While Mayde Creek was not happy with a 35-14 Class 6A-Division II area playoff loss to Cypress Creek on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Pridgeon Stadium, coaches and players said they were proud that their year-long work had been rewarded with a playoff appearance and win.
HOUSTON — While Mayde Creek was not happy with a 35-14 Class 6A-Division II area playoff loss to Cypress Creek on Thursday, Nov. 21, at Pridgeon Stadium, coaches and players said they were proud that their year-long work had been rewarded with a playoff appearance and win.
This season was one of the most successful in the program’s history, as the Rams made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and enjoyed their finest season—9-3 overall—since 1997, when they went 10-2.
“We wanted to be a playoff team,” Rams coach Mike Rabe said. “We felt like we had the potential to do that. I’m extremely proud of these guys, man. The effort they put in, the work they put in. You just see the football season as this time of the year, but it’s a 12-month deal, and these guys committed to it and they did something that was special for our school.”
Cypress Creek (8-4) took command of the game early, scoring on its first four possessions to take a 28-0 lead with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter. While Mayde Creek picked up two first downs on its first three drives, Rabe said they didn’t have the execution they needed.
“They got some passes off on us early, and offensively, we missed a couple breaks there early,” Rabe said. “We had a couple guys open and we missed by a couple feet. With this caliber of football team and this time of the year, you need to be able to make those plays. We didn’t, and hats off to Cy Creek.”
Facing the 28-0 deficit and starting on its own 34-yard line, Mayde Creek put together its first scoring drive in the second quarter, keyed by junior quarterback and wideout Donte Jones.
Jones drew a pass interference call on a deep route, and on the next play he scrambled 38 yards. An extra eight yards was tacked on because of a facemask penalty against the Cougars. After a keep for no gain, Jones handed off to junior running back Julius Loughridge, who bounced from the middle of the pile to the outside for a 3-yard touchdown.
The Rams’ defense held with 2:08 remaining, but they couldn’t maintain the momentum at the start of the second half. The backbreaking play of the game was a 3rd-and-16 play by the Cougars from their own 37. Senior running back Eddie Jimerson caught a pass in the flat and broke through five different tackles for a 17-yard gain and a first down.
The Cougars scored again on the drive, going up 35-7 with 9:27 left in the third quarter. After Mayde Creek failed to score on its next drive, Cypress Creek primarily played reserves and back-ups for the remainder of the game.
The Rams’ second touchdown came on a 9-yard pass from senior quarterback John Zolacha to senior tight end Tory Wilson with 4:55 left.
The star of the game was Cougars senior quarterback Julian Uwadia, who consistently and accurately hit wideouts Cogan Derousselle (four catches, 125 yards, two touchdowns) and Legend Grigsby (five catches, 128 yards, touchdown) as they streaked past defenders. Uwadia threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, and finished 19-for-29 passing for 329 yards.
Mayde Creek was missing a significant weapon on offense, as senior Daniel Huery was out with an injury.
“It’s disappointing for him, being hurt his senior year and struggling through the injuries,” Rabe said, noting that Huery, the Rams’ leader this season in all-purpose yardage, played through several this year.
Mayde Creek totaled 207 yards to Cypress Creek’s 480. Loughridge led the Rams with 60 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Jones added 54 yards on 11 carries. Zolacha completed 5 of 8 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the disappointing season finale, Zolacha and Rabe said the team met goals they set at the beginning of the year. Zolacha stressed that he was proud of his teammates, and how the hard work they had put into preparing for the season paid off.
The Rams’ nine wins this season were two more than the total number of wins they had over the previous four seasons.
“That’s my last high school game, but at the end of it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard we worked, the goals we set, what we wanted to do,” Zolacha said. “We wanted to be here. We wanted to be in the playoffs and we were going to work as hard as it took to get here. We went from 3-7, the bottom of the bracket, nobody talked about us, and look where we are now, in the second round of the playoffs. That’s something I’m proud of.”
The future is bright for the Rams.
While Zolacha, Huery and wideout JaCoby Wilson will graduate, key components of their offense (Jones, Loughridge and wideout L’den Skinner) and defense (safety Joseph Kinyock, cornerback Lavonte Bishop and defensive lineman Gequan Faucette) are only juniors. Sophomore running back/receiver Eddie Harrell also factors in as a potential primary playmaker.
Rabe said he would likely think about next year’s team and celebrate this year’s team over the next few weeks.
“We’ll have time over Thanksgiving break to reflect over it, and it’ll probably become a bigger deal,” he said. “It hurts, because these guys want to continue playing. We’ve got a good group that gets along well, and you hate to see it end for them.”