NEW CANEY – Brady Pennington is the first to admit it is hard to win 10 games in a season - having accomplished it four times in his career as a head coach.
Especially, 10-straight to start the year.
Over the past few seasons at New Caney, Pennington and staff have been able to check off some of the "never been done" boxes for the Eagles' football program. The list has included getting a playoff win (31-28 victory over Beaumont Central in 2016) and winning 10 games (2018) in a single season.
With a 37-0 victory over rival Porter on Friday, which clinched the program's fourth-straight district championship – another thing the team has never done – the Eagles accomplished another historic feat – the first-ever undefeated regular season in the 65th year of the program.
"Going into the season, I really felt like we might have the most athletic team maybe in the history of New Caney," Pennington said. "I say that because we have three or four kids that are really special but then we just have a whole bunch of rope holders. We really felt like we had a chance if the kids put the work in to have a good football team.
"I don't go into a season dreaming of a 10-0 season. I didn't say a word to our kids until about Week 7."
The celebration is on here at Randall Reed Stadium as the Battle Line on 59 trophy is headin back to @NCEagleFootball for a 10th straight year. #txhsfb @ZChildress9 @abc13sports @yaahboidj @CaleSanders11 @newcaneyisd pic.twitter.com/R8cuIxz6Z3
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) November 9, 2019
New Caney, which entered the season as a favorite to repeat as district champions, headed into Friday's meeting with Porter considering it as its toughest test to date.
Early on, both defenses bent but didn't break as Porter's Zhyon Bell and New Caney's Derrick Harris Jr., a Texas-commit, seemed to make every tackle.
With 10 minutes left in the second quarter, New Caney finally found a crease in the defense.
Zion Childress slung the ball to the far sideline, finding Isaiah Akin, who utilized down-field blocking to run his way into the end zone from seven yards out, making it 7-0, which would be the halftime score.
In the second half, it was the Phillip McDaniel Jr. show.
The senior opened the third quarter breaking off an 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown before capping the frame with a 61-yard touchdown reception and starting the fourth quarter with a 29-yard score.
The 21-point swing was too much for Porter to overcome as the Spartans' offense could never get anything going as New Caney rolled to the 37-0 victory and clinch the 10-0 season.
"It's a great feeling," McDaniel said. "Never happened before. It's good, we deserved it, we've been practicing hard every day."
Childress finished 12 of 23 for 200 yards and three scores, while rushing for another 146 yards on 16 carries, including a 55-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter.
"Just keep adding on to the stones that Coach [Pennington] is laying down," Childress said about the undefeated regular season. "Everyday we go to work. Coach has put out a foundation for us and just keep getting better that's what we're doing as a team. Coach Pennington wanted us playing our best ball at the end of the season and that's what we're doing."
Next up for New Caney is a playoff date with Foster. The game is slated for Friday, November 15 at Randall Reed Stadium with kickoff set for 7 p.m.
New Caney – As the final second ticked off the clock, Brady Pennington walked over to Phillip McDaniel Jr. and hugged the senior.
It was his first Battle Line on 59 game. It was his final regular season game at New Caney High School in his lone year with the program and he had just busted loose, scoring three second-half touchdowns to help lead the Eagles to a 37-0 victory over Porter.
"We were kidding him about Battle Line, you've never seen something like this," Pennington said. "He's been excited about it. I hugged him right at the end and said 'Well you broke this battle line in good.'."
McDaniel's response to that statement – "I had to coach".
The senior, who moved from Texas City High School during the summer, heading into the final game of the regular season had just 24 catches for 418 yards and two scores.
McDaniel posted nearly half those numbers just against Porter on Friday.
An 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the third quarter was his first big play, which sparked the New Caney sideline after leading just 7-0 at the half.
"It was a big momentum change for us," McDaniel said. "Coach said the game was too close at the half and we just had to turn it up."
VYPE Player of the Game: @NCEagleFootball SR @PMcdanieltm talks after his first Battle Line on 59 game. He had 7 receptions for 168 yards, 2 TDs and an 82-yard kickoff return for a TD. #txhsfb @ZChildress9 @CaleSanders11 @dctf @joeagleason @txhsfbgameday @yaahboidj @NewCaneyHS pic.twitter.com/uzdQIbwEi7
— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) November 9, 2019
The speedster continued to find the ball.
Later in the third quarter, New Caney quarterback Zion Childress, who finished with 200 yards passing and three scores, hit McDaniel on a screen. Following the blocking down the sideline, McDaniel hit his next gear and was gone for a 61-yard touchdown.
"Tonight he was balling," Childress said. "It was like he was playing at another level. We need that going into the playoffs and I hope he keeps playing like that."
Just minutes into the fourth quarter, McDaniel struck again. On virtually the same play, just to the near side of the field, the senior caught another screen pass, followed blockers and was in for the 29-yard score.
In a blink, McDaniel had helped the Eagles expand a once 7-0 lead to a 28-0 advantage with 10:55 remaining.
"For it to be his first Battle Line game and him not really know what the meaning of the game is and come out and show out like that – he played a heck of a game," Childress said. "That's nice."
McDaniel finished with seven receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns and the 82-yard kickoff return for a score. The senior also had a handful of pass deflections, including one near the end zone, which came on a fourth down play and gave the Eagles the ball back.
"He's very explosive and can go," Pennington said. "He's a two-way starter. He's starting on defense at safety, he's very athletic and a tremendous young man. Really proud of him. Tonight, was definitely his night."