Parish Rolls to 4th Straight TAPPS Title

By Robert Thomas / Contributor

WACO — Standing on the brink of history, Parish Episcopal wasn’t denied on Friday in the TAPPS Division I state championship game.

With a decisive 38-14 victory over Plano Prestonwood, the Panthers earned their fourth consecutive state title. That puts them in an elite group of just 12 Texas programs — public or private — to accomplish that feat.

“Just saying it out loud is unbelievable, knowing we’re one of 12 teams to do something like this,” said Parish head coach Daniel Novakov. “Our guys were locked in from the start. The defense was outstanding, and the offense made several big plays to get us going.”

In a rematch of a game that Parish won 42-14 in the regular-season finale on Nov. 4, the song remained much the same, as the Panthers (12-1) broke open the game with 24-point second quarter and never trailed.

Parish started with an 89-yard drive, capped by a 42-yard touchdown pass by Sawyer Anderson to Chase Burton, and never looked back.

“Last year it was the defense that got us started with our first touchdown,” Anderson said. “This year, we just wanted to return the favor and let the offense come out and set the tone.”

The Lions (9-3) appeared ready to answer, driving to set up first-and-goal at the Parish 6. Three plays later, Parish’s Tre Williams (a Stanford commit) made a diving tackle of Prestonwood’s Maguire Martin at the 1-yard line to keep Prestonwood scoreless.

Anderson, a sophomore who threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in his second state title game, threw a 69-yard scoring strike to Cedric Mays III to make it 14-0. Then the Parish defense added a score when Daniel Demery returned an interception 36 yards to the end zone.

Demery (a Mississippi commit) and Mays (who tallied 124 total yards on Friday) both had touchdowns in last year’s title win over Midland Christian, too.

“I’m happy for those two and our entire senior class as they played a big role in these last four years,” Novakov said. “It’s also a bit sad knowing I won’t get to coach those guys anymore; they are all great kids.”

After the Lion trimmed the margin to 21-7 on a touchdown pass by Martin, Parish closed the first half with back-to-back scoring drives to build a 31-7 halftime lead. Ryan Shiller kicked a 30-yard field goal before Anderson added a 1-yard scoring run with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Panthers kept the pressure on in the second half, as Mays scored on a 19-yard run on the opening drive for a 38-7 advantage. The Parish defense made another big play with an interception by Dylan Davis with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

Prestonwood added a late touchdown on a 2-yard run by A.J. Sibley, who rushed for a game-high 121 yards, but got no closer as Parish closed out the title-clinching win.

Maddux Reid rushed for a team-high 78 yards for the Panthers. Burton, Derek Eusebio, and Bryson Fields each were critical targets in the passing game.

“So much credit for this season goes to our kids and coaches for the work and time they’ve put in all year long,” Novakov said. “We’ve got some of the best coaches in the state that work so hard to get our guys prepared every week.”

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