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MISD: Celebration

MISD: Celebration

Photos Courtesy of Debbie Pietsch

Celebration

We’ve all heard the song “CELEBRATION” by Kool and the Gang.  If you haven’t, then you have not attended a Wedding or Graduation ceremony in the past 40 plus years!

That’s exactly what the MISD Fishing Team did in May, where the Team was Celebrating its’ 10th year of existence at the annual banquet, as well as to applaud our 3 Teams that had qualified for the State Championship.  That’s correct, you read that right, 10 years of competing.  Where 739 MISD students have participated in this program, and have won 9 Houston Division Titles, 4 Regional Championships, and 1 State Title.  It is also the Program where 12 students claimed the right to be called Anglers of the Year for the Houston Division, not to mention that we are home to a pair of National Champions.  All of this was discussed as we went through the History of the Program on the night of the banquet.

You see, being the Founding Sponsor of the Program, and still at it, I had the distinct privilege of a front row seat to all of the highs, and the lows.  Highs, reflected in the many victories and accomplishments the students of MISD have achieved, and the lows in some of the heartbreaking losses, both in competition, and in life.

Before we get going too far into this story, I want to beg for your Grace and forgiveness if you, or someone close to you was not mentioned.  Trying to document 10 years, 739 students, countless parents, captains, sponsors, administrators, teachers, it was a daunting task.  Coupled with that I am now in my sixties, well, things just don’t come back to me as they once did.  Just know that I did the very best I could to chronicle the accomplishments and history of the MISD Fishing Team, and no one was left out intentionally, or with any malice.

So, to bring everyone up to speed, we need to start at the beginning.  I arrived on the Montgomery High campus in August of 2009 to Teach World History, and mind my own business so to speak.  When I say “mind my own business,” I mean run my business that I started in 1996, as well as when time allowed, compete in my own tournaments.

Well, since I had a wrapped Truck and Boat that looked like a Shipley Do-Nut box rolling down the road, I drew a lot of attention by the many Anglers on campus.  None more than Blake Teasdale, as I had him in class in 2011- 2012, and he immediately started informing me that there was now High School Fishing Teams forming, and he wanted to start one at Montgomery High School.  Well, informing me got to the point of pestering me so much, that I said “Blake, do you want to pass this class?”  Of course I was joking, as Blake was an excellent student, other than he did not realize the definition of NO!

Fast forward to December of 2013, the week before Christmas Break.  I had Cafeteria Duty in the morning, and as all of the students were entering the cafeteria, here comes Blake.  My mind was telling my mouth, “don’t say a word, don’t say a word.”  Then, out of my mouth came “okay Blake, what’s this thing going to take?’  I was like, what the heck did I just say?!!  Blake immediately reached into his backpack and pulled out literature and information about High School Fishing Programs.  I said to Blake, “we’re about to go away for Christmas Break, and I promise you I will read the information, and get back to you in January when we return.”

Well, this obviously wasn’t good enough for Blake, as 3rd period that very same day I got a knock at my classroom door, where a substitute Teacher was standing there, and he said, “Mr. Eaton needs to see you.”  Mr. Eaton being our Principal.  At first, I was like, I haven’t done anything wrong, he probably just wants Do-Nuts for the Staff on Friday before we leave for the Christmas Holidays.  Well, when I arrived at his office, I instantly knew this wasn’t the case, as Mr. Eaton had a scowl on his face, and there sat Blake in front of him.  Mr. Eaton said, “okay stud, what did you promise this young man?”  I said “Sir, all I promised him was that I would look at the information he gave me about High School Fishing, that’s all I promised.”  I went on to say, “Tell him Blake, that’s all I promised.”  Blake just sat there nodding his head up and down grinning.  Mr. Eaton fired back, “well stud, looks like we’re going to have a Fishing Team.”  I was like, “Sir, you know there needs to be two deep leadership, there’s nobody here that will help me with this.”  Blake then said eagerly, “I’ll get my Dad.”  I was like, “Blake, you’re Dad’s a Football and Baseball Coach, he’s not going to have time for this.”  One look from Mr. Eaton, and I knew my goose was cooked, and it was Christmas Time!

So, in January 2014 we formed the MHS Angler’s Club.  We really did not know what we were doing, had no money raised, and the Season had already started back in the Fall.  However, positives that did happen were that Blake was about to realize one of his dreams of starting a fishing program at Montgomery High School with 14 members, and he was our first President.

