Led by QB Koger, Katy earns 'personal' win over rival Tompkins

Led by QB Koger, Katy earns 'personal' win over rival Tompkins (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

KATY — Though Katy's football players would like to say that Friday's District 19-6A showdown against heated rival Tompkins was just another game, it wasn't.

Senior linebacker Ty Kana said as much to teammates during a pregame huddle led by the captains. So did senior defensive back Hamilton McMartin.

After Tompkins' 24-19 win last year snapped the Tigers' 12-year reign as district champions, Katy had Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, circled on its calendar ever since. And though the Tigers went on to win the Class 6A, Division II state championship last season, the Tompkins loss—the lone blemish on their 2020 record—haunted them.

It lingered.

"Y'all remember last year!" McMartin yelled. "We're not going through that again!"

"We've been waiting the whole year for this!" senior linebacker Carson Marshall bellowed.

"It is personal!" Kana emphasized.

And then the Tigers went out and played like it.

Katy led from start to finish, hardly threatened the entire way, in a demonstrative 56-21 rout of Tompkins at Legacy Stadium. The Tigers improved to 6-0 overall, 2-0 in District 19-6A, and reasserted themselves as the city's finest. The Falcons lost their first game of the season, falling to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in district.

"We wanted it bad," senior receiver Antonio Silva said. "We took it personal, and we came out and took the 'W.'"

Katy is back on top of 19-6A. And while the usual suspects—a dominant running game and unrelenting defense—played significant roles in the win, it was a surprisingly prolific passing game, masterfully directed by junior quarterback Caleb Koger, that torched a playmaking Falcons secondary.

Koger completed 14 of 17 passes for 331 yards and five touchdowns, finishing one TD short of the program's single-game record held by Brooks Haack. The 331 yards were a career-best and the five touchdowns tied a career-high.

Koger entered the game averaging 126 passing yards per game with nine touchdowns to five interceptions in five games. It was an inauspicious start, at best, to the season.

Against Tompkins, however, Koger showed once more why he is a state championship quarterback. At one point, he completed 10 consecutive passes while throwing touchdowns to three different receivers.

"Having a big game like this, and a year of experience under my belt, it's all big," Koger said. "It all helps. I've improved, but really, my line has improved big-time. People have stepped up. They've been able to give us big holes in the run game, and then we get guys wide open in the passing game."

Junior running back Seth Davis was his typical big-play self with 205 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. But while Tompkins' defense focused on him, Koger made it pay.

The primary beneficiaries were senior receivers Nic Anderson (six catches, 128 yards, two TDs) and Antonio Silva (five catches, 143 yards, TD).

"It's just the connection that's building between the receivers and quarterback," Silva said. "It's getting better and better each week. The more we work on it, the better we get."

Koger's favorite play is the bootleg play-action, and he showed why, often finding Silva or Anderson for wide open catches because of his ability to sell the fake handoff to the deadly Davis.

"There's a big difference from last year to this year for him," Silva said of Koger. "He got a lot of pressure tonight, and I feel like he did well. He really took care of the ball."

For only the second time this season, Katy's offense did not have a turnover. During one point of the game, it scored on seven of eight drives.

"Caleb got a lot of blame for interceptions and stuff, and I said then how it's not just on the quarterback," coach Gary Joseph said. "We had good protection and I was proud of our play-action kids. Our kids did a great job faking and did a good job getting open, catching the football, and making some tough catches. As an offense, you don't want to be one-dimensional. Everyone knows we want to run the football, and they'll load the box to stop the run. It opens up things.

"Hopefully, he continues getting better. It was a stepping stone."

Though 5-0 coming into the game, the Tigers had not played consistently well. Turnovers and injuries plagued them through the early portion of the season.

But Friday's win was excitedly welcomed, not just because of the win but for how they won.

"From the very beginning, I told them that they had to learn to trust and love each other," Joseph said. "You can see, after we scored, how excited they were. They were excited for each other. You can finally feel the chemistry building, and that's what's the most exciting thing to me. Hopefully, we can build on this."


>> TAKEAWAYS! Katy had two takeaways against Tompkins, which was an "awesome" sight for Joseph as the Tigers have had a hard time generating them so far this season. Junior defensive back Arian Parish, who had an interception in the first half that the Tigers later capitalized on with a touchdown, said the defense was simply ready. "We've been waiting for this game for a long time," Parish said. "We came out strong this week. Every day was a good day. It was all fundamentals, nothing different. I trust my guys. I trust the guy in front of me, the guy behind me. We executed. If you know what your job is and the guy next to you knows what his job is, the game slows down."

>> NIC'S BACK: Having only played in two of the team's first five games because of injury, Anderson looked healthy against Tompkins and had an electric performance with touchdown catches of 45 and 53, yards, respectively. They were his first touchdowns of the season. "He's such a good playmaker," Koger said. "A big dude, 6-4, fast. He's everything I want in a receiver. He's just awesome."

>> McMILLAN STARS: Tompkins senior receiver Joshua McMillan II had a fantastic game against the Tigers. He was responsible for all three Falcons touchdowns—two receiving (49 yards, 30 yards) and a SportsCenter-worthy 108-yard kick return late in the first half for a score. In all, McMillan, an HBU commit, had four catches for 95 yards.