Baytown Christian holds off Emery/Weiner in Classic
Emery/Weiner and Baytown Christian were not scheduled to play each other this season. But with the first two weeks of football postponed or cancelled for several area schools, the Jaguars and Bulldogs suddenly had an open date.
A meeting of recent TAPPS state six-man champions did not disappoint as the finale of the Emery/Weiner Kickoff Classic, Sept. 9 on Helfman Field at Caress Stadium. Baytown Christian made two fourth-quarter, goal-line stands to preserve a 42-32 victory.
While both teams had several new faces compared to 2016, it was arguably the best TAPPS six-man matchup in the state in Week 2. Emery won the Division I state crown in 2015 and was 21-4 the last two seasons, while Baytown Christian finished 13-0 with the Division III title last fall.
“We were supposed to go to Chester this weekend,” Emery coach Adrian Adams said. “But with the storm, we kind of felt like the Houston area needed some six-man football. We were supposed to have our Kickoff Classic last week so we just moved it to this week. We were lucky to get a matchup with Baytown.”
The Bulldogs appeared ready to run away with the opener, leading 20-0 after the first quarter and 34-8 less than three minutes into the second half. Junior Richard Washington sparked Baytown Christian early with an interception return for a touchdown and an 18-yard touchdown reception for a 13-0 lead.
The Bulldogs scored on their first three possessions, all on touchdown passes from returning quarterback Hunter Oliver. They built their biggest lead when Bryce Gillum turned fourth and long into a 63-yard touchdown catch.
Emery had three turnovers and one touchdown in the first half, the score on a misdirection play as Matthew Owens found Sam Rosen early in the second quarter. But the Jaguars dominated one stretch of the second half.
A 34-yard strike on fourth down from Josh Strauss to Sam Kasser answered Baytown Christian’s third-quarter touchdown. The defense then forced a punt and consecutive interceptions by Kasser and Mitchell Robbins, who also provided a spark at running back.
A team with only three returning varsity lettermen and two seniors – end Ciro Savarese and lineman Ben Tuchshnieder – played more to form after a slow start.
“We have a young group,” Adams said. “I think they came out a little bit nervous. Once we got in the locker room at halftime they settled down, made some adjustments and they fought back.”
Touchdown passes from Strauss to Austin Smith and Savarese brought the Jaguars within 34-30 by the end of the third quarter. They were three yards from taking the lead, but a sack by Cricket Redus helped the Bulldogs preserve the lead.
Baytown Christian followed with a 27-yard touchdown run by Gillum and held once more inside its own five-yard line. The Jaguars recorded a safety but could not score again.
Like so many students around the Houston area, the Jaguars spent portions of what would have been the first two weeks of the football season getting through and recovering from Tropical Storm Harvey.
Located near the Meyerland area, much of which flooded, Emery/Weiner students were able to assist many neighbors and classmates. They were able to return to some kind of routine last week.
“I think the kids get tired of going into homes and gutting them out,” Adams said. “Being back in school and back to football was good.”