Apr 06, 2022
THE 2021 SEASON WAS A MARQUEE CAMPAIGN FOR FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY FOOTBALL.
The Eagles beat rival Second Baptist, 27- 24, to claim their first TAPPS Division II District Championship. The win snapped Second Baptist’s streak of eight-straight district titles and was FBCA’s first win against Second Baptist since 2006.
FBCA earned an undefeated district title and went 9-4 in 2021, falling by one point to Second Baptist in the State Semifinals.
The Eagles were led by dynamic junior quarterback Brady Dever, who completed 64 percent of his passes for 4,054 yards and 62 touchdowns. FBCA averaged 44.3 points per game, thanks to Dever and a wealth of talent at receiver that included junior Bryan Domino and senior Marcus Chretien. Each had more than 1,000 yards receiving and combined for more than 40 touchdowns.
Senior running back Sam Leblue had more than 1,800 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Defensively, FBCA allowed just 18.6 points per game and was led by senior linebacker Chandler Bean and senior defensive back Blaine Baird.
“It’s a great feeling,” coach Jordan Black said. “This is the beginning of what we’ve been working for here, trying to create a program with a reputation, and these guys are buying in.”
FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY. TAPPS 5A VOLLEYBALL STATE CHAMPIONS .
How does that sound? If your answer was , ‘Like history? ’ you win . Just like the Eagles did. And they won in 2021. A lot.
FBCA went 35-4, winning an undefeated district championship in a season culminating with a 3- 0 sweep of Carrollton Prince of Peace in the State Championship match.
It was a magical year for second-year head coach Alex Edwards, as she got the absolute most out of the bevy of talent at her disposal. A year after a heart breaking loss in five sets in the State Final in 2020, she returned the Eagles to the State Championship game, and they got the job done in dominant fashion.
FBCA leaned on a pair of cornerstone seniors . Texas State-signee Bailey Hanner (527 kills, 45 blocks, 59aces ) was the heart and soul of the program , someone who helped implement Edwards ’ philosophy and who was the face of the program.
As Hanner went, the Eagles went.
Senior Avery Hodge (375 digs) was exceptional defensively, a key addition to the program since arriving her junior year.
A pair of precocious freshmen in Bayleigh Minor (254 kills, 65 blocks ) and Layne Bulow (243 kills, 86 aces, 264 digs) were impressive in their play, contributing to a State Championship, while assuring the future remains remarkably bright.
“I really can’t believe it,” Edwards said. “I’m just in awe, and I’m just so happy to have done it with this group.“
FBCA ENJOYED A SUCCESSFUL YEAR ON THE CROSS COUNTRY COURSE.
The Eagles’ girls finished sixth as a team at the TAPPS Cross Country State Championships in Waco with a total score of 206 points. Sophomore Kyra Whitman (17th, 13:30.0) and freshman Sidney Arnold (23rd, 13:48.3) finished in the Top 25 individually at State.
Junior Wilson Whiles led the FBCA boys’ contingency at State. He finished 74th individually with a time of 20:27.8 in the 5K.
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MOST PEOPLE DREAD MONDAYS. LOATHE THEM. FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY TRACK AND FIELD COACH DEON MINOR EXCITEDLY AWAITS THEM.
His girls relay teams managed to do something special each week, often in record-breaking fashion throughout the 2022 season.
“It’s like every single week, I’m looking for something good to happen with these girls,” Minor said.
In the first couple of months of the season, the girls’ relays set four school records.
The 4x100 of senior Angel Nwodu, junior Brooke Coleman, senior Gabbie Washington and freshman Bayleigh Minor, Deon’s daughter, set a new mark at 48.04 seconds and the 4x200 of Coleman, Nwodu, Washington and Minor established a new pace at 1:41.09.
The 4x400 of Washington, Coleman, junior Daniella Herrera, and Minor reset at 3:53.40 and the 4x800 of Minor, Washington, freshman Sidney Arnold and senior Madeline Font went 10:23.29.
The 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 records were broken at the prestigious 94th Texas Relays on the grounds of the University of Texas in Austin in March.
“It showed me what I believed these girls could do,” Minor said.
Washington added: “We’re really strong mentally in practices and work really hard. We know that’s how we’re going to run in the meets. Coach tells us every practice that everything we do has a purpose. We know that. We had a goal, and that was State.” THE
PAIN OF PRACTICE
But how did they get to this point? How did they go from a sixth-place finish at the TAPPS State Track Meet in 2021 to this?
Minor’s practices are a big ingredient to the Eagles’ success.
