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Caroline Adams of Friendswood Mustangs Volleyball
The south Houston area is loaded with talented athletes who give it their all in their respective fields of play.
Welcome to the VYPE Playmakers powered by UTMB Health, where we’re highlighting five standouts from the previous week who stole the headlines.
Here are the UTMB Athletes of the Week, as the Fall season continues to heat up.
Bradley C. Collier (VYPE)
While they have experienced their ups and downs through the Fall thus far, Clear Falls has begun to make headway as the district portion of their schedule unfolds. After a respectable 3-2 start in district, the credit needs to go some of the stars of the Knights crew -- Keira Jones (team kill-leader) and libero Capri Strombach (team dig-leader).
However, Bri Dunn (Jr. S) has been stepping up in grand fashion to help guide Clear Falls to a strong finish in district. Dunn currently ranks in the top-three of all the team’s major stat categories, including the top spot in assists, which is nearing 400 on the season.
Some of the stars of 2023-24 Pearland Football
Jamey Wright (VYPE)
Pearland’s definitive 20-13 victory against district rival Shadow Creek was a sight to behold, which easily propelled them up our weekly rankings. Credit where credit is due. Jr. RB Ladamion McDowell put the offense on his back to score twice for the Oilers with 74 yards on the ground against a stingy Shadow Creek defense.
On that note, I think it’s time we show the Pearland defense some love considering they were the difference-maker in this intense matchup. That’s where team captain Jaden Wincher (Sr. DE) comes in. Wincher was a nightmare for the Sharks’ offense all night, compiling 10 total tackles, including three sacks, four TFL’s and two QB hurries. That statline indicates that this man is a game-wrecker.
It’s no secret that Friendswood has been on a tear recently. After coming off a decisive 3-2 victory against district-competitor Manvel, it’s clear that the Mustangs (18-9; 5-0 in district) are a group worth recognizing as the playoffs approach. So. OH Nadi’Ya Shelby has been a force on her side of the net, alongside Taliah Benson (So. OH) and Jordyn Sims (Jr. RS).
But who has been feeding this offensive machine throughout the Fall? Why, Friendswood’s Caroline Adams, of course. In just 27 games this season, the Mustangs’ sophomore setter has nearly 800 assists to her name, and should easily eclipse the 1K-mark in the coming weeks.
Some of the stars of 2023-24 Dickinson Football
The Gators’ district opener against Clear Springs was a doozy. While both sides of the ball were clicking with senior QB John Solomon leading the offense and Nicholas Peace (Sr. DB) leading the tackling effort on defense, it was senior DB Rodney Bimage who was the true difference-maker in last week’s 35-14 win. In addition to making four tackles (including one sack), Bimage was the special teams guru for Dickinson. On just two kick returns, the senior Gator racked up 188 return yards for two decisive touchdowns to help his squad breeze past a tough Chargers team.
The Clear Springs stampede continues, as they have galloped to a quick 6-0 (24-12 overall) start in the district competition. After toppling both Clear Creek and Clear Brook in their recent matches, it’s been made perfectly clear (pun intended) that the Chargers are the team to beat in District 24-6A.
We’ve spoken plenty about the performance of Anzley Rinard (Sr. OH) and Abby Fuller (Sr. L), but senior Ashley Richardson has really come into her own from the setter spot. Richardson currently leads the team in blocks (60) and aces (45), while ranking in the top-two for Clear Springs in kills (266), assists (494) and digs (350).
2023-24 Shadow Creek Football
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS (Playoff teams in bold)
Shadow Creek Sharks
Alief Taylor Lions
Strake Jesuit Crusaders
Alief Hastings Bears
Alief Elsik Rams
Most Valuable Player
Zion Taylor, Shadow Creek
Offensive Player of the Year
Bryce Burgess, Pearland Dawson
Defensive Player of the Year
Maurice Williams Jr., Shadow Creek
Breakout Player of the Year
LaDamion McDowell, Pearland
On the Cusp
Doug Brown (VYPE)
Since their debut, the Shadow Creek Sharks have been an impressive program under Brad Butler’s direction. The Sharks in five seasons have turned in three 10-win, undefeated regular season campaigns, going undefeated in 2019 and winning the Class 5A Division I State Championship. The Sharks are absolutely loaded on defense for 2023. Four-star prospect Maurice Williams Jr. (University of Houston) and Nebraska-commit Braylen Prude anchor the linebacker corps, while University of Houston-commit Zion Taylor holds down the front on the defensive line. Taylor led the Sharks with seven sacks, 12 QB hurries and 24 tackles. Williams Jr. is the Sharks leading returning tackler after recording 43 in 2022. Aaden Benjamin also returns after registering four interceptions last season.
