When Hightower head coach Padriac McGinnis was a teenager in Louisiana, life was rough. Home was wherever he and his mother and brothers could find a place to stay.
“We weren’t homeless, but we were always on the move,” McGinnis said.
As he got older, McGinnis realized his life options were somewhat limited.
“I could go to work in the chemical factories where my father worked. The money was decent, but it was hard, dirty work. I could sell drugs like my friends were doing, but that didn’t seem like a good option. Or I could work hard at football, and maybe get a college scholarship,” McGinnis said.
Option three worked as McGinnis was offered a scholarship to the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and he earned a free bachelors’ as well as a masters’ degree.
When he was named head coach at Hightower in 2012, he made it his mission to encourage his players to study and go to college.
“It is my top priority to promote the students not only as athletes, but to also support them in the classroom,” McGinnis said at the time.
In his six years as head coach, 130 Hightower football players have received college scholarships. This didn’t just happen by chance. McGinnis spends a lot of time encouraging college coaches to come and visit Hightower and meet his players. The hashtag #RecruitTheCanes is used on Twitter to help get the word out.
“I really push kids to work hard in the classroom and on the practice field, so they can get a scholarship. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t received a scholarship. I believe in education, especially free education. For many kids, a college education is the only route to a better life,” McGinnis said. “Not all of the scholarships are from major universities, but a free education will really help some kids.”
Seven players on this year’s team have already been offered scholarships, two of which are juniors.
This season Hightower will be playing in District 10-5A Division 1. They will be joined by Angleton (13-1 in 2017), Galveston Ball (6-5), Foster (9-4), Friendswood (9-4), Shadow Creek (2018 will be its first varsity season), Terry (5-5) and Texas City (5-6). Except for Shadow Creek, all of these teams made the playoffs, with Angleton being a state semifinalist, Foster a regional finalist and Friendswood a regional semifinalist.
“The last few years, we played almost all of our games at Mercer Stadium and Hall Stadium. This year we will be going to Angleton, Galveston, and Pearland. It will be an adventure this year going to these new places, and finding places to eat on the way,” McGinnis said.
The Hurricanes would like to run the ball about 60 percent of the time.
“I am a run guy. I want to run the ball all the time. This year we have a huge offensive line, and we go three deep. That’s why I am excited about our season. I think we can wear teams out by the fourth quarter,” McGinnis said.
Senior Brandon Smith will start at quarterback with sophomore Jakolby Longino getting some snaps.
They will target Chantz Ceaser, who may be one of the district’s best receivers. Linebacker Quinton Sharkey and defensive back Isaiah Essissima will lead the defense.
Hightower HS 2018 Football Schedule
Week 1: @ Travis
Week 2: Marshall
Week 3: @ Dulles
Week 4: Open
Week 5: Terry
Week 6: @ Angleton
Week 7: Texas City
Week 8: @ Ball
Week 9: Friendswood
Week 10: @ Shadow Creek
Week 11: Foster