As the old saying goes ... Defense Wins Championships.
Having a solid defense paired with an unstoppable offense can be the recipe for a state title. Look at North Shore and Shadow Creek for instance. In their title games there were crucial moments - a 4th and goal from the three for Duncanville and a Hail Mary by Denton Ryan - were the defenses stood tall.
So, who were the best defensive players in Houston in 2019?
ARLINGTON – Alec Bryant's class will always be remembered as the first.
The first group to go through Shadow Creek from freshman to senior year and the first to leave as State Champions.
"Amazing, it's a real honor for us," Bryant said as he stood on the field inside AT&T Stadium with his "Texas Tested" hat propped on his hair. "It took us four years to get here and we finally did it. It was hard. My freshman and sophomore year it was like 'for what?' But now I see why we did it."
Bryant's freshman and sophomore year there was no hope for playoffs because Shadow Creek wasn't in a UIL district. When the school opened in 2016, the football team was left out.
The Sharks had to travel around the state to scrounge up a 10-game schedule, playing teams like KIPP Sunnyside, Saint Mary's Hall, Midland Christian and Lutheran South Academy. During those two non-UIL seasons, Shadow Creek went 7-2 and 6-3.
Once put into a UIL district, the Sharks have done pretty much nothing but win. In its lone two years as a 5A program – considering Shadow Creek is moving up to 6A next fall – the Sharks will finish that run 31-1.
"It means a lot," Shadow Creek senior Xavion Alford, who was sidelined for the season due to injury, said. "From freshman year to now, we've grinded in summer camps, boot camps. It was a whole bunch of grinding. We talked about it for the longest time. We knew we could do it but we just had to push to get to that extra step.
"We finally did it."
For Brad Butler, the fourth-year coach of Shadow Creek improves to 44-6 overall, if you count the first two years.
Without those, his team has yet to lose in the regular season.
"We've been very fortunate," Butler said. "A lot of things have clicked into place for us and couldn't be happier for our kids and our community. It's big."