“Maturity and leadership are the keys for us to be able to achieve our goals,” Joseph said. “Those are the two things you need to have and develop every year. The question always is, are you going to have leadership and are they going be mature enough."
For another school, a state semifinal appearance might be a highlight or a historic accomplishment.
But for Katy, last year’s finish has been the fuel that has the fire burning for every player within the Tigers program.
Katy regained its district title after a streak of winning district for 12 straight years was broken in 2020 and made yet another deep run in the Class 6A-Division II playoffs.
The Tigers came away with the Region III crown out of Division II for the second straight year, but they fell in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Austin Westlake.
That isn’t good enough for Katy, and this year is all about being all in for the programs 10th straight state title.
“Maturity and leadership are the keys for us to be able to achieve our goals,” said Katy head coach Gary Joseph. “Those are the two things you need to have and develop every year. The question always is, are you going to have leadership and are they going be mature enough to handle the responsibilities they have. The expectations are always going to be there, how you handle it is a big deal and you have to have great leadership from everyone, that responsibility and accountability is everything.”
The Tigers do lose some of last year’s star power, but they also return plenty of talent to try and repeat as district champions and attempt to make a run towards state.
In total, Katy returns 27 letterman overall and five starters on each side of the ball.
Seth Davis is the key to the offense, and the senior running back should be stronger than ever this year. He comes off a season in which he ran for 2,422 yards and 28 touchdowns. Davis averaged over 10 yards per carry and 173 yards per game, and he has plans to up that this year.
Joining Davis to lead the offense is Caleb Koger. The senior signal caller developed as a junior and is expected to do that again heading into his final year of high school, as he comes off a 1863 yard year in which he threw 21 touchdowns.
Katy returns key pieces all around on offense, JR Ceyanes will be a big presence at receiver, others will have to step up at the position as well and while Katy has a strong backup running back in Dallas Glass, and Chase Johnsey will step in at fullback after Isaiah Smith’s graduation.
“The seniors have stepped into their roles like they knew they would have to and it’s really been a good thing for them to exhibit that leadership so far,” Joseph said. “Those returners and those seniors have taken it on themselves to teach the younger ones what it takes and how to be serious in practice. They’re learning to take quality reps and really taking that step.”
The defense will have some strong players back and Johnathan Hall will help lead the unit. On the defensive line, Dallas-Patrick Alo-Suliafu and Adam Carter are two players to watch for while Damien Neveaux will be the senior leader and anchor of the linebacker unit.
Last year’s Katy team was typically stingy on defense, allowing barely over 12 points per game and held seven opponents to under ten points in their matchups.
“We have some really good football players coming back and they know the expectation,” Joseph said. “Johnathan Hall, Arian Parish and the kids like that, they’ve been through it, they know what it’s like, they played against Westlake and in other big games. They just have to be more assertive in their leadership. We’ve seen a lot of improvement out of the guys on the defensive line, Broderick Johnson is one of those guys who is coming back and has gotten better. We just have to have them come through and step up now.”
The Tigers know as well as any program that it’s important to build a strong non-district schedule, and the Tigers will be tested early and often this year. They will start the season by facing Clear Springs, which made the playoff last year, and then facing Atascocita in a battle between two of the states strongest teams. Katy then will face one of their toughest district opponents in the first week of district play when they play Tompkins.
But the Tigers wouldn’t have it any other way, and they want to go out and show how good they are early and often.
“We’ll know where we are at after those two weeks, that’s for sure,” Joseph said. “The tough thing is only having two non-district games now, so you don’t have the same amount of time to develop that depth in the games. Everything becomes real after those first two and so some of those kids are going to have to be ready even without as much experience, but everyone is in the same boat. They just have to mature in a hurry and that’s why we take practice so serious. But those first two games are so huge and are about depth. You can’t only do this with 22 players.”
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