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THE 2020 FOOTBALL SEASON WAS YET ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN FOR THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY AS THE WARRIORS MADE THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE EIGHTH TIME IN THE LAST 10 YEARS.
The Warriors went 4-3 overall and finished third in District 4 at 3-2 while competing for the first time in TAPPS Division II. TWCA closed the regular season with three straight wins, before falling to Geneva School of Boerne, 50-49, in a heartbreaking bi-district playoff loss.
Five underclassmen played key roles for the Warriors in 2020, including Class of 2023 running backs Roric Hawkins (225 rushing yards) and Ryan Leslie (375 yards, 3 TDs). Leslie was also a standout at linebacker with 4.1 tackles per game and an interception.
TWCA's key player to keep an eye on is Class of 2023 quarterback/ running back/defensive back Josh Johnson, who had a breakout campaign in 2020.
Johnson led the team in rushing (397 yards, 8 touchdowns) and passing (1,101 yards, 13 TDs) and also compiled 3.3 tackles per game and seven passes defended.
A junior class that included offensive lineman Colby Gorman, tight end Sebastian Bryngelson, running back Keaton Harvey, defensive lineman Ezekiel Jurado, linebacker Sean Kane and defensive back Dereck Felder returns to captain the crusade for 2021. Kane led the 2020 Warriors with 10 tackles per game to go with 2.5 sacks.
TWCA says goodbye to senior stalwarts and program cornerstones like receiver/punter Caedmon Parker, kicker Stratton Butaud and running back Davis Heise. Parker was the team's top offensive playmaker in 2020, catching 34 balls for 789 yards and 14 TDs, and led the team with five interceptions. He also averaged 34.1 yards per punt. He will be tough to replace because of his big-play ability. Butaud averaged 46.6 yards per kickoff with seven touchbacks.
In December, Randy Hollas stepped down as head football coach after four years at the helm. He will focus more on his duties as athletic director. Defensive coordinator Chris McClanahan was promoted to head coach and sustains the continuity and tradition the Warriors had established under Hollas.
ALL-STATE OFFENSE SECOND TEAM Caedmon Parker, WR HONORABLE MENTION Colby Gorman, OL Stratton Butaud, K ALL-STATE DEFENSE SECOND TEAM Sean Kane, LB Caedmon Parker, DB ALL-DISTRICT OFFENSE FIRST TEAM Colby Gorman, OL Roric Hawkins, RB Caedman Parker, WR Stratton Butaud, K SECOND TEAM Ryan Leslie, RB Sebastian Bryngelson, TE HONORABLE MENTION Colby Shilling, OL Keller Davis, OL Davis Heise, RB Keaton Harvey, RB Roric Hawkins, ATH ALL-DISTRICT DEFENSE FIRST TEAM Ezekiel Jurado, DL Sean Kane, LB Caedmon Parker, DB SECOND TEAM Ryan Leslie, LB Josh Johnson, DB HONORABLE MENTION Dereck Felder, DB Caedmon Parker, P
THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY FINISHED 14-7 AND EARNED A BYE IN THE BI-DISTRICT ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS BEFORE DROPPING A NAIL-BITING, FIVE-SET AREA PLAYOFF MATCH TO HYDE PARK IN THE SECOND ROUND.
The Warriors had three all-district, first-team selections in Claire Dewine, Abigail Adams and Jordan Booth. Second teamers were Katherine Tucker, Katie Wise, and Brooke Harris. Honorable mentions included Avery Buck and Madison Steed.
Dewine was a first-team, all-state pick and Adams was a second-team pick. Booth was an honorable mention, all-state selection.
ALL-DISTRICTFIRST TEAMClaire DewineAbigail AdamsJordan BoothSECOND TEAMKatherine TuckerKatie WiseBrooke HarrisHONORABLE MENTIONAvery buckMadison SteedALL-STATE FIRST TEAM Claire Dewine SECOND TEAM Abigail Adams HONORABLE MENTION Jordan Booth
STOP US IF YOU'VE HEARD IT BEFORE: THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY BOYS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM WON STATE.
