Written by Corbett Smith
TAPPS Division I and II title games are all-DFW affairs
For the third-straight season, the two largest TAPPS divisions are guaranteed to have a state champion from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Fort Worth Nolan faces Plano Prestonwood in the Division I final tonight at Killeen's Leo Buckley Stadium; Fort Worth Christian plays Parish Episcopal in the Division II final tonight at Temple's Wildcat Stadium.
Since 2008, every Division I and II final has been an all-area affair.
Nolan - riding a 31-game winning-streak - has won two straight Division I titles, beating Bishop Lynch in 2008 and Trinity Christian-Addison in 2009.
Prestonwood was the Division II champion last year, beating Argyle Liberty Christian in the final, before moving up to Division I this season. Prestonwood coach Chris Cunningham, who took over the football program in 2008, said the dominance of schools in this area has been evident.
"When I came in, I heard a whole lot about Houston and some of those schools down south," Cunningham said. "But all I've seen since I've been here are the schools in this area - Nolan, Trinity Christian, Liberty and Parish - those teams along with ourselves have dominated the scene in football.
"It speaks a lot to the quality of football in this area."
And the success isn't limited to the top TAPPS divisions.
Colleyville Covenant is in this year's Division IV final, and two Dallas schools, The Covenant School and Tyler Street Christian Academy, are playing in the two six-man championship games.
The Division I game is a rematch of a district game earlier in the season, which Nolan won on a last-second field goal, 24-21. The rematch features two 2,000-yard rushers: Nolan's Alex Sauza and Prestonwood's Kenneth Huggins.
A pooling of quality teams in the area meant district play was brutally tough. Nolan and Prestonwood's district featured Argyle Liberty Christian, Bishop Lynch and last year's Division I runner-up, TC-Addison, ensuring most weeks of the season afforded a playoff-type game.
In fact, Prestonwood beat Lynch in the semifinals, 35-28, to advance to today's final.
"It's loaded; there's a lot of talent in our district," Nolan coach Joe Prud'homme said. "Every week, we had a battle."
Fort Worth Christian comes into the Division II final averaging 382 yards total offense; it will be tested by Parish Episcopal, one of the league's top defensive teams.
Parish Episcopal senior defensive tackle Nico Padilla is in the running for District 2-II MVP and linebacker Rob Hankins - ranked No. 8 on HSGametime's area Top 100 - has committed to Arizona.
"I'd like to tell you that it's just me being a great coach, but if you put me in a Ferrari, I'm going to drive fast," Parish Episcopal coach Scott Nady said.