As President, he called a meeting/banquet which was us grilling burgers on my back porch.  Blake was very serious about the program continuing, so we had elections for new officers, and everything went well, except that I didn’t buy enough hamburger patties!

Blake had invited individuals that he felt would make good members, and this is where I met Jordan Swaim.  As a 14 year old, Jordan was already a fishing legend.  Sitting on my back porch I engaged in conversation with Jordan, and I said to him, “I have been told that if we’re going to have a winning program, that you have to be on the Team.”  Jordan, an EXTREMELY CONFIDENT young man replied, “that’s pretty much right.”  I went on to say that “for us to be successful, we’re going to need to raise money to pay for our entry fees and tournament costs.”  Jordan replied in a very confident manner, “that ain’t going to be a problem, as I know some folks.”  I then told him whatever he was able to raise, I would go to Mr. Shipley, and he would match what you can raise.”  Well, less than a week later, Jordan came to me with a bunch of checks from different folks that amounted to 3500.00 dollars.  Mr. Shipley matched this sum, and we had 7 thousand dollars in our club account to get us launched for the      2014-15 season.

Now the question was, which High School trail do we compete in?  Do we fish in the FLW now MLF High School series, or do we go with the Bassmaster High School Circuit?  Also, who would be my Co-Sponsor?  Thank goodness for Steve Keating volunteering his time and energy to help us have two deep leadership.

With regards to which trail we would fish, enter Karen Lonon from Montgomery High School.  She was a Diagnostician which had an office directly across from my classroom.  She said, “Hooker, I heard that you have formed a Fishing Team?”  To which I responded, “Seems so.”  She said, “A good friend of mine Henry Burns at the Woodlands High School has formed a league with local High Schools in the Houston area, and it’s called the Houston High School Fishing Conference, you should call him.”  Which I did, and felt comfortable with what they were doing, and especially that all the tournaments would be local, as opposed to National.

As the season unfolded, this young group of mainly Freshmen were holding their own, and when we left the 4th Tournament at Lake Houston, we were in a solid 3rd place out of 14 High Schools that made up the HHFC.  I was like, this is a solid beginning for this new program, especially with a bunch of Freshmen.

Then, I get a phone call from the Tournament Director and he states, “there was a team from College Park that was deemed ineligible, so now your squad has won the Lake Houston event.  You are now in a tie for 2nd with the Woodlands, one point down to College Park.”  My immediate response was, “so you’re saying if we win the last event on Conroe next month, we will at least share the Conference Title, or if College Park finishes 3rd or worse, we would be outright Conference Champions?”  The Tournament Director stated “that is correct, or the same can happen for the Woodlands.”  I stated “that’s not going to be a problem, I’ll get our team ready.”

To say I was stoked would be an understatement, I was foaming at the mouth excited!  So, I called a special meeting to explain the situation to our Team, and get everyone fired up and ready to create history in winning the Conference Title in our first year of competing.  Back then, our meetings were at 6:45 in the morning before school, and being that both the Team and I were sponsored by Shipley Do-Nuts, I would bring Donuts to thank the students for showing up, and their dedication to the program.

From the get go of the meeting the Team should’ve noticed my excitement and anticipation of the scenario that laid before us.  As I explained the chain of events that led to us being able to be in the position to win the Conference Title.  As I was doing this, I was noticing that there really wasn’t much interest, and it seemed like crickets were chirping.  Finally one of the young anglers raised his hand where I excitedly called upon him.  He asked, “Uh, when do we get our Donuts?”  I was like “WHAT?” Have y’all not been listening to me, we’re in a position to win the Conference Title!  So I went back to talking about patterns, and how to prepare, and then another student raised their hand.  Reluctantly, I called upon him where he stated, “So we’re not getting Donuts?”  I immediately yelled, “OUT, EVERYONE OUT!”  The Team was wide eyed as they rushed out of the room, and I was just feeling fortunate that I did not use any profanity, and thank goodness Mr. Keating was there to keep me in check.

