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IMG 20201116 132120COURTESY PHOTO Coldspring-Oakhurst running back Contavious Parker-Harden (20) set his school’s all-time rushing record with 4,578 yards in four seasons. Parker-Harden is the only player in school history to have more than 4,000 yards throughout his career.

Coldspring senior boasts school rushing record

By Jason Chlapek

COLDSPRING — Throughout the Coldspring-Oakhurst football team’s history, many great running backs have come and gone.

There was Ray Fisher, who ran for 3,542 yards throughout his career (1990-92), including a single-season record 2,791 yards in 1992 when the Trojans lost to Southlake Carroll in the Class 3Å state championship game. A few years later, Isaac White broke the school’s all-time rushing record with 3,615 yards in three years (1996-98).

More than two decades later, the C-O all-time rushing record has been broken again. Contavious Parker-Harden now has that distinction with a grand total of 4,578 yards in four years.

“When I first came in here, it was looking at the whole picture and I saw some big kids,” C-O coach Ken Stanley said. “When you make a transition into the double-wing, you know you’re going to have to have some guys up front. We had a young man in Liberty that was a lot like Tay and we did very well with him when we put that offense in. I thought Tay had everything that kid had, only Tay was bigger and stronger. Tay was the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. He’s a big kid that has some speed and he made it very easy for me to pull the trigger on this whole double-wing. That made me very excited knowing what I know about the offense. I knew with a kid like Tay that sooner than later we were going to have success. He was a big part of that.”

In Parker-Harden’s four seasons, he ran for more than 1,000 yards three times, including a 1,635 in 2020 — his final in a Trojan uniform. He also rushed for 1,049 yards as a freshman in 2017 and 1,031 yards in 2018 his sophomore year.

In the year prior to Stanley’s arrival, Coldspring-Oakhurst was 3-8 in its only campaign under previous coach Jim Bird. Once the coach arrived from Liberty, where he served as the offensive coordinator, he thought he was going to have something special.

“Tay and his fellow seniors were the group that put their cleats in the ground and said they weren’t going to settle for 3-8,” Stanley said. “In two years, they won a district championship.”

For Parker-Harden and his teammates, Stanley was the third coach the team played under going into his junior season. Mark Byrd was the coach Parker-Harden’s freshman year and Bird coached him as a sophomore.

Both Byrd and Bird had one thing in common — the spread offense. But Stanley proved to be an answered prayer for the school running back.

“I felt more calm in the double-wing,” Parker-Harden said. “In the spread, I wasn’t able to read as much as I could before the snap. In the double-wing, I was able to read the defense and see who I have to beat on the play. It calmed me down a lot.”

Parker-Harden recently committed to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. He also talked a little bit about his running style.

“I ask for the ball on the first play of the game because on that first play I’m going to give them everything that I’ve got,” Parker-Harden said. “Pretty much every team that we play, I’ll look at them and I’ll start laughing because if I want it I can get it. I don’t let one guy tackle me. I want all 11 guys tackling me. Coach Stanley and I talked all year about how I’ll never let just one guy tackle me. If I allow just one guy to tackle me, then I don’t deserve to be in my spot.”

Stanley talked about a particular play when the Trojans met Diboll in the regular season finale. The play was pivotal in C-O’s 20-12 victory that clinched the district championship.

“We had a critical moment in our season against Diboll where we were on our own 30-yard line and it was fourth-and-two,” Stanley said. “It would’ve been real easy to punt right there, but we went for it. If they can stop us, I’ll tip my hat to them and put our defense back on the field. The Diboll coach called a timeout before that play and tells his team, ‘you know No. 20 is going to get the ball.’ They knew it, we knew it, and everybody in the stands knew it that Tay was going to get the ball on that play, and we still got the first down.”

When Parker-Harden was in seventh grade, Bryan Barbay was the Trojans’ head football coach and athletic director. Barbay employed another run-oriented offense — the wing-T.

“The double-wing is actually a lot different than the wing-T except for the misdirection,” Stanley said. “In the wing-T, you have a lot of double teams up front and a lot of buck sweep with pulling guards and trap. The double-wing is more of a gap-control offense and it kind of lends to all offenses now where you have a power/counter scheme. The beauty of the double-wing for us is we feel like you have to balance on us, and we can always put one more man on you. Our quarterbacks have to be blockers. By having that extra blocker, running that tunnel sweep gets us over the top. We also emphasize the weight room and we get guys who can get good technique and move on people. We want two-and-a-half yards a play. When we get to fourth-and-two, we’re going to go for it. The fullback in our offense is primarily a blocker. They block on our tunnel sweep and counter play. We get a kid who’s gritty and tough hat fullback.”

One thing that helped the Trojans — and Parker-Harden — during the last two seasons was fellow senior Greg Terry. With Parker-Harden’s power style and Terry’s finesse, C-O gave opposing defenses headaches.

