Promising youth, improved competitiveness bodes well
It wasn’t just about a change in how to play and approach football, but it was all about a complete cultural shift with Goose Creek Memorial’s program under new head coach Shannon Carter.
Carter arrived in Baytown, with GCM coming off a 2-8 season and three wins total in the previous two seasons.
He attacked his mission from within, focusing on getting the players to buy in and work on themselves in all areas on and off the field.
“We were a lot more competitive and lost three games by one score and they got away from us,” Carter said. “We got a lot of praise about our program and where we are headed by other coaches. The buy-in was tremendous. We inherited a senior class that gave us its all.
“I think we broke some habits and we just didn’t close out games and we have to learn how to win. But we were a game or two away from being a playoff team and that’s promising.”
Competitively, the improvement was evident.
In 2018, the Patriots won one district 9-5A I contest while being outscored 398-204 and having six of their eight losses coming by four or more possessions.
This fall, Carter’s team was outscored 255-207 – albeit with two wins over a pair of 0-10 teams by a combined 123-10 score – but lost four of its seven decisions by two or less possessions.
GCM started seven sophomores which Carter can build a foundation for the future around.
“They got on-the-job training and they are a talented group of kids that were able to hold their own and give us a chance to win,” Carter said.
Early in the season, Carter admonished his players for chirping and trash talk by shouting, ‘that’s not who we are.’ Those types of outbursts never found their way to the forefront as the season progressed.
“There wasn’t much opposition to it and they understand winning is an all the time thing in every facet and you a product of your habits,” Carter said. “You have seen a metamorphis from day one until the end of the season.
“We are trying to tie everything together in our building and creating the ‘Patriot Way,’ and we want to spread positive energy. There is a lot of power in words and being intentional about the way you do things.”
One game that sticks in the Patriots craw is the week nine loss at Galena Park, 24-16, that ultimately knocked GCM out of the playoffs when a win might have changed the season’s narrative.
“We put too much pressure on ourselves,” senior quarterback Emmerson Haywood said. “We weren’t used to being in that position after getting our brains busted every game. Next year they can say that they’ve been there before, and they’ll know how to handle it.”
Overall, it was still a memorable season for the older players and one they can hold their heads up high as they move on.
“Even though the record didn’t show it, it was a big change,” Haywood said. “As a team we got better in general. Our approach to the game was about turning this whole program around. It hurt that we lost, because we believed we should have been in the playoffs, but it was a steppingstone for the program.
“We just wanted to play and let our play do the talking and not let our mouths do the talking.”
Three Burning Questions with Carter:
Will you become more of a run team based on who you have coming back?
“Yes, and that could be more of a recipe for our success. Our offensive line is big, and Brice Lane is a bull in a China shop type of running back. We are going to have a big emphasis on running the ball. We are going to be a physical team and we are going to run the ball and stop the run defensively. It felt at times we got away from the run. We got to play to our strengths. You don’t get a Brice Lane every year.”
Is this going to become a defensive calling card kind of team?
“I think so. Running the football and playing defense are always winning recipe. I like our defense and we were extremely young. We were competitive and we have some good athletes there. Over time, you get better and better. It’s not always what your coach knows but what your kids can do, and we will start from there. The kids will be older, and I truly believe we will play really good defense.”
How do you feel about where you can end up in the next classification and would you like to see all three Baytown teams in the same district?
“I would. It would be a tremendous thing for the community and bring more excitement. It brings the community together and rivalries are good. Where we end up will be predicated on what we do. Games are not won in July, August and September, they are won now.”