All day long I became angrier and angrier thinking about the situation.  I am sure that it was not a good day to be in Mr. Hooker’s Government class.  During the passing period between 7th & 8th I was standing in the hallway where some of the 8th period students approached me.  One in particular was Collin Garrett, a larger than normal High School Student that stood 6’4” and 220 pounds, and looked like he could grow a full beard overnight.  He was also a standout baseball player, who had already signed with Baylor to continue his academic and athletic careers.  He then stated, “Mr. Hooker, everyone says we need to steer clear of you today, is everything alright?  Anything we can do to help?”  I said, “Collin, you Grant and Brock are all athletes, so you’ll understand, so I told them what had happened that morning.”  Collin very calmly said, “Well baseball season just ended, so we can help you out, we can fish.”  Excitedly I told them “y’all know where I live, and that I have a pond in the backyard.  Bring a few guys over today at 4:00, and we’ll see if y’all can fish.”

When I arrived at my home that afternoon, I was shocked that there were 14 senior students standing around my pond fishing.   While walking around the pond I was able to identify 6 individuals that could really fish, and probably could help us.  So, I was able to add not only Collin, but Grant Pietsch, Brock Tipton, Chase Edwards, as well as Shane Morel and Brent Patane to the roster.  I then asked these new members of the MHS Angler’s Club to be at the next meeting, and requested that they sit together, and not really speak to any of the current Team Members, as I anticipated what was probably going to happen.

The morning of the meeting I arrived and we started the discussion of the awesome scenario that was unfolding before us the next day on Lake Conroe.  It was when we began the discussions about patterns and how we should be able to catch them that the hand of the same student that asked about the Donuts at the prior meeting went up.  Just as I anticipated, he asked the question I was dying to answer, “Uh, who are these guys?”  “That’s a great question” I eagerly responded, in anticipation of this question.  “These are the guys that are going to lead us the Conference Championship, because it seems like all you guys want to do is eat freaking Donuts!”

Well, the Tournament turned out better than I could have ever expected, as Collin & Grant came in 3rd, with Collin catching the big fish of the event.  Also, our little Donut Pep Talk must’ve worked as two of the Freshmen Teams in Jordan Swaim and his partner Clint “Cletus” Davis came in 5th, followed closely by Derek Pietsch & Paxton Simmons claiming 6th.  This effort easily outdistanced the field for the Team Champion Trophy, with that being all the more sweeter as College Park came in 3rd and the Woodlands 2nd, securing the first Divisional Championship for the Team.

In 2015-16 the Team moved to the Texas High School Bass Association to compete in the Houston Division, as the HHFC was absorbed into the THSBA.  Our first year in the THSBA was successful, as the MHS Angler’s Club won the Divisional Title, led by Dylan Winders, Mason McQuerry, Justin Faterkowski, Seth Hardin, Terrin Anderson, Mason Hoke, Clint Davis and Jordan Swaim.  We also had our first Anglers of the Year in Derek Pietsch and Trey Dawson.  The pair had a dominant year, leading us to the Regional Championship at Sam Rayburn, where we qualified 6 Teams to compete at the State Championship.  We also saw our first female State Qualifier in Grace Hooker.  The program also grew to 44 students.

Then, the magical year of 2016-17 came.  This was the third year of our existence, and our Team blossomed to 54 Students.  Although, it did not start off magical, as Mr. Keating informed me he would need to take a break from being the official Co-Sponsor as he needed to take care of personal matters.

At this point a young Administrative Assistant at MHS who had been coming to our meetings as her son Dylan Winders was on the Team, saw that I was struggling with all the required paperwork and dues, and she uttered these fateful words, “Do you need help?”  Looking up over the pile of paperwork, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.  Her name is Toni Luedke, and I have said this a thousand times, “There would not be a Fishing Team without Toni Luedke.”  She absolutely is the most organized go getter on the planet.  Combined, we have made what I feel is a pretty good team to guide these young men and women of the Fishing Team.

Now that this was settled, we headed into the season with high hopes, as we were hitting our stride, and we could feel it.  The Team won the Division handily, then rolled into Regionals, where Mason Hoke and Weston Stephens led us to being crowned the Regional Champions for the first time, as they won the tournament in convincing fashion.   It was a total team effort, led by the likes of Tanner Poole, Clayton Smith, Declan Scansen, Cade Walker, Taylor Peel and Ethan Price.  Mason Hoke and Weston Stephens also won the Anglers of the Year Title as well.

We then rolled into the State Championship in 2017, which was held on Ray Roberts North of Dallas.  Not exactly in our wheel house, but we had 8 Teams which had qualified, and they possessed the 3 D’s, Drive, Determination, & Dedication.  They knew we were good, and they were going to prove it.

