Coach’s Thoughts as district football season begins

Shaun Lal, Sports Editor

First of all, we just want to know. When exactly did you choose a starting quarterback?

We are rotating Cole [Thomas], Jack [Steed], Luke [Klingler], and J.C. [Chandler], and all four have done some good things for us so far this season.  They all have strengths that they bring to the table and give us a chance to win games. 

As a coach, did you ever feel anxious about the quarterback situation?

No. All four of those guys are good football players and we feel confident when they are in there.  They are getting better each game.

Alright, So first game of the season. You guys are all psyched up for the season. And then you suffer a tough loss. What does that do to the team’s psyche?

It was a tough setback to Klein Forest, but we learned a lot about what it takes to win and what you have to avoid losing in the future.  It was a lot of guys’ first varsity action and the speed of the game at the varsity level is much different than the JV or Sophomore Team.  Klein Forest had a great quarterback in Matt Davis, who is going to Texas A&M, and he made some great plays to lead them to the win. 

How do you prepare for a player like quarterback Matt Davis, who can run and pass extremely well?

It is very hard to prepare for someone like that because you can’t simulate his speed or decision making in practice. To face a dual threat QB like that can put a lot of stress on a defense, and your margin of error is very small. He is the most complete QB we have faced in a long, long time. He will do great things at the next level and you will probably see him on Sunday’s down the road as well. 

That first game was plagued with personal fouls, enough for the referee to actually suspend play mid-game. Why was it so aggressive?

Both teams had some extra adrenaline because it [was] the first game of the season.  You have two competitive teams that have high expectations, and sometimes things can get out of hand like that.  Referees have to get a handle on that kind of stuff early on to nip it in the bud, and that wasn’t done that night, so it spiraled out of control at times. 

Was practice different than normal that week because of the loss?

Adversity tends to sharpen your focus, so yes, I think our guys were focused in more and ready to put a better performance on for our second game against Cy-Ridge. 

Skip ahead to the Clear Springs game, and you faced something that only existed once this season: a star wide receiver in Marcus Johnson. Was your secondary ready for that?

Our guys were ready, but there were times we were in position and just missed some tackles or took some bad angles when pursuing the ball.  When you do that to a star player, he is going to make it hurt, and that is what he did on a few occasions.  Our guys made enough plays when it mattered to come away with a win that day. 

That game also honed a very large fan turnout, which is surprising because it took place at CCISD Memorial City, almost an hour away. What can you say about the Cougar faithful?

Our fans have been tremendous over the years, and the coaches and players love seeing a packed house at Rhodes or a strong turnout on the road.  We have been successful over the last five years, and it seems as if our fan base grows each year with that. 

Last week’s game was a 41-10 blowout win over Mayde Creek to begin the district season. Were you better prepared for the game, or were you just simply better than them?

Our guys prepared very well and it showed with their performance.  The players know the significance of district play, and we came out fired up and ready to go.  You have to respect all of your opponents, but fear no one. 

A very important aspect of the win was turnover efficiency (Cinco Ranch scored 17 points off of three Mayde Creek turnovers, while Mayde Creek scored 0 points off of 3 Cinco Ranch turnovers). How important is efficiency off of turnovers, on both offense and defense?

Turnovers change the momentum of football games. Your chances of winning increase dramatically when you force turnovers and turn those into points. On defense, we preach forcing turnovers.  Great football teams protect the football on offense and force turnovers on defense. 

The team must be confident about the district season after the win, right?

We are happy to get off to a 1-0 start and are confident.  We have won three games in a row and the players are getting better each week. 

What could you say about the captains: Ayodele Ileseanmi, Anand Chaudhari, Eyad Elqutub, and Alex Ludowig–especially Eyad and Anand who do not start? Their leadership ability must be through the roof, right?

Our captains are great people who happen to also be great football players.  They lead by their words and by example.  Eyad and Anand are both backups and it shows you how much respect they have amongst their teammates to be voted into that position.  It is also a credit to our players that voted to not turn it into a popularity vote.  Ayodele and Alex are both three year varsity players who have been through the grind of a varsity season and a deep playoff run.  They know what it takes to win. 

The depth of the team is particularly impressive, as shown by the array of quarterbacks and efficiency towards the end of blowout games when second and third strings play every drive. How did you build so much depth?

Some schools out there just use their sub-varsity teams as tackling dummies for their varsity on a week to week basis.  All of our coaches are involved with all sub-varsity teams and develop those kids so they are ready to compete at the varsity level.  We take great pride in having a successful sub-varsity program each year.  When our players reach the varsity level, they are prepared for it. 

One player who has garnered a surprising amount of attention is punter/quarterback Jack Steed. I can tell you one thing: from the press box, his punts are some of the most exciting and impressive plays of the season. What has he meant to the team’s success?

We are lucky to have Jack, who is one of the best punters in the whole state of Texas.  His punt in the Klein Forest game was 72 yards, which was a school record.  He is a huge weapon for us and is great because he is able to flip the field for our defense and pin teams deep in their own territory.  It is rare for a punt to be an exciting play in football, but Jack makes it that way. 

Looking ahead to the rest of the district season, what can we expect from the men in maroon?

You can expect us to come out each and every game and fight, scratch, and claw to try and come out with a victory.  We have high expectations and the players are going to give their maximum effort every time out on the football field.  It should be a fun season.