The Texans continued to support high school football through the Friday Night Football initiative. During this season-long program, Cheerleaders and Ambassadors visited five marquee matchups among Houston-area high schools. Four of the matchups were selected prior to the program’s launch, with the fifth and final game chosen through fan voting. The program was highlighted each week on the Texans Snapchat account, with students encouraged to share photos and videos of the matchup. A special Friday Night Football game took place on August 31, when Texans center/guard Greg Mancz and defensive tackle Christian Covington visited Santa Fe High School for the school’s first game of the season and its first game after losing teammate Chris Stone in the shooting tragedy at the high school the spring before.
The Houston Texans Senior Showcase provides a unique opportunity for high school seniors to display their talents through a series of football-related drills and stations, in hopes of receiving academic scholarships to non–Division I colleges and universities. In 2019, more than 50 colleges and universities were on hand at the event to speak with the 350 student-athletes individually and watch them perform. Since 2009, more than $100 million in scholastic aid and more than 1,000 scholarships have been awarded through this program.
The Coach of the Week program honors high school coaches who are committed to making a positive impact within their community and their football program. Throughout the fall, one coach was selected each week to receive a $2,500 grant and $1,000 in Gatorade products for his school’s football program. At the end of the season, Mark Kanipes of Santa Fe High School was selected as the Coach of the Year and received an additional $5,000 grant. His leadership helped to heal a community reeling from a tragic school shooting in 2018. Serving as a rallying point for the community, Kanipes led his team to the playoffs for the first time in 10 years and only the fourth time in school history.
The 2019 Coach of the Week Winners were the Santa Fe football coaching staff, Santa Fe High School; Stephen Papp, Morton Ranch High School; Jeff Riordan, Crosby High School; Damian Payne, Worthing High School; Ken Savanah, Stafford High School; Kevin Hall, Manvel High School; Jason Thibodeaux, Sabine Pass High School; Ned Barrier, Brazos High School; Adrian Mitchell, Klein Collins High School; and Brad Hodges, Anderson-Shiro High School.
The Texans and the NFL Foundation have partnered with the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association, the UIL, the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association, and the Texans High School Coaches Association to present the InSideOut Initiative to high school coaches, athletic directors, and administrators. The purpose of the InSideOut initiative is to transform the win-at-all-costs sports culture into one that promotes youth sports as a growth experience. More than 200 coaches and administrators took part in the program this year.
Each year, one Texans preseason game is designated as the State of Football game, which celebrates football at all levels. On gameday, middle school cheerleaders greeted fans at the gates; youth cheerleaders took part in the Junior Cheer performance presented by Texas Children’s Hospital during pregame festivities; the 13-14 Boys National Champion Houston Texans Flag Football team served as Homefield Advantage Captains; Cy-Fair High School football captains from the Class 6A Division II Championship-winning team served as Coin Toss Captains; and at halftime the Klein Texans took on the Klein Oilers in the annual Youth Football Classic.
This year, the Texans supported the All American Youth Football & Drill Team in North Houston as part of the Showcase League program. Through the program, the Texans reached more than 1,700 young athletes and 300 coaches by sponsoring Heads Up Football training and certification and visiting games with Heads Up Football Ambassadors and Texans Ambassadors Richmond Webb and Steve Slaton. Two teams from this league were selected to participate in the Youth Football Classic, an on-field scrimmage that took place during halftime of the Texans State of Football game presented by Verizon in August.
Last fall the Texans hosted the Sabine Pass High School football team for a memorable day at NRG Stadium. After learning through Sabine Pass assistant football coach Mark Hodge that the school had to cancel its football season due to Hurricane Harvey and injuries, Texans players stepped up to help. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins invited the seniors via Twitter to NRG Stadium for a special tour. Once there, the students got to watch the Texans practice, meet the team, and dine in the Texans Sports Performance Café, and each received a custom Texans jersey and gift bag while on a tour led by Hopkins, linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, and tight end Jordan Thomas. Head coach Jason Thibodeaux received the Coach of the Week honors and a $2,500 grant for his football team and coach Hodge was surprised with Super Bowl tickets. The next day, they were special guests of the Texans as the team took on the Buffalo Bills.
The Greater Houston Football Coaches Association is a nonprofit organization established to promote high school football in the Greater Houston area. In August, coaches from the association were invited to attend the Texans State of Football game presented by Verizon, and its Hall of Honor inductees were recognized during pregame ceremonies. The Texans also host the association’s monthly meetings at our facilities and support the annual Bayou Bowl event.