A Whole New Look
Spring football is in full gear in Houston
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!