High School Football
Kingwood making history after playoff win
Originally appeared on Vype.com.
That was the last time Barry Campbell, the then-Fort Bend Clements offensive coordinator, strolled the sidelines during a regional semifinal game as a coach.
Fort Bend Clements beat Stratford 31-27 that season and went on to the quarterfinals to fall to Katy.
Campbell, who eventually moved on to take his first head coaching job at Kingwood in 2012, wanted to bring that same success to the Mustangs.
With a 38-30 victory against Clear Lake on Saturday inside NRG Stadium, Campbell got Kingwood back to a place it hadn’t been in 27 years – playing December football.
“Once you reach a goal it’s time to start reaching for the next one,” Campbell said. “We finally got to a point where we wanted to play on Thanksgiving, we got to do it. We wanted to play in December and here we are. We’re going to be playing in December.
“Now we want to win in December. That’s the next goal.”
Kingwood’s last appearance in the regional semifinals came in 1990 under former coach Mike Unger. The Mustangs defeated Alief Elsik 24-12 in the third round that year and didn’t fall out of the playoffs until losing to Converse Judson in the state semifinals.
To get to this point, Kingwood had to knock off a team on its own memorable playoff run.
Clear Lake prior to this season hadn’t been to the playoffs or won a playoff game since 2008. Both of those streaks were snapped last week with a win against George Ranch in the bi-district round.
Kingwood led 14-10 heading into the second half. The third quarter is where the Falcons found their spark off a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Preston Schaulin.
That paired with a 50-yard touchdown run by quarterback Shae Suiaunoa less than a minute earlier provided a 13-point swing for the Falcons. Once trailing 14-10, Clear Lake was suddenly leading 23-14.
“That really changed the momentum of the game,” Campbell said about the blocked punt. “It was still back and forth at that point but when they got that that’s when they really pulled ahead and made it more than a one-score game.”
Kingwood quarterback Matt Slayton – who finished 10 of 19 for 104 yards, a touchdown and also rushed 15 times for 103 yards and two scores – would get them back in striking distance.
Slayton hit Nolan Powell for a 23-yard touchdown, making it 23-21 with five minutes left in the third.
Suiaunoa made it 30-21 at the end of the third quarter with his second and final rushing score of the game. Suiaunoa finished 12 of 25 for 147 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown and rushed for 111 yards and two scores on 17 carries.
In the fourth quarter it was all Kingwood.
An Aaron Finch one-yard rush, Connal Fisher 37-yard field goal and 25-yard touchdown run by Blake Parr sealed the victory for the Mustangs. Parr’s score came with 1:30 left in the game.
“I don’t know if there is really one thing you can say this is why we won the game,” Campbell said. “Both teams made great plays. We just made one more play than they did. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”
Since falling to Summer Creek 34-7 on October 27, Kingwood has won four-straight games. In each of those, Kingwood either trailed or had just a one-touchdown lead at halftime.
Just like the Mustangs have during this run, they have either held on or come back to win and keep its playoff run alive.
“When you go through the season you’ve got a small amount of time to either dwell on the losses or celebrate the victories,” Campbell said. “Right now we’re letting our emotions go and it’s enjoyable to celebrate these victories.”
Kingwood will face Langham Creek on Saturday at Noon at TDECU Stadium in the regional semifinals.
This is the first time Kingwood has faced a team from Cy-Fair ISD in the playoffs since taking on Cy-Fair in 1987.
“We got to watch them Friday night when they played Katy Taylor,” Campbell said. “They’re going to be spread out. Offensively they scored a lot of points over the course of the season. They’ve got guys that can play anywhere. So it’s going to be a big test for our kids.”