KATY—A big night for Paetow football on Wednesday evening invoked joyous remembrances and reflection on what was a bigger season for the Panthers.
A couple thousand fans, supporters and students packed the Legacy Stadium stands to honor Paetow, which went 15-1 this season to win the Class 5A-Division I state championship with a 27-24 overtime win over College Station last month at AT&T Stadium.
Principal Mindy Dickerson, head coach B.J. Gotte, and the four Panther team captains—senior quarterback C.J. Dumas Jr., senior defensive back Kentrell Webb, senior offensive lineman James Bailey, and junior linebacker Alex Kilgore—each took turns addressing the crowd, often exhibiting gratefulness for their support.
Posted up at Legacy Stadium for the @PaetowFootball state championship community celebration. A great evening for remembrances and reflection on a storybook campaign. #txhsfb @KatyISDAthletic @PaetowAthletics @PaetowHS_ABC @PaetowHSpic.twitter.com/XDDttzAKIB— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1641431343
Gotte said the whole experience was surreal.
“It’s one of those things we’ve worked for,” Gotte said. “They believed in each other, they believed in themselves, and they bought in to what we were doing. It’s really cool to see a group of kids, that really buy in to how things need to be done, have success.”
From day one, when he was hired in January 2017 to helm the newborn program, Gotte tirelessly preached a standard of excellence. Excellence, to Gotte, means competing for championships.
Gotte reminded those in attendance that words only mean so much. It was the buy-in of the players that put the program over the top in just its fourth year of varsity play.
“Realizing what we’ve done, it’s a dream come true,” said senior running back Jacob Brown, the state championship’s Offensive Player of the Game. “We grinded every day since this time last year. Every day during the offseason and summer, we just worked. I can’t say it’s unbelievable, because with the work we put in, we knew what we could do.
“I don’t think we really surprised anyone that much.”
Gotte said the state championship win was “all-encompassing.” He publicly thanked and expressed appreciation for the school’s spirit team, drill team, cheerleaders, student trainers, band, and administration for their role in the program’s success, singling those organizations out one by one and allowing them to soak in applause.
.@PaetowFootball coach @CoachGotte says the program\u2019s championship success is \u201call encompassing\u201d at @PaetowHS. #txhsfb @KatyISDAthletic @katyisdpic.twitter.com/UrA1YCChwn— VYPE Houston (@VYPE Houston) 1641431885
“We’ve had great support throughout the season, and it’s only picked up even more than I ever expected,” Dumas said. “People I’ve never even met congratulating me. People from other schools reaching out and saying how proud they were of us representing Katy. It’s great to not only have that support from here at Paetow, but Katy ISD as a whole.”
“We’re so thankful and blessed,” added Webb, the state championship’s Defensive Player of the Game. “Anywhere you go in Katy, people see you and know you as a state champion. We needed that for our school.”
The Panthers put Paetow firmly on the Texas high school football map. And now? The work has already started to doing it all over again in 2022.
“There’s a process and a plan that started in January 2021,” Gotte said. “People think football season starts in August. It doesn’t. It starts in January. So, we’re in that process now where we’re cleaning up stuff, we’ll test, hopefully, at the end of this week, test next week, and then we’ll have a conversation. Our seniors are now gone. So now it’s, ‘Hey, look, you underclassmen that were on this team, that’s great. You were a part of it. But that’s not your legacy. What legacy do you want?’”