Although the coronavirus pandemic has altered plenty of things in the world, one thing on the football fields in Sealy remains chief among everything else: Championships.
“It doesn’t change. I think people can set expectations in your life and just because you have some adversity to go through you don’t change your expectations, you sure don’t lower them,” Sealy head football coach Shane Mobley said on the first day of practice, Aug. 3.
The team’s motto this year, “OT2; One Team, Our Time” notes the urgency to play together at a high level for however long that may be in the everchanging world.
“I don’t know if (the University Interscholastic League) will come in and make changes,” Mobley said. “Before it’s all said done, they may come out say only one team can make the playoffs. So you’ve got to go into that first game just like you’d go into that last game, and play your tail off 100%.”
The Tigers’ regular season was scheduled to kick off this Friday in Freeport against the Brazosport Exporters who last year handed Sealy its first regular-season loss to snap a 14-game regular season win streak dating back to 2018.
“I think it’s a great way to open the season,” Mobley said. “We had a big senior class last season. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to be stepping up. They need to see what it’s like to play in that environment right off the bat so when we do go over and play Bellville, (they’re ready).”
The Bellville-Sealy rivalry will have district implications this year after the recent realignment of the UIL dropped the Tigers back down to Class 4A’s Division 2. Also competing for the District 12-4A-2 crown for the next two years will be La Marque, Royal, Sweeny, and Wharton.
Although Mobley has some returning contributors on the defensive side of the ball to piece together, offensive coordinator Chris Carruthers will look to sophomore D’vonne Hmielewski to run the show at quarterback.
“Even though he’s a sophomore he’s set himself apart,” Carruthers said at midnight madness practice on Aug. 7. “I think the kids are excited about what he can do. He’s kind of got that ‘it’ factor to him and they’re excited about him being the leader.”
Hmielewski said he’s been embracing the role of starting quarterback despite being younger than most others on the varsity roster.
“I know I can play and that’s what I’m going to prove, it’s not about the grade but it’s about how I can play,” he said.
Senior Draper Parker, who played some quarterback last year, and Thomas Clark, a top-five leading tackler last year as a sophomore, have also been taking snaps in practice behind an offensive line that although lacks varsity experience, makes up for it with positional experience.
“It’s flipped from last year where we had four returners and one open spot, now we have one returner and we have four spots to fill,” Carruthers said of lone returning starter Kade Killough. “That’s the fun part that Coach Mobley and I get to play around with is fitting the pieces in. … We’ve got a couple guys who played defense the last couple years in the mix then we’ve got a couple of JV kids that are coming in, so we’ve got eight or nine guys to fill the five spots. The good news about those guys is that about six of the eight or nine have played center, guard and tackle so we have a lot of experience within those positions.”
Mobley has fewer open spots to fill on defense but has a strong contingency of returners and bubble players to filter in.
Returning to bolster the defense are Clayton Prazak, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine’s preseason defensive district MVP, Lane Holley, Brooks Redden, Jackson Osborne, Ethan Hart, Connor Krenek and Clark. Some other players looking to make the step up to fulltime on varsity include Anthony Munoz, Deionte Cooper, Mike Mullins, Blake Zaskoda, Rhys Reichardt, Fonsi Avalos and Mason Klotz.
“And then we got … Draper Parker, Jakobe Davis, a lot of these kids that have been straight offense,” Mobley said. “They’re going to work a lot of defense because we just don’t know when (a shutdown or cancellation is) going to hit.”
Parker, entering his third season on varsity, said the time has flown by but he’s ready to cap his high school career on a high note.
“It’s kind of surreal, I remember every second of my sophomore year and now my senior year is already here,” Parker said.
He too has high expectations for the team as well as personally.
“Just go out and prove that we’re still one of the top teams in the state,” Parker said. “(Individually I want to) get a thousand yards receiving and hopefully offensive MVP of the district.”
Stay tuned to The Sealy News coverage of Sealy Tiger football all season long on SealyNews.com, @TheSealyNews on Twitter and Facebook and The Sealy News Podcast, available on all major streaming platforms.