By Thomas Jones
Posted Nov 8, 2019 at 12:01 AM
Updated Nov 8, 2019 at 11:55 PM
A milestone win for Coach Drew Sanders and the Vandegrift football team came in fitting fashion.
The Vipers (10-0, 8-0 District 13-6A) did what they’ve done since arriving in their current district two seasons ago during a 20-17 win over Stony Point Friday at Monroe Stadium. They ran the ball and controlled the clock. They made few mistakes. They played lock-tight defense, especially in the second half. And they beat a district foe for the 16th consecutive time while completing a second consecutive 10-0 regular season.
In the process, the Vandegrift players helped Sanders to his 100th career victory, an achievement which left the 11th year Vandegrift coach blinking away tears after the game.
“I’m blessed,” said Sanders, who coached at Travis before compiling an 84-36 record at a Vandegrift program that began varsity play in 2010. “To think back about building this from the JV to 10-0 two years in a row, I’m just grateful to the kids for trusting me and our coaching staff and to the parents who have supported us from the very beginning.
“It’s kind of an overwhelming feeling that I didn’t think I’d have. And to have it come with a hard-fought win over a good team. …. I just feel loved by my team, and that’s a cool feeling.”
Senior linebacker Jax McCauley, a team captain, said the game was a chance for the Viper players to give something back to Sanders.
“He’s a great coach and done such a great job since the opening of this school,” said McCauley, the team’s leading tackler. “As a team, we all wanted to get him his 100th win.”
Sanders and the Vipers certainly had to earn the victory against a hard-nosed Stony Point bunch that entered the game with a playoff spot already secure. Led by running back Kendall Thomas, Stony Point (7-3, 5-3) is in the midst of its best season since 2010, when the Tigers reached the state semifinals for the third straight season. Thomas leads the Austin area with 2,181 yards rushing and picked up 171 yards on the ground Friday. He helped the Tigers amass 400 yards of offense, which is quite an accomplishment against a Vandegrift defense that entered the game allowing a district-low 11 points per contest.
“Kendall Thomas is a great player,” McCauley said. “You have to watch him at all times.”
McCauley and his teammates rarely let Thomas out of their sight in the second half, when the Vipers stretched a 10-7 halftime lead to a 20-10 advantage with a 5-yard touchdown run by Beau Dawson late in the fourth quarter.
But Stony Point showed the fight that has Coach Craig Chessher optimistic heading into the Division I bracket of the Class 6A playoffs. Backup quarterback Jackson Tingler keyed a late scoring drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Braylon James on the last play of the game.
“That’s Stony Point; we’re never going to quit,” Chessher said. “If you think we’re ever going to quit, you’re wrong.
“We played to win. There was none of this ‘Hey, we’re in the playoffs.’ We laid it on the line and played as hard as we could.”
Both team’s offensive stars delivered, especially in a first half that ended with a 10-7 Vandegrift lead. Viper receiver Trey Mongauzy had six catches for 92 yards before the break, including a 19-yard touchdown grab that gave the Vipers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He ended with the game with eight grabs for 112 yards.
Thomas, who had 102 of his yards in the firs half, answered with a 4-yard touchdown later in the period.
With its back-to-back perfect regular seasons, Vandegrift joins Cedar Park (2015 and 2016) and Lake Travis (2007-09, 2015 and 2016) as the only Austin area Class 5A or 6A programs to pull off that feat. Those programs both won state titles, and Vandegrift will begin its quest for the school’s first football championship next week when it hosts Bridgeland in a Division II bi-district matchup.
Stony Point, 13-6A’s top Division I seed, will host Cypress Ranch next week.