Tag Archives: Texas High School Football

Thanks to a former NFL player, Duncanville’s Barak Gurnell has found his niche and passion in football


TEXAS CLASS 6A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW


DUNCANVILLE, Texas — Tamara Gurnell was going on and on Wednesday morning about how her son, Barak Gurnell, doesn’t routinely watch football.

“He doesn’t watch a whole lot of football,” Tamara Gurnell told Making Headline News. “I could turn it on a game and he’ll go in another room. He’s just not into watching football like that.”


EYE OF THE PANTHER 

HEART OF A CHAMPION — A little more than two years removed from having become thoroughly active in competitive football, Barak Gurnell has made some pretty immeasurable strides for a Duncanville High team (15-0) that has re-emerged as a national standout and will square off against Houston’s North Shore (15-0) for the Texas Class 6A championship Saturday at 7 p.m. CST at AT&T Stadium.

That certainly isn’t the case for her son on the field.

A little more than two years removed from having become thoroughly active in competitive football, Barak Gurnell has made some pretty immeasurable strides for a Duncanville High team (15-0, ranked No. 8 nationally by MaxPreps.com) that has re-emerged as a national standout and will square off against Houston’s North Shore (15-0, ranked No. 10 nationally by MaxPreps.com) for the Texas Class 6A championship Saturday at 7 p. m. CST at AT&T Stadium.

Led by former Dallas Skyline coach Reggie Sample, Duncanville is ranked No. 1 in Texas Class 6A, according to MaxPreps. North Shore is ranked No. 2.

A 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior defensive tackle, Gurnell has practically held his own and made a name for himself as a marquee player for a Panther defensive unit that denied perennial power Allen of a second consecutive state title with a 44-35 win in the state semifinals.


“Football has become a very important part of my life in a very short period of time and I honestly can’t see going to college without it. It pushes me to be a better version of myself every day.” — Duncanville senior defensive tackle Barak Gurnell 


STOCK IS RISING — What a difference two years have made for a young, gifted kid whom, to his credit, has managed to attract interests from a host of college, a trend he expects to increase much sooner than later.

Football alone isn’t the only factor that has greatly inspired Gurnell to maximize his potential as he continues to lobbies for a full ride scholarship as a member of a nationally-ranked Duncanville team that’s loaded with Division 1-caliber players and is back in the state championship for the first time in two decades.

Amongst those who essentially spearheaded Gurnell’s quest to consider football is former NFL player Roderick Lewis.

A former Dallas Bishop Dunne Catholic and University of Arizona star, Lewis, 47, played four professional seasons for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1994-1997.

PIVOTAL EXTRA POINT — Amongst those who essentially spearheaded Gurnell’s quest to consider football is former NFL player Roderick Lewis. A former Dallas Bishop Dunne Catholic and University of Arizona star, Lewis, 47, played four professional seasons for the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1994-1997.

As Tamara Gurnell recalled, Lewis was rather direct when suggesting that her son — who already exhibits the size of an NFL defensive lineman — should serious consider giving football a try.

“My friend, Rod Lewis, hadn’t seen Barak for some time until his daughter’s 17th birthday party,” Tamara Gurnell explained. “Rod’s face lit up with excitement and he began to pat Barak on the back and chest, commenting on how big he had gotten.”

As it turns out, it seemed that divine intervention essentially couldn’t keep Barak Gurnell off of Lewis’ mind days after the two had crossed paths.

MOM KNOWS BEST –— Come Saturday night, amongst the things that will likely come to mind for Gurnell when he sets foot on Texas high school football’s biggest stage is how his willingness to embrace wise counsel has ultimately allowed his gift to make room for him.

“A few days later, Rod called me to discuss Barak’s future, highly encouraging (him) to consider football as a viable option to add to his high school portfolio,” Tamara Gurnell recalled.

And the rest, as they say, was history.

That’s because not only did Barak Gurnell heed the pertinent advice of Lewis but, much to his delight, it’s safe to assume that competitive football, by all accounts, has become an integral part of his life.

