Area gridiron standouts shine in 2018 Bayou Bowl

PEARLAND — Three area football players participated in the 16th Annual Bayou Bowl that was played this year at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown.

The Bayou Bowl began in 2003 when the Texas All-Stars faced the Louisiana All-Stars with the inaugural game being won by Texas 32-29.

The original premise of the game was to alternate where games were to be played in Texas and Louisiana. However, the Louisiana High School Coaches Association adopted the game as their All-Star game beginning in the summer of 2004, but they recognized they didn't have the infrastructure like the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association and agreed to play all games at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown.

The two teams faced one another from 2003 to 2013 with Texas edging Louisiana 6-4-1 with the 2012 contest ending in a 23-23 tie.

After the 2013 game, Louisiana decided they didn't want to continue the event thus ending the Bayou Bowl between the two states.

In order to continue the Bayou Bowl, the GHFCA decided they would pit the Houston players in a revised contest between the East vs West of some of the Houston area football standouts. The first revised Bayou Bowl took place in 2014 at Fort Bend Mercer Stadium as the West squad edged the East team 7-0 in a game dominated by each defense.

The coaches also agreed to move the game by rotating the game one year on the East side of Houston and the other year on the West side.

The 2015 game was played at Stallworth Stadium as the West won 27-9. In 2016, The West won 14-9 at Rhodes Stadium in Katy. In 2017, the West continued their dominance with a 30-7 victory at Turner Stadium in Humble.

The 2018 Bayou Bowl was played at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown and the tide changed as the East pulled out a first-time thrilling 37-36 victory.

Clear Creek quarterback Sam Mathews led the East All-Stars with four touchdowns to snap the four-game losing streak by the East squad. He was also named the MVP of the game.

Friendswood had two players that had a strong influence on the outcome of the game which included wide receiver Nick Swaney and placekicker Sam Wittman.

Swaney, who is a Texas A&M at Commerce commit, was named as a second-team All-District 24-6A wide receiver during the regular 2017 football season. Swaney had 39 catches for 648 yards and six TDs.

The sure-handed Swaney had 119 receiving yards on seven receptions in the Bayou Bowl that helped the East team to their first win.

Wittman, who will attend Mars Hill University where he will play Lacrosse, was a 2017 first-team All-District selection as a placekicker. Wittman booted a 22-yard field goal for the East squad that helped contribute the difference in the game.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage for the West team was Manvel offensive lineman Lance Jones who was an All-District 23-5A first-team selection and helped the Mavericks to the 5A Division I state finals against Highland Park.