Harrison builds playoff foundation at Summer Creek in his first season
Jack Zelezinski didn’t have to worry about putting his football equipment up in the storage room on Monday at Summer Creek.
The senior offensive lineman and Bulldogs finished 7-1 in District 22-6A play and punched their ticket into the postseason. Summer Creek will take on CE King at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Turner Stadium in a Class 6A, Division II bi-district playoff game.
However, their playoff journey started when Summer Creek head coach Kenny Harrison walked through the front doors of the field house back in the spring.
“It feels great knowing that we didn’t have to worry about getting into the playoffs depending on others to win for us,” said 6-foot-5, 320 pound offensive lineman. “There’s a lot more energy this year from the coaches. The coaches care a lot more about us. I have a great offensive line coach, who has taught the linemen a lot. This has been a great season so far and we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”
Harrison, who is in his first year with the Bulldogs (7-3, 7-1), wanted to build a culture of trust and brotherhood.
“My main focus when I got here was to focus on the kids and to get them to buy in,” said Harrison, who spent last season at Port Arthur Memorial. “I know some other things may have lacked, but I wanted to build a culture here with this team and start this program off the right way.”
The Bulldogs will take on C.E. King (8-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Turner Stadium in a Class 6A, Division II bi-district playoff game.
The Panthers, who run an option offense, enter the playoffs on a five-game winning steak.
“Just a very talented football team,” Harrison said. “They have an explosive offense have a real good running back that carries their team. We’re going to have to minimize the big plays on defense and be discipline. We have to be sound in all phases of the game and if we do that I like our chances.”
Xavier Daniels and the Bulldogs have confidence heading into the playoffs.
“Our offense is going good right now and our defense is solid,” said senior defensive lineman Daniels. “Bush has done a great job of leading our offense and scoring points. They (C.E. King) run bigger sets with two tight ends and our defense is going to have to be ready for a physical game. If we do what we’re supposed to we will be fine.”
Harrison credits the Summer Creek’s success with help from his senior class, who guided the underclassmen on the gridiron.
“The class of 2019 has done a great job with leadership this year,” Harrison said. “I have the upmost respect for these kids for the way they have embraced me and my family. They all play hard for this program and as a coaching staff that’s what we wanted them to do this year.”
The culture took time to develop for the Bulldogs.
Summer Creek got off to a rocky start losing two straight non-district games to Pearland Dawson and state ranked Shadow Creek.
Once district started, the Bulldogs started clicking in all three phases, but it started with a quarterback swap.
Sophomore quarterback Bryan Bush was called up from the junior varsity squad and he helped the Bulldogs’ offense.
Bush’s dual-threat ability helped Summer Creek average 43 points per game in district.
The right handed signal-caller threw for over 1,500 yards and rushed for over 900 yards with 34 total touchdowns in district play.
The Bulldogs also had a six-game district winning streak before it was snapped by rival Atascocita in a 36-35 triller.
D’Angelo Price has felt Harrison’s impact on the field.
The senior defensive lineman credits the way the football program is viewed outside the school.
“He brought the spirit back,” Price said. “We connect with everybody inside the program and outside the program. He’s got us playing good football and we’re playing for each other.”
Now, the Bulldogs will begin their third phase of the season with the playoffs.
The next building block for Harrison and the Bulldogs will be beginning a winning tradition in the playoffs.
“I love these kids,” Harrison said. “They bought in a trusted the process. Hopefully now they understand all the hard work is starting to pay off with winning. The kids play hard week in and week out. Now, we’re looking forward to extending our season for as long as we can go.”