GRANDVIEW — (In case you haven’t heard,) Grandview football won its second consecutive state title last week as the Zebras closed out an incredibly successful decade in style as back-to-back state champs.
From 2010-19, Grandview won 103 games against just 24 losses for an .811 winning percentage. In fact, the Zebras were one of the most successful Class 3A Division I programs in the entire state this decade (Class 2A DI before the UIL went to six classifications in 2014).
Out of teams currently in Class 3A Division I, only Wall and Cameron Yoe won more games than Grandview did from 2010-19.
Wall went 117-18 during the past 10 years but the Hawks have been unable to capture a state title, losing in the 2013 state championship game to Cameron Yoe. Speaking of the Yoemen, they won three state championships and made five appearances in the state title game as Cameron Yoe went 113-27 this decade.
The Zebras’ 103 wins are tied with Malakoff (103-23) for the third-most out of teams currently in Class 3A DI. Interestingly enough, Grandview (and Malakoff) are one win ahead of the Pottsboro Cardinals (102-24), who the Zebras beat last week in the state final. Franklin is next in line with a record of 101-25.
Grandview is ahead of other powerhouses in Class 3A Division I such as East Chambers (88-32), Daingerfield (86-47), Rockdale (84-39), and Mineola (83-40), among others. Brock has the highest winning percentage as the Eagles went 81-12, but Brock didn’t start playing football until 2013.
Newton, which currently resides in 3A Division II, won an impressive 116 games this decade, including two state titles. Earlier in the decade, Newton was in the same class and division as Grandview.
Four times this decade, the Zebras reached at least the third round of the playoffs, including three trips to the state quarterfinals — in each of the past three years — culminating with the 2018 and 2019 Class 3A Division I state championships.
As Grandview head coach Ryan Ebner said Thursday night, the work put in by coaches and players going back a decade-plus helped the Zebras achieve this rare status as back-to-back state champions.
“The foundation was laid 15 years ago, and the bar has been set higher and higher and higher,” Ebner said. “This has been the most successful group to this point. But I hope that everybody before them understands that they’re truly a part of this.
“This is extremely special just because of the fact of how hard these coaches and kids have worked the past few years, but even dating back to when I feel like this truly got going about 15 years ago. We have to remember the coaches and players from the past who put in all their time and effort into laying the foundation to what this has become.
That includes former head coaches Casey Walraven and Aubrey Sims, as well as former key standout players such as (but not limited to) Caleb Armstrong, Ryan Breton, Logan Breton, Cameron Cochran, Jared Cochran, Earnest Crownover III, Kamron English, Tyler Fauver, Reid Golson, Colby Lee, Jordan Martinez, E.J. Perrin, Josh Russell, Davis Scarborough, Zach Smith, Daniel Spencer, Brayan Villa, David Villa, and many, many others.
What’s even more crazy to realize is, as phenomenal as a 103-24 record is and as incredible as back-to-back state titles are, the Zebras were a play here or there away from possibly having even more hardware in their trophy case.
In Brad Davis’ first year at the helm in 2017, the Zebras were rolling along into the state quarterfinals and a rematch with district foe Kemp. Grandview’s offense went ice cold in the second half, unable to get just ONE play needed to take a lead, as the Zebras fell 13-10, only two games shy of the championship.
The Zebras moved the ball into the red zone multiple times in the second half but were unable to finish drives, falling by a mere three points, despite Grandview’s defense holding Kemp to zero total yards in the second half. It didn’t help that Crownover — the All-Johnson County MVP that year — was playing with a nagging injury that limited his explosiveness.
In 2015, Grandview faced three-time defending state champion Cameron Yoe in the third round in what was arguably a matchup between the two best 3A DI teams in the state that year.
The Zebras had a couple of tough calls go against them in a close second half — one where all-state quarterback Zach Smith was pushed backwards about 10 yards before losing a fumble, after no forward progress was called. A few plays later, Cameron Yoe fumbled and the Zebras recovered, only for officials to rule the player was down by contact (it was a clear fumble on the replay shown on the TVs inside Waco ISD Stadium’s press box). Less than a minute later, the Yoemen scored a touchdown for a two-score advantage late in the game.
The Yoemen went on to make their fourth straight appearance in the state title game, where Cameron Yoe held an early lead over Brock before the Yoemen’s all-state running back was knocked out of the game with injury, and Brock was able to come from behind to win the title.
So, you see, a couple of plays or calls or breaks here and there, and Grandview could be sitting tops in the state this decade. But even though Grandview came up short in those instances, the Zebras persevered through those tough losses and strived even harder the following years, helping lead this current group of Zebras to hoisting the state hardware each of the past two years.
As Ebner said, this special run was years in the making, and the numbers and wins over the past decade are tangible proof of that.
It hasn’t only been football — the Zebras and Lady Zebras have been so close in boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, and softball this decade. And as Grandview High School Principal Kirby Basham said on Friday, “I think there’s more championships to come in the future because of this. The hardest one to win is the first one.”
A.J. Crisp is in his eighth year of covering sports for the Times-Review. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334.