The Calhoun Sandcrabs Varsity Football team finished the season with a 9-3 overall record and a 6-1 district record, with district and bi-district titles under their belt.
Sandcrabs head coach Richard Whitaker talked about the 2019 season and the road leading to the district title.
Whitaker said he was very proud of his players this season, and he added they came in every week and played to the best of their abilities.
“It was a great group of kids to work with, and I fought for our group that faced some adversity early on in district,” Whitaker said. “Winning a big ball game and having to forfeit that game, this group handled adversity very well.”
The Sandcrabs dealt with a delayed game to kickoff district in Gregory Portland, and Whitaker spoke about how he participated in some delayed games in his career.
“We were prepared to go to another stadium. We absolutely, as far along in the game as we were, did not want to come back Saturday and finish the game,” Whitaker said.
Calhoun continued to face adversity early in district play when they received news that they had to forfeit the win against Alice due to the participation of an ineligible player.
It was miscommunication from the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO) about a player that shouldn’t have played in that game, Whitaker explained.
“The information was given to me by the officials association because there was no report ever filed by the [game] officials, and that UIL would not be involved because there was no report ever filed,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker added he made a mistake by not calling the UIL and making sure everything was correct.
It was a hard lesson learned by him, Whitaker said, and it was something that he felt “absolutely horrible about.”
“But our kids were very resilient, and they told me from day one, they had my back and they did,” Whitaker said. “They fought back from that and never let it faze them.”
After the forfeit, the Sandcrabs went on a four-game winning streak to set up a district championship game against Calallen in the final game of the season.
In his coaching career, from Kingsville to Calhoun, Whitaker has faced Calallen 14 times, and he said that that there are very few secrets between the two coaching staffs.
“Coach [Phil] Danaher is the winningest coach of all time in Texas, and for a reason,” Whitaker said. “He is a great coach and always has his team well prepared and does a great job.”
Calhoun beat Calallen, 17-6, and Whitaker said his team had a great game plan against them on offense and defense. He added he told his players to do some things differently than in other games, and they “executed those things to perfection.”
“That game was absolutely wonderful, and, in my long career, that’s one of those games we’ll always remember because it was a big win for our kids at that moment,” Whitaker said.
Whitaker talked about the seniors on the team, and he said they played “tremendous” this season, and the ones that didn’t play as often played well too, he added.
This was a great senior class to work with, Whitaker said. He added they were “fun to be around” and very “coachable and teachable” players.
“I know they’re going to be very successful in their endeavors in life moving forward,” Whitaker said. “And I hope they got something out of this program that is going to help them.”
Calhoun earned the chance to host a home playoff game, and Whitaker said he is proud of his players, especially the seniors, for winning district and bi-district titles in back-to-back home games.
“Those are memories that they will always have about their home field and stadium,” Whitaker said. “Two of the last games there were two great victories for our team.”
Whitaker talked about the playoff matchup against Boerne-Champion, and he said the one player that concerned him was quarterback Luke Boyers.
“I’ve been blessed to have coached against a few of those type players through my career,” Whitaker said. “Johnny Manziel, Drew Brees and a few others, but those types of kids can take over a game and do things, and it’s very special.”
Whitaker praised Boyers for making the big plays when he needed them. He added his players never quit and fought to the “very end” against Boerne and said it was a shame that it was the second round.
“We felt like that Boerne-Champion was one of the best teams in the region, as we were,” Whitaker said. “I still truly believe there’s nobody else in the region that we couldn’t play with.”
Whitaker used the Calallen and Boerne match to prove his point that if you go a different route or play different teams, sometimes matchups turn out differently.
The Sandcrabs will drop to Class 4A for the 2020 season due to district realignment. Whitaker talked about the reclassification and the changes his team will encounter.
“It is inevitable that we will be a 4A school next year. Now, where we will play, we have no clue,” Whitaker said. “The UIL will have to work their magic and look at all the numbers and see how many schools will be 4A division one and 5A division two and so forth.”
According to Whitaker, dropping to 4A means that there will be no spring ball, and he said that is something that his team has participated in for many years.
As long as every school in Class 4A is doing the same thing, Whitaker said, it will not be an unfair advantage against his team.
The Sandcrabs will find out in February where they will play in the 2020 season, and Whitaker said he and his team are looking forward to that date and “seeing where they are going to be.”