David Collins is a busy man.
In the midst of helping Bullard Brook Hill win a state title as defensive coordinator on the football team, the Lady Guard soccer team that he coaches began its first season as a TAPPS program.
Days after the Guard claimed the football championship, the boys soccer team, also coached by Collins, started its schedule.
If Collins was a less effective coach, he might have had some time to catch his breath by now. Instead, he’s led both the girls and boys teams to the TAPPS Division III state tournament, which begins Friday in San Antonio.
“It doesn’t leave much time for the house,” Collins said. “It’s been a challenge.
“I’m excited to have both teams down there. It’s great for our school; it’s great for our program. Hopefully we can build on this momentum and keep it going.”
The Lady Guard kick off their state semifinal against Carrollton Prince of Peace at 9 a.m. Friday from San Antonio Central Catholic School. The Guard also play Prince of Peace at the same location, with kickoff slated for 2 p.m.
Brook Hill’s boys program is at state for the third time in four years while the Lady Guard reached the final four the first time they were eligible for the postseason.
Collins crafted the boys and girls schedules to maximize his time to coach both teams throughout the season. He missed one game — the boys against a last-place team — as assistant Neal McGowan led the Guard for a day.
The Lady Guard played a few scrimmages last year before joining TAPPS this season. Starting a program from scratch, the Brook Hill girls are young, with three seniors, one junior, one freshman and the rest sophomores. Kennedy Rose, a sophomore midfielder, said it was hard but fun to start a program.
“It was neat because a bunch of girls that you didn’t even know played soccer came out and they had a lot of talent and worked really hard,” sophomore midfielder Kendall Wells said. “We had some people that came out that didn’t even know the rules of soccer, but they just worked really hard. They knew that this is what they wanted to work at.”
The Lady Guard finished the regular season third in TAPPS D-III District 1 but earned the league’s fourth seed following a tournament of the six playoff teams from district. Now, only District 1 squads remain in the tournament.
Prince of Peace won the regular season and tournament title. Colleyville Covenant Christian finished second and plays in the other semifinal against Sherman Texoma Christian, which finished fourth in the regular season but edged Brook Hill for the third seed.
“I don’t think anybody expected us to be as successful as we’ve become,” Collins said. “We have some very talented players on our team. We’ve got a group of girls that are committed to working hard and they’ve really developed as a team.”
Forward Haley Dumesnil leads the Lady Guard offensively with 18 goals and 15 assists. Wells is second on the team with 11 goals while Rose has eight goals and 10 assists.
“Those three have been the glue that have held us together through the season,” Collins said.
Brook Hill dealt with injuries during the regular season, including a period of five games with only 11 players. The Lady Guard lost to the Lady Eagles 3-1 in Bullard during that stretch. Prince of Peace has been to the final four the last three years with its best finish coming as runners-up in 2010.
Getting healthy has been key for the Lady Guard as Wells has moved back to midfield from defense with the return of Ari Assad. Also on defense are Tyesha Jackson, Maria Moore and Lily Cool, along with goalie Stormie Thoene.
“We’re at full force and we’re ready to win,” Rose said. “We’re going against teams we’ve already played — we know how they play — so we’re ready.”
In the playoffs, Brook Hill has shown what it’s capable of when fit, outscoring opponents 13-2. Collins said the best attribute of his girls team is their love for each other and desire to play hard for each other.
“The main thing that has helped us is that we are unified,” Wells said. “We are out there working for each other and playing for God.”
Wells said she thinks the Lady Guard need to outwork their opposition this weekend to come out on top. The final is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
“I think we’re going to have to be confident first of all,” Rose said. “Don’t be scared — just come out thinking that we’re going to win and don’t let anything come between that.”
While Kendall Wells and the Lady Guard may be newcomers to the state tournament, she only has to ask her brother for tips on what it’s like.
Senior Clay Wells is one of three members of the Guard’s last team that went to state — Brook Hill went in 2009 and 2010 — and said this year’s team has one thing those others did not: the ability to consistently put the ball in the back of the net.
“We didn’t have the ability to finish as well,” Clay Wells said. “Caleb being active this year and Jonah (Gonzales) being able to finish so well, that’s really the extra boost that we needed that we didn’t have that (2010) year.”
Latson, a junior, leads the team in scoring and has seven goals in two playoff games as the Guard have outscored opponents 13-1 in the postseason.
“We’re a good team,” Latson said. “We hang out off the field and on the field. We just work good together. As the season’s gone on and on, we’ve gotten more unified as a team.”
The Guard, like the Lady Guard, have hit their stride in the playoffs with the reintroduction of key players returning from injury. Wells suffered a hip injury that threatened to end his high school career before returning to marshal the midfield in the playoffs.
“Just being able to play more than one game my senior year really just meant the world to me,” Wells said.
Senior Wade Karam was injured Aug. 4 on the first day of football practice with pads. He made his season debut in Tuesday’s 4-0 regional win over Houston St. Thomas.
“We finally found our footing towards the end of district and got us in the playoffs so now we’re just kind of riding our momentum,” Wells said.
Collins said the team has steadily improved from the start of the season to where it is now, especially with the addition of football players like Michael Greening and Gonzales.
“The quality of season we’re having is a true testament to the leadership we have on the team with Clay and Wade,” Collins said.
Brook Hill plays a Prince of Peace team that has won back to back state championships. The last two times the Guard reached state, the Eagles were the ones to send them home: 5-0 in the 2009 semifinals and 3-1 in the 2010 final.
Two key members of Prince of Peace are Brazilian coach Tatu — former Dallas Sidekicks star — and star playmaker Sten Stray-Gundersen, now a senior. Collins, who’s developed a relationship with Tatu over the years, said the Eagles will be a formidable opponent, but thinks his guys are up to the challenge.
“We’re nervous, for sure,” Latson said. “We’ve got to go in with a good attitude. We can’t go in thinking we’re going to get killed, or we will.
“I think we’re all ready to see what happens. We’re going to play hard.”
Should Brook Hill win today, the Guard would play Pharr Oratory or district rival Colleyville Covenant at 1 p.m. Saturday in the final.
“Once it’s your senior year you want it to go on for forever,” Wells said. “It’s not going to go on forever but you can make it last as long as you can and that’s all we can do, that’s all we’ve been doing.”
TAPPS Division III Soccer Playoffs
Bullard Brook Hill 8, Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills 0
Bullard Brook Hill 5, Austin Veritas 2
Bullard Brook Hill vs. Carrollton Prince of Peace, 9 a.m. Friday, San Antonio Central Catholic
Sherman Texoma vs. Colleyville Covenant Christian, 11:30 a.m. Friday, San Antonio Central Catholic
Semifinal winners, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, San Antonio Central Catholic
Bullard Brook Hill 9, Tomball Rosehill Christian 1
Bullard Brook Hill 4, Houston St. Thomas 0
Bullard Brook Hill vs. Carrollton Prince of Peace, 2 p.m. Friday, San Antonio Central Catholic
Colleyville Covenant vs. Pharr Oratory, 4:30 p.m. Friday, San Antonio Central Catholic
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m. Saturday, San Antonio Central Catholic