By DR. DAVID DAVIS
Dawson, Friendswood, and Pearland all had much success athletically in the first half of the 2016-2017 school year.
All three schools look to carry over that success from 2016 to 2017.
Dawson had a tremendous first half as the Dawson volleyball team captured the District 23-6A championship with a perfect 14-0 mark.
Dawson advanced to the post-season and eventually faced No. 2 state-ranked Clear Creek Lady Wildcats (44-4) in the Class 6A Region III quarterfinals and were swept out of the post-season 25-22, 25-15, 25-17.
Dawson closed out a great season at 36-10. Two other teams in 23-6A, Pearland and George Ranch also advanced to the region quarterfinals proving this was one of the top league’s in the Houston area. George Ranch eliminated Pearland in their matchup.
Named to the All-District teams for Dawson included Jordyn Sinnette who shared MVP honors with Pearland’s All-American Brooke Botkin.
Dwason’s Jordan Brown was named Outstanding Defensive Player and Sarah Kirk was named Outstanding Setter.
Named to the All-District first-team from Dawson included: Kynnedi Johnson, Kate Plummer, Marisabell Torres, Sinnette, Brown, and Kirk.
Named to the second-team for Dawson was Jalynn Finnie.
On the gridiron, Dawson shared the District 23-6A crown with the Alief Taylor Lions at 5-1.
For the first time since the Eagles were placed in the same district with their cross-town cousin Pearland, the Eagles edged the Oilers in their district showdown 34-32 to grab the 3rd Annual Strickland Chevrolet Dawson-Pearland Bowl trophy.
Dawson advanced to the playoffs only to fall to the Clear Brook Wolverines 55-42 in the opening round. This was the first time the Eagles had not advanced past the first round in their young history.
The Eagles still finished with an 8-3 overall mark while advancing to the post-season for the ninth consecutive year under head coach Eric Wells.
Dawson junior running back Darrius Smith got one of the top league honors as he was named 23-6A Offensive Player of the Year. Smith rushed for 1,499 yards on 209 carries while scoring 17 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 307 yards and two more TDs.
Also named to the first-team offense for Dawson was junior tight end Spencer Wells who was a unanimous choice.
Senior running back Lance Charles was also selected after he rushed for 819 yards on 108 carries for 10 TDs.
Senior wide receiver Niko Thomas also was named to the first-team after he caught 23 passes for 580 yards and eight scores. He also rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries and four TDs. Thomas also completed 23-of-43 passes for 382 yards, two touchdowns, and two INTs after stepping up to play quarterback early in the season with starting QB Zach Smith hurt.
Senior quarterback Zach Smith was a first-teamer after he completed 108-of-178 passes for 1,690 yards and 19 TDs with only six INTs. Smith also had 89 yards on 47 carries two scores.
Named to the All-District first-team defense was senior outside linebacker Alec Prince.
Second-team offensive selections included: senior offensive tackle Justin Parker, junior offensive guard Eddie Scott, senior wide receiver Osby Mitchell, and junior kicker Claire Jeffress.
The 2016-17 basketball season began back in October and carries over into the new year.
The Dawson Lady Eagles are currently 9-11 overall and 1-1 in district action.
The Dawson boys won the District 22-6A title last year and look to defend that crown this season.
The Eagles presently have a 13-6 overall mark and begin district competition the first week in January.
Dawson should also continue their girls track domination with boys also competing well.
Baseball and softball have also greatly improved and both should compete for a district title.
Swimming and soccer are other sports that should be very competitive.
Dawson hopes to continue their 2016 success into 2017.
Friendswood continues to be one of the top athletic programs in the Houston area and they look to carry their 2016 success to the new year.
The Lady Mustangs advanced to the Class 6A Region III volleyball playoffs for the first time since Friendswood was moved up to Class 6A.
The Lady ‘Stangs finished with a 34-11 overall mark and 9-5 in District 24-6A.
Shannon Murphy led the Lady Mustangs to the playoffs for the first time.
The standout Murphy registered 467 kills, 380 digs, 82 aces this season. She was a named to the Texas Association of Volleyball Coaches pre-season All-State team. She was listed on the Greater Houston Volleyball Coaches Association Fab 50.
Murphy has given her verbal commitment to continue her education and playing career at Pepperdine University.
Friendswood lost to Pearland (3-1) in the opening round of the post-season to end their season.
On the gridiron, Friendswood had another banner season and advanced to the Class 6A Region III Div. II region semifinals under head coach Robert Koopmann.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Friendswood quarterback Tyler Page was hurt on the first play of the semifinal matchup against Cinco Ranch and the Mustangs fell to the Cougars 34-7 to finish with a 9-3 season record.
The Mustangs finished second in the 24-6A standing (5-2) and then beat defending 5A Div. I state champion George Ranch (42-21) and La Porte (56-35) in the playoffs before falling to Cinco Ranch.
Page closed out his illustrious career as the most prolific ball carrier in Friendswood High School history.
Page was a highlight reel waiting to happen every time he had the ball in his hands and he drove opposing defensive coordinators crazy in trying to prepare for his unbelievable antics on the gridiron.
