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IN TODD (DODGE) THEY TRUST: No. 1 Westlake Chaparrals (TX) earn top spot in Blue Star Media Elite 25 Final Fall football rankings; three teams slide in after bagging state titles

The Westlake Chaparrals of Austin, Texas are the Blue Star Media Elite 24 Fall season champions for the 2020 season. Yes, the Chaps needed considerable heavy lifting in the latter portion of the schedule and did not start their season until late September because of COVID-19 concerns but their endured.

Westlake Chaparrals

BENSALEM, PA. – The Westlake Chaparrals of Austin, Texas are the Blue Star Media Elite 24 Fall season champions for the 2020 season. Yes, the Chaps needed considerable heavy lifting in the latter portion of the schedule and did not start their season until late September because of COVID-19 concerns but their endured.

They attained perfection in 14 games.

What’s so intriguing about coach Todd Dodge’s team is the winning back-to-back University Interscholastic League Class 6A championships—meaning annexing titles in the state’s largest classification.

It remains the toughest and most coveted playoff bracket (Class 6A, Division I) to win in America.

The No. 1 Chaps (14-0) captured the Class, Division I, beating Southlake Carroll, 52-34, on Jan. 16. Dodge’s team not only slayed the Dragon (Carroll’s nickname) but he defeated the team he previously guided to four state championships (2002-06) earlier this century before heading off to become the head coach on the college level at North Texas. Dodge also topped his son, Riley, the head coach at Carroll in the process in what locals called, “The Dodge Bowl.”

In 2019, Westlake took home the Class 6A, Division II title. Westlake has been a model of consistency since the 2015 season. The program has an 81-9 record and six 10-win terms. The Chaps have appeared in three championship games with two crowns.

Westlake was No. 20 in the preseason rankings back in August and persevered a grueling season that included cancellations, quarantines and ultimately a twisting path to the Class 6A, Division I championship and defeated previous-No. 1 North Shore (Galena Park) in the semifinals on Jan. 9.

No. 14 Southlake Carroll (12-2) made the biggest jump in the rankings after a spirited late-season run and will be among the favorites next season in Texas Class 6A, Division I. The Dragons will be seeking a ninth state championship.

When Elite 25 rankings were adjusted on Sept. 1 to reflect teams playing during the fall season, Westlake checked in at No. 12. Again, that’s quite a leap for journey to the top for any team.

So, how did we do?

Well, 17 teams from the Elite 25 Fall rankings (released in September) finished in the Final Fall rankings. Fourteen went onto to secure state championships. No. 3 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) does not compete for a FHSAA title or in the case of New Jersey (namely No. 23 Bergen Catholic) it did not conduct a postseason.

Let’s the postseason returns in full for the 2021-22 academic year.

The Blue Star Media Elite Spring rankings will return in February. There will be a wrinkle with less state competing. We aim to keep the integrity of the Elite Spring rankings reflecting that smaller pool of teams to select from.

Sometime in the spring we’ll release the Elite 25 final football rankings, melding two seasons. However, we’ll discuss in more detail at a later date.

That’s it for now. The fall season was a challenge but as usual it was a blast!

Remember to stay safe, mask up, practice social distancing and support the small businesses in your area. Congratulations to all the state champions and we look forward to the spring season that will get underway in February.

Best to all in 2021.

We hope to see you at a game soon. – Christopher Lawlor

Blue Star Media Elite 25 Final Fall football rankings, Jan. 24, 2021

1. Westlake, Austin, Texas (14-0)* !

Previous rank: 7.

Recap: Won UIL Class 6A, Division I state championship, beating No. 14 Southlake Carroll, 52-34, for the program’s eighth title and second straight after winning 6A, Division II last year. Junior QB Cade Klubnik steered an attack that produced 528 yards offense (308 rushing), while throwing 220 yards and a score and added 97 yards and two rushing TDs. The Chaps clinched the game in the second half scoring the first 24 points for a 52-21 lead in the fourth quarter. The win solidifies the Chaps as the top team in the Blue Star Media Elite 25 Fall rankings. They also beat No. 1 North Shore (Galena Park), 24-21, in the Class 6A, Division I semifinals; Cibolo Steele, 34-0, in the Region IV final and Stevens (San Antonio), 71-14, in the Region IV semifinals.