Come Saturday night, amongst the things that will likely come to mind for Gurnell when he sets foot on Texas high school football’s biggest stage is how his willingness to embrace some wise counsel has ultimately allowed his gift to make room for him.

Yep. What a difference two years have made for a young, gifted kid whom, to his credit, has managed to attract interests from a host of college, a trend he expects to increase much sooner than later.

“I have spoken to Lyon College over the phone and Texas State University (scouts) in person,” said Gurnell, adding that Oklahoma State and SMU have expressed interests in his services.

REMEMBER THE NAME — A 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior defensive tackle, Gurnell has practically held his own and made a name for himself as a marquee player for a Panther defensive unit that denied perennial power Allen of a second consecutive state title with a 44-35 win.

Surely, Gurnell’s short list of schools, in all likelihood, will expand, considering just this past summer, he attended camps at SMU, OSU, Baylor, TCU, the University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas A&M Commerce, among others.

“There will be no problems off the field,” said Gurnell, when asked what direct message he’d like to send to college scouts and recruiters. “I always make sure to conduct myself in a respectable fashion and that my grades are never a problem. Right now, I’m preparing for the state final game against North Shore, and I plan to continue to lift weights through the winter and do some conditioning once it gets warmer.”

If nothing else, for a youngster who’s a relatively newcomer to football, Gurnell certainly has become knowledgeable of the prerequisites essential for landing an athletic scholarship.

“The coaches give honest feedback,” Tamara Gurnell said of her son’s constant progression to the sport. “Essentially, Barak is a diamond in the rough. Because he is so new to the sport, the learning curve is massive.”

All things considered, one would be hard-pressed to discover just how “massive” of a curve it is, given the sustained success Gurnell has enjoyed in such a brief timeframe.

“He is a quick study, and in football, intellect is key,” said Tamara Gurnell, sounding very much like a prep football insider. “(The Duncanville coaching staff) believe he will be offered a (partial) scholarship, if not a full one, mainly because there is limited film due to his late start in the sport. They believe he will surely be an asset, because of his character and great grades.”

PUTTING IN WORK — If nothing else, for a youngster who’s a relatively newcomer to football, Gurnell certainly has become knowledgeable of the prerequisites essential to landing an athletic scholarship.

Something even a former NFL player had recognized at a birthday party.

Speaking of party, expect the Gurnells to host one if the Panthers upend North Shore Saturday night in Arlington, which is roughly two towns over from Duncanville.

Heck, expect them to throw an even bigger party if Barak Gurnell pulls off the unthinkable by signing a National Letter of Intent in the foreseeable future , which undoubtedly would be a massive, remarkable feat for a relatively newcomer to the sport.

“I will be proud (if he earns a football scholarship), because he is one step closer to his independence,” Tamara Gurnell said. “I am enjoying the man he is becoming.”

A youngster who already exhibits the frame of an NFL defensive lineman.

Talk about impressive.


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EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Lewisville High football standout Tahj Martin: ‘It is a dream for me to play college football’

LEWISVILLE, Texas — Tahj Martin is just a tender 15-year-old student athlete.

A great, big gigantic one, that is.

Consider, for instance, Martin’s massive frame that is comprised of his standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 261 pounds which, to his credit, is practically equivalent of an NFL lineup.


FRESHMAN SENSATION

UNDER THE RADAR — Assuming roles on both sides of the ball as a left tackle and defensive end for Lewisville coach Michael Odle’s squad, Tahj Martin enjoyed a significant amount of action this past season for the Farmers as his stock amongst college scouts and recruiters increased mightily in the process.

Speaking of the NFL, Martin doesn’t shy away from the notion that playing football on Sundays undoubtedly is amongst his major long-term ambitions.

But first thing’s first: blossoming as a rising prep footballer.

“I am a hard working athlete, who has come from very humble surroundings,” Martin told Making Headline News during a weekend interview. “I am a magnet and people gravitate to me, because of my winning personality and attitude.”

