Planning necessities lead to first-rate meetings between public schools for the Episcopal parish and other
In the aftermath of his team’s 24-17 win over Aledo last Friday – arguably among the biggest wins ever for a region’s TAPPS school against a UIL program – Episcopal Parish coach Daniel Novakov has a sense of gratitude, especially for Aledo coach Tim Buchanan.
“I’m grateful they played us,” Novakov said. “He had nothing to gain and everything to lose.”
Another reason Novakov was grateful for is that when he was preparing the 2022 schedule, he ran out of options. This planning scenario was common for Novakov and a few of his peers this offseason.
The end result has been such an impressive schedule for any program at any level for the Episcopal parish this fall. In addition to Aledo — ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A Division I state poll and 10-time state champions — the Episcopal Parish nondistrict list includes champion reigning Class 5 A South Oak Cliff Division II State Champion, 2021 4A-II State Champion China Spring and 2021 State runner-up 4A-I Austin LBJ. South Oak Cliff is the highest ranked team in The news’ Class 5A area poll and AP 5A Division II state poll while China Spring is ranked No. 2 in the AP 4A Division I state ranking.
The only private school Parish Episcopal (1-0) will play away TAPPS District 1-I is an away game against Bellaire Episcopal (1-0) this Friday. Episcopal Parish – highest ranked team in The news’ The Private Schools Area Poll and the AP Private Schools State Poll – is aiming for its fourth straight TAPPS state title this season.
Unfortunately for Novakov, that winning reputation worked against them when it came to scheduling.
“A lot of people don’t want to play us. Often in a situation like this, a private school has the short end of the stick,” Novakov said.
Novakov said when private school programs are successful, they can struggle with the reputation that the football program is the cowbell of the school. Novakov said the Episcopal Parish does not distribute athletic scholarships and academics are highly competitive. He said the scholarships are awarded on a need basis, with a third party making the determination with blind knowledge of the applicants, not knowing whether they are athletes or not.
Novakov said schools like Aledo face similar scheduling challenges, but the overall outcome was worth it, regardless of the outcome.
“You can be in a game day environment like no other,” Novakov said.
One of the Episcopal Parish’s district rivals – Bishop Lynch – is in the midst of his own race against public schools. Bishop Lynch (0-1) fell to Hurst LD Bell last week and will face Celina (1-0) – the highest ranked school in The news’ Class 4A/3A poll and No. 3 of the AP 4A-II state poll – this Friday in Celina.
Bishop Lynch coach Brandon Moats said he was also having trouble finding out-of-district opponents. During the offseason, a scheduled opponent – Cedar Hill Newman International – canceled their season and a date with scheduled rival Bishop Dunne could not be established.
Moats said he wanted to play against Celina because of her winning tradition, and his brothers rose to beat the Bobcats 40-21 in 2014. He said he was happy with his team for their efforts against LD Bell, especially since no one was injured, and the atmosphere he gave off.
“It’s a good taste of a playoff atmosphere,” Moats said. “You like when they have 100 people in their group. We don’t have that.
Fort Worth Nolan (1-0) has only played one out-of-district game against a public school this season — at College Station on Friday — but for Nolan’s coach KJ Williams, getting that game was an adventure.
“We reached out to 26 other schools for a game, including some from out of state,” Williams said.
This game would seem to be quite a challenge for Nolan. College Station (0-1) is ranked No. 10 in the AP 5A-I state poll, but the Cougars lost to Lovejoy 52-27 on Saturday at Allen and lack standout running back Marquise Collins, who suffered a season-ending injury and plans to enroll early at Duke University.
Still, this game seems to go beyond a game for Williams and some of his players. Williams played at nearby 2010 and 2011 Texas A&M and is looking forward to a homecoming.
Some Nolan players could also visit a future home. Williams said several players will remain in the College Station area with their parents or guardians. They plan to visit the A&M campus and attend Saturday’s Texas A&M-Sam Houston State game at Kyle Field.
“They get good, quality opposition in a big game atmosphere and then they get to visit where they’re going to college,” Williams said. “It could be a big trip for them.”
Find more high school sports coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.
Subscribe to our FREE HS newsletter