Winning three games over the past two seasons has left once-proud Class 3A Hempstead High School an unattractive destination for recruiters and high school coaches. Until, the Sarge stepped in – coach Ricky Sargent.
Now the coach is taking over a program that has seen the likes of numerous coaches and is now facing a shallow depth chart. Sargent is pushing his kids to do the best they can with the present circumstances.
"These kids have had three coaches over the past four years," Hempstead coach Ricky Sargent said. "We have 22 kids who we are going to war with. They don't play both ways, they play three ways and we can't afford for anyone to get hurt."
Sargent, who coached defensive backs at Jasper, took over a dead program in June and may have resuscitated it as of last Friday night. The Bobcats shocked state-ranked Class 2A power Brookshire Royal, 20-13, on the road.
"There is definitely a buzz around town," he said. "I've had a bunch of parents call trying to get their kid in the program, but it's too late. Again, we are going to war with these guys."
These guys include a talented group of juniors – Terrance Toliver (6-5, 185-pounds), Chris Tate (5-11, 170-pounds), Jerry Glover (5-11, 160-pounds) and Chris Jackson (6-3, 275-pounds). Throw in senior linebacker DeIra Glover (6-2, 180-pounds) and sophomore Xavier Smith (5-10, 160-pounds) and you've got a nucleus. It's hard to give them positions because they really play everything.
Toliver plays wide out and safety for the Bearcats, and is the top prospect in the program.
"He is a tremendous athlete at everything he does," he said. "I had Desmond Mason (Milwaukee Bucks) at Waxahachie when I coached there, and he reminds me of Desmond. He could dunk a basketball in the eight grade and long jumped 23-feet as a freshman. In football, we can just throw it up and he knows how to use his body."
The multi-purpose athlete attended LSU and Houston's football camps this summer as well as playing AAU basketball.
"I'd like to play both in college," Toliver said. "I liked LSU's campus and have interest in Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. All Division I's."
Tate and Glover share quarterbacking and defensive back duties.
"Jerry is a natural quarterback while Chris reached the state 100-meters as a sophomore," Sargent said. "He can really go."
Smith turned down a trip to the Junior National Olympic track meet to participate in Sargent's two-a-days.
"Smith has a bright future," Sargent said. "He can play anywhere on the field and long jumped 23-feet and high jumped 6-6 as a freshman. He's talented."
Chris Jackson anchors both the offensive and defensive line, while Glover has a Division I frame and excellent grades.
It's too early to tell who will be the next Harvey Williams or Johnny Holland to come out of Hempstead, but at least they have a cupboard and someone willing to instill some discipline.
At least the Sarge has the name for it.