From 2013-2016, the Stafford High football program enjoyed the most successful stretch in program history.
After the team graduated more than 30 seniors (including three Division I signees from the 2016 team) from a Class 4A state quarterfinalist squad, the Spartans experienced a rebuilding year in 2017.
“Sometimes you have to lose to understand what it takes to win,” second-year head football coach Ken Savanah said. “We have to take care of the small details in order to be successful.”
Although the Spartans had the top-ranked defense in Class 4A-District 12, Stafford finished below .500 for the first time since 2011. Entering the 2018 season, Savanah is confident that the program will return to its winning ways. They return seven defensive starters and four on offense. Stafford returns 17 lettermen from last season.
“The Class of 2019 has been together since they were seventh graders,” Savanah said. “Their morale is really good – they feed off each and know when they need to pick it up. They were 10-0 as freshmen in 2015.”
Senior Kobe Jordan, who started several games last season, enters the 2018 season leading the competition to start in the pocket. Jordan was an all-district punter last season. Senior defensive back Josh Scott, who saw some action at quarterback last season, will compete with Jordan for the spot.
Stafford is stacked at running back with seniors Tu’Shawn Wilson and Jacob Tubbs, junior Sean Burns and sophomore Marcus Lane.
“I think we’ll be a little more run than pass, maybe 60/40” Savanah said. “We didn’t focus enough of our offense on the running game last year.”
The running game will be supported by an experienced offensive line.
“Up front, we’ve grown up a little bit,” Savanah said. “We have seven or eight good, physical offensive linemen.”
That group includes Marcus Smith, Ethan George, Cody Gums, Zachary Natt, Isaac Jose, and Sebastian Carreon.
That’s not to say the wide receivers will not have plenty of opportunities. Senior Hannibal Clark is back in the program after attending a school in the Los Angeles area last year. Junior Will Perro shined during state 7-on-7, and JT Lane will be another strong contributor.
Defensively, the Spartans will continue to run a 4-2-5 set. The star of the defensive is senior linebacker Ken Savanah Jr. He’s a third year varsity player, and it will be special for his father to coach him one last season. Savanah Jr. is considered one of the top prep linebackers in Texas, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.
“I’ve seen how much he’s grown and the responsibility he wants to shoulder for this team,” Savanah said. “I’m Lucky to watch him grow up, to see him understand the game and to see him learn more about life.”
Natt and George will play both offense and defense, while junior Robert Wooten is an up-and-coming defensive end. Ozzie Harrell and Dabari Hawkins are also expected to play leadership roles, defensively.
The Spartans will open the 2018 season against a pair of Class 5A schools in non-district competition.
The first game is Aug. 31 at Katy Paetow (7:30 p.m. at Rhodes Stadium in Katy), which will be playing its first-ever varsity football game. The home opener will be a rematch of last season’s home opener – Sept. 7 against Port Lavaca Calhoun.
Aug. 31 at Katy Paetow (Rhodes Stadium, Katy), 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 vs. Port Lavaca Calhoun, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Bellville, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 21 vs. St. Thomas (Senior Night), 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 vs. Houston Yates (Homecoming), 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Houston Wheatley (Barnett Stadium), 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 vs. Navasota (Eighth Grade Night), 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Houston Furr (Barnett Stadium), 7 p.m.
Nov. 2 vs. Houston North Forest (Cheer Night), 7 p.m.
Nov. 10 at Houston Worthing (Butler Stadium), 6 p.m.