Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
The Community Christian School Warriors (5-5, 1-2) had playoff dreams going into the 2013 season. But under the lights of historic Miller Stadium on Friday night, the Warriors fell just one game short of proving achieving that goal many scoffed at, falling to TCAF rivals, the Willow Park Trinity Christian Academy Eagles (7-3, 2-1), 91-41.
“They’re fast,” CCS head coach Bryan Horton said of the Eagles. “Honestly, that spread, there’s not a defense in six man that can defend that. We didn’t play our best game and that’s really what we needed.”
At first it seemed the Warriors were destined to pull off what many thought was impossible. They jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, taking advantage of a TCA fumble on an opening onsides kick and marching down the field in a drive the culminated in a 10-yard touchdown run by senior Isaiah Brazeal. But then, TCA put together a long drive of their own to tie the score and the shootout was on.
Both teams traded scores through the first quarter, with TCA using their speed to air the ball out long and the Warriors relying on their proven ground-and-pound style. But despite leading 22-20 to start the second quarter, the Warriors’ fortunes took a turn for the worse. Back-to-back drives ended in fourth-down stops, both of which TCA turned into points. Try as they might after that, the Warriors simply could not claw back fast enough or get any timely stops to stay in contention.
Truly, CCS suffered from many handicaps. Two of their best senior leaders, Isaiah and Sammy Brazeal, played most of the game hurt. Also, TCA’s considerably larger roster allowed all of their players to stay fresh while the Warriors played both ways. As the game wore on, the fatigue took its toll and TCA reeled off multiple one-play drives with long scores.
It was not the way CCS wanted to end what was, in many ways, a magical season. But the Warriors still put together a season that they can certainly hang their proverbial hats on. To even be in the position to compete for a playoff spot is more than many expected and this team beat the odds to secure the school’s first non-losing season since 2010. Horton said he could not be more proud of his football team.
“Here’s a team that was picked to go 0-3 in district and really not even challenge anybody. We were an afterthought to some of these schools. We made teams show up to beat us. They don’t quit. I love that about them. There have been many games this season when it would have been easy to quit. But it’s not in them.”
Senior Sammy Brazeal echoed his coaches pride in what the Warriors accomplished.
“I’m extremely proud of these guys,” he said in the locker room, his right arm resting on his leg from a shoulder injury suffered during the game. “These guys picked me up through the whole season.”
In his final game, Sammy caught a few long passes from his cousin Isaiah, one of which went for a 35-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Isaiah said he wouldn’t have wanted to finish his career any other way than playing with his cousin.
“It reminded me of Thanksgiving honestly,” he joked. “It’s the same stuff we’ve been doing since we were eight years old in our grandma’s backyard.”
Isaiah added how much it meant to finish with a .500 record after coming back from an ACL tear in last year’s 1-9 campaign.
“I didn’t think I was going to be worth much,” he said. “Honestly, I’m just happy to be here with the same guys I started playing junior high ball with. This was one heck of a season. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Freshman sensation Levi Knowles, who compiled over 1,200 yards rushing this year sharing the backfield with the Brazeals, had tears in his eyes at the thought of the season’s end.
“I’d have to say this is the most fun team I’ve ever been with,” he said. “It’s more like a family. I’ve never had a team that loved me this much. My old teams usually got mad at me when I did something wrong, but this team picks me back up and tries to help me. I love them.”
Knowles will have a lot to build on for his sophomore season, but he will certainly miss the senior leadership the Brazeals provided. Regardless of what happens next year, Horton said this team was special.
“These are amazing young men in the things that really matter,” he said. “This is one of the most fun bunch of guys I’ve ever coached. I don’t know if I’m going to love coaching a group as much as these guys until I start coaching my own kids. It makes it easy.”