Manvel High School has always been a school known for its amazing football program. It has made two state championship game appearances with former head coach Kirk Martin, and is hoping to make another trip with head coach Kevin Hall in 2019. After clinching the district championship last week against Willowridge High School, the Mavericks have one more game against Waltrip High School before entering the playoffs.
The Mavericks were doubted a lot after their appearance in the 2017 UIL 5A Division II State Championship Game. With the Mavs losing big time players, nobody believed in them. The next year, their playoff run was cut short in the second round by Huntsville by a season-ending score of 34-10.
After talking to some of the Mavericks' seniors, this year's team is hoping for a totally different outcome. I asked them a few questions about the season, playoffs, and how they prepared for the challenges ahead of them. Here's what the Mavs had to say.
1. As a whole, many people doubted your team before the season even started. What are some things that kept the team from engaging with all the naysayers?
Vinson Brown: "We just had a different mindset. We knew everything we had at stake, and we have had many great classes ahead of us that set that standard high, so we had to live up to them."
Tucker Yarbrough: "We knew what we had [in the] team in the locker room. We knew it from spring ball, and we didn't listen to anybody outside of us."
Keelan Cox: "One thing that kept the team from engaging with all the naysayers or outsiders was just focusing on the main goal, which was to win a state championship, as well as the district championship. We had to block out all the noise and just work hard."
Jalen Paxton: "We basically didn't even listen to the doubters. We just do what we do to win."
2. After securing big wins against Marshall and Crosby, do you as a team think it showed outsiders that Manvel is still the same team with the same amount of talent?
Vinson Brown: "Getting those big wins just put us on the map again to let people know that we're still here and still Manvel, and can compete with the best of the best. A lot of people were doubting us, but we didn't let that get to us. Our coaches came up with the game plan, and we executed week in and week out. We lost a lot of key players, but we also gained some, and a lot of young guys stepped up."
Tucker Yarbrough: "I really think it woke everyone up, especially [the] Marshall game that shocked the whole state, but it didn't shock us because we knew what we could do."
Keelan Cox: "Yes, it showed that our program is still the same program we were three to four years ago, and we could perform just the same."
Jalen Paxton: "I do think it changed people's mindset. I feel that people believe in us now and know that we are still a good team."
3. After losing in the second round last year, as a team what is the plan for this season's playoff run?
Vinson Brown: "The plan is just to take one game at a time, listen to our coaches' game plan, and watch a lot of film."
Tucker Yarbrough: "Our plan is playing in December in the [Dallas] Cowboys' stadium for a state title."
Keelan Cox: "After losing in the second round last year, the plan in this season's playoff run is to work even harder and to execute a lot better than we did last year. Last year was unfinished business, but this year we will get the job done and most likely be state champions."
Jalen Paxton: "For this year, we plan on playing stronger and faster to win it all."
4. With a lot of younger players making up the team this year, how as leaders did you keep them motivated throughout the season?
Vinson Brown: "The returning players told them what's at stake, and they just hopped on board and rock out with us every week. They know it's our last year and, as a team, we want that state title and ring. They are willing to do everything in their power to help us reach that goal."
Tucker Yarbrough: "Honestly, our younger players have motivated themselves to compete and be leaders, which makes it easier for us seniors to not have to worry about them and play our roles. They play every game like it's their last game, and that's why we have the success we have as a team."
Keelan Cox: "As leaders, we kept them motivated by working out with them in the summer, and letting them know early that they will have to play a big role in the year coming up."
Jalen Paxton: "I basically just told everyone this. It's our last chance as seniors to win it all, so are y'all with it or not? From the beginning, everyone has been focused on winning a championship."
Manvel has a team you can expect to perform by any means. It knows what it takes to win and certainly has the talent to do so. The Mavs will be a team you will enjoy watching week in and week out. I can promise you this isn't the last time you'll hear about this Manvel Maverick football team.
Fort Bend Travis wasn't a team that many expected would put on a show in 2019, but the Tigers had other plans. As we enter Week 11 of the football season, the Travis Tigers are still undefeated with a record of 9-0. This is the first time the Tigers have had an undefeated record this late in a football season and they plan on making a long run in the playoffs.
After getting in contact with Coach Trey Sissom and asking him a few questions, he shared information that will allow you to understand how the Tigers are having such a great season. Here's how he responded.
- As you and your team continue to have a historic season, what are some things you do to keep them motivated?
"One of the things we try to do is keep an eye on our overall goals for the season. We have achieved a few short-term goals so far, but our season goals of winning a district title, going 10-0 on the [regular] season and winning our first playoff game are still in front of us. Our players understand that there is still work to be done and that we cannot let our focus waiver as we get to the end of the regular season."
2. Who are some key players that contribute to the leadership throughout your team?
"[Defensive lineman] Pat Brown and [quarterback] Eric Rodriguez are two players that help keep their side of the ball engaged every day and [are] working to stay perfect on the season. [Running back] Kaelen Shankle is another leader that keep[s] the team's energy up and makes sure that we are ready to practice and play at a high level."
3. How do you feel your players' chemistry reflects on how they play and practice?
"Our team's chemistry has been a big factor over the season. Throughout the season, our players have celebrated with each other when we are playing well and supported each other when we have played poorly. All of our players know their roles and understand that everyone has to do their respective job in order for our team to be successful."
4. With playoffs around the corner, what can we expect from the Tigers this year?
"As the playoffs approach, we feel confident in our team and its ability to play at a high level. The successes that we have had against some good competition [have] given our players and coaches the confidence we need entering the playoffs. Our team has faced adversity throughout the season and always found a way to overcome those challenges. Through their hard work and perseverance, our players have prepared for success each week, and we hope that their efforts can continue as we enter the playoffs and allow us to continue on with our great season."
The Travis Tigers will play their last district game this Thursday against Fort Bend Bush and are hoping to head into the first round of playoffs 10-0 with a district title.