A long trip to face one Texas’ top football teams will provide Evangel Christian Academy with a monumental challenge to open the 2016 season.
Byron Dawson told The Times Friday afternoon he’s taking his team to Allen, a northern suburb of Dallas, to play in Allen High School’s $60 million Eagle Stadium. A loss to Westlake in the 6A semifinals last December snapped Allen’s 57-game win streak that included three straight state titles in the state’s largest classification.
“Nobody wanted to play them and no one wanted to play us, so it was a perfect marriage,” Dawson said. “They reached out to us and we agreed to play. We have the utmost respect in their tradition and prestige.”
Evangel developed quite a reputation of its own with 13 state championships from 1993 to 2010, including four in 5A. It voluntarily moved back up from 2A to 5A last season under Louisiana’s new rules and shared the 1-5A district title before letting a 21-0 lead slip away in the semifinals to eventual Division I select champion Catholic High School.
Although 1-5A defensive MVP A.J. Gilliam, Tennessee commit Corey Henderson and First Team All-City running back Jamarquez Mims will graduate this spring, Evangel will return most of a young, talented group that helped Dawson earn All-City Coach of the Year honors. A prestigious out-of-state opponent won’t be anything new, since Evangel lost 14-0 at home to two-time defending Pennsylvania state champions St. Joseph Prep in the 2015 opener.
“We strongly believe as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another,” Dawson said. “Playing great competition like Allen only makes you better and builds a strong team character.”