FRIENDSWOOD – Starting around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning and continuing well into the afternoon, there will be an exodus of cars leaving Deer Park.
You’ll recognize them. They’ll be the ones that will have “Go Tigers” and “Super Seminoles” on the windows in white, yellow and maroon lettering.
The parade of cars leaving the city will all be heading for one destination, Lutheran South High School. The reason? Not one, not two, not even three teams but a whopping six youth football squads from the Deer Park Seminoles and Tigers have all clinched exciting South Texas Youth Football Association Super Bowl berths this Saturday.
The six bulldozed their way through this past Saturday’s semifinals at Friendswood’s Centennial Park to claim Super Bowl berths in all five divisions of Pee Wee, Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Division.
The day indeed culminates with the Senior Super Bowl and it will be an all-Deer Park affair. It was just on Oct. 24 when the Seminoles defeated the previously unbeaten Tigers 16-8 at Abshier Stadium.
In some cases, it will be classmate versus classmate, friend versus friend, Fido versus Fluffy.
Oh gosh, never have bragging rights been so important then they will this Saturday. Who gets to do most of the talking at the Thanksgiving table will depend on what takes place at Lutheran South’s Glassell Stadium this weekend.
But for 32 minutes, they’ve got to forget there’s friendships involved because the boys on the other sideline will want that STYFA Super Bowl title just as bad.
“I probably have (friends) like on half the team, if not more,” said Senior Seminoles player Caedyn Olivares, referring to all those he knows on the Tigers roster.
“Overall, it just feels amazing. My life is so blessed to have these teammates in my life. It’s amazing and we’re going to the (champion)Ship,” Junior Seminoles player Josiah Jackson said.
Of the six semifinals contests played at Friendswood Junior High’s two fields, just one was a nailbiter.
The Senior Tigers owned an 8-6 halftime lead on the Friendswood Broncos and that’s how it finished.
Down the stretch, Vincent Martinez intercepted a third-quarter pass, but the true knockout punch was the Tigers staying on offense for essentially the entire fourth quarter. The Broncos threw an incomplete pass to start the final eight minutes and that would be their last play on offense for the 2021 season.
Four first downs, one by the passing game, two by the ground attack and one five-yard penalty allowed the Tigers to hog the football. It was third and four when the Broncos were whistled for offsides, creating a new set of downs with 2:06 remaining.
Quarterback Ethan Sauceda completed a big 10-yard pass to Mason Holman, moving the chains the first time, while the usual folks like Brody Busch, Alexander Sablatura and Sauceda ran the ball efficiently for seven straight plays, eating the clock.
The Senior Seminoles won handily 30-0 over the No. 5 Dickinson Gators.
“It was a good win against a really good team. We knew coming in, they were going to be ready for us. They’re really, really physical. We knew we had to match physicality with them and I felt we did a pretty good job of that today,” coach Jacob Benevides said.
“We just came out here and did our jobs, nothing much. Our line did good, everybody did good,” said quarterback Haden LaFrenz, who ran in a score and will be making his fifth Super Bowl appearance.
LaFrenz connected with Lian Kiefer and John Arthur-French, Jr. for touchdown passes, while Peyton Smith orchestrated a potent running attack.
“We were on like the 10-yard line, Haden LaFrenz threw it. I had one kid to beat, I beat him and ran into the end zone,” Kiefer said, recalling the screen pass.
“Whenever we line up in our formation that we run it in, They didn’t put a guy over me so I was open,” said Kiefer, who listed several Senior Tigers as classmates/friends.
“We just went out and took the lead early and kept repeating and repeating what we were learning at practice,” said Olivares, who will be making his second trip to a Super Bowl.
The Junior Seminoles cruised to a 12-0 win over the Friendswood Broncos. They’ll oppose the League City Cowboys, who were a 6-0 winner over the Shadow Creek Titans.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the year and this was our goal. Now it’s time to finish business,” coach Jeraco Johnson said. “Our defense stepped it up. I’ve told the kids all year, you win games on defense. Offense gets you on ESPN, but defense wins you championship.”
The defense has surrendered just three touchdowns all year.
The highlight Saturday was a 70-yard touchdown pass and run caught by the very tall Grant Smith on a fourth and long play.
“It was a little short. I just ran straight, he threw it and I ran up and caught it. There was like one (defender) on me. I caught it over him and I ran. He was in front of me,” Smith said.
“When we train in practice, I have to throw it high because he’s the tallest kid in the whole league,” quarterback Gavin Johnston said.
“It pays to be six-foot tall and in the fifth grade,” Jeraco Johnston said.
As for the Sophomore Deer Park Tigers, they spotted the Friendswood Colts a 6-0 lead before bridging the two halves with 31 unanswered points en route to a 44-14 win.
Apparently, Coach Adam Cox knows what buttons to push with his players. He definitely pushed the right one with Ajay Beard.
“Ajay, I need you to show up,” Cox yelled to arguably his best player after a two-yard run in the second quarter.
Now in Ajay’s defense, he had sort of shown up. Using a three-yard run, he scored the team’s first touchdown to briefly tie the game and then he recovered an onside kick. All of that was in the first quarter.
But apparently, there was something about that two-yard run that didn’t sit well with Cox.
On the other side of Coach Cox’s comment, Beard was unstoppable, running for gains of 11, 11, eight, seven and a touchdown run of five yards. Then in the opening seconds of the third quarter, Beard went on a beautiful 50-yard touchdown run, upping the lead to 31-6.
“Ajay had a slow start and then he woke up and he became Ajay again. He had his welcome to Saturday moment and his level of play came up. He was Ajay again,” Cox said.
Landyn Reynolds broke the 6-6 tie when he kicked a two-point PAT, but minutes later, the Tigers overcame an interception by sacking the Colts quarterback in the end zone for a safety. Doing the honors was Brody Peri.
Harper Wilson went on a 25-yard touchdown run and Reynolds kicked his second two-point PAT for an 18-6 lead. After Beard’s second and third touchdowns, Christian Spencer and Wilson scored the last two Tigers touchdowns.
The Freshmen Tigers cruised to a 24-0 victory over the Baytown Broncos. The team put the game away with a Drew Riddle interception and a Savage Plummer 10-yard scoring run.
Riddle, at quarterback, then connected with Randy Weaver for a 12-yard touchdown pass on a play the Tigers call “Trio left.” For an 8-year-old, Riddle throws a terrific ball. Tight spiral, the works.
“I saw the wide receiver running back so I knew it was going to be a pass,” Riddle said of his interception.
Kannon Hyland had some strong runs, especially on third-down plays. Defensively, Trevor Alexander and Rafael Sanchez were two that shined.
Last but not least, the Pee Wee Tigers will be in the Super Bowl for an 8 a.m. kickoff after a 25-6 triumph.
Quarterback Landon Rich looked strong and the running attack totaled 125 yards and two touchdowns. Levi Seale and Ashuer Upshaw were two others who played superbly.