When football coach Donald Hollas was asked to describe the football team in one word at the beginning of the season, he responded with, “better.”
Coach Tim Fitzpatrick responded to the same question with “resilient.”
These two descriptions proved to be true as the improved, resilient Eagles reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2005.
It was truly a memorable year for the Eagles. The hard work and dedication paid off as the program was completely changed.
Before this season, not many students would know the last time we beat St. Pius, competed with Strake Jesuit, won multiple playoff games, reached the state semi-finals or recorded 8 wins.
But this year was different.
The students came out and cheered the Eagles to victory each and every home game.
Athletic Director Mike Netzel praises the team as the best since he has been here.
“This year was especially memorable for me and coach Hollas because these seniors have been with us since we started here,” Netzel said.
The Eagle football team epitomizes the motto, “Eagle Fight Never Dies.”
After starting 0-2 with two close losses at the hands of Strake and Episcopal, the Eagles won three in a row over New Caney, Santa Fe and Splendora.
District play opened up with a hard loss to Pius. The Eagles bounced back with a 50-0 victory over Houston Christian.
Two straight losses to Beumont Kelly and Houston Christian put the Eagles at 4-5, their worst record of the season.With their backs against the wall, St. Thomas rolled over district rivals Kelly and Pius and clinched second place in district.
Then came the most exciting game of the season, a home playoff game against Bishop Lynch of Dallas.
After going into halftime with the score tied up at 7, Friar running back Kevin Huffaker ran in touchdowns of both 53 and 73 yards. Following another Martin touchdown run, all hope seemed lost and it looked like the Eagles were going to make a third straight first round exit from the playoffs.
The Eagles refused to accept defeat. With 1:05 left in regulation and the Eagles facing a fourth and 13, Zook lobbed up a pass which was brought down by sophomore Doug Sauter to send the game to overtime.
Martin ran in another touchdown and the Eagles won their first playoff game since 2005. The fans cheered, and pandemonium ensued at Granger Stadium in the most exciting football game in recent history.
The Eagles than traveled to Altair to face Austin St. Michael in the second round of the playoffs.
The defense, like it did much of the season, led the Eagles to victory with a 13-7 win. Martin had both Eagle touchdowns and the team traveled home with Temple and Fort Worth Nolan on its mind.
Due to inefficency on offense and some questionable calls during the game, the Eagles lost in the semifinal match with Nolan.
However, this dissapointing defeat does not characterize what this season was about and what was accomplished.
This year’s football team, specifically the seniors, reestablished a winning tradition of St. Thomas football. The road has been paved for consistent appearences in the semis and state championship.
You cannot replace a Derek Martin, a Miles Lerch or an Eric Martin. But key returning starters such as Parker White, Max James, Cameron Arndt, Pearson Garnett and Jack Reidy puts the pieces together for the defense to dominate once again in 2012.
On offense, juniors Alex De Ayala, Alex Snyder, Cavan Biggio, Calvin Shaw and Colin Caram will all be returning. It was a truly a memorable season for the Eagles.