The first weekend of the season and I’ll be where I’ve been to open the season every year since 2018 – at Baker Field on the campus of the Allen Academy for the 8th Annual Allen Academy Sixman Showcase.
The Showcase will feature seven games over the course of three days featuring several top teams including a defending state champion.
If you are coming to the Showcase on Thursday, be sure to get in the stands early as there will be ceremonies around 7 pm dedicating the new playing surface and there are some surprises in the works that you won’t want to miss.
Game #1 – Thursday, August 26, 2021, 7:30pm
Allen Academy Rams (7-4 in 2020)
Brazos Valley Mustangs (2-8 in 2020)
The Allen Academy Rams marched all the way to the TAPPS Division II championship game last year before falling to Dallas Lakehill Prep 34-42.
Mustang Coach Howard Tipton expects the Rams to be a strong opponent. “Allen Academy always has a good team. Coach Adams is a great coach and a good opponent… They are tough every year. We don’t get to play them every year so we are excited to open the season against them.”
Key players to watch for the Rams: Luke Meadows, Ethan Lucas
The Brazos Valley Mustangs bring a balanced defense into the game. The Mustangs last played Allen Academy in 2019 and last won against Allen Academy in 2018.
Rams Coach Adrian Adams expects to see a deep Mustangs team be multiple on offense. “We expect them to have a decent amount of kids. We expect them to run some spread, throw the ball, and run some tight.”
Key players to watch for the Mustangs:Owen Davis, Pierce Goodwin
Game #2 – Friday, August 27, 2021, 5:00pm
Galveston O’Connell Buccaneers (1-5 in 2020)
Baytown Christian Bulldogs (5-2 in 2020)
This will be the Buccaneers second year playing sixman football after previously playing 11-man football. O’Connell returns 5 starters on offense and 5 starters on defense.
Bulldogs Coach Jeromey Anderson says to expect to see athleticism from the Buccaneers. “They’ve got a couple of big kids. They are an athletic school as far as basketball kids are concerned which is always a concern when you get on a sixman field. They’ve got some size. They’ve got some speed.”
Key players to watch for the Buccaneers: Khristian Johnson, Raphael Moss, Jr., Khristopher Johnson
The Baytown Christian Bulldogs won TAPPS championships in 2016 and 2018 and are looking to return to championship form. The Bulldogs return 3 starters on offense and 3 starters on defense.
Key players to watch for the Bulldogs: Sebastian Wilson, Braydon Anderson
Game #3 – Friday, August 27, 2021, 7:30pm
St. Joseph’s Catholic Eagles (6-1 in 2020)
Conroe Covenant Cougars (5-2 in 2020)
The St. Joseph’s Catholic Eagles went undefeated in their 5 game regular season last year before dropping to Cedar Park Summit Christian in the 2nd round of the TAPPS playoffs.
Cougars Coach Wayne Allen expects a tough battle from the Eagles. “They’ve always played us hard. We played them twice before and won both games by a total of 6 points.”
Key players to watch for the Eagles: Reid Milhollon, Gabe Stratta, Jackson Kerry, Luke Schuman, Levi Rice
Conroe Covenant returns four offensive and five defensive starters but looks to run a more pass oriented offense in 20221. The Cougars long term goal is to move up to 11-man football.
Eagles Coach Alec Castilleja expects the Cougars to battle to the end. ”They used to be in our district. In 2018 it was a 2-point game. In 2019 it was a 4-point game. We know they are going to be well coached. We know it’s going to be a fight to the end.”
Key players to watch for the Cougars: Cole Brinkley, Kade Houston, Jackson Rudy, Dylan Harper
Game #4 – Saturday, August 28, 2021, 11:00am
Temple Centex Homeschool Chargers (1-7 in 2020)
Johnson County Sports Association JV Lions
Lions Coach Jason Knight says to expect a multiple offense from the Chargers. “They’ll line up and hit you in the mouth but they’ll also spread out and do some misdirection. Expect a well coached hard fought game.”
Key players to watch for the Chargers: Jake Gose, Blake Cox, Andrew Ash, Joseph Villalobos
The Lions JV team hopes to continue to develop players and build depth for their varsity team that set a school record for wins a season last year.
Key Players to watch for the Lions: Athen Reeves, Gabe Giangreco, Blake Jones
Game #5 – Saturday, August 28, 2021, 2:00pm
Union Hill Bulldogs (11-1 in 2020)
Oakwood Panthers (5-4 in 2020)
The Union Hill Bulldogs have won at least one playoff game the past five consecutive seasons and look to get another run to the playoffs underway Saturday against Oakwood.
Panthers Coach Paul Johnston expects a physical game from the Bulldogs. “Union Hill will be a very tough first game no doubt. They have experienced deep playoff runs recently and are traditionally very physical. Coach Bragdon and his staff do a great job.”
Key players to watch for the Bulldogs: Jayke Bass, Logan Dunn, Devin Espinosa, Daniel Dunn, Jasper Giles, Daniel Roberts
The Oakwood Panthers have made the playoffs six consecutive seasons and will look to continue their run in 2021.
Bulldogs Coach Josh Bragdon expects to see a fast and athletic Oakwood team. “Oakwood is athletic with some top end speed. They like to play an up tempo style offense that will try to catch our defense sleeping.”
Key players to watch for the Panthers: Zach Nickerson, Isaiah Jacobs, Ja’Lee Mathis
Game #6 – Saturday, August 28, 2021, 5:00pm
Plano Coram Deo Lions (8-4 in 2020)
McDade Bulldogs (2-4 in 2020)
The Coram Deo Lions were state semi-finalist last year and they return 11 of 12 starters for this year. The Lions should be a deep team familiar with each other looking to take the next step.
Bulldogs Coach Justin Humphries expects the Lions to run the ball effectively. “I am expecting Coram Deo to be powerful in their approach and attack us downhill. They have a very skilled and powerful offensive line with running backs that compliment it well.”
Key players to watch for the Lions: Reid Messick, Michael Schwab
The McDade Bulldogs are looking to rebound from their COVID shortened 2020 season where they were only able to play six games.
Lions Coach Josh Nokes .”They are a good sized team on film. They do a good job with play action passes and good crossing routes. It will be a challenge for our coverage group.”
Key players to watch for the Bulldogs: Anthony Cottrill, Daniel Alejo, Xavier Candoza
Game #7 – Saturday, August 28, 2021, 7:30pm
Texas School for the Deaf Rangers (8-3 in 2020)
Johnson County Sports Association Lions (9-3 in 2020)
The Texas School for the Deaf Rangers marched through the TAPPS Division I playoffs last year defeating their opponents by an average of 23 points per game including a 63-32 win over Austin Veritas in the championship game to bring home the schools first state title.
Lions Coach Jason Knight says to expect to see the Rangers be very disciplined. “They look like they block well, they run fast. They look like a well coached team. I expect it to be hard fought. We are really going to have to bring our “A” game.”
Key players to watch for the Rangers: Trey Johnson, Zef Nathanson
The JCSA Lions return five all-state players from last year’s team that posted a record for team wins in a season.
Rangers Coach John Moore: “We are expecting a great game between two great teams.”
Key players to watch for the Lions: Seth Wallace, Josh Calaway, Ryan Hamer, Elijah Poyer, Ben Wallace
A special thanks to the coaches of all the teams for taking the time to help me with quotes and key players. Texas High School coaches are the best!