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This west Fort Worth school shut down football twice. Now its playing for a state title

·5 min read

How many state finalists have shut down their program twice in the last 10 years?

Fort Worth Covenant Classical, located in west Fort Worth, plays six-man football and went to the state semifinals during the 2014 season.

The following year, the program had to shut down due to the lack of numbers.

The Cavaliers played again in 2016 only to shut down one more time during the 2017 season.

Four years later and the football team is one win away from a state championship. Covenant (11-2) plays in its first TAPPS state title game against Bulverde Bracken Christian (10-0) in the TAPPS Six-Man D3 final at 7 p.m. Thursday at Waco ISD Stadium.

Covenant beat Lubbock Kingdom Prep, 74-40 in the semifinals.

“There’s a lot of excitement around the school, a lot of buzz,” head coach Ron Abrams said. “There has been a lot of support and great turnout from the student section.”

Abrams started football at the school in 2013.

He spent the previous 11 years at Arlington Grace Prep where he won five state titles as an assistant coach.

When he got to Covenant, he knew the community needed a football team.

“I wanted to start the program. They had one at the junior high, but it was mostly run by the parents. It was disorganized, not a lot of success,” Abrams said. “I wanted to generate more spirit in the school and community and I think football does that. You’re in Texas if you have a good strong and solid football team.

“It was personal goal to build it from scratch and we’ve improved in all sports since.”

Fort Worth Covenant Classical receiver Whit Jewett catches a pass in the state quarterfinals against Longivew Heritage (Trish Wood/Courtesy)
Fort Worth Covenant Classical receiver Whit Jewett catches a pass in the state quarterfinals against Longivew Heritage (Trish Wood/Courtesy)

Building it up

The team went 4-5 while playing an independent schedule during its first season in 2013. Then Abrams and the Cavs went to the state semifinals in 2014.

After low numbers forced them to shut down in 2015, Abrams moved the program to the Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship or TCAF, a smaller football league.

The team shut down in 2017 before playing in TCAF the next two seasons, going to the title game in 2019.

Then they moved back to TAPPS.

“It’s been a lot of cultivation and pride building it from scratch,” Abrams said. “Having to restart it twice, a lot of buying in, teaching the kids about football and life. It would be a very humbling thing [to win].”

Special season

The Cavs reached the state quarterfinals last season, but were hit with COVID. They posted a 5-4 record and had to sit three kids during the final game due to the virus.

But only two seniors graduated making for a strong team coming back. This year’s team has five seniors, 21 on the roster, plus a talented eight grade group (now freshmen) that lost just one game in 2020 at the middle school level.

“Remember this feeling,” Abrams told his team after last year’s loss. “All the hard work and to move this far along only for it to slip away. They’ve used that as motivation this season and were determined to prove that it was just a fluke. They wanted to take it all the way.

“We knew it was going to be a special year with this group.”

A true telling point came during the season when the Cavs played two of the all-time greatest six-man programs Richland Springs and Strawn, who play each other in the UIL state semifinals on Friday night in Dublin.

The Cavs nearly beat Richland Springs 119-112 in Week 5. They lost to Strawn 114-97 in Week 6.

“Definitely should’ve beat Richland Springs, “Abrams said. “But we felt really good coming out of those two games. It showed us what we were capable of and gave us a lot of confidence. We were well tested.”

Against Richland Springs, quarterback Lanham Briley threw for 729 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Whit Jewett made 17 catches for 504 yards and nine touchdowns.

Jewett’s receiving yards and touchdowns are believed to be state records across all classifications while his 17 receptions was a six-man record.

Fort Worth Covenant Classical running back Josh Sapp runs the ball against Lubbock Kingdom Prep in the state semifinals (Trish Wood/Courtesy)
Fort Worth Covenant Classical running back Josh Sapp runs the ball against Lubbock Kingdom Prep in the state semifinals (Trish Wood/Courtesy)

By the numbers

Points for: 853

Points per game: 65.6

Points against: 394

Points per game: 30.3

Winning streak: 8 games

Most points scored: 112 vs. Richland Springs Week 5

Yards per game: 381

Fewest points allowed: 0 (three times)

Defense: 44 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, 12 INT, 15 fumbles recovered

Lanham Briley: 3,570 yards pass, 66 TD, 2 INT, 67 tackles, 2 INT, 11 pass deflections

Josh Sapp: 530 yards rush, 12 TD, 337 yards receiving, 7 TD, 69 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 4 forced fumbles

Whit Jewett: 330 yards rush, 9 TD, 1,545 yards receiving, 34 TD, 76 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1 INT, 2 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovered

Nate Bennett: 765 yards receiving, 13 TD, 44 tackles, 5 INT, 6 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 5 fumbles recovered

Blake Schroeder: 524 yards receiving, 9 TD, 66 tackles, 4 INT, 8 pass deflections

Logan Clifton: 3 rush TD, 62 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumbles recovered

Luke Breedlove: 3 rec TD, 29 tackles

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