The Knights of Faith Academy of Bellville are ready to win.
The 2018 campaign served as their return to the six-man football division of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Class 1A competition after falling out due to lack of participation and although Faith Academy ended up on the losing side of all their contests, the team gained valuable experience according to head coach James Crawford.
“Last year we had eight players and four of them were freshmen so we’re a little older this year in fact, the freshmen that are back were our leading rushers, our leading receivers and our leading tacklers,” he said. “We’ve got a really good sophomore group and we have two seniors showing good leadership and no juniors (but five freshmen).”
The coach is excited for the 2019 slate with last year’s season in the rear-view mirror.
“Last year we didn’t win any games but we set a good foundation and I’m expecting to win a few games this year, surprise some people. I think we’re better this year just because our talented guys have aged,” Crawford said. “We have six really good skilled players, in six-man you need some kids that can move, that have agility and speed … there’s a lot of space in six-man.”
The lone down lineman is even eligible to receive passes so virtually all positions need that athleticism to function at a high level. On the defensive side, discipline and swarming to the ball is key with so much more green grass for opposing athletes to use.
One of the most important positions remains the quarterback despite the drop in the number of players on the field, and although the most recent Knight signal-caller just walked across the stage as salutatorian, Crawford has a trick up his sleeve.
“We’re replacing our quarterback, (Cameron Crawford) was all-district last year, all-state earlier in his career,” the coach said. “Nathan Figueroa has been doing really well, he’s one of the sophomore kids and he played a little bit last year he got a few snaps but not many. I think he’ll step in and do a really good job.”
The new man under center will get a test right off the bat with the Dime Box Longhorns set as the week one opponent, fielding a six-man team for the first time in school history.
“It’s a little town between Giddings and Lexington and they’ve never played six-man before and we’re going to play them here Aug. 30,” Crawford said. “We don’t know anything about Dime Box about what they run offensively or defensively, what kind of players they have, what kind of skill players they have.”
The preparation, therefore, has become more difficult but the man at the helm of the program has been putting his team through a barrage of looks and situations to expose his team to a variety of possibilities.
“We’re working our offense against defenses we’ve seen in the past and our defense, we’ve got multiple defenses, so how we line up against various formations. We’re just trying to collectively put it all together,” he said.
Crawford has high hopes overall, but not simply because of the effort they’re going to leave out on the field this year.
“The kids have had a year of experience and I’m going to go back to we have the speed and the athletic ability, they had it last year but they were just freshmen, we’ve got a year of lifting weights and agility,” he said. “(They’re) hard workers and they support each other and love each other, we’ve got a great camaraderie within the players.”