Editor’s Note: This season preview is the sixth in a series looking at the seven high schools within the Observer’s boundaries — including Humble,Atascocita, Summer Creek, Kingwood, Kingwood Park, Crosby and Huffman.
The Crosby Cougar football team has won 53 games over the past five years.
The 2018 Cougars understand the program’s history of success and hopes to build on it.
The Cougars are ranked No. 7 in Dave Campbell’s Texas Football 5A Division II preseason rankings.
“There’s no pressure or expectation,” said senior quarterback Jaiden Howard. “When you work your tail off, it’s going to pay off. The rankings just show that we’re working.”
Howard was a unanimous first team All-District quarterback as a junior in 2017, his first year as the full-time starter.
He threw for over 2700 yards and 29 touchdowns and ran for over 680 yards and five touchdowns and returns with a year of starting experience under his belt.
“That’s huge, you can’t coach experience,” said coach and Crosby ISD athletic director Jeff Riordan. “Getting your trigger man back, leading the offense, it already starts you ahead of the game.”
Among the players the team graduated are 2017 District 21-5A MVP Craig “Sqwirl” Williams (who is playing football at Baylor University) and 2017 unanimous first team All-District selections wide receiver Cedric Patterson III (who is playing at the University of New Mexico) and offensive lineman Luke Sterling (who is playing football at William Penn University).
Riordan mentioned senior offensive linemen Chris Cole and Chayse Todd (a University of Houston verbal commit) to bring experience to maintain a strong offensive line.
He said senior wide receivers Matthew Fagnana and Marquise Doucette can help make up for the loss of Patterson.
“People don’t know about our running backs,” Riordan said. “Zach Simon and Noel Wright and Caleb Clay are all going to be different in their own right, but all are going to bring a weapon to us on the offensive side of the ball.”
Success won’t come easy for the Cougars.
Their first game of the season is on Aug. 31 at the New Caney Eagles, who were District 21-5A co-champions last season with the Cougars after beating them in the last game of the regular season.
“It’s payback from last year,” said senior defensive lineman Jamar Hamilton. “They’re the ones who took our outright district championship away, so that means a lot to us.”
The following week, they host the Manvel Mavericks, who came up a yard short on the final play of the 2017 5A Division I state championship game. They follow that game by hosting the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, who played in the 2017 4A Division I state championship game.
“I would put our pre-district schedule up against anybody in the state as far as toughness,” said Riordan. “And it’s going to make us better. It’s going to exploit our weaknesses to tell us what we need to work on, and it’s going to prepare us for a very tough district schedule.”
Due to the UIL redistricting, which also split 5A into two divisions based on size for the first time, Crosby has new district opponents in Nederland, Port Neches-Groves, Santa Fe, and Vidor. Barbers Hill, Dayton, and Lee remain as district opponents.
On Oct. 12, Crosby hosts the Port Neches-Groves Indians. The Indians beat the Cougars in the first round of the 2017 playoffs in a 72-69 shootout.
“It left a bad taste in our mouth, our coaching staff, our kids, community, everything,” Riordan acknowledged. “it definitely motivated us. It gave us a chip on our shoulder.”
He admitted that he occasionally played the Port Neches-Groves fight song in the weight room at Crosby High School during spring workouts.
The Cougars have done work on the track, spring workouts and drills, a grueling summer workout regimen, and 7-on-7 football to get ready for this season.
“It feels great to finally be able to get back out here and show what we’ve got and what we’ve been working for all offseason and all summer,” Howard said.
See Also: Crosby Cougars use grueling EDGE workouts as fuel for success
Riordan doesn’t feel that there is pressure that comes with being a Crosby Cougar football team, but he did say that there is an expectation and that Crosby players have always risen to that expectation.
“We’re going to be the most exciting team on the field. we’re going to be the most physical team on the field, and our kids our going to be the most ready team on the field,” he said.