More names on defense include four-star cornerback Cobey Sellers and three-star linebacker Anthony Williams. Jacorey Watson should take over at QB for the Sharks. In 12 games played last year, he passed for 952 yards and 13 scores. Watson is rated as a four-star receiver and as a dozen offers. Tylik Burton will be the man he hands the ball off to. Burton rushed for 703 yards and six scores a year ago. Ashton Jones is the man to watch at receiver as the 2025 prospect has 10 college offers heading into his junior campaign. Aidan Bui will be the Sharks main kicker after being selected as a first-teamer.
Pearland Dawson has been a consistent piece to the playoff puzzle, making it in each of the last 14 years. Last year, the Eagles went 5-6 and were knocked out in the Bi-District round. Just like the Sharks, the strength of the Eagles lies on defense. Start on the defensive line with Texas Tech commits Edward Smith and Charles Anderson, who are both 6-foot-6 and more than 240 pounds. Both are three-star prospects, according to 247Sports. Cornerback Chase Davis, a 2025 prospect, has three offers as well, while linebacker Jordan Harrison (48 tackles) and Bryson Burgess (68 tackles - team leader) were first-team, all-district picks. Bryce Burgess will be the force on offense after rushing for 1,023 yards and 16 scores a year ago. Burgess was named the District 23-6A Offensive MVP because of his performance and has offers from Texas Southern and Incarnate Word. He will be the workhorse early as the Eagles work out the quarterback position.
Pearland Oilers in year one of the BJ Gotte-era went 6-5 and are looking for bigger things in 2023. The Oilers will be paced on offense by running back LaDamion McDowell, who was named the District 23-6A Offensive Newcomer of the Year after rushing for 801 yards and five scores as a sophomore. Other key returners on that side include Juan Marines (RB), and Patrick Bridges (WR - 479 yards, 6 TDs). Cornerback Lazarus Range, a unanimous first-team, all-district pick, will lead the defensive unit. Range had three interceptions a year ago, while Ashton Hampton had five interceptions and also was a first-teamer.
Alief Taylor Lions are seeking three-straight playoff appearances as they go into 2023. First-team, all-district defensive lineman Pierre Yamba is back for the Lions to lead that unit. Second-teamers Malcolm Haven (ILB) and Aaron McCardell (S) also return for the Lions. Other names to take note of are Torrian Roberts (QB), Jaxson Adeoye (RB), Dylan Harris (WR) and Collin Germany (LB).
Strake Jesuit is looking to make some noise and get back into the playoffs in 2023 after missing it in the last two seasons. Key returners include second-teamers Bennett Connelly (OL), Kyle Garvis (OL) and Logan Lorenz (DT). Also watch for ChrysanthosFetokakis (OL), Cooper Fullbright (WR) and Jackson Priesmeyer (DE). Alvin has been building up over the past few years, going from winless seasons in 2018 and 2019 to going 4-6 the past two years under James Gage. The Yellow Jackets do lose quite a bit but return first-team, all-district OL Yahir Meza.
Alief Hastings has gone 2-18 the past two seasons but have a corps of solid returners up front on the offensive line they can build around. Tristan Shandy, Pablo Membreno and Jayvon Adebo were all second-team, all-district picks. Running back Jae'Don Webster is also back after a second-teamer selection. On the defensive side, Ike Okafor and Smith Orogbo will anchor the defensive line and both have a college offer. Alief Elsik is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Rams will be led by Zion Lewis (RB), Eric Dadzie Jr. (QB), DikachiIkoro (LB) and Samuel Marcelin (LB).