2. St. Joseph’s Prep, Philadelphia (6-0)*

Previous: 2.

Recap: Won its third straight PIAA Class AAAAAA state championship.

3. IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. (8-0)

Previous: 3.

Recap: The Ascenders do not complete for a state championship.

4. Grayson, Loganville, Ga. (14-0)*

Previous: 4.

Recap: Won Class AAAAAAA state championship.

5. Chandler, Ariz. (10-0)*

Previous: 5.

Recap: Won a second consecutive Arizona Open Division state championship.

6. Corner Canyon, Draper, Utah (14-0)*

Previous: 6.

Recap: The Chargers won their third consecutive Class 6A state championship.

 7. North Shore, Galena Park, Texas (14-1)

Previous: 1.

Recap: Lost to then-No. 7 Westlake (Austin), 24-21, in Class 6A, Division I semifinals. The Mustangs defeated Fort Bend Ridge Point, 56-13, in the Region III final and then-No. 22 Tompkins (Katy), 47-22, in the region semifinals.

8. Trinity. Louisville, Ky. (10-0)*

Previous: 9.

Recap: Won the program’s Kentucky record 27th state championship in capturing a second straight Class 6A title. Coach Bob Beatty retired following the season. In 21 seasons with Trinity, he went 254-44 (90-6 in the playoffs) and captured 15 state championships. Kudos, coach!

9. Thompson, Alabaster, Ala. (14-0)*

Previous: 10.

Recap: Won second consecutive Class 7A state championship.

10. Bixby, Okla. (11-0)*

Previous: 11.

Recap: Won third consecutive Class 6AII state championship.

11. St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (8-1)*

Previous: 12.

Recap: Won the program’s Florida-record 12th football championship in capturing a second consecutive Class 7A title.

12. Central, Miami (8-1)*

Previous: 13.

Recap: Won FHSAA Class 6A state championship.

13. Center Grove, Greenwood, Ind. (14-0)*

Previous: 14.

Recap: Won Class 6A state championship.

14. Southlake (Texas) Carroll (12-2)

Previous: Not ranked.

Recap: Advanced to UIL Class 6A, Division I final, losing to No. 1 Westlake (Austin), 52-34. The Dragons dropped to 8-2 overall in state title games. Super junior QB and Ohio State pledge Quinn Ewers threw for 350 yards and three TDs and sophomore RB Owen Allen rushed for two score. The Dragons jumped in to the Elite 25 Fall rankings after knocking off then-No. 8 Duncanville, 34-27, in the state semifinals. Coach Riley Dodge’s team will be a team to watch in 2021.

15. Dutch Fork, Irmo, S.C. (10-0)*

Previous: 15.

Recap: Won fifth straight state championship by capturing the Class AAAAA title.

16. Archbishop Hoban, Akron, Ohio (11-0)*

Previous: 16.

Recap: Won fifth state championship in six years, capturing the Division II crown.

17. Katy, Texas (14-1)*

Previous: Not ranked.

Recap: Won the Class 6A state championship, crushing Cedar Hill, 51-14. The Tigers return to the Elite 25 Fall rankings after bagging the program’s ninth state title. Sophomore RB Seth Davis was the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player running for 131 yards and a TD while Cal Varner was the Defensive MVP with a 15-yard, pick-six. Also beat Buda Hays Consolidated, 63-7, in the Class 6A, Division II semifinals.

18. Denton (Texas) Ryan (15-0)*

Previous: Not ranked.

Recap: Won UIL Class 5A, Division I state championship, beating Cedar Park, 59-14. It was Ryan’s first state title since 2002. The Raiders had lost in the last three championship games but not this time. That’s because Memphis-bound QB Seth Henigan, the coach’s son, hit on 15 of 23 passes for 270 yards and four TDs—all the different receivers. RB Ke’Ori Hicks rushed for 128 yards and two scores on 16 carries. The Raiders coasted to 31-8 lead at halftime and extended it to 45-14 after three and the countdown to the title was 12 minutes away.

