Seven Lakes Clinches Football Playoff Spot

By George Slaughter

The Seven Lakes Spartans clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2014 with a 40-10 victory over Cinco Ranch Friday night.

The win improves the Spartans to 6-4 overall and 3-3 in District 19-6A. The Spartans finish third behind Katy and Tompkins, and ahead of Taylor, which clinched the fourth playoff spot. The win is also the first ever for Seven Lakes against Cinco Ranch.

“For our program, it’s pretty amazing,” Seven Lakes senior quarterback Michael Batton said. “It feels great to get back up there. It feels surreal.”

The Cougars finish with a disappointing 3-7 overall record and 3-3 district record.

The Spartans seized the early momentum by recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff at the Cinco Ranch 14. But the Cougar defense held, and blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt.

Cinco Ranch took advantage of the big play, driving the ball and scoring the first touchdown of the game, a two-yard run by senior quarterback Cam Harper with 6:36 in the first quarter.

Seven Lakes came back to tie the game on the last play of the first quarter, when senior quarterback Michael Batton hit senior tight end David Ugwoegbu for a nine-yard touchdown pass.

Cinco Ranch fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Seven Lakes recovered at the Cougar 20. Batton hit senior wide receiver Rasheen Green for the touchdown just two plays later, putting the Spartans ahead for good.

Seven Lakes senior kicker Austin Angelo hit a 40-yard field goal with 7:35 left in the first half. He made all the extra points for the Spartans.

The Cougars responded with a 77-yard drive, capped by a 37-yard field goal by senior kicker Zach Gonzales with 3:50 left.

Seven Lakes came back with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Batton to junior wide receiver Jaden Embra. Angelo’s extra point put the Spartans ahead 24-10.

Cinco Ranch got a break late in the first half when senior linebacker David Gbenda blocked a Seven Lakes punt. The Cougars recovered the ball at the Spartan 14 with 1:17 left in the first half. Despite the Cougars driving to the Spartan 1-yard line. But the Spartan defense held its ground, and the Cougars lost a fumble on the last play of the first half.

The Spartans scored on the only points of the third quarter on a one-yard run by senior running back Corey Anderson. The scoring drive was helped by a dramatic 66-yard run down the sideline by Batton, who officials ruled was knocked out of bounds at the Cougar 1-yard line.

Batton said the play was a busted one and he thought he scored on it, though the officials obviously differed.

The Spartans padded their lead with another Batton-to-Embra touchdown pass, this one for 19 yards, with 11:48 in the fourth quarter. Later, the Cougars snapped the ball out of their end zone for a safety for the final points of the night.

Several Seven Lakes players said they felt loose going into the game, and that the pressure was on Cinco Ranch, which was striving its 13th consecutive playoff appearance.

“I’m glad they were loose,” Seven Lakes coach Jimmy Hyman said. “I don’t know how loose I was. They seemed really confident. After the loss to Morton Ranch last week, I was really wondering what team would show up.”

Friday’s victory is just another reason the folks are celebrating at Seven Lakes. On Monday, the Spartan Band performed in the UIL State Marching Band Contest in San Antonio. The Spartan Band was one of three Katy Independent School District bands to do so. The others were Katy and Taylor.

The victory is also a sweet moment for Hyman, who was an assistant coach at Ridge Point before taking over as Seven Lakes coach last spring. The Spartans play Ridge Point Friday night at Hall Stadium.