A Whole New Look

Spring football is in full gear in Houston

2018 is shaping up to be another great year in high school football Vype

It might be a little crazy, but it's already time to start looking toward the 2018 football season in Houston.

Across the city, teams have fired up their 7-on-7 teams for the summer circuit and high school programs are either conducting spring football practices or working in the weight room to get ready for next year.

VYPE has scoured the city and found stories you should know about heading into the 2018 season.

A Rare Night Off by Joshua Koch

James Clancy hasn’t had a Friday night off in a while. Being a head football coach in Texas doesn’t give you that luxury from August until December.

In 2017 though, as the new head coach of Klein Cain, Clancy only had a junior varsity squad to field. Hence giving him Friday nights off.

“I got to watch some of my friends coach who I never would have gotten a chance to, which was neat,” Clancy said. “Just go watch some of the surrounding programs that do a good job. Try to steal some good ideas. I never get to watch people warmup or how they do pregame and stuff like that.

So we just would look at the area schedule and a couple of us would pick out a game and go watch it.

“It was interesting.”

Along with taking away the on- the-field knowledge from watching the game from the stands, Clancy admitted he got to take in the entire Friday night lights atmosphere.

“It kind of recharged us,” Clancy said. “We were jealous of everybody that was getting to coach and be a part of the life on Friday night. We’re excited to get back to that.”

Klein Cain fittingly will open the 2018 season against fellow newly-birthed program Cypress Park on September 1 at Klein Memorial Stadium.

“We’re very excited,” Clancy said. “It’s a long way away in terms of days, but for me as the head coach and the rest of our coaches it feels like it’s next week. We have a sense of urgency, we still have a lot of things we need to do to get better as a program and as a team.

“We know that clock is ticking and that we have to have our guys ready.”

The Wait is Over by Thomas Bingham

Cypress Park waited two years for a varsity football program, but is now only months away from having one. The Tigers enjoyed success during their freshman and JV seasons, so they can make a splash on the state’s biggest stage as early as this fall.

“I think we’re good with our starters and the ones we’re going to run out there with,” said Cy Park coach Greg Rogers. “It’s just being able to hold up in a tough district and stay healthy.”

Three of the players who will ease the transition are fullback/outside linebacker Sergio Small, tailback/free safety James LeBlanc and two-way lineman Bryan Gutierrez.

“Most of them hardly ever come off the field,” Rogers said of the trio. “They play offense, they play defense and they’re on our special teams.”

Small, LeBlanc and Gutierrez led the Tigers to an 8-1 record during their JV season in 2017, and have the work ethic to continue that success against the state’s biggest schools.

“Even in the offseason, they’ve become our leaders,” he added. “They get out front and outwork everybody.”

Park won’t have spring football this year, but is preparing for its inaugural campaign with an earlier start to fall practice and an extra scrimmage. Coach Rogers knows his team is joining a tough 14-6A district, so closing out fourth quarters will dictate its playoff chances.

Coaching Shuffle by Joshua Koch

District 23-6A will have a mix of the new, old and very familiar when it comes to the head coaches strolling the sidelines next fall.

The district, which includes the Alief schools – Elsik, Hastings and Taylor – Brazoswood, Strake Jesuit, Pearland, Dawson and George Ranch, is the only one in the Greater Houston area that will have four new head coaches next season.

“I think it’s good any time you can mix some new blood in with some guys who have been in it for a while,” newly appointed George Ranch coach Nick Cavallo said.

Cavallo moved over from Rosenberg Terry, where he was the defensive coordinator. Other moves included Ricky Tullos moving within the district from George Ranch to Pearland; Klay Kubiak, the son of Gary Kubiak, being promoted at Strake Jesuit and Mike Allison moving from Clear Brook to Dawson.

With the new coaches moving in and add in the existing coaches, there is a combined 62 years of head coaching experience between the eight men.

“I think it’s good when you can lean on some veteran leadership like that, but at the same time bring some new energy to the district as well,” Cavallo said.

Taking Winning Ways to Lake Creek by Joshua Koch

Pat Kennedy brings one kind of mentality to Montgomery Lake Creek – a winning one.

Coming from The Woodlands, which as recently as 2016 played for a state championship, Kennedy is used to being around a winning atmosphere.

That is what he is bringing to the Lions and it starts with the players.

“When I was at The Woodlands, we always goal set through the kids,” Kennedy said. “The kids will determine how much they buy into what we’re selling. They’ll determine the amount of success that we have.”

Kennedy, who started with The Woodlands in 1998, was a part of a coaching staff that guided the program to nine district championships in the past 10 seasons.

Being at a brand-new program is different.

Kennedy has spent the spring months not running spring football but rather ordering equipment, finalizing the team’s schedule and playing a role in the hiring of the high school’s other head coaches.

Despite not having spring football, Kennedy said there has been no lack of energy in the weight room.

“I think any time you have something new the kids are fired up,” he said. “When I came in here they’ve been excited about what we’re doing. They’ve worked really hard.”

So for a coach that is at the helm of a new program, what are the expectations for 2018?

“A realistic goal would be being about .500,” Kennedy said. “Is that where I want to be? No. I want to win every game. Is being 10-0 a realistic goal? No. But somewhere in between there that’s where we’re going to be.

“We’re going to be between 0-10 and 10-0 and we’ll let the kids decide where we’re going to be.”

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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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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