South Oak Cliff Wins Second Straight Title


South Oak Cliff won their second straight state football championship Friday night. | Image by Texas UIL

The South Oak Cliff Golden Bears made history Friday night at AT&T Stadium, rallying from a 17-5 first-half deficit to defeat Port Neches-Groves 34-24 in the 5A Division II state championship game.

South Oak Cliff is the first Dallas ISD school to win back-to-back UIL football state championships. 

Accomplishing the historic feat was far from easy, as the Golden Bears started the season 0-3 before rattling off 13 consecutive wins to close the season. 

But coach Jason Todd pointed out how those three losses — to Duncanville (6A Div. I finalist), DeSoto (6A Div. II finalist), and Lancaster (9-3) — prepared them for the adversity they would face in the title game. 

“We’ve been down a few times this year,” Todd said in the postgame press conference. “One thing I can say about the kids and the coaches, we could always find a way to claw ourselves out of a hole.”

The title game turned into a microcosm of the SOC season, as Port Neches-Groves opened the game with a punch that appeared to shake the Golden Bears.

Less than two minutes into the game, PNG quarterback Cole Crippen found Landon Guarnere wide-open down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown. In the blink of an eye, SOC was down 7-0.

SOC’s struggles continued through the first half, as they were forced to settle for a field goal after driving inside the PNG 10-yard line. 

PNG would add its own field goal and a 3-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter to go up 17-5 after SOC scored a safety on a sack in the end zone by Brandon Jones. 

SOC nabbed the momentum going into halftime on a 15-yard touchdown pass from William Little to Trey Jackson that started a streak of 29 unanswered points for the Golden Bears. PNG led 17-12 at the break.


The game flipped in the third quarter as the vaunted SOC defense tightened up and held PNG off the scoreboard for the entire period. 

After a field goal by SOC to make it 17-15, the Golden Bears forced a PNG punt. The snap went over the punter’s head and out the back of the end zone for a safety, tying the score at 17. 

The SOC running game, which averaged over 200 yards per game, was stifled by the PNG defense. The Golden Bears finished with 100 rushing yards with an average of 2.6 yards per carry. 

But on the drive following the safety, the Bears used seven running plays to drive 42 yards down the field, capping the drive with a 3-yard running score by Little for the first SOC lead of the game at 24-17.

With the run game struggling, the Bears put their trust in the arm of Little, who had not thrown for more than 170 yards in a game all season. He finished the title game with nine completions on 16 attempts for 233 yards and a touchdown, in addition to his rushing score.

Little was named the game’s offensive MVP. 

The game’s defensive MVP was Texas commit Malik Muhammad, whose 41-yard interception return for a touchdown made the score 31-17 going into the final quarter. 

SOC added a field goal in the fourth, while PNG — playing in its first state title game since 1999 — added a consolation touchdown with a minute remaining in the game on a 3-yard pass from Shea Adams to Brock Hebert. 


While SOC struggled to get its run game going, PNG had no issue breaking off long runs against a Golden Bear team that held top-ranked Argyle to 87 yards rushing in the semifinal round. 

Isaiah Nguyen led PNG with 154 yards on 22 carries, an average of 7 yards a carry. His long run of 59 yards set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Adams that gave them the 17-5 advantage in the second quarter. 

Still, it was not enough for PNG to capture its first state title since 1975.

“Those guys have 19, 20 Division I guys on their team in 5A Division II, that’s pretty unheard of,” PNG first-year coach Jeff Joseph said of SOC. “They’re talented. They’re good.”


SOC coach Todd joins the elite company of Highland Park’s Randy Allen, Aledo’s Tim Buchanan, and Ennis’ Sam Harrell as one of four active North Texas public school coaches to win back-to-back state titles.

He has cemented himself as one of, if not the best, coaches in Dallas ISD history. 

“However, it goes, it goes,” he said when asked if he considers himself the best Dallas ISD coach ever. “People are going to debate this and that. They can debate that forever, like LeBron and Jordan. I’m just happy they got to see something that a lot of people didn’t think they’d be able to see.”

Coach Todd was asked what it means to Dallas ISD and inner-city schools across the state to win back-to-back titles.

“It just shows you if you work hard and get the right administration, if you can get people to buy in and believe in you, that anything is possible.”

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