SAN ANTONIO - C.J. Guidry didn’t take it personally.
The Shadow Creek Sharks’ junior receiver was simply on a mission to make a huge play for his team after watching San Antonio Wagner close the first half on such a dramatic note.
Guidry wasted no time delivering the goods by returning the second half kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to spark a 21-point second half, paving the way for a 45-21 triumph by Shadow Creek in the Class 5A Division I State Football Playoff Semifinals at Alamo Stadium.
The victory sends the 15-0 Sharks into the state finals for the second straight year, where head coach Brad Butler’s squad meets either Denton Ryan on Dec. 20 at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium at 7 p.m.
Friday’s affair also marked the second straight year that Shadow Creek eliminated the Thunderbirds in the postseason’s fifth round.
Guidry’s kickoff return came after Wagner’s Avante Stevens galloped 75 yards for a score. Stevens fielded a squib kick by the Sharks’ Will Martin in the first half’s closing moments.”
“I was thinking that I had to return this kickoff,” Guidry said. “When I caught it, I just followed my blockers and took it where I needed, to the end zone.
“I didn’t take offense to it (Stevens’ return). He took it to the house, so I knew I had to do something.”
Butler agreed with his junior play maker’s assessment.
“We knew coming in that they (Wagner) were a difficult offense to stop,” Butler said following the game. “I was really concerned about the momentum after they returned the kickoff. Boy, for us to get the second half kickoff and return it for a touchdown helped us get back in control.
“It was really big.”
Shadow Creek got the game’s first big break on the second play from scrimmage, as end Alec Bryant recovered Derrion Johnson’s fumble at the Wagner 27-yard line. The Sharks took just three plays to capitalize on the miscue with Greg Hancock grabbing a three-yard touchdown reception from Kyron Drones with 10:30 left in the opening period.
Eric Landaverde booted the extra point through the uprights for a 7-0 Shadow Creek lead.
Drones completed 11 of 22 passes for 219 yards and three TD’s.
Wagner immediately answered with a five-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Joerell Brown’s 22-yard run. Drones then climaxed a six-play scoring series for Shadow Creek with a 24-yard TD dash on fourth-and-10, where the junior signal caller initially escaped a pair of tackles at the line of scrimmage to make it 14-7.
The first quarter’s furious pace continued with the Thunderbirds reaching the end zone again on Jordan Patterson’s 14-yard run with 5:15 remaining. Wagner’s Rafael Zertuche banged the extra point attempt off the left upright, though, to leave it at 14-13 and Landaverde added a 25-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to give the Sharks a 17-13 edge into the second quarter.
Both teams’ defenses settled in for most of the second with the Sharks stopping Wagner twice on downs and combining with the Thunderbirds to force five punts.
Shadow Creek managed to get on the board following the final kick despite having only 12 seconds before the break to work with. Guidry hauled in a perfect 55-yard strike from Drones in the end zone to increase the margin to 24-13.
Stevens promptly answered the stunning pass play with the 75-yard return and Patterson then caught Isaiah Williams’ two-point pass to suddenly make it a 24-21 contest at intermission.
Guidry and his Shark teammates didn’t panic, though, despite the abrupt chain of events.
“We told ourselves that we had to stay calm and not let our emotions get to us,” Guidry said. “We had to stay focused on our game and that’s what we did.
“We’re the type of team that can overcome a lot of adversity.”
Along with Guidry’s return, SC interceptions by Jorge Jones and Chanceller Byers also kept the Thunderbirds at bay during the final 24 minutes and the Sharks put the game away with two more TD’s.
Drones hooked up with Jared Jackson on a 55-yard TD fling and Jay`Veon Bell sprinted 27 yards to pay dirt to account for the final margin.
SC FOOTBALL NOTES - Butler was selected as the Houston Touchdown Club’s coach of the year during the organization annual awards dinner on Dec. 11.
Butler becomes the second AISD head football coach ever to capture the honor with Kirk Martin doing so at Manvel in 2011. Alvin head coach Tim Teykl was also a finalist for the TD club award, when he coached at Rosenberg Terry in 3007.
Bryant was a defensive player of the year finalist, while Manvel’s Kevin Hall was among the coach of the year finalists, as well.