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State bound! South Oak Cliff dominates Lubbock-Cooper, advances to championship game

South Oak Cliff is the first Dallas ISD team to reach the state title game since Lincoln in 2004.

By Shawn McFarland

South Oak Cliff
South Oak Cliff wide receiver Kylin Mathis (3) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half of a Class 5A Division II state semifinal against Lubbock Cooper at Shotwell Stadium on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Abilene, Texas. Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News, Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer

ABILENE – There’s something special about doing something for the first time. Doing something that hasn’t been done in a long time, and doing something that, in turn, places one a step closer to doing something that hasn’t been done in an even longer time.

It’s just …

“It’s just very inspiring,” Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa said, as he watched a celebration continue on in front of him at Abilene’s Shotwell Stadium on Friday night.

Powerade-soaked players scrambled across the turf. Jason Todd, South Oak Cliff’s head coach since 2015, had a line of colleagues, athletes and community members waiting to hug him. A trophy – the fifth South Oak Cliff has collected on its monthlong run of suc- cess – was passed around for photo ops.

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It’s been 17 years since a Dallas ISD football team played in a state championship game. It’s been 63 years since a Dallas ISD team won a state championship. It’s the first time that South Oak Cliff will have ever played for one.

Inspiring, indeed.

“[Dallas] has been waiting to get behind a team that can bring a title home,” Todd said. “And South Oak Cliff is that team.”

South Oak Cliff (14-1) never trailed Lubbock-Cooper (13-2) in the 5A-II state semifinal on Friday. It led by 28 points at halftime, and gave the thou- sand-plus black-and-gold clad supporters that made the near-three hour drive from the metroplex to west Texas a reason to feel inspired as it advanced into the 5A-II state championship game with a 44-10 win.

“We started making believ- ers out of everybody,” South Oak Cliff’s Kyron Chambers said. “We said that we were going to make it for Oak Cliff. We were going to win it for Oak Cliff. It’s bigger than us, it’s bigger than just South Oak Cliff. It’s for the community, and that’s why we play so hard.”

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It’ll play Liberty Hill, which beat Crosby on Friday night, on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Lincoln was Dallas ISD’s last representative in the state title game, when it lost to Kilgore, 33-27, in double overtime of the 4A-II championship in 2004. Booker T. Washington won a Prairie View Interscholastic League title in 1958. Carter was stripped of its 1988 title by the UIL.

Those who drove out to Abilene didn’t need to wait long to watch South Oak Cliff do something special.

South Oak Cliff players
South Oak Cliff players, including defensive back Semaj’dre Gasaway (27) , defensive lineman Kelan Durant (52) and defensive lineman Courtland Kidd (right) celebrate as time expires on a victory over Lubbock Cooper in a Class 5A Division II state semifinal at Shotwell Stadium on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, in Abilene, Texas. Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News, Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer

South Oak Cliff’s Randy Reece caught the game’s opening kickoff, eluded a few Lub- bock-Cooper defenders and sprinted down the right sidelined 82 yards for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the first quarter.

“That right there,” South Oak Cliff’s Qualon Farrar said. “That sparked the game for us.”

Lubbock-Cooper answered in methodical fashion, with a 17-play, 92-yard drive with two fourth-down conversions mixed in that ended in a 28-yard field goal.

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It took Lubbock-Cooper eight minutes to score its first three points. It took South Oak Cliff just slightly over eight minutes – spread across the first and second quarter – to score three more touchdowns, take a 28-3 lead with 6:57 left in the first half and, effectively, all but punch its ticket to Arlington.

Farrar scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown just five sec- onds into the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead. South Oak Cliff quarterback Kevin Henry-Jennings, who picked up an offer from SMU on Wednesday, connected with Kylin Mathis for a 78-yard touch-down just under three minutes later. Farrar scored again, from four yards out, with 6:57 left in the second quarter to take a 28-3 lead. A field goal from Diego Varela, with 1:56 left in the half, gave South Oak Cliff a 31-3 lead.

“That was the plan,” Farrar said. “That was the plan from the start of the game. We were supposed to get on the gas in the first half and keep them where they were at in the second.”

South Oak Cliff outscored Cooper 13-7 in the second half to maintain the advantage. Cooper was held to 282 yards of offense, and South Oak Cliff’s defense intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.

“Everybody had doubted us,” Chamber said. “We had to show everybody what we could do.”

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A Dallas ISD spokesperson said that it pre-sold 1,200 tickets for Friday’s game. It’s safe to expect an even bigger crowd on Saturday in Arlington.

It’s a shorter drive. Plus, South Oak Cliff has more history it wants to make.

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