In this decade, two programs have been synonymous with success in Class 5A football in Texas — Katy and Southlake Carroll.

Since 2000, both have piled up plenty of wins and numerous trophies. Each has four of the kind that matter most — the ones tied to state titles.

With Katy (14-1) preparing to meet Abilene (14-0) for the Class 5A Division II championship at 7 p.m. today at the Alamodome in San Antonio, the Tigers have a chance for their fifth title since 2000, a mark that could earn them the label as the “Team of the Decade.”

“I think it hinges on what happens in state championship games this weekend,” said University of North Texas coach Todd Dodge, who led Southlake Carroll to four state titles in a five-year span from 2002-06. “The proof is in the pudding. A win would give Katy five state championships, and Carroll has four over that 10-year window.

“I’ll definitely be the homer and take Carroll right now. We won three straight, but Katy has a chance to do the same, and if they do, I think they have a great argument.”

The numbers the programs have put up in the past 10 years are staggering. The Tigers are 132-17 since 2000. The Dragons are 128-18. Each has won four state championships. Southlake Carroll has won six regional titles, Katy has won seven. Southlake Carroll has been perfect four times, Katy twice.

“Of course I’m biased, but I’d say Katy,” said former Katy and current Houston Christian coach Mike Johnston, who led the Tigers to titles in 1997, 2000 and 2003. “If you’re talking about the numbers, in terms of championships and wins, I don’t think anybody in 5A has more playoff wins (in this decade) than Katy.”

Johnston is accurate in that assessment. Katy is 45-5 in the playoffs since 2000. Southlake Carroll is in that same stratosphere, at 41-6.

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There are plenty of similarities between the programs. Both have tremendous student-athlete participation . Both have unwavering fan support and a healthy booster club that helps fill any needs. The coaching at both programs has been stable and first-rate.

Both programs have sold their players on buying in to their respective styles. Southlake Carroll did it with its no-huddle, up-tempo spread offense and its 4-3 defense; Katy did it with a power running game based out of the I-formation and a 3-4 defense.

Opinions on the subject run the gamut. Steve Warren, coach of the Abilene squad Katy will face tonight, said if he had to pick the team of the decade, it would be Katy.

“In Texas, Katy is the team of the decade in my opinion,” said Warren, whose Eagles have faced Southlake Carroll three times this decade. “Even when they haven’t won a title they’ve been on the edge or close. Although Southlake Carroll has done a tremendous job and has had great success and is one of the top programs out there, I think with Katy, you have to check that box beside them in the last 10 years.”

Those who choose Southlake Carroll point to the dominance the Dragons exhibited in their five-year run. From 2002-06, Carroll went 79-1, with the only loss to Katy in the 2003 Division II title game. The Dragons avenged that loss in the 2005 Division II championship and went on to win three mythical national championships and put together a 49-game winning streak from 2004-07.

‘It’s the program’

“Not only was it the state titles but the record-breaking and head-turning offensive numbers,” said Travis Stewart, managing editor of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. “They were doing things that nobody had seen before. They had a two-time national player of the year, four straight quarterbacks who went on to play college football and a head coach that was arguably one of the biggest names in the country.”

No matter who you choose, one thing is certain — both programs have been the standard-bearers of 5A football in the state for the last 10 years.

“It’s the program,” said Smithson Valley coach Larry Hill, who has coached against both teams this decade. “As the kids come up through the system, they understand what you’re looking for in character, especially what you do on the field. It’s a culture and environment of winning. When you have that, those are the kinds of things that can sustain you when you’re not as big or strong or talented as you are in other years.”

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