On a Friday afternoon a little more than a week ago, I sat surrounded by my Trib sports colleagues at Vitek’s.
After plowing through our Gut Paks or barbecue, we turned our attention to picking the 60th annual Super Centex football team.
As we went through the nominees, it invoked some memories from my college days, when my roommates and friends would often gather to play games – video games, board games or whatever kind of game we could come up with.
One of the most popular selections of those get-togethers was You Don’t Know Jack on the original Playstation.
It was a game that riddled players with question after question, but every now and then a specific type would pop up – the impossible question.
That’s what picking this year’s Super Centex team felt like – trying to answer an impossible question.
Just look at what we had to consider at the quarterback position.
There’s Ben Hicks, an SMU commit from Midway who threw for 3,510 yards and 28 touchdowns while adding another nine touchdowns on the ground.
There’s Austin Skinner of Teague, who threw for 3,511 yards and 49 touchdowns and found the end zone five times rushing.
There’s Roshauud Paul, a dual-threat sophomore who threw for 1,560 yards and 19 touchdowns, ran for 1,618 yards and 23 more scores and was the offensive MVP of the Class 2A Division II state championship game after leading Bremond from behind.
The combined record for these three young men in the regular season? A cool 30-0.
In nearly any other year, they’d all be no-brainer first- or second-team selections. But this year was different, and they were all given honorable mention.
That trio doesn’t even include others like Connally’s Kristian Brown, one of the most dynamic athletes in the area at any position, Mexia’s Jaylen Gipson, who helped his team surprise everyone by ripping through District 7-4A Division II undefeated, or Clifton’s Tanner Thomas, who nearly cracked the 2,000-yard mark on the ground and helped revitalize the Cubs’ program with its first playoff trip since 2005.
Starting to see why things felt so impossible?
As for the signal-callers who did get on the team, their numbers jump off the page at you and exemplify how offenses have exploded in recent years.
Mart’s De’Nerian Thomas isn’t the most polished passer you’ll ever see, but he’s exactly the type of athlete you want with the ball in his hands 70-plus times per game. Nobody in the history of Central Texas has rushed for more yards than the 7,324 he had in his career, 2,545 of which came this season.
His running ability worried defenders so much that they sucked up on play-action, and Thomas could hit them over the top. That’s why 19 of his 48 completions went for touchdowns this season and he was the choice as the Offensive Player of the Year and took a first-team utility spot.
All first-team quarterback Brett Gilchrist did for Whitney was amass more than 5,000 yards of total offense and 58 touchdowns and lead his team to its first outright district championship since 1982.
If you don’t like those guys, how about the second-team quarterback and utility man.
Cameron Yoe’s Reid Nickerson was a one-year starter at quarterback, but he made the most of it with 3,190 yards and 44 touchdowns with only three interceptions in leading the Yoemen to their third straight state title to take the quarterback spot.
That left Temple’s Chad President as the second-team utility player, and he finished with 2,705 yards and 24 touchdowns passing to go with 1,002 yards and 11 scores on the ground to help the Wildcats to the 5A Division I championship game.
Admittedly, not every position was as difficult to select as quarterback, but it just goes to show you how difficult it is to get the right guys on the team when there are so many good players at one position.
I’m not complaining. This was a special season in Central Texas high school football, and that makes it fun to cover.
It’s not every year we get two state champions, another state finalist and a state semifinalist in Mart that bludgeoned opponents until having one bad night against the worst possible opponent, eventual Class 1A Division I state champion Canadian.
I’ve had coaches get upset with me in the past when I called to notify them of their selections and ask me why I didn’t think one or more of their players were worthy of a certain spot on the team.
It’s not that they weren’t worthy. It’s just a very difficult team to make, and we like it that way. It should mean something to be selected, and we always strive to get it right. But we know there will be those who disagree with our picks.
After all, the number of schools in Central Texas means there are that many players, coaches and fans with opinions about who should be selected, and that makes it hard to please everyone.