Gray, Aledo a win away from third state title

ALEDO (13-2) vs. MANVEL (15-0)

Noon Saturday, Cowboys Stadium

What: Class 4A Division II state championship game.

When we saw them last: Johnathan Gray tied the national career touchdown record with five scores in Aledo’s 68-28 rout of Corsicana in a state semifinal in Mesquite. For Manvel, quarterback Shane McCarley threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score in the Mavericks’ 31-28 state semifinal victory over Corpus Christi Calallen in San Antonio.

Last in the playoffs: In 2010, Aledo routed La Marque, 69-34, in the Class 4A Division II state title game for its second straight state championship. The 2010 season ended for Manvel in a 44-28 loss to La Marque in the Region III final.

Key matchup: Aledo’s offense is built around the record-setting Gray, who has rushed for 3,664 yards and 64 touchdowns this season. Manvel’s defense, led by end Taiwan Johnson (6-3, 238), has held playoff opponents to an average of 162 rushing yards per game.

Players to watch: Gray needs one touchdown and 21 points to break national career touchdown and scoring records. Quarterback Matthew Bishop has thrown for 2,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. Receiver Michael Mann has 51 catches for 811 yards and nine touchdowns. For Manvel, McCarley shares time at quarterback with Julian Walker and they have combined to throw for over 3,000 yards. Kaylon Melancon leads the Mavs in receiving with 36 catches for 743 yards and 11 touchdowns. Selwyn Green has rushed for 864 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Prediction: Gray caps a record-setting high school career by leading the Bearcats to a third consecutive state title: Aledo 40, Manvel 28.