A triumphant mentality certainly highlights Martin’s assortment of key attributes as a true freshman for Lewisville (Texas) High’s football team.

 

STOCK IS RISING — With so much high school football ahead of him, Martin has already garnered interests from Texas Christian University and the University of Texas.

Martin, in fact, is coming off of a productive and breakthrough season for an upstart Lewisville team that finished the 2018 campaign with a 9-3 mark, including an impressive 6-1 record in 6A Region I District 6, second only to conference rival Flower Mound.

Assuming roles on both sides of the ball as a left tackle and defensive end for coach Michael Odle’s squad, Martin enjoyed a significant amount of action for the Farmers as his stock amongst college scouts and recruiters increased mightily in the process.

No one, it seems, can attest to his notion more than his father, Geoffrey Grant Martin, who’s thoroughly convinced that his son is making a strong case that his prep football career will culminate with him signing a National Letter of Intent.

TEXAS-SIZED IMPACT — Martin is coming off of a productive and breakthrough season for an upstart Lewisville team that finished the 2018 campaign with a 9-3 mark, including an impressive 6-1 record in 6A Region I District 6, second only to conference rival Flower Mound.

“Tahj has grown tremendously both on the field and off,” Geoffrey Grant said. “He’s gained a level of confidence and passion for not only his role on the team, but for the entire team itself, all while maintaining his grades academically.”

All things considered, Martin’s favorable display as a true freshmen for the Farmers has, in fact, given way to a few college scouts deeming it essential to thrust him under their radar.

With so much high school football ahead of him, Martin has already garnered interests from Texas Christian University and the University of Texas.

DOING IT BIG IN TEXAS — Martin’s massive frame that is comprised of his standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 261 pounds which, to his credit, is practically equivalent of an NFL lineup.

Given the immeasurable impact he’s had thus far in his prep career, expect that list to expand much sooner than later.

“It is a dream for me (to play college football), because I am made and built for the sport of football,” Martin said. “I know that all the years I have been playing will pay off and a college scholarship would be the ultimate satisfaction of all.”

Although he did not attend any camps this past summer because of unforeseen circumstances, Martin was especially active, particularly as it relates to conditioning regularly and monitoring his weight.

“(I would typically workout) Monday and Wednesday mornings and in the afternoons, (and would take part in) cardio training on Saturdays and Sundays,” Martin said. “I also work on healthy eating habits that include making smoothies and protein snacks to build a strong muscle mass.”

DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING — A triumphant mentality certainly highlights Martin’s assortment of key attributes as a true freshman for Lewisville High’s football team.

Despite his overall body of work on and off the field, coupled with the impressive resume he’s established to this point, Martin also doesn’t shy away from the notion that no one has to persuade him not to hit the cruise control button at this point.

Not with so much prep football ahead of him.


“I performed exceptionally well (during the 2018 season), but I still have more work to do. I’ve got to work more on dropping into coverage. I have to work on that. My speed needs to improve, but with growth, I know I will get faster.” — Lewisville freshman Tahj Martin


WAITING HIS TURN — All things considered, Martin’s favorable display a true underclassmen for the Farmers has, in fact, given way to a few college scouts deeming it essential to thrust him under their radar.

A pretty wise and thorough assessment, this coming from a tender 15-year-old student athlete.

A great, big gigantic one, that is.

One whose short list of interested colleges undoubtedly is expected to expand much sooner than later.

So stay tuned.


For more information about Lewisville (Texas) High School football standout Tahj Gabriel Martin, connect with him via social media at:

Instagram: @tahjmartin12

Snaphat: tmahal_878

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tahj.martin.1

Twitter: @martin2Tahj


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EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to andre@makingheadlinenews.com or to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Former pro athlete Spencer Conley diligently devising ways to bridge the gap between athlete-coaching relationships

KEEPING IT 100 — In what essentially was a forthright dialogue, former pro athlete Spencer Conley spoke intensely recently bout his displeasure with modern-day player-coach relationships, in large part because, according to him, coaches are held to a slew of restrictions when it comes to their job responsibilities.

