For first-year All Saints coach Mike Hall, he can hardly believe the season is over.
The Trojans, who played 10 straight weeks without a bye, ended their season with a 31-28 loss to Austin St. Stephen’s in which the visiting Spartans had two tries at a game-winning field goal in the final minute.
All Saints finished the year 3-7, a record that Hall said was frustrating for him.
“I don’t know that I did a good enough job because I think these guys were very talented,” Hall said. “I think we should’ve won more games and I put that right back on me.”
Despite not picking up more wins, Hall said he was satisfied with how the program is being built, particularly with the way the players never gave up.
“I see championship banners in the future,” he said.
The Trojans themselves may be motivated to work hard during the offseason by the way their 2012 campaign ended. After rallying to tie the game on Ruben DeLong’s interception return for a touchdown, St. Stephen’s lined up to kick a field goal in the final minutes.
The kick, from the left hash, missed, but officials ruled All Saints offsides, though Hall said he could not determine anyone who was lined up incorrectly after watching game film.
The ensuing retry, this time from the middle of the field, was good from 21 yards with 33 seconds left, ending the Trojans rally and the seniors’ careers with a loss.
“That’s certainly one of the legacies that (the seniors are) leaving to this program — the never-say-die attitude,” Hall said. “When we start putting championship banners up we’ll be able to look back at these guys’ legacies.”
BROOK HILL STILL CONTROLS DESTINY
Bullard Brook Hill isn’t used to losing as the weather turns cool.
The Guard had won 29 straight district games before a recent stretch saw them play some of the top teams in the state in a span of three weeks.
The resulting three-game losing streak has Brook Hill on the verge of missing the playoffs, though they still control their own destiny in TAPPS D-II District 2.
“It’s been a long three weeks,” Guard coach Terry Pirtle said. “Those kids have faced three of the top five teams in the state in the last three weeks.
“Luckily we have an opportunity to make the playoffs this week and extend our season. That’s a motivating factor this week.”
Brook Hill lost to unbeaten Dallas Christian to end its streak; then Dallas Parish Episcopal and Grace Community, both one-loss teams, extended the rare losing streak.
The Guard now face Carrollton Prince of Peace with the simple scenario of win and they’re in against a team they beat 48-7 in the D-III playoffs last year. A loss muddies Brook Hill’s playoff picture with the possibility of a three-way tie for fourth.
"It’s always good to have the ability to play Week 10 with something to play for,” Pirtle said. “We want to make sure that we make the playoffs.”
DEFENSE, OFFENSE CLICKING FOR GRACE
On Grace Community’s first offensive play on Friday, Kade Clayton took a handoff 71 yards for a touchdown.
The play was waived off for a chop block, but the Cougars didn’t fret.
The way Grace’s offense has been clicking, it was only a matter of time before the points were on the board.
In the end, the Cougars scored plenty in a 48-14 win, but the defense too deserved praise for limiting a challenging Bullard Brook Hill offense to less than 300 yards.
Offense and defense have been weapons for Grace, which leads TAPPS D-II District 2 in offense and is third in defense.
With the ball, the Cougars put up 48.1 points per game, and have rushed for 2,829 yards, about 60 percent of their area-best 510.4 yards per game.
Without the ball, Grace is holding opponents to 18.3 points and 280.9 yards per game. The Cougars, under defensive coordinator Norm Thompson, have been particularly stingy against the pass, giving up 98.3 yards per game and intercepting a pass once every 17 attempts.
Sophomore Kade Clayton has been vital in all areas. He’s rushed for 1,247 yards and 22 TDs while catching 22 passes for 467 yards and six touchdowns. He recently became a full-time player on defense with the injury to Adam Graham and has 25 tackles in the last two games. Clayton even has a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Graham, a sophomore, led the team in tackles before a season-ending injury.
“We miss Adam Graham quite a bit, we really do miss him,” Grace coach Mike Maddox said. “Kade’s been able to step in there and play that position pretty good.”
CRUSADERS STRIVING TO FINISH STRONG
Bishop Gorman has lost all five of its home games this year, something not lost on the Crusaders.
With Friday’s game against Dallas Shelton both homecoming and “Senior Night,” Gorman is more than eager to give the home crowd a first glimpse of a win under first-year coach Coby Gipson.
“It’s what we’ve talked about all week,” Gipson said. “It’s the main focus to send our seniors out on a winning note and to win in front of our home fans.
“(The seniors) have had three head coaches in four years, but through it all they have stayed together and shown a resiliency to finish their careers.”
The Crusaders have had a rough time at home, losing their last four games at McCallum Stadium by an average score of 59-7.
Though Gorman is out of the playoff picture, a win against Shelton could vault the Crusaders to as high as fifth place in the eight-team league, which would serve to boost the psyche of the team working to build a solid foundation with Gipson.
“It would be a great momentum shift to start the offseason on a positive note,” Gipson said. “It would be a reminder to us on a daily basis of what we are capable of.”