Tony goes one-on-one with the Clear Lake Falcons’ Head Football Coach, Larry McRae
Tony: It’s your 3rd year at Clear Lake. What can be look forward to from the Falcons this year?
Larry McRae: Hopefully just building on what we’ve done the last two seasons. We tried to change the culture around here a little bit. Year three is usually the year that everyone looks at and says year three should be the one. We felt like last year we did some things that surprised some people. We didn’t feel like, as a team, that it was a surprise to us. We expected even more. It was a good season. We put it to bed in January when we started boot camp and said “This season have a different identity, different team.” Thus far in 2-a-days the kids have been flying around, really, really good. I’ve been proud of our senior leadership. We’ve got some guys in key positions that are coming back as 3-year starters. When you have that, you have a shot at having a good season. What that season winds up being record-wise, I don’t know yet.
Tony: Comment on the new UIL protocols for tackling training.
Larry McRae: A lot of that stuff we were already doing this past season. CCISD put together a training program for us as well with all the coaches in CCISD. Debbie Fuchs and Jimmy Grier, our athletic directors here in CCISD, they put together a training for us last year, and coaches took that and we implemented it in our every day practices to kind of go beyond what the minimum protocol is. We try our best to go beyond the minimum protocol for the safety of the kids. Even though we have top-of-the-line safety equipment, we know that accidents happen some times. We can do our part as coaches to make sure we train the kids on proper tackling techniques in practice. That thing was changed over the years. This is my 19th year of coaching. It’s changed multiple, multiple times but we always stay on the forefront of what the experts recommend. We try to go above and beyond that and be extremely careful with those things.
Tony: You came here from Manvel, so I’m sure you didn’t have a rooting interest on the Manvel/ Highland Park championship game! Thoughts on that game?
Larry McRae: I did. I did. People ask all the time. I did another interview with Dave Campbell’s and they asked me about what my thoughts were. Those kids that were seniors last year, Jalen Preston, Brian Johnson, Lance Jones, Kason Martin was a little knee grabber back when I first met him. I’ve known those kids. I coached them as sophomores with Manvel before I came over to Clear Lake in the spring. I was rooting with the team. Nothing against Highland Park, but spending 10 years at Manvel and opening Manvel with Coach Martin and all those coaches. A lot of them are still there. I talk to those guys all the time, I lean on for inspiration, I lean on for advice, and things like that. I was rooting for them. I tell people when you spend a lot of time somewhere, when you go to a new school you always have a piece that you take with you. The Hoka Hey mantra and everything that Kirk and us other coaches helped build is something that always stays with you. That community rallies behind the Manvel Mavericks. For me personally, I usually get to make it to those games. We were there in 2011 against Aledo. But I didn’t get a chance to go this year, but I was watching on TV every snap. I kind of joked around after the game was over, after it subsided, I told Coach Martin he should have done this, he should have done that. He took it in stride. He is a guy I spent a lot of time with. We talked a lot of ball. We game planned for a lot of people, a lot of great teams, a lot of playoff games, a lot of success there. When you are at a place like that you carry those things over with you. Coming here to Clear Lake bringing some of the elements of championship football teams with you. You copy a lot of stuff. You bring those things with you that have worked for you that are proven techniques, proven ways of doing things. Having come from Manvel to Clear Lake I think these kids know, they see social media, they know I’ve been at Manvel and we won a lot of football games. But you still have to earn your street cred with these kids and prove to them that you are here. That you’re the Head Coach at Clear Lake High School. They’ve got to trust you, believe you, and fall in love with you, and follow behind you if you are going to get the culture where it is supposed to be. A testament to these kids and the community – there’s been a huge buy in from everybody from the start. Watching that game, that ball bouncing a different way – hats off to Highland Park. What a phenomenal way to finish. What a great game – battling back. A true testament too to never giving up and never giving in no matter what the score is. That’s what everyone tries to teach their kiddos. But to see it in action at the State Championship Game is a big deal.
Tony: Thoughts on your opening game against Manvel?
Larry McRae: Kirk and I had scheduled it before he left. He said we are opening a new stadium and looking for good opponents to get us ready for the season, we had contacted each other about it. I told him “I ain’t scared, you know that about me. We will come on over and have a good game between two great teams.” Opening the new stadium over there and it’s also the KUBE Game of the Week so it will be a TV game as well on a Thursday night. I haven’t been over to the new stadium over there but I hear it’s a gorgeous venue. It’s got all the bells and whistles that you look for in a stadium now days. I think our kiddos and their kiddos are going to be blessed to the first game that’s played in that stadium. The first of many. I’m pretty sure playoff games are going to be played there. I know Manvel’s great. I know the coaching staff over there that is still kind of intact. Those guys do a great job getting ready. They know me and the kind of know my mentality. The know some of habits. They know how I game plan, so I might have to throw a few trick plays in there to kind of throw them off.
Tony: Give me a few players that I don’t know right now that I’ll know before the season is over.
Larry McRae: There is one guy in particular that is lower on the recruiting radar right now. Some people know about him. He does have one offer. Jack Nance. He’s a defensive lineman that we’ve actually taken over and made an offense tackle as well. He was a captain for us as a Junior. I’ve never been anywhere where a Junior was a captain. But when every kid in the program writes that kids name down as a captain, you’ve got to go with it. That’s the kid that they all look to. Jack Nance is one of those guys, just a grinder, just a great kid. He’s a weight-room-guy. He’s an on-the-field-guy. He’s a classroom-guy. He’s that guy that won’t let anyone of this team take a false step. He will play college football. He’s going to be on of those kiddos that you look back on. He’s going to be a wonderful husband, a wonderful father, a wonderful human being. He already is and it’s just a testament to his parents and what they’ve done with him as well.
Also, a kid named Adrian Cavazos – he’s an outside linebacker kid that ended up being pretty much a three-year starter for us. Has loads of experience. He’s an outside linebacker. He was a great running back and we kind of took him over to the other side and kind of converted him to a linebacker and he’s been great one from day one.
Hunter Levens ia another kiddo… he’s a beautiful athlete. He’s a kid that can really, really run, really, really strong, really, really smart, super smart, blew out the SAT scores. We have a lot of kids that blow that SAT out of the water. We have great student athletes here at Clear Lake. Hunter is another kiddo that has a chance to play at the next level. He’s going to have a great season for us also. Just a whole lot of kids that are kind of below the radar.
Shea (Suianoa), our quarterback, Brendon Holmes has a Nebraska offer.
We do have a kiddo that came over to us from Hitchcock that is with us now named Mark Wilson that is going to be a sophomore that is a really, really good corner. Had a brother that played at Dickinson a few years back. He has a chance to be one of the best corners/safeties I’ve ever been around. That’s saying a lot. Even here at Clear Lake with Cameron Phillips we had a great safety in the first two years I was here. Then over a Manvel we had some dudes that could play: Derrick Tucker, Deontay Anderson, we had some great kids back there at safety. Mark has a chance to be up in that elite level I believe. As a young sophomore I look for great things out of him and not a lot of people know about him yet.