ON A WALL INSIDE THE BAYTOWN LEE FIELDHOUSE ARE PAINTED THE PROGRAM'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS – YEARS THE GANDERS MADE THE POSTSEASON AND WON PLAYOFF GAMES.
It's been a while since they have been able to add a year to the wall. The last playoff appearance for Baytown Lee came in 2009 and for their last postseason win, you have to flip in the record books all the way back to 2002. It was in this very room that four years ago, the Class of 2021 sat. It was Tim Finn's first season and he challenged them. Now, it's time to see if they can answer the call.
"When they came in as freshmen, we came in here and sat down. There was probably 35 of them and 35 in the rest of the program," Finn said. "That was the group that we were pointing at to get us over the hump and back on the wall. "I challenged them to put us back on the wall where the playoff history is."
Baytown Lee has a rich football tradition – including making back-to-back state title games in 1951 and 1952, falling to Lubbock both years. In the mid-90s, Lee became a perennial playoff team going for seven straight seasons, the deepest run coming in 1997 when the Ganders reached the third round. Visually being able to show the current players "the wall" is a motivating factor. "There's a lot of pride in this community for this campus and this school," Finn said. "We want to bring that pride back to the school. We are slowly turning the reputation around and making progress in all our programs."
The Ganders moved into District 9-5A-DI this year with the likes of Beaumont United, Friendswood and Port Arthur Memorial. Baytown Lee will also have to stave off district-mates Goose Creek Memorial and Baytown Sterling for one of those coveted playoff slots. Last year, Lee came out of the gates hot starting 4-1 but then went 1-4 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs. Injuries played a factor in that and Finn hopes the lessons learned from a year ago will pay dividends.
Offensively, a lot of things will run through KeKe Davis and the offensive line to start. Defensively, Finn is stoked about the returning linebackers and the defensive line. The secondary should be solid as well. "I feel like with the depth and the seniors, we can overcome a couple of things," Finn said. "We can overcome some issues and come out victorious."
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