Football Playoffs: HS teams exceed expectations
Varsity lions are preparing for a big play. The quarterback hands the ball to the running back, but there is nowhere to go. Suddenly the Offensive line creates a hole and the running back bursts through. Nobody can catch him. He crosses over the end zone line and the crowd cheers.
The team huddles up, chanting and celebrating because of their victory.
This scene has played out numerous times this season, as the Varsity made the Bi-District Tapps playoffs this year. The lions played their last game against Regents school in Austin, losing the game 16-28. However, this year we boasted a record of 6 wins and 5 losses.
This is a huge improvement from the 2 wins and 8 losses we achieved two years ago. On top of that, Justice Satterfield, Brendan Walters, and Jay Sedwick made the first All-District team. Head Coach Chris Jones is proud of his team’s success, because they have showed success despite four valuable seniors being out with injuries.
“If you take 4 of the best players off of any roster, it hurts the team greatly. We managed to overcome that and make the playoffs, which is incredible,” said Coach Jones.
Jones knows what it takes to form a winning team.
“Our main Strength is that we have experienced players who understand the game, so we play smart. We also emphasized doing things the right way every time since the beginning of the season so we would be prepared for the playoffs.” said Coach Jones.
Since the Varsity team has strong running and passing games, the team has a lot of diversity. The ability to both pass and run is unusual at the high school level and is what is making our team wise and hard-to-beat.
According to Coach Jones, this strategy “keeps defenses guessing.”
“We’re competitive and we know how to play our style of football-and our style is hard- running football,” said Varsity Junior Running Back Brendan Walters.
Skilled players at the running back, wide receiver, and quarter back positions also help further diversify how the lions are playing.
Walters knows each player on the team is important.
“I want the best for each teammate. My seniors have worked hard and I am looking forward to see what becomes of them in the future. We’re all striving for success.” Said Walters.
There is nothing that brings these brothers closer together than duking it out on the football field and bringing home that win as a team.
However, this is a big season for individuals as well.
“This season, I personally am determined to make the quick jump from JV player to All-State player,” said Freshman Linebacker Clay Robinson, who also plays Running Back on JV. “I’m striving for the top, not mediocracy.”
The Varsity and JV teams know that playing football here will teach you a lot more that how to play the game. It is a valuable experience that any student could learn from.
“I teach my players that hard work pays off, you put in what you get out, and you must work to achieve greatness. I also teach them how to be good men. It’s important to grow these young men for God. Playing football only lasts a short time in some of our player’s lives, but being a good man will be important for the rest of their lives.” Said Jones.
This goes to show that the team has learned many things this year that they can use not only on the football field but in their everyday lives.
“Coach taught me that adversity is a part of life and it’s how you overcome it that really matters.” Said Walters.
This year, JV also excels with only 11 or 12 players. Although the JV team has such a small size, Head JV Coach Chad Pegues is used to it.
“I’ve been the JV coach for 6 years, and the most kids we have ever had is around 17,” said Pegues.
Overcoming this obstacle isn’t as hard as it seems. The experienced JV coach explained what it takes to win games when they have virtually no players on the bench.
“You have to use your timeouts wisely to make sure players are well rested,” said Pegues. “The strengths of our team come from pure effort and the joy of playing the game.” Said Jones.
Robinson likes being a part of almost every play of the game.
“It’s great, because typically if you mess up on one play, you can correct your error in the next without having to be worried about being pulled out of the game,” said Robinson.
Since there aren’t many opportunities for JV practice or games, the JV Coaching staff prepares the team for varsity by using the same offensive and defensive plays.
Obstacles seem to only make the JV stronger.
“It makes us feel more like a group of brothers, because we know if one of us goes down it’s over,” said Robinson. “Overall it makes us mentally stronger than our opponents.”
Walters explained what it was like to step out onto the field for the last time this season.
“I wanted to play as hard as I could, leaving it out on the field. If anything, making sure the other team recognized #1 was a major threat.” said Walters.
At the end of the season which included many ups and downs, and even a double overtime win against Pantego, the player’s emotions were mixed. The lower classmen were excited, thinking about how they could go even farther into the playoffs next year. However, the seniors realized they had just played their last game in a Grace Prep uniform, and for them, it was a very sad and emotional time.
They reminisced on past victories and achievements they shared with each other, as well as all of the good times and defining moments they had experienced together throughout their High School football careers. Whether they will continue to play the game or not, they will not forget the times spent with their brothers out on the field.