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Martin & Cotton return as Galveston O'Connell jumps back to TAPPS

Galveston O'connell will return to TAPPS this upcoming school year

Sometimes you don’t know how great you have it until you leave.

That’s the case at Galveston O’Connell, which tested the TCAL waters for three seasons before announcing its TAPPS return for the upcoming school year. The move is a year in the making, after lifetime Buccaneers came home to lead the charge.

The first was Derek Martin, who returned to his alma mater as athletic director and head boys basketball coach last summer. It’s fitting that he’s back for the Bucs’ second run at TAPPS because he helped the basketball and track teams excel in their first three seasons in the league between 1988 and 1991.

“It’s been exciting to be back home, and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” said Martin. “When I was a student-athlete here, I learned so many things that prepared me for the real world. We had coaches and teachers that always went the extra mile for us, and that cared enough about our future success to invest their time into us. And that hasn’t changed at all to this day.”

One of his mentors was Tim Cotton, who coached him in both sports, and has decades-long experience with high school football. He was retired for six years when the O’Connell football job opened in 2017, but couldn’t turn it down.

“The commitment that the TAPPS league made to private schools was something that intrigued me,” said Cotton. “And then to have the opportunity to come back and re-establish those values at O’Connell was something I couldn’t pass up.”

Both have lengthy ties to TAPPS, so they know how to prepare their programs for success.

Martin spent the majority of the past 20 years with TAPPS programs O’Connell and Baytown Christian, serving in roles like JV boys basketball coach, varsity boys and girls basketball coach, and athletic director.

Cotton has been coaching even longer, with stops at O’Connell, Marian Christian and Westbury Christian.

Both want to build on past athletic achievements, so football’s a great time to start.

The program is two years removed from a playoff win, and its strong junior class will put it in contention for another one in 2018. It includes versatile and all-state Izeal Owens, running back/linebacker Josh Hickman and strong-armed quarterback Tanner Adkins.

“With [Hickman] and Owens, we’re going to have two young leaders, [so] I think we’ll make the playoffs this year,” said Cotton. “And once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.”

This article appears in the May issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy at any one of our locations today!

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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