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Samantha Sharer, Kempner
SAMANTHA SHARER WANTS TO LEARN. SHE NEEDS IT.
Take the club volleyball tournament Sharer had in Orlando this summer, for instance. The Kempner junior outside hitter didn't just use Florida as a getaway vacation.
She watched, observed, played and came away smarter and better on the court, learning the importance of moving on to the next play and sustaining a positive attitude through mistakes.
"Each year I go to that tournament, I take away so much information that I wish I had more tournaments after that so I could immediately apply that back into my game," she said.
Sharer started playing volleyball in the fourth grade. She noticed the better she played, the more fun the game was.
She became a student of the game, hungry to take in any coaching. Sharer said her best traits are court awareness and consistency, two strengths that would put a smile on any coach's face.
In her first year on varsity last year, Sharer totaled 103 kills, 80 digs and 36 aces in 68 sets. She was named an honorable mention all- district selection. This year, Sharer has 167 kills, 261 digs and 46 aces in 87 sets so far.
Sharer talked more with VYPE.
VYPE: What did you take away from your first year on varsity?
SHARER: I learned volleyball is definitely a mental sport. You have to keep the right mindset throughout the game to play well and be successful. There are no "free" points. You have to work for every ball and give all your effort to better the ball.
VYPE: Kempner has a new coach. What are your impressions of Coach (Rachel) Kessler?
SHARER: I like that Coach Kessler came into the program setting expectations for our team and how we can achieve them. She made us realize that she has a fun side, but there is a lot of hard work she expects from us. From the beginning, she started building relationships and focusing on growing and improving our program.
VYPE: What are your expectations for yourself and your team this season?
SHARER: Improve every day. After every game or practice, figuring out what I can work on at our next practice and what I can do on my own to continue improving. My expectations for my team are high. I think, win or lose, we are going to do what we can to improve on that game to make the next even better. Last year, we were so close to making it to playoffs, and this year that is going to be a big goal for our team.
This story appeared in the Inaugural VYPE Fort Bend ISD Fall Edition, which is now available to pick up at your local Fort Bend ISD High Schools.
This district has it all. Perennial regional powerhouses. Rising up-and-comers. Coaching changes. A quality in parity that goes at least seven teams deep.
District 10-5A-Division I, is one of the most competitive leagues around and is sure to produce another thrilling campaign this year.
Can anyone unseat the mighty Manvel Mavericks?
Paetow will have something to say about that. Foster is reloading, but never one to back down. Hightower and Terry are under new leadership, and both are suited to make playoff pushes.
Angleton and Kempner are threats to crash into the playoff party. The bottom line? Stay tuned.
PRESEASON RANKINGManvelPaetowFosterHightowerTerry KempnerAngletonMilbyWisdom(Bold Denotes Playoffs)
PRESEASON AWARDSMost Valuable Player: Ty Harris and De'monte Seymore, ManvelOffensive MVP: Caleb Douglas, HightowerDefensive MVP: Alex Kilgore, PaetowBreakout Player of the Year: Damyrion Phillips, PaetowSleeper Team: Terry
The Mavs graduated their starting and backup quarterbacks and top two receivers but return a dominant duo of backs in seniors Ty Harris (1,175 yards, 13 TDs) and De'monte' Seymore (1,004 yards, 14 TDs).
In all, 12 starters are back from a 9-2 Regional Finalist. Harris and Seymore are buoyed by the veteran stewardship of 6-foot-5, 310-pound senior OL Tevin Shaw and 6-foot-1, 285-pound senior OL Jaden Edmonson.
The Mavs can lean on their ground game as they work in a new quarterback. Junior 6-foot-1, 175-pounder Kaiden Smith only attempted two passes last year, completing both. Keep an eye on sophomore WR Andre Thompson, who caught two passes for 57 yards in the one game he played on varsity.
Defensively is where Manvel will make its mark. Senior 6-foot-1, 220-pound LB Justin Medlock (21 tackles, 2 sacks, INT in 3 games) is healthy and a relentless force. Senior 6-foot, 185-pound DB Collin Wright (59 tackles, 4 INTs, sack) was an all-state selection last year, as was senior 6-foot-3, 265-pound DE J.P. Deeter (56 tackles, 3 sacks).
Winners of 17 of 21 games over the last two seasons, contending for a district title in each, Paetow is on a rapid rise.
The Panthers, who have six three-year starters, return 12 starters from a 9-1 team, eight on defense. The offense is led by senior 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB C.J. Dumas Jr. (1,106 passing yards, 12 TDs-2 INTs; 4 rushing TDs), senior RB Jacob Brown (371 yards, 4 TDs), senior WR Kole Wilson (230 yards, 5 TDs) and do-it-all junior Damyrion Phillips (231 rushing yards, 3 TDs; 117 receiving yards). Defense, however, will be Paetow's calling card.
Junior 6-foot-1, 205-pound LB Alex Kilgore (86 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, INT) is a stud and could emerge as one of the top defensive players in the Class of 2023. The defensive backfield is loaded with ball-hawking seniors Michael Jordan (34 tackles, 4 passes defensed), Kentrell Webb (35 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 passes defensed) and K.J. Truehill (18 tackles, 3 INTs).
Both fronts have veteran leaders in seniors OL James Bailey and DL Jacob Johnson, but otherwise lack experience.
Foster has established itself as a perennial force in Region III over the past few years, but this year looks to be a reloading campaign after graduating all of its top offensive skill players.
Coach Shaun McDowell returns 10 starters from an 8-3 Area finalist, including three on the offensive line and five on defense. Senior 5-foot-10, 170-pound RB Sam Haines (244 yards, 5 TDs) is the team's top returning offensive producer. The O-line is a strength behind 6-foot-6, 300-pound senior Austin Yeager, 6-foot-2, 260-pounder Grayson Novicke and junior Luke Henderson.