“I like to get a kid like Tay on one side and a quick, slasher type runner on the other side,” Stanley said. “It gets down to if we’re getting 6, 7 or 8 yards on our tunnel sweep play, I’m going to keep running that play. When a defense does something to adjust, then we hit them out the backdoor with our slasher. It was a lot of fun with these guys. They made it easier to call the offense. A lot of teams tried to make us beat them with someone other than Tay. Greg Terry in his own right had great seasons. Defenses had to respect him on the counter and it kept Tay honest. It was a good combination.”

Just another group of great Coldspring-Oakhurst running backs.

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Trojans, Pirates begin playoff quests

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                               JASON CHLAPEK | SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Duke Lawniczak (with ball) dribbles in the paint against Shepherd post Bradley Davis during a game between the Trojans and Pirates earlier this season. 

By Jason Chlapek
SJNT staff writer

COLDSPRING — The road to San Antonio begins tonight and tomorrow night for the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd boys basketball teams, respectively.

The Trojans, defending Region III-Class 3A champions, face Van Vleck at 6:30 p.m. today at Friendswood High School in a 3A bi-district contest. Coldspring (16-3) is the runner-up out of District 23-3A.

The Pirates begin their playoff journey Friday when they face Lumberton at 7 p.m. at Warren High School. Shepherd (13-13) tied for third with Hamshire-Fannett, but is the No. 4 playoff seed out of 21-4A.

The Trojans and Pirates are both limping into the postseason. Coldspring lost two of its last three contests, including a 58-54 setback at the hands of Anderson-Shiro in last week's regular season finale.

Shepherd has lost three in a row, including a 65-40 defeat against district co-champion Huffman Hargrave in last week's regular season finale. Bradley Davis and Dillen Johnson led the Pirates with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

                               JASON CHLAPEK | SJNT Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Jared Curry (left) and Shepherd guard Christian Castillo chase down a loose ball during a game between the Trojans and Pirates earlier this season. 

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Pirates bounce back

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I SJNT Shepherd guard Dillen Johnson (11) shoots over a defender during a recent game.

From Staff Reports

SHEPHERD — In a bizarre week that featured three games in a four-day span, the Shepherd boys basketball team maintained its stronghold on third place in the District 21-4A standings with a pair of wins last week.

The Pirates suffered a 66-50 setback at the hands of Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, but bounced back to defeat Splendora, 56-45, on Jan. 27, and held off Liberty, 65-59, last Friday. Shepherd (13-10, 6-3 in 21-4A) hosted Livingston Tuesday night, and had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

In last Friday’s win at Liberty, the Pirates dominated the first three quarters and led 47-24 heading into the final quarter. But the Panthers went on a 35-18 run to pull within six, 65-59, by the end of the contest.

Trase Thiessen led Shepherd with 23 points, while Carlos Renovato had 18. Bradley Davis (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Dillen Johnson (8 points, 9 rebounds) also contributed.

In the Pirates’ victory at Splendora on Jan. 27, they held a slim lead throughout and were led by a 14-point performance from Jesse Valerie and a double-double from Johnson (10 points, 11 rebounds). Renovato (11 points, 9 rebounds) and Thiessen (13 points) also contributed.

In the home loss to Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, Shepherd trailed 45-39 going into the fourth before the Hawks soared to victory with a 21-11 game-ending run. Davis and Renovato led the Pirates with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Shepherd visits Hamshire-Fannett at 6 p.m. Friday and hosts Huffman Hargrave at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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Strong fourth quarter lifts Trojans

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IMG 3764BRIAN BESCH | PCE Dante Eldridge drives to the hoop.

BY BRIAN BESCH

The Trojans of Coldspring-Oakhurst used a late kick to handily defeat Onalaska, 90-44, Jan. 26, in San Jacinto County.

Onalaska managed to remain within striking distance of the defending state semifinalists for part of the third quarter, but Coldspring found another gear. The Trojan press was successful more times than not late in the contest, allowing for a 39-point final period.

"I thought we were a little rusty through the first three quarters," Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. "We haven't played since last Tuesday and I had some kids out, so we didn't get a chance to practice yesterday. We were wide open and we had threes and we had layups. Our defense was there and our quickness was there, but we just couldn't go."

Through four minutes in the fourth quarter, Coldspring scored 27 points and ended with 39 for the eight-minute span. Duke Lawniczak led all scorers with 32, freshman Luke Monroe had 14 -- all in the fourth quarter --and Jared Curry scored 12.

"I hope that kind of carries over,” Devers said of his team's fourth-quarter performance. “We are trying to get our rotation going and get ready for the playoffs.

"I thought Coach (Nicholas) Tyerman did a great job and I told him not to show that press break to anybody, because at the end of the third quarter, it was an 11-point game. He did a great job of preparing his kids for tonight."

It has been a while since Coldspring has been challenged within district, but New Waverly put a stop to the Trojans 39-game winning streak a few weeks ago.

"New Waverly is one of the top teams in this region. They are 18-1 and ranked No. 7 and we are 13-1 and ranked No. 12. The big showdown is going to be next Friday at New Waverly. Kind of like us last year, I think they are going to be the team to beat. We are not going to just let them have our district title. I hope we will have a couple of tricks up our sleeves when we play next Friday."

