ARLINGTON, Texas – Paul Pewitt’s second-year head coach Triston Abron doesn’t lack confidence going into Thursday’s 3A Division II state championship football game at AT&T Stadium.
The Brahmas’ last two wins over district rival Daingerfield and state power East Bernard have only enhanced Abron’s feelings going into their title confrontation with the top-ranked Gunter Tigers. The championship game kicks off at 7 p.m.
“We were down seventeen points at halftime to Daingerfield, and hadn’t been in that situation all season,” said Abron. “We came out and fought with tenacity to get back in that game and won. That said a lot about the character of our guys. It also confirmed that we’re a pretty darn good football team.
“We know we can play with anybody in our classification. Last week East Bernard put six players in the box and slowed us down. If Gunter’s defense is better, than the film I’ve been watching is kind of a lie. I’m not taking anything away from Gunter. They’re a very sound football team.”
Paul Pewitt (14-1) comes into the title game averaging more than 400 yards on the ground. Gunter earned its trip to Arlington with great defense, a ball-control offense, and discipline. Something has to give Thursday night.
Abron credits his coaching staff
Abron credits his coaching staff for the Brahmas’ success in 2019, but is quick to note veteran Reggie Kumrow is the biggest reason for the team’s offensive package.
“We call Reggie ‘The Legend’ around here,” said Abron. “You can’t have a conversation about our offense without mentioning Coach Kumrow.”
The Brahmas have multi-weapons on offense. Senior Lajathen Allen is the main attraction, with an outstanding supporting cast. Allen has rushed for 2,092 yards and 28 touchdowns. He is also a key leader on defense with 120 tackles and 7 interceptions.
Senior quarterback Cross Holder has rushed for 1,186 yards and 16 TDs. He’s only thrown 41 passes all season, completing 21 for 522 yards and 10 TDs. Junior Kadrien Johnson has 1,063 yards and 16 TDs, and sophomore Deiontray Hill needs only 37 yards this week to surpass the 1,000-yard mark. Senior Kei’untray Hawkins has rushed for 810 yards, while leading the defense with 11 sacks.
Junior Taynor Mines leads Paul Pewitt’s defense with 160 tackles.
Lajathen Allen a special player
“Allen is one of the most impressive high school athletes that I’ve seen,” said Abron. “Everytime I see a college coach I’m telling them they’re sleeping on a great one. It’s going to take more than one player to bring Allen down.
“Our quarterback (Holder) is going to play collegiate baseball. He has been the leader that we needed him to be on this football team. Johnson is our home run hitter. Hill will come in at fullback, and Hawkins will be a factor on both sides of the ball.”
Gunter (14-1) is making its third appearance in four years in the championship game. The Tigers won in 2016 with a perfect 16-0 record. In fact, the Tigers’ overall record the past four seasons is 59-3. Their only loss this season was to Pottsboro, which is playing Grandview for the 3A Division I state championship.
The Tigers advanced last week when they rallied past second-ranked Canadian, 27-20. Gunter was not seriously challenged in its other playoff games.
Gunter has used two quarterbacks this season. Sophomore Hut Graham and junior Mitchell Brewer have alternated at times. Bryson Rigsby is the Tigers’ leading rusher. Clayton Reed, Peyton Lowe and David Denton head a strong receiving corp.