Defensively, the Falcons are more stable in 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior DB Ashton Ojiaku (44 tackles, INT) and junior 6-foot-2, 225-pound LB Christopher Gore (25 tackles, 2 sacks).
The QB spot will be a battle between 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior J.T. Fayard and 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior Landon Godwin.
The Hurricanes have a new leader in Cornelius Anthony, the former Terry head coach, Texas A&M linebacker and Fort Bend Elkins standout. "It's a homecoming for me," said Anthony, whose parents live five minutes from campus.
Anthony has his work cut out for him, however, with only seven returning starters from a 5-5 team. Anthony expects his receivers, defensive backs, running backs and defensive line to be strengths, while working with inexperience at quarterback and offensive line. Senior 6-foot-4, 185-pound WR Caleb Douglas has 20 offers.
Other key returners are senior 5-foot-10, 170-pound WR Kaleb Johnson, senior 6-foot-2 190-pound SS Julian Payne, senior 6-foot-1, 220-pound DE Kyshun Smith, junior CB Santana Wilson, junior RB Brenden Eaglin, senior DB Skyler Robinson, senior LB Cameron Bradford, junior TE Alijah Jones, junior DE Treylon Beloney, and junior 6-foot-2, 300-pound DL Darion Embers.
Impressive newcomers are junior 5-foot-9, 190-pound QB Jordon Davis and sophomores 6-foot-3, 180-pound WR Zion Kearney, RB Jeremy Payne, QB Kendron Penson, DT Dailon Ellis, TE Robert Staten and DB Ephraim Dotson.
With former coach Cornelius Anthony departing for rival Hightower, Terry has a new leader in Darnell Jackson. Jackson, a Terry alumnus, has been at Terry since 2015 and was the offensive coordinator last year. He is hoping to lead his alma mater back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
The Rangers return seven starters from a 5-5 team. The quarterback and offensive line positions are concerns, but Jackson has game-breaking talent in senior 5-foot-9, 170-pound RB Michael Odom (584 yards, 6 TDs) and senior 6-foot-3, 170-pound WR Alphonso Brown (331 yards, 4 TDs). Odom averaged 5.8 yards per carry and Brown averaged 22.1 yards per catch.
The defensive front has a couple of promising playmakers in junior 6-foot-3, 240-pound DL Elijah Sims (29 tackles, 2 sacks) and junior 5-foot-8, 175-pound LB Juan Rodriguez (50 tackles, 3 fumbles caused, 2 fumble recoveries).
Coach Darrin Andrus expects his skill players to be a strength this year. Ten sophomores started last season and now have invaluable experience. Andrus' concerns are depth on the offensive and defensive lines, and depth overall in the program. The Cougars return 11 starters from a 4-3 team.
Offensively, they are led by junior RB Abayomi Wiggins, junior TE Fortune Iwuh, junior center Noah Yassine and junior OL Joseph Negassa. Newcomers who could make an impact on offense are senior WR Gavin Watson-Roysten, junior WR Jeff Hollins, junior RB Koyae Spears, junior OL Stephen Hernandez and Hayden Hazelrig, and senior OL Eduardo Rodriguez.
Defensively, Kempner has senior 6-foot-3, 155-pound CB Jakolby King (13 tackles, 3 passes defensed), junior 6-foot-2, 180-pound OLB Cody Nguyen-Pham (22 tackles), junior CB Ikenna Ekwem, junior LB Tylon Riser, junior DL TaBias Jackson and 6-foot, 250-pound Chidera Onwudiwe. Juniors 6-foot-6, 250-pound Zeke Samuel (TE/DE) and 5-foot-11, 290-pound Chibuikem Ome (RB/LB) are productive two-way players.
Angleton returns six starters from a 4-5 team. Five of those are on offense. The Wildcats should have no problem putting points on the board. Stopping teams, however, may be an issue.
Back for Angleton on offense are sophomore 5-foot-11, 165-pound QB Adrian Ewells (590 yards, 6 TDs), senior 6-foot-2, 170-pound WR Jordan Pickett (332 rushing yards, TD; 237 yards, 3 TDs) and senior 5-foot-9, 150-pound WR Isiah Williams (216 yards, 4 TDs). Pickett and Williams also play in the defensive secondary.
Other Wildcats to keep an eye on are versatile 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior Kariyen Boniaby-Goins, 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior Kaden Brooks, junior RB/DB Myalek Woods, senior TE/LB Dillan McGlothern, junior OL Jake Ethridge and junior LB Sean Blanks.
Because of COVID-19 protocols and the typical low numbers in the program, Milby was only able to play one game in 2020. The good news is coach Matthew Puente has 15 projected starters and 17 returning lettermen from 2020 coming back. The Buffaloes will rely on quarterback Edgar Hernandez, junior OL Jake Sanchez and WR Keshawn Cotton on offense. Defensively, Milby will look to senior DB Aaron Newsome, junior DB Carlos Herrera and junior LB Oscar Guerrero.
Like Milby, COVID-19 and low program numbers doomed Wisdom's 2020 season. The Generals only played three games, losing all.
Wisdom has eight starters and 14 lettermen returning. Some of the key names include 6-foot-1, 180-pound DE Jude Okoukpai, 6-foot, 175-pound senior WR Souhail Zouidi, 6-foot, 165-pound sophomore QB John Nsenguwera, 6-foot-1, 170-pound WR Josh Harper, RB Hani Ali and LB Carlos Espinosa.