Spencer Conley isn’t just widely known for delivering thought-provoking, gutchecking speeches to athletes from various walks of life.

More than anything, his reputation is such that he’s known for keeping it real, most notably when it comes to esteeming others and inspiring them to maximize their full potential.

Take, for instance, how Conley, a former professional athlete, spoke with such eloquence and authority and passion when, during an exclusive interview with Making Headline News, he shared some in-depth thoughts and viewpoints pertaining to a rather touchy, attention-grabbing subject — the sometimes dysfunctional relationships between student athletes and coaches.

MAKING MUCH NOISE — More than anything, Conley’s reputation is such that he’s known for keeping it real, most notably when it comes to esteeming others and inspiring them to maximize their full potential.

In what essentially was a forthright dialogue, Conley spoke intensely about his displeasure with modern-day player-coach relationships, in large part because, according to him, coaches are held to a slew of restrictions when it comes to their job responsibilities.

“Coaching are stuck with just tying themselves to the talent,” Conley said. “They’re not allowed to teach the kids to become great individuals.”

For what it’s worth, Conley acknowledged, such a detrimental, downward issue was non-existent during his days as a student athlete.

So how to explain the present-day change?

As Conley insinuated, student athletes must know their place and, most importantly, so does the parents of these athletes.

MAKING HIS PRESENCE FELT — A native of New Jersey who has spent the better portion of his life in Texas, Conley is widely known as an Inspirational Speaker and Life Professor and is the founder of chief executive officer of Too Driven.

“Parents allow coaches to coach, but they don’t want the discipline that go with it,” Conley explained.

Oddly enough, in some cases, race plays a role in the conflict involving parents and the coaches who are hired to motivate their children.

“There are some good white coaches out there who can’t say anything to the kids without being labeled a racist. “We’re not allowing authority figures to do their jobs. We reject them because we’re not being disciplined in the home.”

A native of New Jersey who has spent the better portion of his life in Texas, Conley is widely known as an Inspirational Speaker and Life Professor and is the founder of chief executive officer of Too Driven.

CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? Interesting enough, when it comes to player-coach relationships, Conley said his primary focus is to continue to be a voice of reason, or to devise ways to help parents and coaches bridge the gap that unfortunately is proving unprofitable for the student athlete.

A notable, well-publicized career that has acquired a global presence, Conley is widely known as “Big Coach Con” and is a motivator who conveys a life-altering experience that always leaves the audience ready to believe and to better themselves, according to a spokesperson at www.toodriven.com.

Interesting enough, when it comes to player-coach relationships, Conley said his primary focus is to continue to be a voice of reason, or to devise ways to help parents and coaches bridge the gap that unfortunately is proving unprofitable for all parties involved.

When asked if he senses this ongoing downward trend is causing coaches to lose a generation, Conley quickly replied, “We’ve basically done that. The focus is to get on and save the next (generation). “Coaches have three phases: hired, fired, or retired. That’s anybody’s life. That’s a coaches life. Period. That’s the game, one of the three, and with those three, you need to walk in and walk out with those same standards.”

Said Justin Britt of the Seattle Seahawks: “Having Spencer involved in my corner brings me peace and clarity. I know we share the same vision of helping the youth learn and evolve for the greater good. We both know they are the future and all they need is a direction with leadership. Having him helps me evolve as a leader in my own way, the camps are pointless without the two of us. A program would only benefit and mostly by the attitudes changing with leadership amongst the group growing exponentially.”

In support of Conley’s argument, several athletes and coaches have expressed support of his direct approach to an ongoing issue countless individuals in the athletic realm are reluctant to address.

“Spencer Conley’s influence on our players and coaches has been an invaluable asset to our football program, said Trey Sissom of the Travis Tigers. “His energy and enthusiasm are unmatched and his desire to see our program reach new heights has made such a lasting impression on our players and coaches that its importance cannot be measured and his message of seizing opportunities in spite of your circumstances has resonated with every one of our athletes. Spencer shows genuine love for our kids.”

