Parish Episcopal School plays for its first TAPPS state football championship after advancing to meet Fort Worth Christian at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Temple's Wildcat Stadium.
Parish held off talented Grapevine Faith Oregon State commit Peter Ashton in a 42-34 victory at the Birdville Fine Arts & Sports Complex. In only its fifth varsity season, Parish is one victory away from its first state title in football. Rated as one of Dallas' private school programs, Parish has won four state titles in girls swimming, two in state tennis and a volleyball championship but is one the verge of its first football title.
Parish reached the TAPPS Division II state semifinals last year before being eliminated by eventual state champ Prestonwood Christian in a hard-fought loss at Birdville's Fine Arts & Sports Complex.
Parish won its semifinal, 42-34, over a powerful Grapevine Faith to advance to the state final. In another semifinal at Birdville in North Richland Hills, Parish Episcopal (12-1) used its Wing-T formation offense to rush for 362 rushing to yards holding off Grapevine Faith (10-3).
Parish sophomore Zach Shelley gained 204 yards on 26 carries and scored threetouchdowns in leading Parish Episcopal. Shelley is considered one of Texas top prospects for the Class of 2013 by www.rivals.com and was honored by The Dallas Morning News as one of the Top Offensive Players of the Week. Senior Brandon January rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
On Grapevine Faith's third possession of the game, Parish's Dallas Alderton intercepted a pass. On the very next play from scrimmage, Alderton broke a run up the middle for a 28 yard touchdown run putting Parish up 14-7 and Parish never trailed. The Panthers' stalwart defense is led by junior tackle Nico Padilla, linebacker Rob Hankins (an Arizona commit) and defensive back Charles Cook. Padilla was named among the week's top Defensive Players of the Week for his 10 tackles, including six for losses, against Grapevine Faith.
Ryan Baldwin's interception allowed Parish to go on a 12-play 85 yard scoring drive leaving only 1:20 remaining in the first half, Grapevine Faith's Ashton's completed his first pass of the night, a 50-yard scoring strike to Kenny Bornstad to cut the halftime lead to 21-13. Ashton finished the night with 255 yards rushing including 4 rushing touchdowns.
The TAPPS championships will be streamed live on the internet.