first state title since 2007, but must first beat Gilmer in the state semifinals.

Trying to get back
Celina has won eight UIL football titles, which puts it in a tie with Southlake Carroll for most in state history. Here’s how Celina has done since
it won its last title:
Year
Class
Rec.
Result
2007
3A-II
16-0
Won state title 21-14 over China Spring
2008
3A-II
12-4
Lost to Carthage 49-37 in state title game
2009
3A-II
7-5
Lost to Kennedale 10-6 in second round
2010
3A-I
11-1
Lost to Lovejoy 17-0 in second round
2011
3A-I
11-1
Lost to Henderson 42-19 in third round
2012
3A-II
10-3
Lost to Henderson 64-35 in third round
2013
3A-II
9-2
Lost to Gainesville 55-49 in first round
2014
4A-II
12-3
Lost to Gilmer 67-14 in state semifinal

titles in 13 seasons, the Bobcats have been immersed in a
“state title or bust” culture.

“It’s not a realistic thing for
a lot of teams, but in Celina, it’s
the expectation,” Pingleton

said. “It’s what we expect as
players. We strive for nothing
less.”
It would be difficult to find
a community that loves football more, and the players
would love to give the fans another title. Avenging last year’s
ugly loss to Gilmer is the next
step, and senior receiver/tight
end Riley Nebeker is confident
his team can do it.
“I think if we play the best
that we can, we can beat anyone,” he said. “We need to go
out and execute. No turnovers,

no broken plays. We just need
to go out and do what we do.”
Which means win. And if
Celina does win, it will be back
in a title game for the first time
since 2008.
“The difference between
the good teams and the great
teams — I tell the kids this all
the time — it’s those teams
that have the love and passion
in them,” Elliott said. “And
that’s what this team has right
now.”
Twitter: @mattwixon

LAKE DALLAS VS. FRISCO LONE STAR | 7:30 p.m. today at Allen Eagle Stadium

Renewed success draws in former players
Then and now
Frisco Lone Star
COTTON BOWL MATCHUP
players have backing of 1973:
Alabama vs. Texas
city’s last playoff darling 2015: Alabama vs. Michigan
State

By RHIANNON WALKER
Staff Writer
[email protected]

There are members of the
Frisco Lone Star football team
whose parents weren’t alive
the last time a Frisco school
made it to the state football
semifinals.
So when Lone Star prepared for its regional final
matchup against Lancaster
last week, two members of the
1973 Frisco team visited the
Lone Star players in hopes of
seeing their feat get matched.
“I felt like it was an honor to
be asked [to speak by Frisco
ISD athletic director David
Kuykendall],” said Van Nichols, now 60. “I really just
wanted to congratulate them
on a job well done and told
them I hope they broke the record and actually ended winning up state this year.” Nichols was a senior running back
and corner back on the ’73
squad.
Said former backup quarterback Blake Vaughn, a sophomore in 1973: “My encouragement to [the underclass-

DANCES
1973: Soul train
2015: The dab
BILLBOARD 100
1973: “Top of the World” by
Carpenters
2015: “Hello” by Adele
NFC EAST LEADER
1973: Washington, 8-3
2015: Washington, 5-6
TOP MOVIE
1973: Magnum Force, $6,871,011
2015: Jurassic World,
$652,198,010

men] was not to discount your
contributions to this successful season, and just know
they’re … being made better
for years to come.”
The pair then watched
Lone Star (13-1) top Lancaster
at AT&T Stadium and was
blown away by Lone Star’s discipline, the fun that the team
played with and how well
Lone Star coach Jeff Rayburn
got his message across.
“Just as important to me is
that they look like a group of
fine young men,” Vaughn, 57,
said. “Just an incredible game
as far as it was close in the early part of the game … but that

High school
picks
ADAM
BOEDEKER
Denton RecordChronicle
Allen vs. Austin Westlake
Mansfield vs. Austin Lake Travis
Aledo vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star vs. Lake Dallas
Argyle vs. Abilene Wylie
Celina vs. Gilmer
Last week record
Season record

Allen
Mansfield
Aledo
Lake Dallas
Argyle
Gilmer
8-4 (.667)
321-102 (.759)

Lone Star team just continued
to rally back after mistakes.
They never let up, and that’s
the sign of a champion.”
Vaughn and Nichols, along
with a few other ’73 teammates, will be at Allen’s Eagle
Stadium on Friday night when
Lone Star faces Lake Dallas
(12-2) for a berth to next
week’s Class 5A Division II
state championship game.
While the structure of the
playoffs has changed — a team
had to play only five rounds to
win the championship in 1973
— Frisco’s ’73 squad and this
year’s Frisco Lone Star team
navigated through the playoffs
in similar fashions.

PAT
DONEY
Ch. 5

GREG
RIDDLE
SportsDayHS
editor

CORBETT
SMITH
SportsDayHS
writer

RHIANNON
WALKER
SportsDayHS
writer

DAVID
WATKINS
Ch. 5

MATT
WIXON
SportsDayHS
columnist

AVI
ZALEON
SportsDayHS
editor

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Mans. Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Celina
10-2 (.833)
331-92 (.783)

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Mans. Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Gilmer
9-3 (.750)
313-110 (.740)

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Mans. Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Gilmer
9-3 (.750)
322-101 (.761)

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Mans. Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Celina
7-5 (.583)
294-129 (.695)

Austin Westlake
Austin Lake Travis
Aledo
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Gilmer
7-5 (.583)
296-127 (.700)

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Aledo
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Celina
10-2 (.833)
332-91 (.785)

Allen
Austin Lake Travis
Mans. Lake Ridge
Frisco Lone Star
Argyle
Celina
9-3 (.750)
302-121 (.714)

Frisco beat Aledo by 13 in
its bi-district win, held Allen
to less than a touchdown in a
17-6 regional semifinal victory
and then blew out Blooming
Grove 42-13 in the Class 1A
quarterfinals.
Lone Star defeated Prosper
by 14 in the first round, allowed Marshall a single score
in the regional semifinals and
outpaced Lancaster in a 4934 win last weekend.
“I think the trademark was
that we were very balanced,”
Nichols said. “We had a very
good running game, but we also had a very good throwing
game, so teams couldn’t stack
the box.”

