The Sealy Tigers were far and away the best team of District 13-4A and the All-District teams announced Saturday rightfully displayed plenty of Tigers including some who were voted most valuable player.
On top of that, the leader of the program, head coach Shane Mobley, was chosen as the District’s Coach of the Year following the 12-1 mark in just his second year at the helm.
He was able to bring plenty of staff members along with him when he took over, and he included their impact on the team helped bolster the case for the honor to be bestowed on Mobley to represent the entire staff.
“That’s a testament to all the hard work they’ve put in and all the time spent away from their families,” he said, knowing that time was not wasted on the minds of the players. “And it’s a testament to the relationships they built with the kids and you saw that after the game on Friday. We want for them to have successful years in the future.”
Mobley coached the defensive side to an average point-allowance of 15.3 points per game, yielding more than 20 points just thrice.
A leading cog in that machine all year was the pressure from the edge produced by junior Garrett Redden, who was tabbed as the Defensive MVP of the district.
Redden seemed to be involved with nearly every play, registering over 150 tackles to lead the team and added a trio of sacks as well.
Of course, it never comes down to just one player and the rest of the defense certainly was not comprised of slouches, as five of Redden’s defensive teammates landed on the first-team, while four more earned spots on the District’s second-team.
The first-team honorees were anchored by senior Derek Bollinger, who spent all of his time in the trenches alongside Redden, cleaning up the mess while getting less of the glitz and the glam … although both could reach into their back pocket to provide a bone-jarring hit when needed.
Directly behind them were the linebackers who were represented by junior Hunter Clark on the first-team. Another member of the class of 2020, Clark will return for another year under Mobley to help lead the defense back to the postseason territory that Sealy hadn’t seen since the 90’s.
Also earning spots on the first-team were a trio of defensive backs who roamed the skies and picked up everything else while also providing run support.
Two seniors in A.J. McGee and Matthew Lord finished their careers with first-team honors on the defensive side while another rising senior in Reece Novicke will rely on this year’s experience heading into his final year in the black and gold.
Providing the defense needed to keep opponents out of the end zone can only be supplemented by a scoring offense in order to win a lot of games and the Tigers needed not worry about that part.
Leading the charge all year had been the one-two punch of quarterback Garret Zaskoda and running back Ivan Bolden but they would have been able to produce next to nothing had it not been for their offensive line which included three first-teamers while the other two nailed down spots on the second-team.
Center Jacob Evanicky’s experience anchored the offensive trench and he will be around for another year of solidifying that line. Right next to him at left guard was classmate Cory Barrett and it was senior Arturo Hernandez out at right tackle who were the other two on the first-team.
Left tackle Kade Killough and right guard Jorge Torres were the final two to round out the protectors of the football and earned spots on the second-team. Killough still has two years left in the Sealy high halls while Torres finished his career with this All-District selection.
That group of five provided the holes and space necessary for the overall District MVP, Bolden, to do what he does best and run all over the field.
Bolden seemed to outdo himself and update his highlight reel on a weekly basis, registering at least one score in every single game.
Plenty were on the ground but a handful came through the air from the arm of Zaskoda, who was one of many Tigers to make the jump to the first-team this year following last year’s second-team honor.
However, the first-team nominations did not stop there, as the most important facet of the game in special teams also had a Sealy name atop the list.
David Ponce-Gomez was chosen as the first-team kicker after converting 51 of his 54 point-after tries and four of his nine field-goal attempts for a total of 68 points which was third-most on the team behind only Bolden and Clay Roberts.
Speaking of Roberts, he was chosen as the most valuable utility man, providing an impact on all three sides of the ball in his final fall on the gridiron.
“With the superlatives, it speaks to the way they played the game,” Mobley said of his MVPs. “Not to take away from the other teams because everyone has special players, but to go undefeated and win the district outright, there’s something to be said about that.”
And there was indeed plenty more to say with a solid representation on the second-team as well.
Senior classmates Cody Manna and Brendan Luff earned second-team honors for the linebacking corps while another senior in Hunter Havel landed on the squad for his contributions on the defensive line.
Ja’Marris Cotton was the lone defensive back on the second-team but still has one year remaining in a Tiger uniform.
On the offensive side of the ball, Isaac Washington earned a second-team honor in his final campaign and his classmate in A.J. McGee joined him, riding off into the sunset with another title to their name.
On top of all of that, five more Sealy young men were chosen as honorable mention.
Senior Caleb Terrell ended his career with that honor while juniors Luke Thielemann, Kyler Haley and Carter Cryan will likely fill spots vacated by seniors like Terrell.
Freshman Thomas Clark also grabbed honorable mention, gaining invaluable experience so early in his career.
Although Mobley is the head football coach, he is also the athletic director and also included that he wanted to see this success continue on as the seasons change, knowing these athletes can achieve lots more in this year alone.
“That’s what I love about being in a small school setting,” he said, listing off members of his own staff that will branch off to take over coaching duties like boys’ basketball (Ray Dabney), baseball (Dane Bennet, Teague Kowalski) and track (Russell Dziadek, Jeremy Phillips, Kamm Coker, Giles Montgomery) among others.
“My expectation is not for this to end yet,” Mobley added, and he’s spot on, with Dabney starting up his basketball season Friday night.
“Years down the road not everyone may remember who was on the first-team whatever or second-team offensive line,” Mobley said. “But these kids will and their parents and these coaches will and that will be something they can brag about forever.”