Banquet offers glimpse at upcoming sports seasons

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The first Austin County Sports Banquet was held Saturday at the KC Hall in Sealy with coaches from Bellville, Brazos and Sealy speaking about their teams over dinner with a silent auction and raffles held to support the booster clubs from each school.

Cross country was the first sport covered with Brazos and Bellville talking about their teams recent successes. Sealy coach Anthony Branch had an athlete reach the state meet last season and the boys won their second district title in a row in 2016 and hopes for more success for the upcoming season.

Branch is bringing in a new assistant coach this year and said the girls team has a chance to do something special.

"We're looking forward to the 2017 season," Branch said. "The girls are in the process of building a championship team. Last year we finished third in district and advanced to regionals in Corpus Christi. We have three girls returning that are developing as leaders and great runners."

The boys team finished 10th at regionals, but lost their top runner in Colton Gajewski who earned a college scholarship as a senior.

"We have a great group returning," Branch said. "This group has a chance to win a third district championship in a row. They have an opportunity to advance to regionals and see what we can do."

In volleyball, the Brazos and Bellville coaches spoke of their high expectations this season. Bellville coach Susan Brewer has been head coach for more than 40 years and highlighted the tough non-district schedule ahead for her team.

Brewer's Brahmarettes are in the same district as Sealy and will be a tough challenge for the Lady Tigers.

New Sealy volleyball coach Kimberly Svien talked about her new job and the success her team has had over the summer.

Two of Sealy's teams won in bracket play at the Schulenburg summer league and two teams won the overall tournament.

"We had players missing on different occasions and we had leaders step up and be ready to play out of position," Svien said. "They did it without complaints."

Svien said she's happy to inherit a team with seven seniors and numerous starters returning to help guide the team for the upcoming season.

"Our plan as a coaching staff is to create an environment where the girls love to come play the game and feel value in their role - whatever it may be - and work hard every day," Svien said.

The last group to speak were the football coaches.

Brazos is coming off its first playoff appearance since 2007 under coach Ned Barrier, who took over the team last season.

The Cougars play in one of the toughest districts in the state with the likes of East Bernard, Boling and Schulenburg.

"It's been a long time in Brazos since there have been expectations," Barrier said. "After going to the playoffs for the first time in nine years, now there are expectations. The kids have met them head on."

Bellville head football coach Grady Rowe started his address to the crowd by moving the Sealy helmet sitting in front of the podium and replacing it with Bellville's.

The two teams meet on Sept. 22 in Bellville on the newly installed artificial turf at Brahma Stadium nicknamed the Pasture of Pain.

Rowe's team has had several successful seasons recently and expects more of the same in 2017.

"Our kids don't know any better," Rowe said. "They know how to win. They're expected to win, our community expects us to win and we'll be just fine."

New head football coach and athletic director Shane Mobley closed out the event by talking about the new coaches on the staff he's brought in and his hopes for the season.

He also put the Sealy helmet back in front of the podium after joking with Rowe that he hadn't forgot.

"This all started for us this past week," Mobley said. "The coaching staff had a little retreat and we got together and made sure we had the right kids in the right spot. We don't judge by how old you are, if you're an incoming freshman and you can play on Friday night, you will play. If you are a senior and you earned that spot, you will play. We're not a big enough school system for four teams. A lot of bigger schools have that with the four classes staying together."

Mobley also said he's not going to rush anyone to the varsity team, giving examples of juniors in the past that stayed on junior varsity to develop and later went on to play in college due to their improvement at that level.

The Tigers begin two a days this week and the real evaluation will begin as the season draws near. Players will be split into gold and black teams with each part of the coaching staff evaluating the groups to determine who fits best at each position.

"We're setting the foundation after a great summer of participation," Mobley said. "We've averaged over 150 kids every day this summer. Boys and girls in junior high and high school."

Mobley's teams at Sweetwater ran the spread and he implements a multiple defense that can adjust to different offenses.

Mobley will focus mainly on the defensive side of things and allow his offensive coaches to run that side of the team.

"Honestly, I might as well be talking about the Wing-T when I talk about our offense, because I do the defense," Mobley said. "I'm very, very blessed to have coaches that do the offense. When you start talking offense, defense and special teams and try to put your hand in the cookie jar in every single thing, you're going to get lost and confused. You've got to be a specialist in what you do."

After 20 years in coaching, Mobley has seen several trends on offense from the split-back veer to the current spread option trend.

"That's helped me as a coach as the game has evolved," Mobley said. "We know we can two spread teams in back to back weeks. One might be 80 percent pass and another 80 percent run, so we've got to be very multiple on defense."

In closing, Mobley said he hopes to be able to talk more about the players next year and thanked the Sealy Tigers in attendance for the work they've put in so far.

"I look forward to doing this again," Mobley said. "Thank you very much to you guys that are here. You've welcomed myself, my staff and you've busted your tails. The young ladies too, in the summer workouts you learn a lot about your program. It's been a great summer and a lot of fun."

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