Stafford looks for an encore performance
By Michael Sudhalter
“It was no secret,” Counter said. “They put in hard work and effort. They just needed to get pointed in the right direction. They bought into the philosophy and gave a great effort.”
Counter, who was a member of Oklahoma’s 1985 National Championship team, coached Strake Jesuit in southwest Houston for eight years. He arrived in Stafford last year with plans to make the Spartans competitive.
Now, Stafford is focused on following up its 9-2 season (a four-game improvement from 2012) with an encore performance. The Spartans entered the 2013 regular season finale with a 9-0 record, but lost 42-35 at perennial power La Marque before losing to Silsbee in the second round of the playoffs.
Stafford enters ultra-competitive 4A-12 (Division I) where they’ll compete against the likes of El Campo, Bay City, West Columbia, Brazosport and Needville.
The non-district schedule isn’t any easier. The Spartans open at 7 p.m. Friday at home against 3A powerhouse, East Bernard, before matchups at Bellville (Sept. 5), vs. 5A Willowridge on Sept. 12, vs. Wharton on Sept. 26 and at St. Pius X on Oct. 3.
The Spartans return five starters on each side of the ball, and Counter said this may be the best team in school history – even if the final record isn’t as impressive as last season’s 9-2 mark.
“We feel like we’re going to make the playoffs and compete for a district championship,” Counter said. “We have a lot of good athletes and speed. The kids worked really hard in the offseason and did well at 7-on-7 this summer.”
Dylan Stewart, the Spartans’ Junior Varsity dual threat quarterback last season, has earned his promotion to varsity, and Brian Imarenezor will replace Adrian Seals (now at Division II Midwestern State) at running back.
Counter said the offensive line, led by Darrion Edmundson and Anh Trinh should be strong.
“As the year goes on, the offensive line will get better and better,” Counter said.
Defensively, defensive lineman Josh Uloucha is the Spartans’ leader, and he’s received some interest from Army, UT-San Antonio and Texas State among others.
“Upfront is our strength, and we’re young in the secondary,” Counter said. “We have some good linebackers but not a lot of depth.”
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