Entering the regular-season finale, the Sealy Tigers needed a win over the Needville Blue Jays and a loss from the Brazosport Exporters to punch a ticket to the postseason.
Although Sealy took care of business, 49-0, Brazosport did the same in 42-13 fashion over the Fulshear Chargers to claim the fourth and final playoff spot from District 13-4A.
What the Tigers also achieved, however, was the creation and cementation of lifelong memories between brothers.
“It’s just been a roller coaster year; coming in at the beginning ranked No. 6, we were expecting that we were going to make a deep run and things changed and there was even a lot of negativity for a while,” said linebacker and wide receiver Hunter Clark. “But to be able to finish with a 49-0 win is huge, just makes a statement for what we’ve done and what we’re going to do in the future.”
“I think we were just playing with nothing to lose and just going out and having fun in our last game, playing like we’ve played together the past five years,” linebacker Garrett Redden said.
“Not so much the memories on the field, it’s the ones off it too,” explained running back and defensive back Matthew Lord. “Playing with them is great but all the memories off the field; fishing, playing around fighting each other, those are the times I’ll look back on. It’s the end of my season but a new opportunity for others, just gotta pick the younger guys up and let them know they’re going to be the leaders next year.”
“It’s not the outcome we wanted, obviously the win’s great but I wish things in other places ended differently, they didn’t, but it was a long ride and I’m happy to end it with my boys,” lineman Jacob Evanicky noted. “I’ll remember so much, my career started as a left tackle and it got to finish as a left tackle even though I played center the past two years but I’m happy with that, kind of poetic.”
With the 49-0 lead ensured by the end of the third quarter, head coach Shane Mobley was able to move some of his players in their final season around to provide an opportunity he knows was a special one.
“We let some of our offensive guys play on defense because it is a memory that they all got to participate in,” he said. “These guys have got some bigger and better things to look forward to that’s going to happen, football is the fun part of coaching but it’s not what we’re all about. You look at a lot of the college coaches who have had success, they preach about helping men become men and I think there’s so much truth to that.”
Another thing Mobley helped this group of 25 seniors do was to play carefree knowing the playoffs were ultimately out of their hands to clinch.
“This week when it was raining we all went outside and slid in the rain, went on top of the hill and slid down,” Evanicky said.
The lineman added, and was reinforced by other members of the offense, that they knew they were going to have the game they did from the very beginning.
After the teams traded punts on their first possessions, Alvin Nunn got the Tigers on the board with a 3-yard rumbling run to cap off a three-minute, 21-yard drive before the defense supplied a few extra drives.
A fumble led to a 10-yard Draper Parker rush before an interception got the ball back to the hosts where Nunn finished off a 48-yard run to take a 20-0 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
“Needville definitely didn’t expect that,” Lord added.
Nunn turned another interception into points with a 17-yard score for the first-half hat trick before a 35-yard connection from Carter Cryan to Ja’Marris Cotton had the Tigers ahead, 35-0, at the halftime break.
Coming out of the intermission, Mobley had a specific message to Clark to get in on the takeaway fun.
“Coach Mobley told me coming out of halftime, ‘Go get you an interception,’ and the first series out there I did it,” Clark recounted, eventually setting up a Jakobe Davis 16-yard scoring rush.
Dai’Kwan Brown provided the bookending score, a 15-yard scamper, to round the final score out to 49-0 and salvage a positive moment in an otherwise unhappy ending to the season.
“It was great to end on a good note but at the same time it’s tough when you’re expected to make playoffs and you don’t,” Redden said. “It was awesome to end how we deserved to and how we were supposed to even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted.”
He, along with Clark, also got the distinct opportunity to play alongside family one more time Friday night in a moment neither of them took for granted.
“It was a blessing to get the opportunity to play with Brooks because I know most people don’t get the chance to play with their brothers but I know me and Hunter were very lucky to be able to play with our brothers,” Redden said.
“That’s gonna be a killer, that’s a dream to be able to play with your brother,” Clark said. “It’s crazy that this was the last time I’ll get to play with him but it’s been a good two years and I know he’s going to dominate next year, he’s had a great year and I know he’s going to keep working hard so I’m proud of him and I can’t wait to see what he does.”
All in all, it has been an exceptionally successfully winding road for the Class of 2020 and Evanicky put it into a few words.
“It’s been up all this time, undefeated seventh and eighth grade, freshman year undefeated, sophomore year got moved up with six of my brothers, rough start but went to the playoffs and went two rounds deep and felt great, felt on top of the world,” he said. “Came back junior year, go undefeated, three rounds deep and on top of the world and then go to district this year on top of the world still and it just crashed but I’m happy it ended on a win.”
Although Mobley bids farewell to a large group, he knows there is still plenty of success to be had down the road.
“This group of seniors is an awesome class, very intelligent group of young men and women that are going to be very successful in their days and I’m extremely proud of each and every one of them and the great thing is that they’re going to learn life is tough,” he said.
“These guys have nothing to hang their heads about,” Mobley continued. “If you judge these men on whether they made the playoffs or not, then you’re looking at life and this whole game the wrong way because these men battled from day one through some big stuff; going to Navasota, playing Bellville there, to some adversity here against Brazosport; you gotta teach them that because it had been a while since we had been in that situation and adversity comes and there’s all kind of things that come along but you’ve got to be strong because it’s going to happen in life, at work, in marriage, in college and the workforce.”