Parish Episcopal has won two TAPPS state titles, but has never gone undefeated. In both of its championship seasons, it has lost one game.
As the Panthers try to earn back-to-back titles this season, Parish head coach Scott Nady wouldn’t mind seeing history repeat itself, and that’s not just a trite motivational tactic in this case.
“When you lose, you know exactly why you lost, and you can address some things,” said Nady, whose Panthers fell 53-45 to district rival Fort Worth Christian in the regular-season finale. “From a strategic standpoint, it’s not disappointing to me.”
In 2010, Parish lost to Bullard Brook Hill, and in 2014, the Panthers were upset by Glen Rose. In both cases, Nady said the losses galvanized the players and transformed the team by proving they were vulnerable.
The Nov. 6 defeat certainly disrupted an otherwise dominating campaign for Parish, which hopes to return to the TAPPS title game on Dec. 5 in Waco. It’s a team that might be even better than the one that hoisted the trophy a year ago.
“We have more weapons this year than we had last year,” Nady said. “We have a lot of kids that can go get the ball.”
Parish scored at least 35 points in every regular-season game. The offense is driven by junior running back Dominic Williams, a Kansas commit who gained more than 2,000 yards total and rushed for multiple touchdowns in each game despite rarely playing in the second half because of lopsided margins.
“The main reason we won state last year is because we stayed healthy, and limiting his carries is part of that,” Nady said. “He’s got the power to run through you and the speed to run around you. The only way you get a clean look at him is if he wants it. Otherwise it’s like grabbing smoke.”
The Panthers have adapted well this season to a dynamic new dual-threat quarterback in Jeremy Hodge, and they have more depth at receiver to surround Xavier Suggs.
Nady said the Panthers have been tested with a tough district slate that includes Grapevine Faith and FWC, both of which will also be championship contenders. Parish and Faith will meet on Saturday in Coppell in a second-round rematch.
Part of what makes a title repeat so difficult is that it makes you the favorite. But Nady said his team is prepared for that pressure as it advances through postseason play.
“I enjoy being the target. I thrive on it,” he said. “You want everyone’s best effort.”
In fact, the FWC loss gave the current Panthers a chance to carve out their own identity. It snapped a 20-game winning streak that was started last year.
“In a way, it allows this team to be this team,” Nady said. “There’s no pressure on us.”