High School Football

Spartans’ spring offers strong evaluation

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

Seven Lakes receiver Kyler Foster was hurt during a recent spring football practice, so a younger player assumed his role in the offense. The young player didn’t quite know what to do, however, so incoming senior linebacker Scott Stanford went over to him.

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High School Football

Spartans’ spring offers strong evaluation

Posted

Seven Lakes receiver Kyler Foster was hurt during a recent spring football practice, so a younger player assumed his role in the offense. The young player didn’t quite know what to do, however, so incoming senior linebacker Scott Stanford went over to him.

“Yo, just stand right here and then go across,” Stanford directed.

On a young Spartans team, Stanford is a rarity as an experienced veteran. His know-how is not taken for granted. A two-year letterman, Stanford has played quarterback, linebacker and is an all-state selection as a punter. His greatest asset at the moment, though, may simply be experience, which he is using to help out a slew of underclassmen the Spartans will be depending on next season.

“Whenever I was a sophomore, I looked up to guys like (former linebacker) Parker Jones and I try to be like him, a great leader and teammate,” Stanford said. “Now all the play calls are second nature to me. Now I can be a leader and tell the younger guys how to do something.”

Stanford doesn’t just talk the talk. In Seven Lakes’ Blue-White spring game Thursday, Stanford had three “sacks”—quarterbacks were off limits for tackling—and a fumble recovery.

“Physically, he’s improved in the weight room and improved his speed,” coach Jimmy Hamon said. “That’s great; it’s expected. But it’s his leadership ability and knowledge of our defense that really stands out. You can see he can get people in the right spaces and right places. He dissects the offense very well and makes reads a lot quicker. He’s just comfortable out there. You could see the game was very slow to him.”

Stanford is one of few certainties for a Seven Lakes team still trying to figure out the depth chart on both sides of the ball.

At quarterback, incoming senior Grayson Medford is making the transition from receiver. He struggled early during the spring game but threw a gorgeous, perfectly-placed 34-yard bomb to Foster in the back left coffin corner of the end zone on the game’s final drive.

“He has a great arm and can really let the ball go,” Hamon said. “Once he got the speed of the game, which is still different than practice even though it’s still our defense, I liked how he improved through these four quarters.”

There are times when Medford still relies on his speed and quickness to bail him out. Hamon said when drop-back passes are called, Medford has to do a better job reading through progressions instead of escaping and running when the initial read isn’t open.

“It was tough at the beginning, learning all the run-play stuff,” Medford said. “It’s all a process, as far as making the right decisions, making the right throws, knowing when to scramble, knowing when to stay in the pocket.”

Incoming sophomore quarterback Anthony Bates Jr. had the best game among all offensive performers, throwing two touchdowns and showing off nice explosiveness on the ground.

“He’s a decision-maker,” Hamon said. “He’s a point guard on the basketball team, and you saw that poise. He’ll make a quick decision and he has a quick release. I was impressed.”

Hamon, entering his fourth year at the helm of the Spartans, has gone with a platoon system at quarterback before, but prefers one guy.

“If we have a more experienced guy that can lead us, maybe we go with the senior,” Hamon said. “And if Anthony becomes the guy we can go with, and we can always move Grayson back to receiver, that will make us only more explosive. But that’s a lot to ask a sophomore to do early.”

With the graduation of a pair of three-year lettermen at running back, Hamon also took a close look at his backfield. The standout from the spring game was incoming sophomore Barrett Hudson.

At one point, Hudson got one-on-one with a linebacker and made him miss easily. Hamon likes the way Hudson slides and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, always leaning forward.

Incoming senior Michael Amico, who saw quality varsity reps last season, and incoming junior Marcel Davis, who scored a touchdown and showed versatility with his pass-catching skills, also figure into the mix at running back.

Inside linebacker is where Hamon has the most competition. Incoming seniors Cooper Whitten and Jonah Thigpen, and incoming juniors Preston Bozeman, Shane Rasefske and Ethan Duke are all capable.

Thigpen, in particular, caught Hamon’s eye in the spring game. Elsewhere on the defense, incoming senior lineman Shashwat Singh and incoming sophomore linebacker Dakyus Brinkley have drawn rave reviews from coaches and players.

Overall, Hamon likes where his team is going into the 2021 fall season opposed to last season, when the pandemic canceled spring football and Hamon had only one scrimmage and two non-district games before facing Katy in the district opener.

“We were trying to figure things out still in district play,” he said.

Now he has a better idea who his playmakers are and is more comfortable with personnel and who can, and can’t, do what. Despite a 0-4 start to last season, Seven Lakes still made the playoffs by winning three of its last five games.

There is optimism that momentum can carry over to 2021.

“We just have to win the games we need to win and focus on ourselves,” Stanford said. “We have to play one team each night, and not two; we can’t be battling ourselves as well. We’ll be alright.”

Seven Lakes High School, Seven Lakes Spartans, high school football, Jimmy Hamon, Scott Stanford, Grayson Medford, Katy ISD, athletics, Katy, Texas

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