In terms of rituals, Vaughn
remembers Milton Hampton,
an all-state tight end, going
down to the grocery store,
putting a nickel and riding a
mechanical horse before each
game for good luck. Teammates would also congregate
over a player’s house for
Thursday meals and everyone
would load up and drive in
caravans for away games.
They shared those memories with the Lone Star players
and stressed enjoying the
journey as much as the results.
Even though Vaughn and
Nichols’ team lost 15-7 in the
semifinals to Vega, the Lone
Star squad doesn’t necessarily

have to suffer the same fate.
“One thing I told the Lone
Star team, ‘Don’t let doubt
creep into your mind.’ ” Nichols said. “I asked them if they
had ever seen Hooisers.
“The point of the movie
was that … you had a team
from a real small town, and
that team makes it to the state
finals. They drive in and
they’re playing in this huge
gym. The coach walks in, gets
a step ladder, measures up to
the rim, says ‘10 feet; same as
ours.’ He measures the width
and the length, and says, ‘It’s
the same size as ours, guys.’ ”
Twitter: @InstantRHIplay

PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
UIL
CLASS 6A

DIVISION I
STATE SEMIFINALS
Allen (14-0) .......................vs. Austin Westlake (13-1)
7:30 Friday at Waco ISD Stadium
GP North Shore (11-3)......... vs. Converse Judson (13-1)
5:00 Saturday at Houston's NRG Stadium

DIVISION II
STATE SEMIFINALS
Mansfield (12-2) ........................vs. Lake Travis (14-0)
2:00 Saturday at Waco ISD Stadium
Katy (14-0) .............................vs. Cibolo Steele (14-0)
2:00 Saturday, San Antonio's Alamo Stadium

CLASS 5A
DIVISION I
STATE SEMIFINALS
Aledo (13-1) ................vs. Mansfield Lake Ridge (14-0)
7:30 Friday at Birdville Fine Arts Complex

Richmond George Ranch (14-0) vs. CP Vista Ridge (12-2)
7:30 Friday at Houston's NRG Stadium

West Orange-Stark (13-1).................... vs. Cuero (9-5)
2:00 Saturday at Houston's Tully Stadium

Lovelady (14-0) ..............................vs. Refugio (12-2)
7:00 Friday, Georgetown ISD Complex

DIVISION II

CLASS 3A

DIVISION II

DIVISION I

STATE SEMIFINALS
Seagraves (13-1) ..............................vs. Albany (13-1)
7:00 Friday at Lubbock's Lowrey Field
Muenster (13-1) ............................vs. Bremond (14-0)
7:00 Friday at Waxahachie

STATE SEMIFINALS
Lake Dallas (12-2) ...............vs. Frisco Lone Star (13-1)
7:30 Friday at Allen
Fort Bend Ridge Point (11-3) ........vs. Cedar Park (14-0)
2:00 Saturday at Houston's NRG Stadium

CLASS 4A

STATE SEMIFINALS
Brock (14-0) ..................................vs. Mineola (13-0)
7:30 Friday, Grand Prairie's Gopher-Warrior Bowl
Cameron Yoe (13-1) ..........................vs. Mathis (12-2)
7:30 Friday, Austin's Royal Memorial Stadium

CLASS A SIX-MAN

DIVISION I

DIVISION II

DIVISION I

STATE SEMIFINALS
Abilene Wylie (12-2) .........................vs. Argyle (13-1)
7:30 Friday at Waco's McLane Stadium
Carthage (11-3) ......................vs. Waco La Vega (14-0)
7:30 Friday, Garland's Homer B. Johnson Stadium

STATE SEMIFINALS
Idalou (13-0) .................................vs. Waskom (14-0)
7:30 Friday at Mineral Wells
Franklin (14-0) ........................vs. East Bernard (12-2)
7:30 Friday at Cypress' Berry Center

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Crowell (10-3) .................................vs. Abbott (12-2)
noon Saturday, Abilene's Shotwell Stadium

DIVISION II

CLASS 2A

STATE SEMIFINALS
Celina (14-0) ....................................vs. Gilmer (14-0)
7:30 Friday at Mesquite's Memorial Stadium

DIVISION I
STATE SEMIFINALS
Canadian (14-0) ............................vs. Crawford (14-0)
7:30 Friday at Wichita Falls

DIVISION II
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
Follett (12-1) .....................vs. Richland Springs (14-0)
3:00 Saturday, Abilene's Shotwell Stadium

Allen-Austin Westlake game moved to Friday
An already impressive Friday night high school football
slate just got a little more loaded.
The Class 6A Division I semifinal between Allen and Austin Westlake has been moved from Saturday to 7:30 p.m. Friday because of the threat of inclement weather on Saturday.
The game will be played at Waco ISD Stadium.
Both teams agreed to the change. Both played last Saturday, and each won convincingly, with Allen (14-0) taking out
previously unbeaten Denton Ryan and Westlake (13-1) cruising past Humble Atascocita.
Staff report

C10 12-11-2015 Set: 20:59:15
Sent by: [email protected] Sports

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