I covered my first high school football game more than 20 years ago as a young sports reporter in Southern Arizona.
One thing I learned over the years is it usually takes a combination of great athletes, good coaching and experience to win.
Which brings me to Shadow Creek. By the time anyone reads this, the Sharks will have played in the state semifinals, completing what has already been an amazing first official year as a varsity team.
Earlier today, I looked at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football for 2018. For those who may not be aware of the magazine, it is considered the Bible of Texas football. If anyone knows what to expect entering a football season, it is the men and women who write for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. They follow every high school team in the state and are usually spot on when they make predictions.
Well in 2018, they missed pretty big.
The experts at Dave Campbell’s looked at Shadow Creek, in their first official varsity season, and decided the Sharks were the sixth best team in their district. Out of eight teams, Shadow Creek was supposed to beat only two.
But apparently the experts forgot to tell the young men playing for Shadow Creek that. Instead of meekly accepting their fate as an also-ran, the Sharks have been close to perfect this season. In fact, heading into the state semifinals, they have been perfect.
And instead of being the sixth-best team in their district, the Sharks are one of the final four teams still playing with an eye on a state title.
Those who don’t play or watch high school football in Texas may have no clue what an accomplishment that is. This team wasn’t supposed to even make the playoffs, much less put up win after win after win.
Let me put it this way — winning a district title in Texas is hard, winning a region title almost unheard of, and winning a state title is nearly impossible. Teams don’t just come out in their first varsity year and play in the state semifinals. They just don’t. I have seen immensely talented teams lose games they should have won in the playoffs, because they don’t have the experience and ability to handle the big moments.
But here is Shadow Creek, doing the impossible and making it look easy in the process.
Heading into this weekend’s game, Shadow Creek is unbeaten at 14-0. They have shown the ability to dominate games from the beginning and come from behind in the fourth quarter. Surprising to me, they play like a team of seasoned veterans, not like a team of first-time varsity players.
And trust me, that’s not supposed to happen. The three keys to success I mentioned above are pretty much followed nationwide. If a team has talent, they will win some games. If they have talent and good coaching, they will almost always make the playoffs. But to compete for a state title, it takes talent, coaching and experience. And from an experience standpoint, Shadow Creek has almost none.
Yet, the Sharks are here, winning game after game no one outside of that locker room would have expected.
So win or lose this week, kudos to Shadow Creek. What you have done in 2018 is not just amazing, it is virtually historic. The Sharks have established themselves as a team to watch, not only this year. but in the years moving forward.
Regardless of how this season ends for the most surprising team in the state, I can promise you one thing — next year no one will be picking the Shadow Creek Sharks to finish sixth in their district.