A little more than two years ago, then-Tompkins incoming sophomore Jalen Milroe could not stop smiling.
A late morning July discussion with a reporter in Tompkins head coach Todd McVey’s office centered around Milroe’s potential. His intriguing background. His promising future. His raw, though obvious, natural skill.
Following an eye-opening two months in spring ball, Milroe was the unofficial projected starter for a Tompkins program that used three quarterbacks while going through a 2017 winless season.
“The MVP of smiling,” McVey acknowledged of his precocious youngster. “It’s contagious.”
Colby Huerter is a two-time Class 6A all-state selection. A bruising, athletic 6-foot-1, 190-pound safety, he is a prolific stat-stuffer for Tompkins’ defense, averaging 6.2 tackles per game with 10 interceptions, a fumble recovery and a fumble caused in 26 games over the last two seasons.
Even more impressive than his physical ability, however, is his guile. One of my favorite plays—of any high school athlete I’ve covered in my 15 years in sportswriting—is this heads-up save during a game against Cinco Ranch two years ago.
“My approach to being a safety is to know your opponents better than they know themselves,” the incoming senior said. “So, when it comes to game time, there is not a lot of thinking on my part, just reacting. My mindset is to give maximum effort 100 percent of the time.”
Tompkins was the pleasant surprise of Katy ISD’s boys basketball last season when it made a surprising run to the Class 6A regional quarterfinals as a relatively young team.
Though the Falcons lost a pair of senior leaders in Hank Sanders and Jonathan Nash for the upcoming season, they return a talented junior class in B.B. Knight, Jason Clark and Carmelo Yakubu. All three have size, length and shooting ability; Knight is regarded as one of the top shooters in the class of 2022.
Tompkins has also added a pair of dynamic transfers: Joshua McMillan II from Cypress Lakes and Demari Williams from Fulshear. The marquee name is the senior combo guard Williams. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder averaged 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals last season.
Williams, a three-star recruit, scored more than 1,000 points over the last two seasons for the Chargers.
“I’ve been zoned to Tompkins for over a year now,” Williams said. “I was at Fulshear on a district waiver last year because my dad works in the district. Tompkins is a lot closer to my home, so we discussed it as a family, and I decided to give it a try for my senior year.”
Tompkins High basketball players and coaches drooped in their locker room, entrenched deep within the bowels of San Antonio’s Alamodome, with shoulders slumped and heads heavy, fallen and frustrated, on the night of March 11, 2018.
The Falcons had just dropped a heartbreaking 49-47 overtime decision to Allen in the Class 6A state championship game.
Even after a remarkable season that put the still-young program on the high school basketball map in Texas, tears filled eyes. Eventually, however, perspective and optimism filled thoughts and words.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Emmanuel White, then a senior wing. “Shortly after the game, we all told each other that we were going to be in a bigger moment. That wasn’t going to be the biggest game we’d ever play in. So, we didn’t really hang our hats on that.
“Now it’s just crazy. We’re all about to have a chance to do it together again.”
Tompkins coach Todd McVey remembers it well to this day.
Then-sophomore Marquis Shoulders, a transfer from Cypress Springs, misread the ball on a kick return in his first junior varsity home game in 2018. Shoulders was clearly frustrated, and McVey approached him to have a quick chat.
“It was his first time out there and he kind of fumbled it a bit,” McVey said. “He got frustrated and I had to give him a talk on the sideline. It was that year of learning for him. That JV year was really good for him. He was our MVP and he got to key in on his craft and it paid off for him.”
The 2020 high school soccer seasons were one many lost because of the global pandemic. Due to precautions for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the season was initially postponed in March before the UIL canceled all remaining spring sports seasons in April.
Still, the soccer seasons, boys’ and girls’, were on the brink of the playoffs, with just two more nights of district play remaining. With that, a lot was determined about who were the best players and which teams were the best through district play, which allowed for all-district picks to still be made by District 19-6A’s coaches.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football ranks Katy High in a tie for 18th overall on its 2020 Texas high school football program rankings released this weekend.
DCTF, in conjunction with PigskinPrep.com’s Jerry Forrest, ranked every high school football program based on relative strength over the course of the last six seasons.
Why six? As DCTF explains: “A six-year sample provides a steady measure of a program as opposed to an individual squad — six years represents one-and-a-half graduation cycles, mitigating the impact of a single transcendent class of athletes. In short: good programs have great teams one or two years, but great programs have great teams spread across a larger swath of time, like six years.”
During uncertain times hungry for any semblance of normalcy due to a global pandemic, some came last week when Katy ISD released its composite varsity football schedules for the 2020 season.
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, means nothing is sure for the upcoming high school football season. But the UIL and its districts are making any and all plans for when the 2020-2021 school year begins.
The biennial realignment in February brought little significant change for Katy ISD athletics for the next two school years.
Cinco Ranch, Katy, Mayde Creek, Morton Ranch, Seven Lakes, Taylor and Tompkins will compete in District 19-6A, which has been the norm. Paetow moves up to Class 5A, Division I as its enrollment number is on the brink of Class 6A after just three years of existence. Jordan High, the district’s ninth high school scheduled to open in August to freshmen and sophomores only, will compete in Class 5A, Division II, but won’t have varsity football until 2022. Until then, the Warriors’ football schedule will be a makeshift rendition of mixing and matching opponents.
More nerve-wracking than any pressure shot was the recruiting obstacles a global pandemic presented to Tompkins senior golfer Zach Asaro this spring.
When the high school golf season was postponed in mid-March and then eventually canceled less than a month later, it stunted an impressive season for Asaro, an all-district performer. He was hoping to strut his swing at the district and, hopefully, regional and state meets, searching for a scholarship offer from a bigger school after receiving interest from NAIA and NCAA Division III programs.
Those meets never took place. But Asaro, through persistent mobile and virtual contact with University of New Orleans men’s golf coach Jeff Lorio and leaning upon the faith and trust of sights and a program unseen, earned that shot at a better school, committing May 1 to play for the Privateers, a NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference.
The inevitable occurred on the afternoon of Friday, April 17, but it didn’t make the sting of a lost season any easier to take.
The UIL’s cancellation of remaining spring sports and state championships because of necessary precautions due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, left a plethora of ‘only-ifs’ in the Katy ISD sports community.
Only if Katy softball had been granted a postseason in which to defend its 2019 Class 6A state championship. The Tigers will get another chance next year, yes, but the seniors won’t have a shot at pursuing back-to-back titles. Only if Tompkins senior golfer Elina Sinz had been awarded one more shot at playing for state and an individual championship. Only if the Katy High girls track team or Paetow senior jumper Johnathan Baker or Taylor junior thrower Bryce Foster or Tompkins’ boys and girls track and field teams were given a chance to strut their stuff at state in Austin, smashing records along the way.
The Tompkins, Seven Lakes and Cinco Ranch boys soccer teams were all state-ranked and all viable candidates to represent the district at state.
So on and so on. The ‘what-ifs’ from this high school spring sports season would make for a compelling ESPN “30 for 30” documentary.
But arguably the biggest storyline left unanswered will be that of Tompkins girls soccer.