The Lions took control from the opening kickoff and never let up on Friday night, claiming an outright district title in the process.
Alpha Omega Academy hosted Bryan Allen Academy in a de-facto district championship game between two teams undefeated in league play. The Lions cruised to a 42-13 victory behind a stifling defensive effort and an explosive performance from senior running back Nick Vincent.
As a result of winning the district title, the Lions will receive a first-round bye in the TAPPS state playoffs.
“This is a great district to win, but everything we've been doing, we have to ramp it up 10 times preparing for playoffs,” Vincent said. “Playoffs is a whole different game. The teams we face are going to be even better. We're going to have to train harder, but I know we have the skill to do it.”
AOA freshman Todd Gladish returned an onside kick attempt on the opening kickoff 45 yards for a touchdown, and the Lions (5-0 in district play, 5-3 overall) would keep the Rams at a touchdown’s length for the remainder of the night. The return marked the first touchdown of Gladish’s high school career.
“There are no words,” Gladish said. “I can't describe it. It was awesome.”
Vincent rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns, including breakaways of 43 and 53 yards. Lions sophomore Cole Garrison also added two rushing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Alpha Omega defense pitched a second-half shutout and held the Allen Academy offense to 241 total yards. With the Rams featuring a three-man backfield attack, the Lions placed an emphasis on applying pressure up the middle.
“We really worked on it all week,” AOA head coach Ron Lynch said. “They have the three guys in the backfield there, and if you just let them run around all day and look for somebody, you're going to be in trouble. We wanted to put pressure on them up the middle.”
AOA will hit the practice field next week with their focus turned to a potential deep postseason run. On Friday night, though, the Lions soaked in a district title in front of their fans.
“It felt really good,” Vincent said. “District champs on my home field in my last game to ever play here, it feels awesome.”