HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

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You didn’t dream it. Yet those images keep popping up in your mind, right?

You hear the bats crack and replay Jose Altuve’s home run followed by another monumental homer from Carlos Correa. The exclamation point from George Springer. Justin Verlander’s fierce focus from the mound, then his cheerleading as he kept peeking around the dugout corner.

Those Houston Astros body-bumping and playing with that infectious joy usually reserved for kids on a sandlot on a summer day. Only this time it was an epic 7-6, 11-inning Game 2 World Series win over the Dodgers. In LA.

Great moments, all. But what about Alex Bregman’s perfect throw home in Game 7 against the Yankees? Those high-flying Altuve-Correa hugs?

Dare you to pick your one favorite Astros moment so far. Tough, right?

Now think about rookie DeShaun Watson working his magic with the Texans’ offense, the incredible chemistry between Chris Paul and James Harden which has the Rockets off to a great start, the playoff excitement from the Dynamo in the playoffs and, well,  just try to come up with the single greatest moment of 2017 in Houston Sports, period. And don’t forget there are still more moments to come.

All that said, this your invitation to start thinking about athletes and moments you would nominate for the inaugural Houston Sports Awards on Feb. 8, 2018.

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority will be celebrating the best in Houston sports that night with a red-carpet event at the Hilton-Americas. There are 10 categories -- everything from three Athletes of the Year (Pro/Olympian, College and High School) to Moment of the Year and Sportsmanship Award and more -- and you can nominate at www.HoustonSportsAwards.com.

You have until Dec. 1 to submit your choices, so take a look at the categories on the website and start thinking – or submitting -- now.

* * * *

Robin Burke didn’t hesitate.

When the Vice President of Champions Golf Club was scrolling down her Facebook page last month and saw that the United States Golf Association was going to have to postpone its 2017 Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship due to damage to Quail Creek Country Club Naples, Fla., from Hurricane Irma, she shot a friend a message:

“Hey, bring it to Texas. We survived Hurricane Harvey with minimal damage. We’ll host it.”

Within 24 hours, Burke and the USGA were talking about possible dates and the Women’s Mid-Am was on the way to Champions where 132 of the best women amateurs over the age of 25 will tee it up Nov. 11-16. The winner gets a spot in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.

It’s a trial run, of sorts, for the storied course, which will host the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open. Champions also held the 1967 Ryder Cup, the 1969 U.S. Open, four TOUR Championships, the Houston Champions International from 1966-1971 and was the site of Ben Hogan’s final round in 1971.

“So here we are,’’ Burke said, “about to pull off something that takes two years to plan in less than two months.’’

Burke, the wife of Hall of Famer Jack Burke, Jr., wouldn’t have it any other way. The 2016 Curtis Cup captain has played in 23 Mid-Ams, advancing to the semifinals first in 1998, when it was held at Champions, then again in 2005 and 2010. This year, she didn’t try to qualify. Looking back, she wishes she had.

Things have fallen into place quickly. Burke was so confident in Champions’ golf course superintendent and team that she knew they would be able to get the layout in championship condition in no time. That done, she turned her attention to finding a chairman and called friend Alli Jarrett, owner of Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room and former USGA Regional Affairs director.

“She told me she’d have to think about it,’’ Burke said, “She called me back in 20 minutes and said, ‘I can’t stand it, I’m in.’ ‘’

The 2017 field features nine former Mid-Am champs including four-time champ Meghan Stasi.

If you’d like to volunteer, go to

http://www.txga.org/form.php?id=2017-US-Womens-MidAmateur-Volun. Admission to the event is free.

* * * *

The World Corporate Games, where weekend athletes, businesses and corporations from around the world come together to compete on multiple levels for two days in 15 different sports, is coming to Houston November 17-19.

More than 1,000 entrants from nine different countries will compete in everything from badminton to beach volleyball, bowling and dragon boat racing. The event includes a Health & Wellness Expo at the Marriott Marquis and today is the last day to sign up a team for everything but running at www.wcghouston.com. The running deadline has been extended to Nov. 10. The site also has volunteer opportunities.

* * * *

Houston isn’t just one of 32 cities contending for a chance to host matches for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The nation’s fourth-largest city will also host a meeting with the United Bid Committee Nov. 14-17 with the other 31 cities bidding for potential spots should the U.S.-Canada-Mexico group be chosen to host the 2026 event.

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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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