ABBOTT — Kyle Crawford knew the play would work.
He told his dad, Abbott football coach Terry Crawford, the Panthers needed to run “guard-trap-bootleg.” But the Abbott coach just kept pacing the sideline.
The head football coach wasn’t going to take a play call from the ball boy, even if it was his son.
The clock continued to run, and Abbott was still looking for a breakthrough. Again, Kyle Crawford told his dad, “Guard-trap-bootleg is there.” The coach relented and sent in the play.
“We scored a touchdown off of it,” Terry Crawford said. “He kind of looks at me like, ‘I told you so.’ I guess he was about 7 or 8 then.”
Terry Crawford said it’s not always easy being the coach’s son, and it’s no picnic for a guy to coach his child either. But it helps when the son has been tuned into football from an early age.
Kyle Crawford passed for 977 yards and 22 touchdowns to just one interception as a junior in 2007. He piled up 49 tackles and made seven interceptions on defense. He was the District 12 Six-Man Division I MVP.
But football savvy — knowing the game better than his opponents — more than anything else is what made Crawford the 2007 Super Centex Six-Man Player of the Year.
“When you know you’ve called a terrible play and you know you’re fixing to get killed and you’ve got a quarterback smart enough to not only get you out of it but put you in a good play, that’s big,” Terry Crawford said. “He made a living in our big games doing that this year.”
At 5-foot-9, 150 pounds, Kyle Crawford is not a dominant athlete, even in the wide-open game of six-man football. Terry Crawford said if Central Texas’ six-man players were lined up to run a 40-yard dash, Kyle would be in the middle of the pack.
But when it comes to the mental side of the game, Kyle has developed far beyond other players his age. He said that comes from countless days of playing football, dating back farther than he can remember.
“Every single day it didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees or 30 degrees we’d be out there playing,” Kyle said. “Playing next to the high school team practicing.”
Kyle said, along with team goals for this season, he set personal goals that included passing for 1,000 yards and throwing fewer than five interceptions.
Though he barely missed the millennium-mark throwing the ball, his only interception came in the Panthers’ final contest.
In doing that, Kyle led Abbott to a 9-1 regular season record and wins over Penelope and Strawn in the Division I playoffs.
“The team has higher expectations than what we did,” Kyle said. “Going three rounds in the playoffs was nice. It was a big step to get the program back to where it was three years ago and keeping it on the same level of high expectations.”
Both Terry and Kyle Crawford pointed to the Blum game as a time when Kyle’s physical and mental abilities merged to ignite the Panthers’ offense.
Kyle completed 10 of 16 passes for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns, picking apart the Blum defense even before the ball was snapped.
“He had three audibles in the Blum game, and all three of them went for touchdowns,” Terry Crawford said. “That’s real big.”
Kyle said he was able to do that because his dad and the other Panthers coaches gave him the reins.
“This year is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in the offense,” Kyle said. “I had a lot more freedom this year. I guess I established that trust factor with the coaching staff. They allowed me to change a play a lot.”
Kyle Crawford earned the Player of the Year honor over several worthy candidates, including Kopperl’s Carlos Johansson, who rushed for 1,193 yards, passed for 167, caught passes for 105, returned kicks for 278 more and posted 20 touchdowns.
Kyle and Terry Crawford have one more season together at Abbott before Kyle goes to college, perhaps to pursue his own coaching career. Replacing his son as a vital part of the team won’t necessarily be something new for Terry Crawford.
“One of the traumatic things for me was trying to replace him as a ball boy,” he said. “It’s hard to find a ball boy that pays attention to the game.”
Coach of the Year Corey McAdams, Penelope
Terry Crawford said Penelope’s Corey McAdams might’ve actually won this year’s Super Centex Six-Man Coach of the Year award for the work McAdams did in the 2005 season.
Crawford said McAdams kept a talented group of then-sophomores focused even when the Wolverines weren’t seeing a lot of success.
For that matter, McAdams might’ve won the award in 2002 when he started the school’s junior high program. The seventh-graders in 2002 were the seniors who led Penelope to the school’s first football playoff appearance this season.
Penelope relaunched its football program in 2000 after almost 40 years without one. The Wolverines, who had never won more than four games in a year until this season, posted a 7-4 mark.
“I felt we grew a lot through those years,” Penelope senior quarterback Jonathan Moreno said. “It’s like when you’re little you have to learn to crawl. We started crawling, and then we got up on our feet and started walking.”
Penelope’s key win came on the final week of the regular season. The Wolverines fought off Coolidge, 28-22, to get into the playoffs. That win touched off a big-time celebration in the small town.
A year earlier, the Wolverines thought they were on their way when they won their first three games. But Penelope lost five of six down the stretch.
“Once we finally got going last season, we really thought was the playoff year,” McAdams said. “But we ran into injuries and we’d never had that before. But at 4-6, it was still the best season in the history of the school.”
Coming into this fall, McAdams and his assistant, Randall Ballew, knew this was the year the Wolverines needed to step into the postseason. McAdams said he’d seen his team fall just short of expectations, but in 2007 they learned to win key games.
Guiding Penelope to the playoffs in the program’s eighth season of existence earned McAdams the award over Blum’s Gary Talafuse and Abbott’s Crawford.
Talafuse guided Blum to a 4-1 district record and a playoff berth after a 1-4 start. Crawford took the Panthers further in the six-man playoffs than any other Central Texas program this season.
Though Abbott defeated Penelope, 71-35, in bi-district, the Wolverines showed they too could soon be playoff regulars.
“This year was more fun than anything because we had established ourselves,” McAdams said.
2007 Super Centex Six-Man Football Team
|QB||Prescott St. Peter||Sr||6-2||160||Kopperl|