Houston County Crusaders Bring Home Titles
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – Winning a championship at any level is not an easy task. Winning championships at three different levels is almost unheard of, but recently an area team did just that.
According to the Houston County Crusaders Facebook page, “For the first time in history, the Houston County Crusader football teams all made it to the championship game and all won the title as Super Bowl Champions. These titles came with months of hard work and dedication by not only the players, but parents, coaches, and many community members.”
The Crusaders picked up championship trophies in the Senior, Junior and Bantam Divisions of the Heart of Texas Peewee Football League.
The Bantam level team (ages five through seven) was coached by Bobby Cooper, Chris Bell, Perry Cooper, J.D Lockhart, and Mark McCullough. They finished their season with a perfect 10-0 record and defeated the Mexia Blackcats in the Bantam Super Bowl.
The Junior Division team (ages eight through nine) was coached by Jerry Homes, Corey Simon, Stanley Stewart, and Eric McKnight. They finished the season with a 9-1 mark and also defeated the Mexia Blackcats in the Junior Super Bowl.
The Senior Division team (ages ten through 12) was coached by Joseph Porter, Austin Montgomery, Tyron Colter, Artis Davis, Jonathan Ellington, and Jim Currathers. They also finished the season with a 9-1 record as they defeated the Franklin Lions by a score of 22-20 in the Senior Super Bowl.
On Friday of this week, Coach Stanley Stewart, along with several of the Crusaders, stopped by The Messenger Offices to discuss their championship seasons.
“There are 14 teams in the whole league,” Stewart said. “We played in two conferences and the first second, third and fourth place teams qualified for the playoffs. There’s an American Conference and a National Conference. The winners of each conference play in the Super Bowl. We played seven regular season games and three playoff games.”
The coach said both the Senior and Junior Division teams were 6-1 during the regular season while the Bantam Division was 7-0.
Joining Stewart were Senior Division players Rickie Gilmore, Tray Gilmore and Jabrein Stewart, along with Junior Division player Dalton Walker.
Commenting on the one loss suffered by each team, all of the young men expressed the opinion they needed to fix their mistakes and work harder if they wanted to win the championships.
An example of this was when the Senior Crusaders found themselves in a 20-6 hole against Franklin at the half of the championship game, the coach said.
“Franklin is a pretty good team,” Stewart said, “but we pushed back to win 22-20.”
“The Bantams had a pretty good squad. Their closest game was against Mexia in the Super Bowl but they wound up beating them by a score of 14-0,” he said.
As to how Stewart got involved with the coaching, he said he was hesitant at first.
“I took my son up there to play. He had heard about the league and asked if he could play. The league president asked me if I wanted to coach and I said no. Eventually, he asked me to come out and help, because I knew football. I went out to start helping and the next thing I knew, I was coaching,” he laughed.
One area Stewart said that all three levels work on is cohesion.
“Everything we do, we do together. We try and teach them there is no individual, there is no I in team and everything is about the team. It’s not about how good you are. You may not be up to par with the others, but we make the kids who aren’t starting realize if a starter goes down, you have to ready to plug-in and go,” Stewart said.
The kids were asked what one lesson they took away from their championship seasons.
“Nothing comes easy,” Rickie said.
“Even when you win, you always have to keep practicing because there is always next week and next year,” Tray explained.
“There’s no ‘I’ in team. It took our whole team to win,” Jabrein added.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” Dalton said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.