Music filled the air late Friday night at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
Those inside got to enjoy a homecoming post-game performance by the legendary Conroe Tiger Band. Its notes traveled through the bleachers filled with happy Tiger fans. The color guard waved their flags. The Golden Girls put on their performance.
It was a big moment for the community and school. But there are more big moments to come.
Conroe had just concluded a rousing 38-13 victory over Klein on a clear, humid night to improve to 4-2 overall on the year.
But other things happened on the gridiron away from the corner of Wilson and Longmire Road. Things that worked in Conroe’s favor.
The Woodlands lost to Klein Cain. Klein Collins lost to Klein Oak.
That makes three teams in the league at 3-1 through the first week of October. Klein Oak. Klein Collins. And the Conroe Tigers.
After celebrating the win over the Bearkats and enjoying the homecoming dance Saturday evening, Conroe is now on its bye week in a three-way tie for first place.
“What I told the guys is that we played well, but this just made us 3-1,” Conroe’s second-year head coach Cedric Hardeman said after thegame. “We haven’t accomplished anything yet. The goals that we set forth in the beginning of the year are still out there and we haven’t accomplished them.”
TIGERS TRENDING UP
Conroe totaled four wins last season. That’s now been matched. And after the break, the Tigers will play for a fifth win. That hasn’t been accomplished since 2009.
The Tigers are 3-1 to start district play for the first time in 11 years.
The next step is to snap a playoff drought that goes back seven years to 2012 when the Tigers crawled into the playoffs with a fourth-place finish and 3-8 overall record.
This group has a different vibe. And they played well in all facets against Klein.
Senior quarterback Christian Pack recovered from two early interceptions and threw three touchdown passes to Michael Phoenix (who now has 14 on the year). Pack, the league’s top passer coming into the week, had 198 yards and even rushed for a touchdown. ‘CP3,’ as the student section chanted, has 19 passing touchdowns on the year.
Marcus Thomas, Tre’Vaughn McGee Braden Grief each made big receptions. Jalen Williams was all over the place and Jahmal Jones ate up yardage when called upon.
On defense, senior tackle Dominique Ratcliff was poised to stop the run with the rest of the line. Zayden Kimble recovered a fumble.
On special teams, Corbin Campbell pounced on a muffed punt by Klein.
Kicker Josue Santos was perfect on extra points and booted a 38-yard field goal.
But with all the success comes more work. And leaders like Ratcliff, a team captain and Louisiana commit, are ready to put in the work.
“We’re definitely going to have to work twice as hard as we’ve been working,” Ratcliff said Friday night. “We have a tremendous opportunity to do something that Conroe hasn’t done in a real long time. Go to the playoffs.”
Hardeman is looking forward to some family time this week. Who could blame him? The head coach of a bustling Class 6A program is busy every day and has other hats to wear like campus athletic coordinator. And family man.
He’s looking forward to spending some extra time with his wife Kasonya and daughter Amariya this week.
“We get a week off, so I’ll get a chance to see my wife and my little girl a little bit,” Hardeman said. “Her birthday is next week.”
The Tigers will stay in a normal routine. The next game is a big one against The Woodlands on Oct. 18 at Woodforest Bank Stadium. Conroe hasn’t beaten the Highlanders since 2007 and this might be its best chance since then.
Routine has been a funny thing this year. It’s been broken a couple times because of the weather. Conroe’s opener against Mayde Creek was delayed and the week of the Klein Oak game had Conroe out of school for two days due to Tropical Depression Imelda.
“We’re going to stay in our routine, get healthy a little bit,” Hardeman said. “Refresh our mind and get ready for these last four games.”
The last four games on the agenda feature teams with a current combined record of 9-13. After the Highlanders is a home game on Oct. 25 against another powerhouse in Klein Collins. Klein Forest follows with a Saturday afternoon game at Klein Memorial Stadium on Nov. 2 before the regular season finale against Oak Ridge at Moorhead Stadium on Nov. 8.
The focus the rest of this weekend is for the Tigers to create some lasting memories off the field.
“The kids will get a chance go to the dance (Saturday),” Hardeman said.
The hope is to do a little more dancing in November.