Never mind, don't stop us. Because the fact remains coach Tom Earle's boys are still at the head of the class despite moving up in classification to TAPPS 5A. TWCA made it a four-peat as state champion in 2020, as three runners finished in the Top 10. They were first-team, all-staters Ben Shearer, Josh Mueck and Caleb Bigler.
The Warriors also won the district championship for the fifth straight year. Four runners were named as all-district, first-teamers: Shearer, Mueck, Bigler, Zach Bagnoli and Lucas Trevathan.
Shearer was dominant all season. He won the McNeil meet in Austin to earn a first-place ranking in Texas, public or private schools. He also won the Desert Twilight meet in Arizona, overcoming some of the top runners in the country from California, Arizona and Utah. That meet championship elevated Shearer to No. 3 in the country.
At the Nike Virtual Nationals, the Warriors finished 16th overall in the country.
The Warrior girls also enjoyed a stellar season.
The TWCA girls finished third overall at state, their ninth consecutive year finishing in the top three. They also won the district championship for the sixth year in a row.
The Warrior girls had four all-district, first-teamers in Lindsay Worthington, Fern Shirley, Zoe Calimani and Camille Young. Shirley competed against the large private schools in a 5K race and got seventh overall. She also competed against the boys in a 5K race in October and finished 26th overall.
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CHRIS MCCLANAHAN KNEW HE HAD BIG SHOES TO FILL WHEN HE TOOK OVER THE WOODLANDS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY'S FOOTBALL PROGRAM IN DECEMBER.
But there is confidence that McClanahan, who joined TWCA in the summer of 2020 as defensive coordinator, is the right man for the job, and it starts with his impressive resume.
This year is McClanahan's 21st in coaching, and while TWCA is his first head coaching gig, he has experience in a plethora of roles at many schools for distinguished coaches.
McClanahan started at Fort Bend Hightower as an assistant, then helped open Seven Lakes with the late Kevin O'Keefe, then to Alvin with Trey Herrmann before going back to Hightower as the offensive coordinator and helping the Hurricanes win three district titles.
McClanahan got out of coaching for a few years before returning to the sidelines at Lamar for a season.
Then, finally, Randy Hollas recruited him to TWCA, where McClanahan captained the defense, engineering a switch to a 3-4 base from a 4-3, and ultimately chosen as Hollas' successor as he moved into full-time athletic director.
"It has been a unique experience," McClanahan said. "It has been incredible."
And though he has only had an offseason as the man in charge for the first time, McClanahan is prepared.
Well, kind of.
"For the most part, it's been what I expected," McClanahan said. "But there are kind of two sides to that coin. The admin and coordinator experience I had prepared me for the football organization and structure of practices and staffing.
Specific activities, banquets. But it's been a positive learning curve going from a (UIL) 6A school (Lamar) to what amounts to a 2A school."
McClanahan said TWCA is similar to how it was at Seven Lakes and Tays Junior High. Parents are heavily involved and the focus on athletics is significant.
Also, because of the intimate environment a small school offers there is more opportunity to develop relationships with each kid, not only in football but other sports as well.
The offseason has been successful in McClanahan re-teaching some of the fundamentals and skills at each defensive position, as well as players and coaches understanding why they are being asked to do things in a different manner.
McClanahan will have talent in 2021. The cupboard is far from bare and it helps that the program's numbers have grown. TWCA had 37 kids in the program going into the 2020 football season. As of late April, the program had 59.
McClanahan credited coaches who care about kids and understand the importance of supporting multi-sport athletes, current players recruiting others because of the positive experience they are enjoying, and winning.
"I believe that word is spreading about the overall positive experience in football at TWCA, and I am thankful to our student-athletes, families, and school community, who are our biggest supporters," McClanahan said.