LAKE JACKSON — The Sweeny Bulldogs had to overcome the obstacle of starting sophomores and juniors for a majority of their team on offense and defense due to inexperience in the team and injuries. That didn’t stop them from winning seven games in a row en route to an 8-3 record and District 11-4A Region III D-2 title.
“We had an amazing group of kids and they were a lot of fun to work with,” Sweeny head coach Randy Lynch said. “They were a young group with a lot of sophomores and juniors that hadn’t played on the varsity before and we knew we were going to take some bumps and bruises early on. They just continued to believe in what we were doing and stuck to the process and systems that we use.”
Coaching staffs are all about overcoming challenges and putting players in the best positions to succeed. With the kinds of players they had and the effort put in by everyone on staff, they were able to overcome those challenges to win the district.
“It was challenging because we knew early on we would have issues because we were so young in a lot of areas, but they just kept believing in what we were doing and it eventually paid off in the end,” Lynch said.
Lynch spoke glowingly of his other senior leaders in defensive lineman Trayvon Brooks, defensive back Justin Garner and wide receiver Justice Clemons. All athletes played their parts in helping the team get to where they wanted to go and help the coaching staff, alleviating the costs of playing young inexperienced players.
“We’ll miss all our seniors and it goes back to a great group of young men believing in what we want to accomplish and hopefully we taught them a little bit about football, but more importantly, things in life that they’re going to go through,” Lynch said. “There’ll be some ups and downs, but they’ll have to overcome that and here they did that.”
For longtime Sweeny coach Ron Stewart, who is retiring, he as well as the other coaches raved about players who have progressed for them.
“One of the biggest obstacles we had all year was replacing the entire offensive line,” Stewart said. “That was huge and it was a long process to be comfortable with where we were offensively, but I think our defense played exceptionally well.
“Being at Sweeny for 32 years, you have a chance to win every year and that’s not like that everywhere. I was once told by one of the coaches 30 years ago when Sweeny walks out onto the field, some of the games were already over. That’s not the times now, but they’ve been carrying the tradition on.”
Tradition in high school sports can be a hard burden to carry, especially in tight-knit communities where ties between families and schools are strong. The Bulldog defense, however, doled out traditional justice as the coaches in the room, combined with the players on the field, put in the work for a successful season.
“I’m been lucky to be the defensive coordinator here. I’ve coached for 10 years and all my defensive coaches have been defensive coordinators beforehand,” Sweeny defensive coordinator Dale Ryan said. “You total all that up and that’s 150 years. It was a lot of fun coaching all the guys we had and I enjoyed coaching them and being around them.”
Coach-ability was a big thing for Ryan as his defensive players showed even when the best call wasn’t made or players made mistakes, they always gave it 100 percent and never quit.
On the offensive side of the ball, offensive coordinator James Howell was in his second year as coordinator out of 17 years coaching and Trey Robbins at quarterback was a big influence on the team in his eyes.
“We had a lot of question marks going into the fall, but Trey turned out to be a really good quarterback and a great leader and far exceeded our expectations,” Sweeny offensive coordinator Ryan Howell said. “Our offensive line kept working hard and got better all season.”
While his praises were also towards running back Xavier Woods and wide receiver Justice Clemons, he thought the offense as a whole came together and found its rhythm after a particular game.
“The Bellville game was the big turning point to the season in my opinion,” Howell said. “We were the underdog and we played well enough to beat those guys and I think our team gained a lot of confidence and catapulted us into a seven-game winning streak.”
Though they fell short in the playoffs, the Bulldog coaching staff earned The Facts Southern Brazoria County Coaching Staff of the Year.
“I’m glad for these guys to be recognized,” Lynch said. “these guys are wonderful to work with and they believe in what we’re doing as well and, more importantly, we want to instill life lessons along the way and I mean that.”