Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
Sam Houston senior offensive linemen Ralphael Green, left, and Price Eshan, pictured running during a conditioning drill at Monday's workout, are among the Hurricanes' leaders..
Wednesday, Aug 3 at 11:07 AM
Sam Houston High School football coach Gary Green can’t remember the last time he has looked forward to a season as much as the one the Hurricanes started preparing for Monday.
There’s a good reason Green, a 1973 Sam Houston graduate, is a little more pumped than usual heading into August: The seniors on this year’s team have been with him since his first season in 2008.
The senior class not only has experience, it has blue-chip talent that has attracted college coaches from throughout the country.
The group includes highly recruited two-way end Javonte Magee and three other Division I prospects, linemen Ralphael Green and Prince Eshan and safety Leo Thomas.
“This is our senior year,” Green said. “These are the guys who were here when I first got the job. This is my group. We have seven to 10 of them who are very good athletes. And because they’ve been here four years, they’ve bought into the discipline. They’ve bought into the hard work.
“They’ve persevered. They’re all great leaders and they’re motivated. They want the sky. I told them they’re going to have to be the leaders on and off the field, because everybody else is watching them. I’m really expecting a lot this year.”
Monday was the first day of preseason workouts for University Interscholastic League Class 5A and 4A schools that did not have spring training, and schools competing in 3A, 2A, 1A and six-man.
Class 5A and 4A schools that had spring training begin practicing Aug. 8.
The high school football season kicks off Thursday, Aug. 25.
Sam Houston, expected to battle defending champion Cuero for the District 28-3A title, plays SAISD rival Brackenridge in its opener Aug. 26 at Alamo Stadium.
The Hurricanes were runners-up to Cuero in the 28-3A race last year and lost to Navarro 31-0 in the second round of the playoffs, finishing 8-3.
Sam Houston has gone 19-13 in three seasons under Green. The Hurricanes went 3-7 in 2008 and have finished 8-3 two years in a row. The 2009 team fell to Cuero 46-12 in its playoff opener.
With Magee, Green, Eshan and Thomas leading a predominantly senior team, Sam Houston is expected to have one of its best teams in years.
“I don’t temper the expectations,” Green, 55, said. “I tell them, ‘If we do things right, the sky’s the limit. State championship.’ We’ve been saying that the last three years. We had trouble when our quarterback got hurt against Cuero that first year we were in the playoffs, and then last year, we never got off the mark offensively.”
The lopsided playoff losses the past two years have motivated the Hurricanes to worker harder to eliminate critical mistakes.
“We’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” Ralphael Green said. “Even though we haven’t accomplished anything the last few years, everybody has gotten their hopes up and we believe we’re going to go to state. I just want to tell everybody out there that we’re coming.”
Magee, who is being recruited by almost every major college in the country, echoed Green’s sentiments.
“I think we’ve got state potential,” Magee said. “We just have to limit mistakes.”
Coach Green said he was generally pleased with his players’ physical conditioning after putting them through two workouts in the oppressive heat Monday.
“I think we did pretty good, especially the seniors,” he said. “A lot of them have been here all summer long, lifting weights and running.”
An All-America cornerback at Baylor and an All-Pro at the same position during a nine-year NFL career, Green said coaching at Sam Houston has been as rewarding as it’s been challenging.
“Attaining success here means a lot more to me than attaining success anywhere else,” he said.
“This is my community. This is where I grew up. This is my alma mater. Being able to bring these kids together and have them focus on a common goal, and seeing them become respectful young man has been very fulfilling.”