Mike Mullins remembers the nine years he spent at Cameron Yoe fondly.
Two years removed from when he last roamed the Yoemen sidelines, the Harker Heights head coach has been watching from a distance as many of his former players have cruised through the Division I-2A playoffs all the way to Saturday's title game.
I'm proud for them and it's a great opportunity, No. 1 because it's hard to get there, and very few people have that chance," Mullins said. "Being able to win one (as an assistant under former Knights coach Ross Rogers) when I was at A&M Consolidated, you know how precious the opportunity is to even make it there."
Rick Rhoades replaced Mullins and with his son senior all-state quarterback Jack Rhoades has the Yoemen (14-0) charged for their second-ever trip to the finals. Cameron, which won its only other opportunity in 1981 while in 3A, will play Daingerfield (13-1) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Mansfield's Vernon Newsom Stadium.
"As coaches, a lot of us have had our kids play quarterback and had great years," Mullins said, adding his son Ryan was a senior on the 2004 team that finished 11-2. "... Those kind of things help, just because they understand just what you want. It's like having another (coach) on the field."
Mullins spent six years as a head coach and led the Yoemen to four consecutive playoff appearances (2004-07), including deep runs in 2004 and 2005 (13-1), while accumulating 42 wins.
"The Yoe tradition is very big. The saying is, 'Once a Yoeman, always a Yoeman' and so, that always holds true," Mullins said. "There's not many towns, especially like (Cameron), that still have that tradition-rich type of atmosphere."
Euless Trinity (15-0) vs. Pearland (15-0)
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington)
The scoop: The three-time state champion Trojans are seeking their first-ever back-to-back titles after edging Austin Westlake in the Division 1 title game last season. The Trojans are led by three 1,100-yard rushers (Oklahoma-commit Brandon Carter, Terrence Tusan and Tevin Williams) who have combined for 3,850 yards and 53 touchdowns. Pearland is making its first-ever title game on the shoulders of Dustin Garrison, who's run for over 2,700 yards and 43 scores.
Denton Guyer (13-2) vs. Cibolo Steele (13-2)
When: 4 p.m., Saturday Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington)
The scoop: Winners of 12 straight games, Steele is powered by 5A all-state player of the year and Texas-committed tailback Malcolm Brown, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound beast who's rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. Guyer features its own do-everything player in quarterback J.W. Walsh, a 6-2, 190-pound Oklahoma State commit who's passed for over 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,300 and 16 scores.
Denton Ryan (15-0) vs. Lake Travis (13-2)
When: noon, Saturday Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington)
The scoop: The Cavaliers look to win their fourth-straight 4A title. Only two other teams have accomplished the feat: 3A Sealy in 1994-97 and 2A Celina from 1998-01. Ryan, though, is no stranger to state title games; it made a 4A final game in four consecutive seasons from 2000-03, winning a Division I championship in 2001 and Division II title in 2002.
Aledo (15-0) vs. La Marque (11-3)
When: 8 p.m., today Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington)
The scoop: The Bearcats look for their second-straight Division II title while La Marque, which lost three of its last four regular season games, looks for its third 4A title since 2003. In addition to titles in 2003 and 2006, the Cougars made the 4A finals six consecutive years from 1993-98 and won three straight championships from 1995-97.
Carthage (13-2) vs. Coldspring-Oakhurst (14-1)
When: 4 p.m., today Where: Cowboys Stadium (Arlington)
The scoop: The two-time defending Division II champion Bulldogs upset No. 1-ranked Brownwood in the state semifinals, led by a 300-yard performance by Hunter Holland, who has more than 2,500 yards rushing with 34 touchdowns. The Trojans will take to the ground with tailbacks Cody Cummings (2,422 yards, 27 touchdowns) and Sherman Gilbert (1,845, 20).
Lexington (14-0) vs. Idalou (11-3)
When: 4 p.m., Saturday Where: Vernon Newsom Stadium (Mansfield)
The scoop: Led by a stout defense that's recorded five shutouts and allowed just 10.6 points per game, the Eagles are flying high just a year removed from a 6-5 season as a District 25-2A rival of Salado. By the same token, the Wildcats haven't allowed a touchdown on its current 10-game win streak that's included five shutouts.
Goldthwaite (12-2) vs. Mart (12-2)
When: noon, Saturday
Where: Vernon Newsom Stadium (Mansfield)
The scoop: Goldthwaite looks to repeat as the Division I-1A champion and beat the Panthers a second time this year. Mart led the first meeting 23-6 at halftime, only to lose 29-23. The Panthers did rebound, however, posting six straight shutouts following the Week 4 loss.
Falls City (13-1) vs. Windthorst (13-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., today
Where: Vernon Newsom Stadium (Mansfield)
The scoop: Since giving up 33 points in a nondistrict loss to Poth in its second game, Falls City has allowed just two teams to score more than 7 seven points both in the playoffs and none more than Bremond's 21 last week. With 44 takeaways this season, the Trojans' defense isn't bad either.