Log in
Football Advance

Bearcats, Eagles to clash for first time ever

Kaden Winkfield picks up yardage against Red Oak.
Kaden Winkfield picks up yardage against Red Oak.
Breleigh Mayer/The Community New

The Abilene Eagles have been playing football for a long time, with the first of their seven state championships coming in 1923. Their most recent was 2009, which was also the year in which Aledo began its journey to become the most dominant high school football team in the history of Texas.

“Has there ever been a game between two teams with 18 state titles between?” asked Aledo coach Robby Jones.

It doesn’t take much research to find that this is very likely the first time that has ever happened in the Lone Star State.

Ironically, the two programs have never faced each other on the football field. Of course, while they could have played in the regular season, they are more than two hours apart. And, of course, a postseason matchup was not possible until the Eagles came down from 6A to 5A in the 2022 University Interscholastic League realignment.

That will change Friday night in Stephenville when the Bearcats (13-0) face the Eagles (11-2) in the Class 5A Division I Region I final at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Tarleton State University in Stephenville. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

New tradition vs. old tradition

The Eagles have one of the oldest football programs in the state. However, the majority of their state championships came in their earlier days.

Along with the 1923 and 2009 titles, the Eagles claimed titles in 1928, 1931 and 1954-56. 

The Bearcats, on the other hand, have won all of their championships in the past quarter century, starting in 1998. Since 2009 they have titles in 2009-11, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018-20 and 2022.


Despite missing three games with injuries this season, Aledo running back Ray Guillory surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark after his recent 189-yard performance against Red Oak. He has gained 1,142 yards on just 140 carries to lead the Bearcats.

In addition, Guillory leads Aledo in touchdowns scored with 21 (17 rushing, 4 receiving).

Along with his rushing yards, he has caught 10 passes for 175 yards.

After missing the first playoff game, a 27-6 win over Killeen Shoemaker, Guillory has been virtually unstoppable in two postseasons against Lubbock Cooper (48-31) and Red Oak (59-35). He has 369 yards on 26 carries with six touchdowns.

“His vision never left, and his first few steps are so explosive,” Jones said. “That’s (the playoffs) is normally where some of the Aledo running backs have shined in the past.”

Healthy again

After dealing with injuries and illness for several weeks, wide receiver Colton McCoy caught a pair of passes for 37 yards in the win over Red Oak. That gives him 14 catches for 303 yards and a touchdown this season.

Jones said the return of key players such as Guillory and McCoy couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We’ve got all of our weapons back on the field. We look like the offense we had at the start of the season,” he said.

Explosive offenses

The Bearcats have scored 647 points, an average of 49.8 points. They have topped the 50-point barrier seven times, including last week's 59-35 win over a previously 12-0 Red Oak squad. Twice they have scored 70 or more points.

On the other side, the Eagles have scored 527 points, an average of 40.6. They have topped the 50-point barrier four times, which includes an 84-14 bidistrict win over El Paso Hanks.

“The defenses are about equal as well,” Jones noted. “It’s two really good defenses and two explosive offenses.

“You get to the playoffs this deep, teams do tend to mirror each other.”

Aledo is surrendering an average of 17 points per game and the Eagles are giving up 18 per contest.

Postseason scoring

Neither team has had problems scoring in the playoffs. Aledo has outscored its three opponents by a 134-72 margin, an average of 44.7-24.

Meanwhile, after averaging 38.5 points in the regular season, the Eagles are scoring at a 47.3 clip in the postseason. They are giving up an average of 17.


Aledo enters the game having taken the ball away from opponents 15 times (9 interceptions, 6 fumbles) while giving the ball up 16 times (5 interceptions, 11 fumbles).

Abilene has a knack for getting the ball either on the ground (19 fumble recoveries) and through the air (19 interceptions). The Eagles have turned the ball over 10 times (5 interceptions, 5 fumbles).

“They’re extremely dangerous. They create a lot of turnovers. We’ve got to take care of the ball, definitely,” Jones said. “They’ve got eight takeaways in their last two games.”

Common foes

Aledo and Abilene have three opponents in common this season:

Lubbock Cooper - The Eagles won 38-35 on a late play at home to secure a district title. The Bearcats defeated the Pirates 48-31 in the second round of the playoffs.

Denton Ryan - The Bearcats saw a 17-0 lead slip away into a late 19-17 deficit before Hauss Hejny TD run in the final moments gave Aledo a 25-19 victory at home. Abilene defeated the Raiders 31-21 in the second round of the postseason.

Justin Northwest - The Bearcats won 38-13 at home to open district play. The Eagles won 27-16 in the third round of the playoffs.

Districts in postseason

Both the Bearcats and Eagles played in districts that enjoyed playoff success. The playoff teams in District 3-5A Division I (Aledo) and 2-5A Division I (Abilene) have posted 6-3 records in the postseason, with one of those league obviously moving on after this week.

Along with the Bearcats’ 3-0 playoff mark, Northwest reached the third round, Denton Ryan advanced to the second and Burleson Centennial lost in bidistrict.

Along with the Eagles’ 3-0 record, Cooper, Amarillo and Amarillo Tascosa all reached the second round. Amarillo (6-6 overall record) and Tascosa (5-7) each entered the playoffs with a non-winning record.

It could be argued that the bidistrict foes for the teams from District 2-5A Division I were from the El Paso area, not known for football success, as evidenced by Abilene’s 70-point bidistrict win. However, Jones noted of Abilene, “After that, they knocked off two of our district opponents - and both of those are really good teams.”

Winning streaks

The Bearcats bring a 27-game winning streak into Friday's contest. They last lost to Denton Guyer 44-14 at home in the second game of the 2022 season.

The Eagles have won nine consecutive games since dropping back-to-back contests at home to Midland Legacy (48-17) and at Wolfforth Frenship (17-12). In the win streak, the Eagles have outscored their opponents 423-144.

Fourth-round success

This will be the 22nd time Aledo has reached the fourth round of the playoffs since 1996. While they struggled in this round for a while, going 3-6 in their first nine appearances, they are 12-0 in fourth-round appearances since 2009.


Abilene's three-peat program in the mid-1950s made the Eagles one of the first Texas teams to accomplish that. However, more recently, the Bearcats have done it twice, making them the only team in the state to do so.

The Bearcats' first three-peat was from 2009-11. They did it again in 2018-20.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here