Area teams ready to kickoff 2017 football season

PEARLAND — Hurricane Harvey may have delayed the 2017 football season for Houston area high schools, but it didn't dampen the spirit of each school no matter how much damage was done.

While the teams were unable to play their first game of the year last week -- the players and coaches used that time to show their resilience in helping families who suffered extensive damage to their homes.

The area student-athletes proved they are outstanding young men and women who are more than just athletes on the field or court of competition, but they are wonderful and loving young people who are even greater citizens to their community in such a time of need and heartache.

We take our hats off to all of these fine young people who stepped up in a time of great need to help others -- most of whom were people they had never met. But they will be etched in the hearts of many families who were the recipients of such a display of love.

The coaches of our area teams led the way for these young people to care about others. They included all different sports fall and spring sports.

Friendswood head softball coach Christa Williams Yates, who was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and an All-American at the University of Texas led her softball girls to several clean-up activities in the Friendswood community.

"There's a whole range of emotions associated with all of this," said Yates. "You see water come up, and then you see it recede…and then you see it come up again.

"You're super-stressed at one point, and then you feel a little better the next. If you didn't get flooded, you feel guilty for feeling thankful. It's terrible to see all this damage."

The Lady Mustangs spent several day in the clean up effort.

"I had 18 kids up here," Yates said. "From freshmen to varsity, I think we have 25 kids. This is like Day 3 or Day 4 of clean-up for us.

"It's a great, but unfortunate teaching moment for everybody. I tell my kids that sports teaches you so much, and this is part of it. You're family. You bond together in every situation.

"You feel good about helping, but it gives you a huge perspective on what's important."

Friendswood head football coach Robert Koopmann has had several challenges, including one close to home.

"My mother's 84-years-old, and she got four feet of water in her home in Hitchcock," Koopmann said. "That's what I've concerned myself with.

"Our coaches have been taking busloads of kids to neighborhoods, working from morning until dark, ripping up carpet and whatever else is needed."

Pearland and Dawson coaches and players were also present in their community doing the same thing in ministering to others.

Pearland head coach James Farmer said his players have all been accounted for, and those that can help others in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey have been doing so.

"We have some kids with some damage, and we've been helping them," Farmer said. "We've had crews out the last few days trying to help folks.

Dawson players made their presence in the Pearland community by giving aid to those who suffered loss.

"When you see the devastation done to these homes and these people, you almost feel guilty that you didn't get flooded," Dawson head coach Eric Wells said. "(Thursday) was our first day of an organized team effort, and we took buses of football players all over Pearland.

"We moved furniture, pulled up baseboards, cleaned up, took out trash, moved freezers…whatever was needed. It's a small dent in a big problem, but it makes a difference in those people's lives. Our kids got a good lesson on how bad it can be, and they got humbled really quick."

Our communities have been through a lot, but love and determination will help all of the Houston area recover and get back on its feet. Prayer and love will hold a community together.

A look at this week's non-district opponents

Manvel Mavericks - North Shore Mustangs - Thurs, Sept. 7 - at Alvin Memorial Stadium - 7:00 p.m.

This game will match the No. 1 Class 5A team against the No. 10 Class 6A team in the second game of the season.

As expected -- it will probably be an offensive shootout, however, last year's contest wasn't decided until late in the game as Manvel scored late to post a thrilling 26-13 win.

North Shore is the favorite to capture the District 21-6A title and certainly a favorite to go deep in the playoffs. Both teams will be tested and will be striving to make an early statement to the rest of their competitors in 2017.

The Mustangs were 12-2 last season falling in the 6A Div. I finals in their quest to return to the state title game. They have three offensive and four defensive starters returning with 31 letterman. However, North Shore will be tested in their district by Atascocita, Kingwood, Summer Creek, Channelview, Baytown Sterling, C.E. King, and Goose Creek Memorial.

Friendswood Mustangs vs Barbers Hill Eagles - September 8 - at Barbers Hill - 7:00 p.m.

Hurricane Harvey has caused a lot of football changes and one of those is for Friendswood, who didn't play Texas City in their season opener due to Harvey, will play Barbers Hill this coming Friday instead of playing Humble Summer Creek who was supposed to be their opponent this week. The Mustangs will get back on schedule next Friday, Sept. 15 for their home opener against Kingwood, and then they will travel to Turner Stadium on Friday, Sept. 22 to face Summer Creek on their previously scheduled open date. The District 24-6A schedule will take over on Sept. 29.

Friendswood will face Barbers Hill this coming Friday and the Eagles have always been a very competitive school no matter what sport. The Eagles were 8-3 overall last season and advanced to the Region III Div. II bi-district playoffs.

Barbers Hill has eight offensive and seven defensive starters as well as 27 returning lettermen for the upcoming 2017 season. The are a pre-season pick to advance to the post-season.

Dawson Eagles vs Deer Park Deer - Friday, September 8 - at The Rig - 7:00 p.m.

Deer Park jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in 2016 over the Eagles and appeared on their way to a lopsided win.

However, the Eagles went on a 41-3 scoring spree the next three quarters to pull out a 41-17 victory.

Deer Park is the early favorite to win District 22-6A that will include La Porte, Pasadena Dobie, Pasadena Memorial, Pasadena South Houston, Pasadena Sam Rayburn, and Pasadena in that order.

The Deer made the playoffs last season, but were an early casualty in the opening round to finish 7-4 overall and 5-1 in league play to finish behind district champion La Porte.

Deer Park has only two offensive and one defensive starter returning to go with 12 returning lettermen to compete in a usual weak district.

Pearland Oilers vs Spring Branch Memorial Mustangs - Friday, September 8 - Tully Stadium - 7:00 p.m.

Pearland has been playing SB Memorial each year for over a decade and the Oilers have only lost one game to the Mustangs. Memorial fell to the Oilers last season 36-0.

Memorial was 2-8 overall last season and 2-5 in District 15-6A leaving them at home in the post-season.

The Mustangs have five offensive and six defensive starters returning with 32 lettermen, but a picked to finish fifth in the league standings. They are in the same district as Klein Collins, Klein, Klein Oak, Stratford, Klein Forest, Springs Woods, and Northbrook with teams finishing in that order.

Memorial could sneak into the playoffs should they pull off an upset with one of the top four teams.