Aledo’s triumphant 2009 Class 4A Division II state championship game performance was bittersweet for Matthew Bishop.
A broken collarbone sidelined the Bearcats' quarterback in the title game win over Brenham.
Bishop was one of the happiest of the Bearcats following Friday’s 29-27 defeat of Mesquite Poteet that clinched a berth in Friday night’s Class 4A Division II title game at Cowboys Stadium.
He won’t have to be a spectator this time.
“It feels great to get a second chance,’’ said the 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior. “Not getting to play last year was really disappointing.’’
The 15-0 Bearcats will be opposed by five-time state champion La Marque (11-3).
Bishop was about three minutes away from getting through last year’s state semifinal.
After an insurance touchdown in the Bearcats' 40-28 win over Denison, Bishop suffered the injury on a two-point conversion run.
The following week, Bishop’s replacement, senior Trey Ozee, snapped a fourth-quarter tie with a 26-yard touchdown run in a 35-21 title game win over Brenham at Royal Memorial Stadium in Austin.
Bishop has shown noticeable improvement this season in all areas, throwing for 291 more yards (2,499), 11 more touchdowns (30) and two fewer interceptions. His quarterback rating has jumped from 115 last year to 135 this season.
But the extra year of age and experience has benefited Bishop the most as a runner. His 726 rushing yards is 548 more than last year. He’s doubled his rushing touchdown output, from three to six.
Aledo star junior tailback Johnathan Gray is banged up after 323 carries this season (for 2,499 yards and 51 touchdowns), so there is a need for a bigger contribution from Bishop.
Against Poteet, Aledo’s 28th straight victim, Bishop rushed for 155 yards, including his longest run of the year, a 61-yard touchdown sprint. He added 135 passing yards and one touchdown throw.
A family atmosphere surrounds the quarterback. His father, Lee Bishop, is an assistant coach at Aledo. Younger brothers Jake and Luke are ball boys.
Lee Bishop's previous coaching job was at Class 4A Division I state finalist Denton Ryan, where Matt played football and varsity basketball as a freshman.
Bishop appears to be at his best when the Bearcats find themselves in the unusual position of trailing.
A case in point was Aledo’s 18-10 win over Stephenville in the fourth round of the playoffs two weeks ago when Bishop rallied the Bearcats from a four-point deficit with two fourth-down touchdown passes in the final quarter.
“These kinds of games are the most fun for me,’’ Bishop said. “These are good teams we’re playing now and they are all trying to take Johnathan away. They are ready for him. I go into each game knowing if I don’t play well, we lose.’’