Coaches from Sealy, Bellville and Brazos gathered Saturday night to outline their football, volleyball and cross country programs for the coming year.
Funds from ticket sales at the second annual Austin County Sports Night – the brainchild of Sealy school board member Joe Mike Young – go to the booster clubs at each school. Last year’s event raised $1,300.
Texas high School Coaches Hall of Honor member Bob Gillis served as the event’s master of ceremonies.
Officials with the Brazos school district announced that they are moving from the 3A classification to 2A.
“Year after year, the Brazos cross country program is one of the best in the state,” Gillis said when introducing Brazos cross country Coach Eric Stuessel.
Stuessel has served the district for 22 seasons.
“Last year the boys’ varsity team finished third in the district meet qualifying for the regional meet for the 19th year in a row,” he said. “This year the boys’ team will have four runners coming back. The girls’ varsity team last season finished second at two meets and third at another meet. They were the district runner-up team, which qualified that team for the regional meet for the 15th year in a row. At the regional meet, the girls’ team finished fourth, which qualified them for the state cross country meet for the second year in a row.”
It is “exciting and encouraging,” Stuessel said, that of the seven runners who competed at the state level last year, five are returning.
Bellville cross country Coach Sharon Carter talked about her girls’ team and two individual boys advancing to regionals last year.
“I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be a product of Bellville High School and all it had to offer academically as well as athletically,” said the BHS graduate. “We’ve been working hard this summer. We had a pretty good season last year.”
Seven seniors and 10 juniors are returning to the cross country teams this year, Carter said.
“I’m really excited about this year,” she said.
Sealy cross country Coach Anthony Branch is starting his 21st season with the district.
“I think it’s a neat experience to be around some great coaches,” Branch said.
Branch highlighted the efforts of Assistant Coach Adrian Rocha.
“He’s kind of my glue guy,” Branch said. “He gets everybody together and does a lot of team bonding. He’s a valuable asset.”
The Sealy cross country boys’ team finished third in district and advanced to regionals. The girls missed regionals by one point.
“If you ever come to the meets, I guarantee you in about four or five years the finishers for Sealy are going to be Eschenburg, Eschenburg, Eschenburg, Eschenburg and Eschenburg, because there’s a bunch coming up,” Branch said.
Brazos volleyball Coach Denyse Fernandez said her team was regional semi-finalists last season for the second consecutive year.
“We’re setting the bar high,” she said. “We’re only returning three starters so we have a lot of roles to fill … Our girls will work, whatever I ask them to do. They do it with a smile on their faces and they always see the results.”
Bellville volleyball Coach Susan Brewer has led her team to nine state championships and is looking for her 1,000th win this season.
“Going to work is a pleasure for me,” Brewer said. “It’s really like Christmas; it comes around once a year and you can’t wait for it. It’s going to be very exciting but it’s going to be a little bit different because we are going to have such a fast start. Hold on to your spandex. We’re looking forward to some very exciting volleyball in Bellville.”
Sealy volleyball Coach Kimberly Boyd is in her second year leading the Lady Tigers, who finished third in district last year and went two rounds in the playoffs, finishing 26-13.
“This is my dream job,” Boyd said. “I’ve loved every single minute. This is definitely going to be a rebuilding year but I am so excited about it. We have four returning seniors. They are really stepping into those roles that they’ve had to fill from our seniors who graduated.”
A lot of young talent is coming up through the program, Boyd added.
The evening wrapped up with words from the district’s football coaches.
Ned Barrier, the head football coach at Brazos, said he’s excited about the upcoming season as a 2A team. Barrier has led the Cougars to the playoffs both years that he’s been at the helm. The team lost 16 graduating seniors last season.
“We’re going to miss them but we’re returning some really good football players,” Barrier said. “We’re bringing some really good players up that we feel like we’ve prepared. What we’ve been teaching since the get-go is just get out there and compete. No X. No excuses.”
Barrier said the kids worked hard during the off-season.
“[The year] 2018 has some big challenges for us,” he said. “We’re stepping out of a tough district and going into a tough district. The kids we have are going to compete hard and make Austin County proud.”
Jacob Smith, defensive coordinator for Brazos, talked about his strategy for the fall.
“Our kids compete and they don’t quit,” he said. “We’re excited about 2018.”
Coach Grady Rowe of Bellville led his team to second place in district play last year.
“Texas Football [Magazine] believes they should win the district,” Gillis said. “No pressure, Coach Rowe.”
Rowe complimented the Bellville community, school board and booster club.
“I’m really blessed to be in Bellville, America,” he said. “We have an awesome community and kids. Our kids don’t know any better but to work and work hard. That’s a good thing.”
Sixteen returning lettermen will head to the Brahma stadium this year.
“All they know is to win,” he said. “Our team chemistry is going to be better this year because of those leaders. We look forward to another great year. We’ve got some great kids.”
Sealy Athletic Director Shane Mobley also had a good run during his first season as head football coach, finishing 6-5 and going two deep in the playoffs. Texas Football Magazine has predicted Sealy will be No. 1 in its district for 2018.
“For y’all to come out on a Saturday afternoon and listen about the kids, we’ve got so much pride and love,” Mobley said. “That comes from good coaching staffs. I’m very honored and blessed that the only coach we had leave on our staff this year was one who retired. Other than that, our coaching staff is staying together 100 percent. It’s a strong foundation. Thank you for sticking with me and believing in me. I appreciate you.”
He commended the student athletes for their dedication.
“It was a great year last year but I don’t think we slept until spring break when it was all said and done,” Mobley said. “These young boys have turned into some young men.”