After delivering a history-making inaugural season, the Division I State 5A finalist Shadow Creek Sharks opened their second year in the UIL varsity football ranks at Humble’s Turner Stadium against Summer Creek on Aug. 31.
The game with Summer Creek will be the only regular season Saturday contest on the Sharks’ docket with head coach Brad Butler and company playing back-to-back Thursday road affairs later in the year against Richmond Foster (Oct. 24 at Traylor Stadium in Rosenberg) and Hightower (Oct. 31 at Hall Stadium in Missouri City).
Shadow Creek hosts both Magnolia (Sept. 6) and Alief Elsik (Sept. 13) at AISD’s Freedom Field to conclude non-district play and following an open date on Sept. 20, the Sharks begin 10-5A play at Angleton on Sept. 27.
Kickoff times for all 10 Shadow Creek games are 7 p.m.
The remaining home slate for the Sharks includes showdowns with Texas City (Oct. 4), Friendswood (Oct. 18) and Rosenberg Terry (Nov. 8), while a trip will also be made to the Island against Galveston Ball (Oct. 11).
The Sharks are coming off a banner 15-1 season with Butler’s squad becoming the third program in Texas High School football history to compete in the state championship contest in their first year of UIL existence.
“A lot of credit goes to last year’s seniors, because as juniors, those kids were unable to make the playoffs,” Butler said. “They knew ever since we opened a few years ago that they would have one shot at the playoffs. They made the most of their one-year opportunity and established a foundation for our program.
“Each year is like this year where your team develops a new chemistry. Hopefully we carried over the same work ethic and same commitment. It’s important for this group of seniors and even some underclassmen to step up and make this their team. We all enjoyed the ride, but the board is erased and it’s a brand new start.
“We were the hunters last year, but I don’t think we will sneak up on anybody this year.”
Butler’s assessment gains even traction with Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine forecasting the Sharks to not only make the playoffs again, but also to contend with district rival Foster for the Region III crown for the second straight year.
Headed by DCTFM Super Teamer and preseason all-state selection Xavion Alford (6-0, 180 pounds, 4.6 seconds in the 40- yard dash), Shadow Creek returns 32 lettermen overall and eight on defense. The senior safety joined end Alec Bryant (6-2, 240, 4.7) and linebacker Jeremiah Harris (6-0, 205, 4.5) as 2018 Texas Sportswriters Association All-State selections.
Bryant delivered 70 tackles, 25 tackles for losses and 13 sacks last season, while Harris provided 90 tackles and 16 sacks and Alford added 58 tackles and six interceptions.
“We’re fortunate to have a lot of returners on defense and I think we’re looking to them to steady the ship, until we can figure out where we are offensively,” Butler said. “Alford, Bryant and Harris get a lot of notoriety, but our defense is a unit that works real well together. Warren Shankle is also big for us at linebacker and everybody starting realizing by last spring that Ronald Triplett (6-1, 240, 4.9) at end is a darn good player too.”
The Sharks return six starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Other players to watch for TSWA All- State 5A co-coach of the year Butler include linebacker Courtney Brown (5-10, 200, 4.6) and offensive lineman Damien Jackson (6-1, 275), while junior quarterback Kyron Drones (6-1, 195, 4.8) and safety Jaylen Lane (5-10, 185, 4.7) made the top juniors list and linebacker Ty Harris (5-10, 180, 4.5) was considered to be the top sophomore. The prospects’ list features receivers C.J. Guidry, Greg Hancock and Jared Jackson, linebacker T.J. Marshall and offensive linemen Corey Smith, Caleb Leonard and Josh Martin.
“Offensively, we lost a lot of kids who made key plays for us,” Butler said. “(Quarterback) Jamarian George got better and better each week and really developed into a leader for us. We also lost big Cam (Johnson) on the offensive line and (Marquez) Huland at running back and one of our receivers (Kealon) Jackson in the slot.
“We need some young guys to step up and do those roles. Kyron had a great offseason and we expect great things from him. Any time you’re stepping into that (the quarterback) role, it takes a little while to get your feet on the ground. He’s a tall kid. His stature is a little bit different than Jamarian. Kyron isn’t the shifty guy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run the football either. He will sit back in the pocket and give guys a chance to work their routes.”
Campbell forecasts Richmond Foster to win the 10-5A D-1 title and also edge the Sharks in the Region III Finals playoff rematch, while tabbing Highland Park to win their fourth straight Division I crown. Angleton and Friendswood are also predicted by the magazine to make the postseason.