Devers said his team lacks the depth that they possessed during last year's run to the state tournament in San Antonio. He is looking for a few athletes to step into larger roles once the postseason begins. He also wants the team to work on its half-court defense.

Onalaska has struggled in the 20-21 season, but Tyerman sees improvement in his group. There were flashes of potential throughout the first three quarters of Tuesday.

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Coldspring runs past Shepherd, 73-51

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Duke Lawniczak (with ball) puts up a shot in traffic against a host of Shepherd defenders.

By JASON CHLAPEK

COLDSPRING — It was nothing new for the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd boys basketball teams when they faced each other last week in Coldspring.

The Pirates operated out of a half-court set and got the ball inside to 6-foot-11 post Bradley Davis, while the Trojans ran and pressed. In the end, Coldspring’s full-court press proved to be too much for Shepherd as the Trojans forced 42 turnovers, including 33 steals, to run past the Pirates, 73-51, on Dec. 1.

“We always press,” Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. “That’s our thing since we’ve always been here. Two years ago, we averaged about 99 points a game in district. Last year in the state semifinal, we pressed the No. 1 team in the state (Dallas Madison). That’s our bread and butter. We don’t like to get in a half-court game. We like to play up-tempo and take as many shots as we can.”

Shepherd coach Jeremy Bennett knew what to expect as well. He also said last week’s game wasn’t the first time his team saw the full-court press.

“They’ve been pressing since forever and it’s nothing we haven’t seen,” Bennett said. “Every team we’ve seen has pressed us.”

The presence of Davis is one of the main reasons why teams press the Pirates. Nonetheless, the senior post still recorded a triple-double — 24 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks.

The main culprit for Shepherd’s turnovers may not have been Coldspring’s full-court press, however. It may have been the absence of point guard Trey Stacey.

“One thing that hurt us is we didn’t have our starting point guard,” Bennett said. “That hurt us with turnovers. He was in close contact with someone who tested positive. Trase Thiessen has handled the ball for us. It hurt a lot not having him. We got after them, but not having our full roster hurt us. I’d love to play them again with my full roster. It might be a different story.”

The Pirates led once in the contest, 13-12, late in the first quarter. But the Trojans closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run, which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Luke Monroe, to take an 18-15 lead after one frame of play.

Monroe’s 3-pointer was the start of a 13-0 run for Coldspring (4-0), who built a 28-15 lead that would not be relinquished. The Trojans led 34-23 at the half and 54-41 after three quarters.

Duke Lawniczak led all scorers with 37 points for Coldspring. Cameron Shaw-Rucker had a double-double with 11 points and 10 steals to go with seven assists, while Dante Eldridge chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds.

“Practice makes perfect and I watch Trae Young a lot and the way he flicks his wrist,” Lawniczak said. “Just pray that it goes in. I like to go in the paint, but I like to take the shot when I feel like I have it. We need to play with the same energy. We’ve won district every year since I was a freshman. We haven’t lost a game in district and I pray that we can do it again.”

Shepherd (5-2) also received 8 points and 10 rebounds from Dillen Johnson. Carlos Renovato and Christian Castillo also contributed with 8 and 7 points, respectively.

The Pirates bounced back from their loss at Coldspring with a 56-40 victory at Madisonville last Saturday. Davis led the way with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Johnson and Renovato had 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Prior to last week’s loss, Shepherd’s only other defeat was a 64-53 setback at the hands of Class 5A Kingwood Park. The Pirates also have victories against defending 2A state champion Shelbyville; 5A teams Montgomery and Cleveland; and fellow 4A West Orange-Stark.

Coldspring followed up its double-digit win with a pair of nail biting victories against 4A programs Bridge City and Orangefield last week. The Trojans defeated BC, 65-59, last Thursday and edged Orangefield, 64-62, last Saturday.

In the win against BC, Lawniczak led with 28 points, while Eldridge recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Statistics were not available from the win at Orangefield.

“This is my sixth year at Coldspring,” Devers said. “I like to press — 32 minutes of full-court pressing. We pressed when I was at Manvel and Stafford. I learned it from Earl Berry at Channelview. There was a year where we scored 100 points 14 times in a season.”

After qualifying for the state tournament a year ago, the Trojans seem to be in reloading mode as opposed to rebuilding.

“Our record the last two years is 71-9 and my junior varsity’s record is 40-3,” Devers said. “I have four returnees — all four of them start. I also have three move-ins that have helped us out as well. I have 11 guys who I can put on the court and they’re going to give 120 percent.”

The biggest obstacle isn’t an opponent on Coldspring’s schedule, according to Devers, who’s team hosts 2A No. 1 Martins Mill at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. It’s Covid-19.

“Our schedule changes every day and every time I receive a phone call from a coach, I think he’s going to cancel,” Devers said. “Anytime an administrator comes into my classroom, I think one of my players has Covid. We’re playing it day-by-day right now.”

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