The final piece to Shadow Creek’s 16-0 magical state title football run in 2019 was finally inserted this week with the Sharks slated to receive their championship rings on Thursday, weather permitting.
Yet another celebration head coach Brad Butler will allow his players to revel in, but only for a brief time with regular practices starting up for all 6A and 5A gridiron programs on Sept. 7.
“With the way the spring unfolded, we were probably one of the last teams to get our rings ordered,” said Butler, whose team has gone an incredible 31-1 over its first two varsity seasons. “We had about half our guys sized for rings when school got shut down (due to Covid-19).
“There is a lot of excitement and the kids are looking to forward to it. Putting my coaching hat on, I’m ready to get those rings in my guys hands and let them celebrate and feel good about it. Then we have to put it in the rearview mirror and move forward, because last year’s success doesn’t guarantee success this year.”
Fresh off winning the 5A Division I crown, Shadow Creek’s first game in the 6A ranks features a monster week one meeting with two time defending 6A champ North Shore on Sept. 25 at Galena Park ISD Stadium. The Mustangs’ back-to-back championships have come at the expense of Duncanville in both state finals’ game match-ups.
“It will be a baptism of fire to be sure,” Butler said. “Not only are we jumping to 6A, our first game comes against a two-time defending state champion. We were originally going to play St. Joseph and they (North Shore) were going to play a team from California in a double header to start off. Then we were going to play each other at Freedom Field next year.
“But with all the covid stuff, those guys were unable to travel and we decided with North Shore to go ahead and play each other. It will be a heck of a way to kick off the season and we definitely have our work cut out for us.”
After colliding with the Mustangs in the opener, Butler and company host Bridgeland in their home opener on Oct. 2 at AISD’s Freedom Field and then open 23-6A play with Alief Taylor on Oct. 9 at Crump Stadium.
The Sharks’ remaining home slate includes games with Pearland Dawson (Oct. 15), Alvin (Oct. 30), and Pearland (Nov. 13), while the road schedule wraps up with Strake Jesuit (Oct. 23), Elsik (Nov. 6) and Hastings (Nov. 20).
“We met with everybody in the district and tried to plan the best way we could with all the covid stuff,” Butler said. “Our district made the plan that we were going to start district play in week three, so we gave up a non-district game and built in two off weeks at the end of the regular season. That was done in case there was a need to recoup or make up a game.
“The first thing that struck me after realignment was that we would be in with both Pearland and Dawson. The proximity of where we all are will be naturally exciting to the community. Those games could develop into real rivalries. I know both of those coaches (Pearland’s Ricky Tullos and Dawson’s Mike Allison) have a lot of respect for the other coaches in the district.
“Again, we will have our work cut out for us, because winning a state championship makes you a little bit of a target.”
The Sharks enter the 6A ranks with seven veterans (four on offense, three on defense).
Baylor signee and quarterback Kyron Drones (6-3, 3, 200, 4.6), who threw for over 3,000 yards and 46 touchdowns, heads the returnee list for the Sharks’ offense. Wide receivers C.J. Guidry (6-3, 200, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and Greg Hancock are also back, along with left guard Caleb Leonard (6-4, 300), running backs Kelvon Brown and Isaiah Harper and tight end Trent McGaughey (6-3, 225, 4.7).
Guidry hauled in 25 receptions for 612 yards and nine touchdowns, while Hancock caught 32 passes for 480 yards and six scores. Brown added 912 yards on the ground and 11 TD’s.
Receiver Randy Masters not only delivered 377 yards and six TD’s, the 6-1, 180 pounder also turned in probably one of the most key plays in the Sharks’ 28-22 title triumph over Denton Ryan last December.
After a punt snap sailed over the Raiders’ punter Riley Nozzo’s outstretched hands into his own end zone. Nozzo illegally kicked the ball off the ground before attempting to pick it up. Masters alertly scooped up the loose ball near the sideline and motored 37 yards for a special teams’ touchdown.
“Obviously you feel good when you return your quarterback,” Butler said. “Kyron will be going into his senior year and we expect big things from him both in on the field performance and a leadership role. He has been in there and been tested. He should be able to bring some calming to what is fairly a young football team.
“He’s got some big play receivers in Guidry, Hancock and Masters. Harper also missed some time due to injury last season, but he has looked real good during our skill work this summer.”
Butler also tabbed left tackle Jordon Scott, center Nate Guajardo, right guard Cenard Gonzales, right tackle Cameron Jones, Zachary Rhymer and Meyson Colbert as playing crucial offensive roles, along with tight end Damian Palomo.
“We have some holes to fill, so we will have some guys stepping up from the JV offensive line wise,” Butler said. “They’re going to be tested quickly, but hopefully two or three weeks into the season, we’re developing into a pretty good football team.”
The Sharks will also be looking to fill gaps on defense with the graduation departures of ends Alec Bryant and Ronald Triplett and linebacker Jeremiah Harris. However, linebacker Terrence Cooks (6-3, 215, 4.5), who provided 70 tackles last season, has caught more than a few statewide eyes with an all-state preseason selection to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine’s Super Team.
Other key components on Butler’s defense include linemen Jairo Castillo, Josh Diaz and Jaylen Madkins; linebackers Byron Roberson and Thomas Davis; and Jaylen Lane (6-0, 190, 4.6), DeJuan Lewis, Kylan Jackson, Jaidan Scott, Kullen Murrell, Jalen Emery and Nick Hudson in the secondary.
“Cooks is on everybody’s recruiting board and is our big play guy on defense,” Butler said. “He’s an outstanding linebacker we can really build around. He’s big and physical.
“We also have Lane back at safety and we’re excited about what (safety) Lewis can do for us. Emery, who missed some time last year, is also back for us at corner and Murell really stepped in and played the corner well. Williams will be looking to fill one of those defensive voids (from the graduations of Bryant and Triplett).”