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Flynn disappointed that his learning curve didn’t create playoff trip

December 4, 2018

Was Deer Park’s 2018 high school football season a campaign where folks will see the glass as half full or half empty?

For this proud program, missing the state playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 years was a definite downer, but the UIL threw the Deer in an unforgiving district.

When the news came down last February that the Deer were going from the travel friendly District 22-6A penthouse to a travel unfriendly, deeply competitive 21-6A, we all hoped for the best but prepared for the worst.

With district champion North Shore currently sitting 144 minutes away from a Class 6A state championship, the entire state could soon know that 21-6A was seldom no picnic on any given Friday night.

On the other side of the coin, Deer Park, with its 3-4 district ledger, was one of only three teams in 21-6A to finish on the plus side in the category of points scored against points allowed. Playoff teams C.E. King and Channelview finished on the negative side.

And it’s been well-documented that three of the team’s four district defeats were by 10 points or less. So essentially a few possessions here and a few possessions there, kept the Deer from the postseason.

“I guess looking back, it was disappointing. You have high expectations no matter what situation you’re in. There’s good players here and I’ve got to do a better job of getting them ready to go. I guess that was the disappointing part of it. It’s a great district but I also feel we have talent on this football team too,” Deer Park head coach Austin Flynn said.

For Flynn, he’s not willing to use it as an excuse, but Deer Park’s head coach and 2002 Deer Park graduate was a rookie high school coach. No doubt, he leaned on his experience from his assistant coach’s job at Grand View College for some help, but we’ll never quite know how much of his terrific high school playing career eased the transition.

From deciding to try a fake punt or not to the arrival time at a road game and did it lead to enough warm-up time were all things that Flynn has already rehashed in his head 99 times.

“It was a high learning curve for me. There were some things that I thought would work and we didn’t do it as well. I’ll re-evaluate that. That’s what the off-season is for. You self-scout yourself. It won’t be the last time either. I’ll be saying the same thing next year,” Flynn said.

The former Iowa State quarterback/receiver is doing his best not to dwell on past mistakes, but dwell he must to some degree if he and the program are to get stronger.

“In looking back you always wish you could do some things differently. That’s in any aspect of life. Would that have determined a win or a loss, who knows? We were right there and that’s where the disappointment is. We just didn’t get over that hump so to speak. Even the West Brook game, I was proud of the way we played on the road. We played really, really well,” Flynn said.

With the big tally of 42 seniors on this year’s roster, Flynn wishes things could have transpired differently. But it was these 42 players who understood that Flynn had to hit the ground running after getting hired so late and it was important for Flynn to familiarize himself with all 42 teenagers in short order.

“This senior class will obviously always be special for me. I wish I could have sent them off in a little better way. The win over La Porte was probably the highlight this year and the fashion that we did it. It was a great moment and one I’ll remember for a long time,” said Flynn, who never got to experience a Deer Park-La Porte on-the-field contest as a player because the two schools were in separate districts.

The second greatest memory from the district race that Flynn will always treat with fond memories was the season finale and playing spoiler by defeating a Beaumont United team that could have clinched a playoff berth with a win.

“It let those seniors go out on a high note and I think that means something,” said Flynn, recalling the convincing 41-20 victory.

It’s already been nearly a month since that triumph and the start to a long off-season. But Flynn may have already begun counting down the days to that first fall practice in 2019.

“I’m rejuvenated now and ready for the off-season to get here. I would have loved to be playing during the Thanksgiving break. I’m not a huge fan of holidays, but I’d much rather be eating here than at the house,” Flynn said.

Maybe, just maybe, next year Deer Park will hold a Thanksgiving morning practice and follow it up with a meal for the guys who returned a hungry maroon and gold program to the state playoffs.

ravery@hcnonline.com

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