HOUSTON – It was time to honor the best of the best.
The seventh annual Touchdown Club of Houston Private School Awards dinner took place on Wednesday night at the JW Marriott, where the top area players and coaches convened.
To kick the awards off, Second Baptist’s Terry Pirtle was named the Coach of the Year. Pirtle helped guide the Eagles to an 11-2 record and appearance in the TAPPS Division II State Semifinal game.
“It just means our staff did a really good job this preparing our kids and having them in the right spots, doing the right things, acting the right way,” Pirtle said on winning the award. “It’s a total staff effort when a coach gets coach of the year in my estimation.”
The first player award was the Ironman, which went to Concordia Lutheran’s Colin Howard.
Howard, who will also play basketball and run track as well, finished his senior season with 2,302 all-purpose yards, 1,477 receiving and averaged 20.5 yards per catch. Howard – who is looking at either Drake University of Colorado School of Mines to continue his athletic career – had 24 total touchdowns and also registered 30 tackles and two interceptions on defense.
“It means a lot, coming from Concordia, I feel like we’re overlooked a little bit,” Howard said. “I feel like I really did something that would last in this program and influence people. I thank my coaches, family and God of course.”
In the Lineman of the Year category, Kinkaid’s Ameer Mustafa – who has offers from Trinity and Southwestern – earned the nod from the Touchdown Club of Houston.
Mustafa got emotional talking about earning the award after he suffered a back injury earlier in his career.
“The award itself is nice but it means so much more to me,” Mustafa said. “It’s the journey of getting here. Like I said in my speech, I was not supposed to be here. I should not be walking right now, let alone winning awards. The support from my family and friends really pushed me to get better and push me through the hard times. I’m just so blessed to have them in my life.”
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to Episcopal’s Jordan Wells, which left the highly anticipated Offensive Player of the Year Award last.
First, without any surprise, record-setting quarterback Grant Gunnell of St. Pius X was called and then to join him was St. Thomas’ Peyton Matocha.
Gunnell finished the season with 4,752 yards, 53 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The senior will be leaving early for college as he heads to Arizona at the beginning of January. “It’s just a huge honor,” Gunnell said.
“Just seeing all the past players that have come through and go on to college and be successful, I mean it’s an honor to get selected by all these coaches through the Houston area. I really owe it all to my teammates and coaches. It’s more them than me.”
Matocha helped guide St. Thomas to a district championship, closing out the season with a dramatic 52-49 victory against St. Pius X.
Matocha finished the year with 3,697 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“It means a lot,” Matocha said. “I’d like to thank my teammates, my coaches, my two family members that have had such a big role in my life. It took a really long time for us to get here. A lot of work in the offseason but once again credit to my coaches and teammates for putting me in a position to succeed. I can’t thank them enough.”