The high schools in Humble ISD, which turned 100 years old in 2019, have been playing football for as long as any in Texas. They have boasted plenty of successful teams over the years and produced their fair share of exceptional players, with many going on to compete at the collegiate level and more than 10 reaching the NFL.
But not until now has the school district northeast of Houston, which serves nearly 50,000 students and has five football-playing high schools, put a team in a state championship game. Summer Creek ended the drought last week, beating Cibolo Steele 38-14 in a state semifinal in Waco, and will face DeSoto in the Class 6A Division II final at 7 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Trey Kraemer, who served as Summer Creek’s first principal when the school opened in 2009 and now is Humble ISD’s assistant superintendent for high schools, described it as “shocking” that the district has never before played in a state title game in Texas’ most beloved sport. He said Humble ISD schools have reached state finals in every other team sport, in some cases winning championships.
“I know it’s a lot of phenomenal athletes that have come out of this area in all sports, especially football,” said Kenny Harrison, Summer Creek’s sixth-year head coach. “It just goes to show you how difficult, how competitive the Houston area is that no one has been able to make it out of the Houston area or to the state championship.
“It means a lot,” Harrison added. “For Summer Creek to be the first football team to make it this far, it’s a great accomplishment.”
That does not mean the Bulldogs and their community are satisfied or surprised. Junior defensive tackle Josiah Pratt, a key figure in Summer Creek’s fearsome front seven on defense, said the team has been building to this point and that making it to Arlington was something the players and coaches discussed before the season.
Summer Creek lost to state and regional powerhouse Katy in the regional final in 2021 and then in the playoff round before that last year. This year’s team is 14-1, with its only loss being a 31-21 defeat against Galena Park North Shore, a five-time state champion that is taking on Duncanville in the Class 6A Division I title game at 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Bulldogs have held 11 of their opponents this year to 16 points or fewer, limiting six of those teams to single digits and shutting out four of them. Senior inside linebacker Xavier Atkins has committed to play college football for LSU, according to Harrison, who said junior outside linebacker Chad Woodfork has scholarship offers from “just about everybody in the country.”
Senior running back Lloyd Avant, a University of Tulsa commitment, has led the Summer Creek offense by rushing for more than 2,000 yards this season.
“We play fast and physical and hit hard,” Pratt said. “We just don’t care who we’re playing. We don’t care about the hype or the name of the team. We just play our style of football.”
The Bulldogs’ style, and their program in general, have been modeled after North Shore’s, according to Kraemer. He was the North Shore principal when the Mustangs won their first state championship in 2003 and helped hire North Shore offensive coordinator Brian Ford to be Summer Creek’s first head coach.
Harrison said it was evident when he was hired in 2018 that Ford had laid a strong foundation for the Bulldogs, who also have benefitted from playing against the Mustangs in District 21-6A. Harrison also said he is good friends with first-year North Shore head coach Willie Gaston, with both Harrison and Kraemer saying they’ll be rooting for the Mustangs to win their fourth state title in a six-year span.
“It’s going to be a fun night,” Kraemer said. “We wanted to emulate what they were doing there and the success they’ve had.”
Summer Creek hopes to bring home its first state championship, and the first for Humble ISD, and Kraemer said the opportunity has the entire school district abuzz. Even rival schools Humble and Atascocita are getting behind the Bulldogs, according to Kraemer, who said he expects at least 10,000 fans to make the trip to the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium.
Pratt said he and his teammates have become local celebrities of sorts, getting well-wishes from classmates they see in the hallways and also from Humble-area residents who recognize them when they’re at the grocery store or elsewhere in the community.
Winning it all would “start a chain reaction,” according to Harrison, who said future Bulldogs would arrive on campus knowing that a state championship could be attained and even expected, much like it is at North Shore about 20 miles to the south.
“It would just tell the community that anybody can do it,” Pratt said. “I don’t feel a lot of people believed we could get to this point. Winning would bring everybody together and tell them that it’s possible.”