High School Football

Tigers cap ring season with celebratory ceremony

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 5/3/21

The curtain ceremoniously closed on the 2020 state championship football season for the Katy Tigers on Monday as they celebrated with coaches, teammates, administrators, program personnel, family and supporters at Legacy Stadium to relive the illustrious campaign one final time.

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High School Football

Tigers cap ring season with celebratory ceremony

Posted

The curtain ceremoniously closed on the 2020 state championship football season for the Katy Tigers on Monday as they celebrated with coaches, teammates, administrators, program personnel, family and supporters at Legacy Stadium to relive the illustrious campaign one final time.

“I’m thankful we had the opportunity to do this,” coach Gary Joseph said. “Our kids needed to know how appreciative our staff was and how appreciative the people of Katy were. It’s a total effort, from our cheerleaders to our band to the brigade. We got them state championship medals, too, because they fought through the whole thing with us and they were part of this.

“The look on these kids’ faces when they actually got to see their rings … I’m proud of them and proud for them.”

The two-hour ceremony featured two playoff highlight videos, multiple exchanges of gifts between coaches and players, and the acknowledgement of everyone involved, from student trainers to team videographers to the travel scout team. Moms of team captains Taylor Saulsberry, Shepherd Bowling, Ty Kana and Dalton Johnson received state championship commemorative footballs signed by the players.

The last part was the best part, however, as players opened black boxes to get their first look at their state championship rings.

“It feels great,” said sophomore running back Seth Davis, offensive MVP of the state title game. “I dreamed of this moment all my life and we finally got our rings. We’ve been waiting a long time. They’re real nice. Definitely worth the wait.”

The rings featured a red Katy Tiger logo surrounded by diamonds on the face. On the sides of the ring were the years of the nine Katy High state championships, the name of the player, his number, the score of the Class 6A Division II state championship win over Cedar Hill (51-14), and the exterior of AT&T Stadium, where the state title game was played.

This title was extra special, as Katy won in midst of a global pandemic.

“It was very, very tough, from the coronavirus and on,” Joseph said. “It was about perseverance, and not just because of the coronavirus, but we fought through a lot of injuries and things that were out of kids’ control. And they never dropped their head and came down on themselves. They continued getting better. I can say they were better in weeks 16 and 17 than they were in weeks 11 and 12. That’s what you want. Keep improving to give yourself a chance and an opportunity, and they gave us that chance.”

Joseph said players learned how to fight and how to be unselfish. The 2020 Tigers were a close-knit group that trusted each other and was selfless.

“That’s what we’re fighting for in the world,” Joseph said. “That’s what athletics teaches kids. That’s the value. I’m extremely thankful I have an occupation where I can help kids do that day to day.”

Katy is in its second week of spring football as it prepares to defend its state championship come August. It won’t be easy.

The Tigers graduate 15 starters from the state championship game—six on defense, eight on offense, kicker Nemanja Lazic and punter Fuller Shurtz.

“The story of our program has always been ‘next man up,’” Joseph said. “We’ve got to address the depth, and that, to me, is one of the things that goes overlooked. We had depth last year when we had injuries and a lot of kids stepped up. We’ve got to find starters. We have a long way to go, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and I know the kids are, too.”

Indeed, two of the Tigers’ stalwarts on offense, Davis and sophomore quarterback Caleb Koger, are excited about what’s next after a “crazy, unbelievable” year, Koger said.

“Just got to keep improving,” Koger said. “Last season was big for confidence. I want to get better with my accuracy and be more confident with all my throws. Just be more consistent, continue to get better. We’re all getting better.”

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