He plans the season’s training program 4-6 weeks in advance. Instead of doing speed work at the start, like most teams do, Minor prioritizes volume and strength. He said that has helped avoid injuries.
By the time Minor has the girls doing speed work around late March, times are fast because strength has been built up.
By mid-April, about a month before the State Meet in Waco, the Eagles were running like a fine-tuned machine.
“We’re a very competitive group,” Coleman said. “We like to push ourselves to new limits. We’re proving to ourselves, not just everybody else, what we can do.”
Nwodu, Washington and Coleman were on the State Champion 4x200 relay last year. Nwodu is also a State Champion in the 100-meter dash.
Coleman is finally healthy after running at about “70 percent” last season because of a hip injury. She still finished second at State to Nwodu in the 100 meters.
“Especially while I was injured, I was working on my mental side of things,” Coleman said. “Coming into this year, I was just so much better mentally and physically, and that transitioned onto the track. I’m more confident in what I’m out here to do.”
Bayleigh Minor may be a freshman, but her credentials belie her years. She is a 10-time AllAmerican and AAU Junior Olympics champ in the 400 meters.
She also played middle blocker for the Eagles’ State Championship volleyball team in the fall.
“If you have good team chemistry, like we do, a team can do anything,” she said. “We have a lot of talented athletes where we don’t want to just be successful for ourselves, we want to do it for the team.”
Herrera, a move-in this year from Colombia who has been running for six years, has quickly assimilated to the American culture, on and off the track.
“There’s so much talent,” Herrera said. “It was scary at first. I didn’t know if I was really at the American level of running. But so far, I’ve done well, with the help of my teammates. ‘
“Once I got put in the relays and helped break one of the records, that’s when I knew I would be fine.”
‘IRON SHARPENS IRON’
Minor has something this season he hasn’t had in his time at FBCA so far. Depth. “I can move kids around, and they’re really good at making adjustments,” he said. “They’re trusting what we’re doing.”
Minor will switch runners around in relays. For instance, he feels Bayleigh is a better runner on the second leg, so he often tried Herrera or Washington as the anchor. Minor was also working junior Lani Brown, a volleyball standout, more and more into the mix, running her with the district champion 4x200 relay in late April.
“Last year, we had only six girls,” Washington said. “If one person was out, we kind of just had to work with what we had. Now, we have more alternates, and if something goes wrong, we know there’s always somebody there to step up. It’s great to have more competition at practice. Iron sharpens iron.”
FBCA won the TAPPS 5A District Championship, scoring 226 points as a team. At the TAPPS South Regional Meet at the end of April, FBCA scored 156 points to that Regional crown.
At the TAPPS State Track & Field Meet in May, FBCA girls brought home the team State Championship for the first time in program history.
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CHARLOTTE FREEMAN MAY JUST BE A FRESHMAN AT LEGACY PREPARATORY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY BUT SHE DIDN’T RUN LIKE ONE LAST NOVEMBER AT THE TAPPS STATE CROSS COUNTRY MEET.
In a TAPPS 4A field that saw three of the top five finishers in the girls race end up being freshmen, Freeman was amongst the group posting a time of 13:21.0 to take fourth overall. Her and junior Aubrey Davis (13:35.5), who finished eighth and passed four girls in the last 150 meters, helped lead Legacy Prep to 74 points, which was enough to win the TAPPS 4A State Championship in 2021.
“It was an exciting time — stepping back and looking at the beginning of the season and looking forward to what I thought we could do — I felt really confident about it,” LPCA cross country coach Casey Clark said. “This year was a great team effort.”
This marks the second State Championship in program history for the Lions. The previous came in 2018, then as a TAPPS 3A program. This is the first in TAPPS 4A.
“Four years of having a program and two State titles, I think it’s pretty awesome,” Clark said.
Morgan Singletary (20th - 14:20.9), Hannah Grace Bryant (24th - 14:31.8), Audrey Sipko (28th - 14:47.3), Layla Faysal (43rd - 15:17.0) and Brooklyn Clark (60th - 15:51.2) rounded out the rest of the Legacy Prep championship crew.
All the pieces fell into place in 2021 for the Lions.
But what was the secret sauce?
“I think it is the culture of the team and what the kids have been able to create and make it a place where people want to come,” Clark said. “When I started coaching here eight years ago, we had four kids on the team.
“This year, with middle school and high school, we had 49 runners — 27 in high school. It’s just a testament to the culture that has been created. It’s a family atmosphere and the kids love being here … It has fostered great teamwork and a competitive space where they want to win for each other.”
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