ROAD WARRIORS

Shadow Creek has traveled great distances to play football

Shadow Creek's Sharks have been all over the place this year. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

Are we there yet?

Family road trips can test anyone’s patience, but imagine travelling with 50 of your siblings for a 20- hour round-trip in three days.

Bags of fruits, snacks and drinks lay on a conference table inside the Shadow Creek athletic office. Coolers are wedged in the back of the room.

The scene looks like a family vacation or a college road trip is about the go down.

Well it’s somewhere in between. The Shadow Creek Sharks are a team that has been forgotten. The new Alvin ISD football program was left out of a district in the last UIL realignment because it was just opening.

Their other athletic programs compete in District 23-5A, but football?

Coach Brad Butler left an assistant coaching job at Manvel to take over the new school. To say he’s had challenges would be an understatement, but he’s the right guy for the job. He’s built a great staff and his demeanor doesn’t seem to get flustered with the bumps and road-blocks he’s had to deal with.

When Shadow Creek was not placed in a district, Butler had to do virtually the impossible – pick up teams who would schedule the unknown Sharks.

Tricky part was that he not
only had new freshman and sophomores, but juniors who were allowed to come to his school if they wanted more opportunities. 
A handful of Manvel athletes took the opportunity to get more playing time at the new school.

What that meant was that this year they would be seniors and would need to play varsity games, not junior varsity. So Butler built his schedule a year ago to find any varsity program in the state to play him.

“Not being in a district, we knew we would not have the opportunity to make the playoffs,” Butler
said. “So as a coaching staff, we wanted to give the seniors the best opportunity and football experience we could, and respect the position they were in. So we put together a schedule of varsity games. At the same time planting the seeds for the future.”

The first year they mostly played junior varsity teams with a few varsity teams sprinkled in. Entering year two, some teams dropped them and they scoured virtually every varsity team in Texas that had a gap in their schedules.

“That’s why we ended up having to travel so much,” he said. “We wanted to get our seniors as many traditional Texas Friday Night football experiences as we could.”

He had to look far and wide.

…..

The Shadow Creek Sharks are road warriors. They will travel over 2,500 miles to play football this season in places like Marshall, Midland, Brownwood and Leander, Texas.

“It’s kind of like we are in the playoffs,” Butler said. “We don’t have a lot of prior knowledge on the teams we are playing and we are travelling distances to get there. In the long run, I think this is going to help us mature as a program. But make no mistake about it, it’s controlled chaos.”

With Hurricane Harvey, they lost a home game so Shadow Creek will only play at the Shark Tank twice this season.

“It’s a challenge to build school spirit because the student body hasn’t been able to see them play much,” he laughs. “It takes real dedication to drive out to Midland and Brownwood to see us play.”

...

On the field, the Sharks have some players, and it all starts with the seniors.

Receiver Malik Rodgers is an Air Force-commit, while linemen Kelechi Anyalebechi
and Donovan King hold down the defense.

“I came over from Manvel and wanted a new beginning – a
new family,” Anyalebechi said. “I wanted to build something new. I wanted a new opportunity.”

While it was a risk to move over to a new school, it seems to have paid off.

“Our junior year was really cool,” Rodgers said. “We played some varsity team and the experiences really opened our eyes. I wouldn’t have gotten that somewhere else. Our high school football experience is coming to an end and we wanted to build something here first, so the kids who come after us can get noticed. It’s all for the next generation, but we know that we got it started.”

The seniors were thrown into immediate leadership roles, and have grabbed the torch with both hands.

“Because of the travel, we really have to keep everyone focused,” King said. “Sure we have some fun and goof off, but we have to keep the sophomores from being sophomores and the freshmen from being freshmen. We are in this situation where we all have to grow up.”

While the seniors are clawing for some shine this year, the future looks promising at Shadow Creek. QB Jamarian George has shown the ability to lead the offense, while sophomore Alec Bryant and junior Cam’Ron Johnson are the future on defense. Bryant is the younger brother of Lance Bryant, now at Indiana.

“I thank the older guys for what they have done for us,” Bryant said. “They have built the foundation, and we just want to continue it and not let them down.

 

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The Astros will look to bounce back after a tough week. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After a 6-3 record to start the season, the Houston Astros had a tumultuous week to say the least. They were swept by the Tigers, lost 2 of 3 games to the Seattle Mariners and placed five players on the COVID injured list.

The Tigers' new manager AJ Hinch returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since the Astros let him go after the cheating scandal in early 2020.

The Tigers swept the Astros and outscored them 20-8 over their three matchups.

Before the 3rd game of the series, the Astros found out they would be without five players on their active roster. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia were all placed on the COVID-19 injury reserved list.

"It's hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. "And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones and Abraham Toro were called up as well as Alex De Goti and Ronnie Dawson who made their major league debuts last week.

The Tigers were able to score runs early on Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jake Odorizzi (who made his Astros debut) and none of these starters lasted more than five innings in the outings.

Yuli Gurriel was the one Astros bright spot against the Tigers as he had 7 hits and drove in 2 runs. He is still continuing to hit the ball consistently as he finished the series with a .429 batting average.

After a 1-5 home stand the Astros looked to bounce back on the road against the division leading Seattle Mariners (you read that correctly).

Friday night proved to be the Astros' best offensive performance since their home opener on April 8th against the A's.

They scored five runs on Yusei Kikuchi through 7 innings behind good hitting from Aledmys Diaz, Chas McCormick and De Goti who drove in two runs on his first major league hit.

The Astros had a 5-2 lead at this point, but Seattle was able to score 4 unanswered to win the game.

Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Ryne Stanek were credited with those four runs.

Ryan Pressly tried to clean up the bottom of the 9th inning after Stanek put the first two batters on base. His effort was unsuccessfully as Ty France hit a game-ending single that scored J.P. Crawford from second to secure a Mariners victory.

Saturday was the best game of the week for the Astros as they finally broke their six-game losing streak.

After failing to pitch more than five innings on Monday against the Tigers, Zack Greinke threw eight shutout innings with 91 pitches.

He struck out six batters and gave up only 4 hits.

"That's what aces do," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys like (Greinke) ... they stop the bleeding and we're about bled out."

Greinke finished the game with 2,705 career strikeouts. He is now third amongst active players in strikeouts behind Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Ryan Pressly got some redemption too as he threw a perfect 9th inning giving him his first save of the year.

The Astros won this game 1-0 as Taylor Jones drove in the game's only run with an RBI single.

Sunday's game ended the Astros week with a whimper, as the Mariners bested Houston 7-2.

Jake Odorizzi got off to a good start, but he gave up three hits and was pulled after Mitch Haniger's fifth-inning triple made it a 3-2 lead over the Astros.

Odorizzi is now (0-2) with a 10.57 ERA after two starts with the Astros.

Houston's offensive woes continued Sunday, as Aledmys Díaz had their only hit, an RBI double in the second inning that fell in when outfielder José Marmolejos lost the ball in the sun.

"It's tough to take when you only got one hit and the one hit we got was lost in the sun," Baker said.

UP NEXT: The Astros (7-8) will finish their road trip with a two game series against the Rockies who have the worst record in the league (4-12) before starting an eight-game homestead.

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