Written by Matt Wixon
Ian Sadler's electrifying performance, punt return TD lead Argyle to first title
ARLINGTON — With less than a minute remaining Friday, Argyle star quarterback/receiver/punter Ian Sadler only needed to hang on to the ball. After a four-touchdown game, the senior’s final task was to take the snaps and stay inbounds at AT&T Stadium.
It was a great feeling.
“Breathtaking,” Sadler said.
That was an apt description of Sadler’s performance, as well as most of the back-and-forth matchup that ended with Argyle beating Fairfield, 38-33, to claim the Class 3A Division II state title.
“He just gives it his all every game and he got this one for us today,” said junior running back Nick Ralston. “He brought home the gold.”
It was a golden moment for the entire Argyle team, which earned the school’s first state football title and capped a 16-0 season. Argyle had lost in its two previous trips to a state final, including two years ago.
“I was there two years ago, and it’s unbelievable to win it today,” said senior linebacker Colton Hinnrichs. “We worked for two hard years, just nonstop, and it’s just … I’m speechless. It’s unbelievable.”
Hinnrichs, who made eight solo tackles in the game and assisted on seven others, was named the Defensive MVP. Sadler, who finished with 284 all-purpose yards, ran for three touchdowns and returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown, was named the Offensive MVP.
“We knew it was going to be hard to contain him,” Fairfield coach John Bachtel said. “Really, the special teams part is the worst one that he got us with.”
The punt return, which gave Argyle a 31-24 lead with 7:22 left in the third quarter, was huge. But so was the fake punt a few minutes earlier, when on fourth-and-4, Sadler ran around the left side for 42 yards to the 4-yard line. On the next play, his touchdown tied the score at 24-24 and ended a 21-point run by Fairfield, which had trailed 17-3.
The Argyle coaches didn’t call for the fake punt. They just left it up to Sadler, who finished with 19 carries for 119 yards and four receptions for 73 yards.
“All I told him is this is a free-wheeling zone,” Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said. “If you can do it, do it.”
Sadler, who is orally committed to Texas Tech, can do just about anything. He was so impressive that the Scout.com recruiting site bumped his rating from three stars to four stars in the middle of the game.
Sadler even punts for Argyle, and he pinned Fairfield (15-1) inside the 10-yard line twice. Despite all of Sadler’s heroics, however, Argyle didn’t get its winning touchdown until his 3-yard run with 6:53 left.
The big reason was Fairfield running back Larry Rose, who finished with 26 carries for 260 yards and two touchdowns. With three minutes left, the senior burst through a hole on the right side and ran for 64 yards before Argyle defenders ran him down at the 17.
It was then up to the Argyle defense.
“We knew that was the last drive,” Hinnrichs said. We had to stop them or it could’ve ended badly for us.”
On fourth-and-4 at the 11, Hinnrichs and his teammates stopped Rose a yard short. Sadler was able to take the field, take three snaps and start the celebration.
“We felt like this senior class had the moxie and the athleticism and the determination, heart and character to win a state title,” Rodgers said. “They talked about it in the fourth- and fifth-grade championships. We have pictures of them talking about it.”
Now they have a picture-perfect finish to talk about
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.