Said Lance Botkins of Pearland Independent School District: “Big Spence inspires, motivates, and teaches every student. His passionate real life talk helps students take action towards a their own goals and aspirations. He gives me chills every time I hear him speak. He is the best and most passionate speaker I’ve ever heard.”

“Spencer Conley’s influence on our players and coaches has been an invaluable asset to our football program, said Trey Sissom of the Travis Tigers. “His energy and enthusiasm are unmatched and his desire to see our program reach new heights has made such a lasting impression on our players and coaches that its importance cannot be measured and his message of seizing opportunities in spite of your circumstances has resonated with every one of our athletes. Spencer shows genuine love for our kids.”

Said Justin Britt of the Seattle Seahawks: “Having Spencer involved in my corner brings me peace and clarity. I know we share the same vision of helping the youth learn and evolve for the greater good. We both know they are the future and all they need is a direction with leadership. Having him helps me evolve as a leader in my own way, the camps are pointless without the two of us. A program would only benefit and mostly by the attitudes changing with leadership amongst the group growing exponentially.”

“Spencer Conley is a master motivator,” said Darin Earley, President/Founder of Bridge Builders Network. “He has a unique ability to speak to the core passions that move young people to action. Simultaneously, he has a unique style that is both refreshing and inspiring.”

And to Conley’s uniquely distinct credit, he deems it essential to often speak out about his sometimes unorthodox style of coaching.

“I coached for 10 high school, in college, and at the pro ranks before my gift overwhelmed me to move on,” Conley explained. “Coaching prepared me for what I do now in so many ways. First off, there are many different personalities on a staff that you must gain an understanding of not always agreeing but understanding and respect. Then there are those you coach from many different backgrounds and upbringings. Understanding that allows me to speak directly to the cause the root of a problem versus the effects of a problem. Coach-mentoring encouraging is the foundation of my life. There’s such a long list of coaches who influenced my life while I played for some and I coached with some.”

Moreover, no one merely has had to tell Conley what state his life would be in if not for those with whom he crossed paths through athletics, especially coaching.

“My inspiration in motivating (athletes) comes from that prospective,” Conley explained. “The most influential coach in my life was Joel Smith, who coached me at Robert G. Cole High School and molded me the best he could along with the men I shared a locker room with. I would be dead or in jail if all the white coaches who coached me had to think about their job or be considered a racist every time I needed to be pushed or corrected. I’m simply speaking truth. Even though I’m dyslexic, I was coached through it. My condition had nothing to do with integrity. I can be dyslexic. Being a punk… that’s a choice. Coaches should keep coaching and don’t allow parents, critics naysayers and couch quarterbacks to cause them to lose their passion. They ought to remember why they all got into coaching and should go out the same way. Coach Pete Gibbons Once told me, ‘Spencer, it was time to go when they don’t want to do it right.’ He understands the right way to coach is the only way. When leadership wants less than that because they are controlled by a few parent or the community, it’s time to go, before they lose the love and the kids pick up on it.”

SPEAKING OUT — When it comes to player-coach relationships, Conley said his primary focus is to continue to be a voice of reason, or to devise ways to help parents and coaches bridge the gap that unfortunately is proving unprofitable for the student athlete.

As for what Conley would like to see done about a crirical issue he and others feel has created a wedge between young athletes and coaches, he said all parties involved in the lives of the athlete must assume their rightful role.

“I would like to see coaches coach,” Conley said. “People who care should not be afraid to say, ‘That’s not good.’ All it is from what I see is people rejecting discipline.”

By all accounts, unyielding love and support for the athlete is what coaches are trying to demonstrate, Conley said.

“There are people who understand this message,” Conley said. “Then there are people who think they know what love is, but they don’t. There are tons of people who reject that type of love. It’s not tough love. It’s love. Love will tell you to pull your pants up. Love will tell you No, tell you to stop, sit down, pick it up. People who don’t love you will not tell you that. They will exclude you. Kids need that kind of love. They need to be challenged so they can maximize their potential.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, athlete, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to memphisgraduate@yahoo.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.