“It takes everyone, every week to give all they have.This year our boys demonstrated class and character… I don’t know if I have ever been more proud of a team.” -Coach Helmer
Some football teams are divided by players who are simply playing the game for individual achievement.
When a football team unites to achieve a common goal; however, they can reach greatness, which is what ours did this year.
The best rank we have achieved in over a decade, and this despite all odds: our Varsity football team of only 20 players, earned State Runner Up.
GPA Lions challenged the reigning state champs, the St. Johns Cardinals at the TAPPS State 3A game in Waco, De-cember 2, 2016, in a very close game that went touchdown-for-touchdown until the 4th quarter, ending with a score of 49-34.
“It was a wonderful experience, The players really bought into the vision of what the coaches wanted them to accomplish,” said Head Coach Mike Helmer.
Players caught the coach’s vision and enjoyed playing for him.
“Coach Helmer’s belief in us, motivated us to perform well,” said Senior Alex Jordan, Defensive End.
“Before every game, Coach had us so prepared for every detail, and his speeches would make you want to go out and run through a brick wall!” said Quarterback Junior Jeremiah Tucker.
The small number of players on the team may have come into play.
“It was unique in the fact that I was not used to only having 18-20 suited out on the sidelines. We got a little lucky and stayed relatively healthy,” said Coach Helmer. “It’s difficult to point out just one or two players [who stand out] when you only have 18-20 kids that suit out, it takes everyone every week to give all they have.”
Lions were the first to score, and the crowd and players were thrilled.
“I am proud of my team because we pretty much gave it our all til the end!” said Senior Jerry Davis.
It did not go unnoticed that the Lions have not been to state for football or won it since 2003, when NFL Running Back Justin Forsette attended here.
The lions showed diversity with both a strong passing and running game, while the Cardinals strictly ran the ball.
“The break- down happened for me when I made a mental error driving, because I should have kept two hands on the ball and fumbled it,” said Junior Quarterback Jeremiah Tucker. “This game was really gritty, but we were able to do the opposite of what was expected.”
Senior Taelor Hawkins had a unique view as a senior on the team,
“Playing in a state game humbles you as a person, because you realize that out of every team in your division, we and only one other team were fortunate enough to carry out our season all the way to December.”
Head of School, Dr. Marc Evans wrote a letter to our families here that states, “Our boys represented our school with intensity and with excellence.”
They did, and this made an impression .
“The Executive Director of TAPPS and his assistant approached me-[saying] Dr. Evans, we want you to know how impressed we are with your team…But equally, we are impressed with the positive culture at your school.’”
Coach Helmer echoed those very sentiments:
“The old saying is, ‘Football doesn’t build your character, football reveals your character.’ This year our boys demonstrated class and character.”