Late October is often associated with candy, costumes and playoff baseball.
For the Stafford High School Team, the second half of the month will determine the team’s fortunes.
Stafford – which returns 13 starters -- visits Navasota (Oct. 18) and North Forest (Oct. 31). Last season, they led both teams at Spartan Stadium but lost both games. It resulted in missing the playoffs by one game.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine picked Stafford to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016. They had the Spartans finishing third behind Navasota and North Forest, respectively, in District 4A-12 Division I.
“We have to execute better,” Stafford third-year head football coach Ken Savanah said. “North Forest will be a formidable opponent. Navasota will get better.”
Savanah is optimistic about this season, which begins at home on Aug. 30 vs. Class 5A Katy Paetow.
The Spartans have more Division I commits than most schools in the Houston area, and more D-I commits (quarterback Cameron Peters – UT San Antonio, offensive lineman Marcus Smith-SMU, defensive end Robert Wooten-Missouri and defensive back Dabari Hawkins – UL Lafayette) than the states of Maine, Idaho and Wyoming combined.
It’s the most D-I signees for SHS since the 2016 State Quarterfinalist Team that produced three.
Assistant Head Coach David Montano will move from defense to offense, and Corey Gallien will remain offensive coordinator. Q. Silva is the new defensive coordinator, returning to the program after two years of coaching at schools north of Houston. He’ll continue the Spartans’ 4-2-5 defensive set.
The Freshman and Junior Varsity programs went a combined 17-2 in 2018.
“The success at lower levels will pay off,” Savanah said. “I’m excited about our future.”
Peters, the Dave Campbell’s 4A-12 Preseason Offensive MVP, transferred from Dulles where he led the Vikings to the Class 6A playoffs with 1,824 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.
“We’ll have more opportunities to throw the ball this season,” Savanah said. “Cameron gives us that versatility. He’s really athletic.”
Among his receivers will be senior Will Perro, who excelled toward the end of last season, as well as Javon Matthews (a transfer from 5A State Finalist Marshall), senior Nate Ruggles, sophomores Jordan Barrett and Cordell Patt.
Savanah said Smith, a Dave Campbell’s All-Class 4A Selection, will lead the offensive line.
Senior Richard Stafford and juniors Braylon Garcia and Jacob Jimenez will add experience on the offensive line, with a strong combination of run/pass blocking.
Wooten, who will become the second Stafford graduate to join an SEC Football Program next fall, had 79 tackles and 12 sacks last season. He leads a D-Line that includes junior Jeffrey Pamugo and Patt.
Kenny Steward leads the linebackers, and one of the strongest units will be the secondary, which returns five players, including Hawkins, Churchill Williams, Caleb Roberts and Marcus Lane.
That group made things difficult for St. Thomas’ blue chip quarterback Peyton Matocha, who edged SHS, 27-20 and has since signed with the University of Miami.
After the Paetow game, the Spartans will visit Port Lavaca Calhoun, which reached the Class 5A State Quarterfinals in 2018, on Sept. 6.
The Spartans will host Bellville – which reached the second round of the playoffs last year – on Sept. 13. The last two games between Stafford and Bellville have been decided by a total of three points.
Stafford wraps up its non-district schedule on Sept. 20 at St. Thomas and opens 4A-12 at Yates on Oct. 4 at Barnett Stadium in Houston.
The Spartans welcome defending 4A-12 Champion, Wheatley, for Senior Night on Oct. 11. The Wildcats edged the Spartans, 34-27, last season.
After the Navasota trip on Oct. 18, Stafford welcomes Furr for Homecoming on Oct. 25. The Spartans defeated Furr – a playoff team in 2018 – 21-15 at Barnett Stadium last year.
Stafford wraps up the regular season on Nov. 8 vs. Worthing.