As a second-year football program playing a varsity independent schedule, there will be no postseason for the Grand Oaks Grizzlies come November. No matter what happens on the field this year.
So with that in mind and a 3-3 record coming into Saturday’s matinee game against Houston Sharpstown, the goal for the Grizzlies is to try to finish the season’s final four games unbeaten and match last year’s win-loss record.
Grand Oaks took the first step with a 56-0 win over the Apollos at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
“We were sitting 3-3 and we challenged the kids,” Grand Oaks coach Mike Jackson said of the team’s goal to finish strong. “If we go 4-0, then we’ll have duplicated the record that we had last year. (And) obviously it’s against stiffer competition.”
The victory over Sharpstown snapped a two-game slide as Grand Oaks (4-3) came in off a shutout defeat last week against a difficult Brownwood. On the docket this week was a winless Sharpstown team (0-6) that struggled offensively.
“Last week we played a Top 10 in the state in 4A (Div. I) that’s given up 32 points all year,” Jackson said. “This week, we’ve got a team that hasn’t scored all year. Beggars can’t be choosers. We tried to setup a more challenging schedule. I feel for those guys (Sharpstown) over there. They’re in a district with Manvel and Fort Bend Marshall. They wanted to play us and get better. I have a lot of respect for what they’re trying to do over there.”
After getting shut out last week, the young Grizzlies quarterback answered the call against the Apollos in the first half.
Hudson Hamilton, the freshman signal caller, had five first-half touchdown passes to help the Grizzlies pull away early. Grand Oaks almost exclusively went to the passing game in the first half with 23 attempts compared to four rushes. Eight different Grizzlies made receptions on the day.
In the first quarter, Grand Oaks scored twice. Seth Wright caught a 16-yard touchdown while Brett Wilson caught the other on a 3-yard roll out right by Hamilton.
In the second quarter, James Holmon (11 yards) scored a touchdown and Wilson (16 yards) added his second of the day. Hamilton then found fellow freshman Rorick Hawkins on a 41-yard touchdown to make it 35-0.
On the ensuing Sharpstown drive, junior defensive lineman Brentavion High scooped up the fourth takeaway of the half and returned the fumble 35 yards to the end zone.
Jack Manning, Chris Vandenberg and Cade Hogelin each recovered fumbles in the first half.
Grand Oaks picked its lone rushing touchdown in the third quarter as junior Austin Callies rumbled in from 46 yards out.
The Grizzlies then secured their fifth and final takeaway of the day in the fourth quarter. Manning picked up his second fumble of the day off the turf and returned it 45 yards to the end zone.
The Grizzlies’ defense allowed 102 yards and the Apollos had minus-29 yards rushing.
It was the second Grand Oaks shutout of the season after it did the same against Houston Wisdom last month.
Hamilton finished with 230 yards passing for Grand Oaks on 18-for-24 passing. He threw two interceptions in the first half.
Wilson had 93 yards receiving while Hawkins had 64.
For Sharpstown, wide receiver Luckyboy Collins made eight catches for 24 yards. Felchal Kouldiati had a fumble recovery and an interception.
Saturday’s game was the result of a postponement Thursday evening when Sharpstown was unable to reach Woodforest Bank Stadium due to a traffic accident that closed Interstate 45.
“We try to use everything here as a teaching moment,” Jackson said. “We needed to adapt to something that we can’t control and come out focused and try to make the best of it.”
The Apollos have a road game at Fort Bend Marshall next Saturday.
Grand Oaks has three games left - all at Woodforest Bank Stadium. Pro-Vision Academy comes calling next Saturday at noon before a bye. The schedule concludes against Class 6A Pasadena Memorial followed by Tomball Christian.
“Whether we’re getting beat like last week or we’re winning this week - what’s important to us is that we need to get reps,” Jackson said. “Any reps we get - as long as they are quality reps - are good reps. We are starting a freshman at quarterback. We have underclassmen all over the field. The more that we can play and put ourselves in game situations, it’s just going to benefit us in the long run.”