In the rematch against Graham from earlier this season and last year’s state semi-finals, Argyle won 23-20 in the team’s third straight nail-biting playoff game. The Eagles didn’t win in the typical high-scoring Argyle way, but as usual, they play their best when it matters.
Over the last three games, the Eagles have won by a combined 9 points. The team will say, however, that that’s just how they win games.
“It feels really natural,” Defensive End Hudson Speed said. “I feel like the reason we’ve gone so far as a team is we’re tough, we can fight harder than the other schools.”
The Eagles 23 points was a season low, and they only scored 3 points in the first half. Graham focused on shutting down Running Back Nick Ralston and forcing QB Cooper Rodgers to beat them through the air.
“They’re a very good defense,” LT Matt Hiter said. “They are very fundamentally sound; they know what they’re doing, they hit hard and they’re a bunch of good football players.
One thing the Eagles have thrived at this season is making second half adjustments. The jump in points between the first half and the second half showed once again the impact of the coaches on the team.
“Like I’ve said before the coaches are great and they made some great adjustments.” Wide Receiver Drew Estrada said. “They called some plays that got us big gains and touchdowns, so I give the credit to the coaches for making the adjustments at halftime.”
Though the offense picked up the pace in the second half, it was the defense that was responsible for helping to push this team to the state championship.
“Everybody was scared about our defense; they thought ‘Our offense is going to carry us through it,’ but this week we came out hard,” Line Backer Taylor Sweatt said. “We knew we had to step it up this game and we kept us in there.”
Last week with the game on the line, it was Corner Back Zach Zembraski who came up with the interception to win the game. Different week, same storyline as Zembraski picked off a deep Graham pass to seal the victory with 19 seconds left.
“It’s crazy right now, I can’t even believe it,” Zembraski said. “To make a play like that to send us back to the state championship, it’s all I could ever dream of.”
Zembraski made the final play, but it was the whole team that showed resilience to once again pull out a close win over a good team.
“I think we’ve shown that if you put us up against any team, we can beat them,” Estrada said. “We’re a great second half team, we’ve got a lot of fight in us and it showed tonight.”
The team knows they need to have a great game plan for Navasota next week and they’re excited for the work ahead.
“We’re going to be ready,” Hiter said. “We’ve played in a bunch of big games and we know how to win them. We’ll be ready for it; don’t worry about that.”
This is the second straight year the Eagles have advanced to the state finals, so while the players know the atmosphere will be familiar, they feel that this season has been a completely different journey.
“It feels better this year because I’m a little more involved than I was last year,” Zembraski said. “Back then there were all these expectations going into state, but this year nobody really thought we would make it this far. As a team, we just got here on our own.”
After offseason talk of this team’s talent falling off with notable graduations such as Ian Sadler and Connor Wilson, the 2014 Eagles have used that motivation to get them to this point.”
“No one thought we were going to do it,” Sweatt said. “No one thought we were going to do it, that we were going to suck this year and we showed everybody.”