19. St. Xavier, Cincinnati (10-2)*

Previous: 18.

Recap: Won Ohio Division I state championship.

20. Bryant, Ark. (13-0)*

Previous: 19.

Recap: Won Class 7A state  championship.

21. Oakland, Murfreesboro, Tenn. (15-0)*

Previous: 20.

Recap: Won Class 6A state championship.

22. Cathedral, Indianapolis (13-1)*

Previous: 22.

Recap: Won Indiana Class 5A state championship.

23. Bergen Catholic, Oradell, N.J. (5-1)

Previous: 23.

Recap: New Jersey did not conduct state championships this year but the Crusaders were the best team in a loaded Super Football Conference United Red Division.

24. American Heritage, Plantation, Fla. (11-2)*

Previous: 24.

Recap: Won Class 5A state championship for the program’s fifth title and first since 2017.

25. Westside, Omaha, Neb. (12-0)*

Previous: Not ranked.

Recap: Won Class A state championship.

Dropped out: No. 8 Duncanville (Texas); No. 17 Allen (Texas), No. 21 Tompkins (Katy, Texas) and No. 25 Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.)

High-Fives by Region

East

  1. Pine-Richland, Gibsonia, Pa. (11-0)*
  2. St. Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, N.J. (4-2)
  3. Central York, York, Pa. (10-1)
  4. Central Catholic, Pittsburgh (6-3)
  5. St. Joseph Regional, Montvale, N.J. (6-2)

Geography: Connecticut^, Delaware, District of Columbia^, Maine^, Massachusetts^, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York^, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island^, Vermont^ and Virginia^.

Midwest

  1. West Bloomfield, Mich. (11-1)*
  2. Raymore-Peculiar, Mo. (12-2)*
  3. De Smet Jesuit, St. Louis (6-1)
  4. Century, Bismarck, N.D. (10-0)*
  5. Muskego, Wis. (9-0)

Geography: Indiana, Illinois^, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Southland

  1. Jenks, Okla. (11-1)*
  2. Duncanville, Texas (10-2)
  3. Oak Grove, Hattiesburg, Miss.(13-0)*
  4. Seminole, Sanford, Fla. (12-0)*
  5. St. Thomas More, Lafayette, La. (10-0)*

Geography: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina^, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Far West

  1. Hamilton, Chandler, Ariz. (8-2)
  2. Cherry Creek, Greenwood Village, Colo. (9-0)*
  3. Valor Christian, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (7-1)
  4. Rocky Mountain, Meridian, Idaho (9-0)*
  5. Orem, Utah (8-2)*

Geography: Alaska, Arizona, California^, Colorado, Hawaii^, Idaho, Montana, Nevada^, New Mexico^, Oregon^, Utah, Washington^ and Wyoming.

^ Scheduled to play in Spring 2021

 * Won state championship

 ! Blue Star Media Elite 25 Fall champions

About: The Blue Star Media Elite 25 High School Football Rankings are released weekly from September until the conclusion of the high school season. For the 2020-2021 school year, there will be two separate rankings in the fall and winter/spring due to coronavirus concerns. Criteria considered are the quality of the team and its players, strength of schedule, tradition, and quality of the team’s league, conference, region or district. The rankings are compiled by Blue Star Media’s Christopher Lawlor, who consults with a national network of coaches, talent evaluators and prep sports writers. The final rankings will be released in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @clawlor.

Senior Writer and national analyst for Blue Media and compiles the Blue Star Elite 25 national boys and girls high school basketball and football rankings during the season. Lawlor, an award-winning writer, is a voting committee member and advisor for several national high school events, including the McDonald’s All-American Games. He previously wrote for USA TODAY and ESPN.com, where he was the national preps writer, while compiling the national rankings in four sports.

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