The elusive signal-caller closed out his record-setting career as the all-time leading rusher for the Mustangs.
Page was 196-of-370 passing for 2,988 yards and 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He had 689 carries for 5,281 yards and 72 TDs.
The past two seasons, he was the only player in the Houston area that surpassed the 2,000 yard mark on the ground which is remarkable since he was a quarterback.
He had 2,124 yards and 24 TDs his junior season in 2015 and closed out the 2016 season with 2,092 yards and 31 scores.
Page, who has given his non-binding verbal commitment to SMU, crushed the previous individual FHS rushing mark which was held by former Friendswood running back Sam Longbotham who finished his career with 3,564 yards.
Also named to the All-District first-team was Connor Stanford who was named as an offensive lineman. He was also named to the second-team as a defensive end.
Junior offensive lineman Max Yarbrough, senior kicker Cody Williamson, junior defensive end Wyatt Hall, and senior defensive tackle Chase Willis were also selected.
Named to the All-District second-team included: senior receiver Reed Roher, junior fullback Calvin Whitaker, senior offensive lineman Nicky Stevens, junior defensive tackle Blade Boddie, senior inside linebacker Zach Follis, junior outside linebacker Jake Yurachek, and senior cornerback Tom Hermes.
As the Mustangs move into 2017, they hope to continue their good fortune on the basketball court and the other spring sports.
Presently, the girls basketball team has an overall mark of 4-11 and 1-2 in District 24-6A.
The Friendswood boys are 8-7 overall and 0-1 in league action.
The Mustangs look to see positive success in tennis, baseball, softball, soccer, and track for 2017.
The 2016 volleyball season marked the end of one of top high school volleyball coaches in the state as John Turner announced his retirement from coaching though he will continue to teach for a few more years at Pearland High School.
Turner announced his retirement prior to the start of the volleyball season after leading the Pearland volleyball program ever since 1995.
The veteran coach closed with a sparkling 806-269 career mark while finishing as Pearland’s all-time winningest coach with a 650-215 record. He recorded his 800th victory this season to make him one of the state’s elite coaches.
“In my 32 years of coaching, I have been blessed to not have had a losing season and I attribute that to my players buying into my philosophy/work ethic that I instill in my program from day one when they commit,” Turner said.
The veteran coach won’t be removed from the world of volleyball. Christian Dunn will take over the reigns of the Pearland program beginning in 2017..
Under Turner’s leadership, the Houston Area Volleyball Coaches Association was organized four years ago and he was named the Executive Director of that organization which he will continue to lead.
He was also influential in getting the Texas Association of Volleyball Coaches organized this past year in which he will be the Executive Director of that organization so his plate will be full in the coming years.
But Turner’s influence he has had with hundreds of players has had special meaning and he will be greatly missed from the coaching ranks.
The Lady Oilers advanced to the Class 6A Region III quarterfinals, but were not able to take out district foe George Ranch.
Pearland swept the Lady Longhorns 3-2, and 3-0 during the regular season in league action, but were unable to do so in the playoffs thus ending their season at 28-12.
The Lady O’s won the first game 25-15, but George Ranch pulled off the upset by winning the next three games 25-17, 25-18, 25-22.
On the gridiron, Pearland had an injury-filled season, but still managed to advanced to the post-season for the 17th consecutive year under head coach Tony Heath.
Pearland finished third in District 23-6A with a 5-2 mark.
The Oilers got a 20-17 win in the first round of the playoffs over District 24-6A champion Clear Springs before falling to 6A Div. I state semifinalist Atascocita 35-14.
Pearland sophomore running back Jaelin Benefield was named Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Benefield had 663 yards rushing on 122 carries for seven TDs. He also caught 22 passes for 188 yards and one score.
Named to the offensive first team unanimously was senior offensive tackle Chase Prestage, senior center Joey Williams, sophomore offensive guard Sincere Haynesworth. and senior fullback Stone Croasdaile who had 21 carries for 109 yards and one touchdown.
First-team defensive selections included senior defensive tackle Jordan Crawford who was a unanimous choice. Senior defensive end Derrick Parish, senior outside linebacker Blake Parish, and senior defensive back Debione Renfro.
Named to the second-team offense was senior wide receiver Triston Gibson.
Named to the second-team defense was sophomore defensive end Gilbert Ibeneme, junior inside linebacker Deantoine Carter, senior defensive back Justin Guy-Robinson, and senior punter Brendan Buckley.
The 2016-2017 basketball season has begun for the Pearland boys and girls and both teams are hoping to compete for a district crown and a place in the post-season.
The Pearland girls are 16-7 overall and 2-0 in district action.
The Pearland boys are having one of their betters with an 18-4 overall mark and 1-0 in league play.
The other spring sports are gearing up and Pearland should have very competitive teams in baseball and softball with the goal to advance to the state tournament.
Pearland senior swimmer Jaden Bellina hopes to complete her career as a three-time state champion in the 200 IM. Bellina won the event at the UIL state swim meet her sophomore and junior years and she hope to three-peat in that event.
The Oilers also should do well in track and field and soccer to complete the 2017 school year.