If any one player symbolized Grace Community’s win over defending state champion Fort Worth Christian on Friday, it was center Luke Crozier.
Going up all night against 6-5, 305-pound Malik Mashek, Crozier didn’t win on every single snap, but he won the majority of them - just like the Cougars as a team.
“I thought he represented all of us in that battle,” Grace coach Mike Maddox said. “We just kept battling and battling and ended up winning the war. I thought his play at center was outstanding to have such a good player over him all night long. He represented how we want all our players to play.”
Grace won 56-52 on a 23-yard touchdown from Christopher Wilhelmi to Parker Ary with seven seconds left after Fort Worth Christian had gone ahead with 40 seconds on the clock.
The Cougars had taken the lead in the back-and-forth game with 3:29 to play after Adam McKinney forced a fumble that Garrett Tauscher recovered.
“You don’t get many games like that in your career,” Maddox said. “While the game was going on you realized you were in something special. The intensity with which we played with was unbelievable.
“The passion to find a way to win I think was just a real key in the ballgame, just the never-say-die attitude to just keep on the attack.”
When Grace fell behind with 40 seconds left, there was no panic on the Cougars sideline. Maddox and Wilhelmi talked it over and figured they’d get six, maybe seven plays to get into field goal range.
After a 45-yard kick return by freshman Alvin Skipworth down to the Cardinals 30, Grace only needed three.
“It was just a real calm thing; I don’t know how to explain it,” Maddox said. “Even on the kickoff return team, there was no panic.”
Wilhelmi finished the game with 279 yards passing with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Ary had five receptions for 144 yards and Tauscher grabbed seven balls for 149 yards.
The win over the defending state champion will give the Cougars confidence heading into a second-round matchup with Midland Christian, the state champion from 2011-13.
“These young men have really proven that they can work as hard as anybody and play as hard as anybody,” Maddox said. “They really bought in to playing with perfect effort, wanting to be the most physical team and wanting to play with passion and putting in the preparation that it takes and being prepared for each play. When you combine those three things together, … it’s really starting to show up at the right time.”
YEAR WITH HUGE STATS
Bishop Gorman’s season may have come to a close in Friday’s 64-26 loss to Grapevine Faith Christian, but not before the team put up some record-breaking numbers.
Judah Bell concluded his senior campaign with some of the most eye-popping numbers you’ll see from a receiver.
Bell finished the year with 2,353 yards on 111 catches, hauling in 19 touchdowns. The state record for receiving yards is 2,427, set in 1998 by Stephenville’s Cody Cardwell.
Throwing to Bell was sophomore Jake Smith, who missed the first game but still finished with 4,351 yards, 41 TDs and seven interceptions.
Ethan Milton was a touchdown machine, scoring 17 times on the ground to go with a team-high 1,460 rushing yards.
Tyler Hobbs did a bit of everything, catching 61 passes for 1,079 yards and 12 TDs, running 21 times for 217 yards and two scores and completing 13 of 25 passes for 226 yards and three TDs without an interception.
Defensively, freshman Jeremiah Milton led the squad with 161 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and four sacks.
With basketball season underway, the first TAPPS rankings are out and both the boys and girls polls have Tyler teams included.
All Saints is ranked No. 5 on the boys side while Grace Community is ranked No. 8 on the girls side.
Houston Westbury Christian is ranked No. 1 in both girls and boys rankings.
TAPPS Girls Basketball Coaches Rankings
1. Houston Westbury Christian
2. Dallas Christian
3. Corpus Christi Incarnate Word
4. Midland Christian
5. Austin St. Michael’s Catholic
6. Austin Regents
7. Victoria St. Joseph
8. Grace Community
9. Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill
10. San Antonio Holy Cross
TAPPS Boys Basketball Coaches Rankings
1. Houston Westbury Christian
2. San Antonio Saint Mary’s Hall
3. Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill
4. Houston Emery-Weiner
5. All Saints
6. Houston Second Baptist
7. Austin St. Dominic Savio
8. San Antonio Holy Cross
9. Grapevine Faith
10. Fort Worth Southwest Christian