St. Thomas begins defense of district crown
TAPPS 5A District Three is pretty interesting.
It’s composed of four private school teams – three of which are in Harris County with the other in Beaumont –and it’s one of only a handful of leagues across the state of Texas, public or private, where everybody plays everybody twice under a home-and-away scenario.
And according to St. Thomas head coach Tim Fitzpatrick, forget its small size — its strength is its stature.
Besides the Eagles, powerful St. Pius; Concordia Lutheran, which is in Tomball and two years removed from the 4A state runner-up spot; and Monsignor Kelly are the other three teams and they all get going Friday night with 3-0 St. Thomas going to Concordia Lutheran and winless Beaumont Kelly coming to town to face St. Pius.
Last season, for the first time since the late 2000s, the Eagles won the district and then went two rounds deep in the 5A playoffs. The district usually has two playoff teams – the winner and the runner-up – but the “wild card” team the TAPPS playoff system has involved the last few years has also given theleague three playoff squads a couple of times.
Fitzpatrick said the fact that nobody wants to be the one or two teams that get left out of the postseason makes every game that much dicier.
“It’s a tough district,” Fitzpatrick said. “There might not be many teams, but I think that makes it even more intense because we all know each other pretty well. St. Pius has great athletes and great tradition and they’ve won a lot of district and state championships over the years. And they lost some very good players from last year, but they lose very good players every year and remain strong, so I know they’re going to be very good.
“Concordia Lutheran runs the Wing-T (offense) and they run it very well and it’s hard to prepare for because so few teams run it. It’s so hard to get our scout team to really replicate it because of the timing involved, so they’re a tough team to not only play, but to prepare for. Maybe they don’t have the numbers the rest of us have, but they’re good and coach (Bobby) Lindquist does a great job. And just a couple of years ago they played in the 4A state championship game, so you know they expect big things from themselves. And Kelly has a new coach this year and I am sure Coach (David) Holmes will have them ready to go when district starts.
“So it’s a small district. But I think it’s pretty good. I think you have four teams that all feel like they have a chance to be pretty good and four teams that feel like if they play well and things break right, they could make the playoffs, which is what we’re all trying to do, so I think its small size with just the four teams makes it extremely intense.”
He said he believes the district is wide open.
“I think it’s going to come down to whom plays best in (these) six games,” he said. “You have to avoid the stupid penalties, although all penalties can be stupid. But they can kill drives and kill your momentum and we have to avoid that and I think the team makes the fewest mistakes and plays the best and keeps improving during those six games is the team everyone else will be looking up at.”
He said you have to take care of your own business in this district and that’s tough too do because its tough to beat a good team twice in just a matter of weeks and that’s what, in his mind, TAPPS 5A District Three is – four good teams.