After the first day of competition, Derek Pietsch & Trey Dawson were in 4th place, and Mason Hoke & Weston Stephens were in 5th.  As many of you that follow the standings know, a program needs to have 3 Teams in the Top 10 to have a great chance of winning the Team Title.  It’s never a guarantee, but the possibility is extremely high if you do that.  Other than Kyle Lindberg catching the big fish of the tournament, a 10 pound whopper, the other Teams struggled, none more than the Individual Team of Dylan Dunn, and his Father and  Captain, Tommy Dunn.  You see, they had the misfortune of knocking off their lower unit the first day, and Dylan only had 2 small keepers, as they were mainly worried about getting back in.  I had already heard the bad news from another Team, so when Tommy walked up and said, “Well, I guess you heard?”  To which I then proceeded to reach into my pocket to hand him the keys to my boat.  He immediately said, “I’m not driving that Donut Boat, I don’t want to be responsible if anything goes wrong.”  I said to Tommy, “it’s just a boat with a vinyl wrap, I’m doubled insured, so please take it.’  Tommy then replied, “I just don’t feel comfortable taking your boat, so either you take him tomorrow, or we’re going to head on home.”  Knowing that Dylan was a heck of a Fisherman and Competitor, plus being a Senior fishing his last High School event, I knew our best chance to win as a program was to take him on the final day.

As we headed out the next morning, I was about to jinx myself all kinds of ways with my conversation with Dylan, so I crossed my legs under the console.  I said, “Dylan, you know that Derek and Trey, or Mason and Weston are going to win the individual title.  Heck Fire, they may end up 1st & 2nd, but what is it that we need as a program to win the State Championship as a program?”  Dylan calmly looked me in the eye with a high level of confidence and said, “Don’t worry Mr. Hooker, you get me to them, and I got this.”  It was at that moment that I knew we were going to win.

Dylan directed me as to where he wanted to start off at, and I knew the area well, as I had fished Ray Roberts several times in the past.  The conditions had changed so what Dylan was using, a Strike King Rage Toad, just wasn’t the best bait selection for the conditions, as I watched fish following and tracking Dylan’s bait, blowing it out of the water, but they just couldn’t seem to find it to eat it.  After watching this for about 30 minutes since Dylan was in my Government class and was an 18 year old Senior, I felt like I could speak to him as a young man.  I said “Dylan, are you open to suggestions?”  To which he quipped, “Yeah, I’m frustrated as heck, as they were sure biting this bait in practice.”  I let him know that I had a couple of promotional baits sent to me by Phil Marks at Strike King, which were not on the market yet. I felt we should give them a try before we left, as there was a ton of fish and bait activity in the area.  One of the baits I tied on was a new larger than normal square billed crankbait designed by Mr. Marks, and the other was a ½ ounce swim jig that was designed by Greg Hackney.  I just knew that they were going to work, but I had no idea that they were going to work that well.

I handed Dylan the monstrous sized square bill first, and I can still remember vividly the look on Dylan’s face, as he looked at me like I was from another planet.  I said “Dylan, that’s what that bait is designed to do, go through all of that visible and submerged cover that you’re fishing.  Just keep your rod tip high, and walk it through all of that stuff.”  On Dylan’s first 4 casts with this experimental bait, Dylan caught 3 keepers.  After that bite tailed off, he then picked up the swim jig, and caught 2 more keepers, putting him at a 5 fish limit.

Things had slowed down, and after fishing around for another 30 minutes with no bites, Dylan decided that it was time to try another spot.  I asked, “Where do you want to go next?” To which he replied, “I want to go towards the Marina with the Tire Reefs outside of it.”  In my mind I was thinking, that’s an excellent choice, as he can flip the tire reefs, and swim his jig down the Styrofoam in the marina.  To my surprise, when we were getting close to the Marina, Dylan yelled, “No, No, to the right.”  I was like “Dylan, it’s shallow as heck over there,” so I shut down the big motor and we were still gliding and what happened next, I still wouldn’t believe it unless I saw it with my own eyes.  Dylan jumped up on the front deck and fired a perfect missile shot with the swim jig to the first lay down log that he saw.  When I say shallow, the logs were almost laying out of the water.  Dylan’s cast landed perfectly 2 feet passed the lay down, and when Dylan make two cranks on his reel, I saw his rod bow up, he set the hook into a monstrous bass that came out of the water, gills flaring, me still in disbelief.  I immediately was pushing for the power poles to go down, and was fumbling around looking for the net when Dylan had this behemoth up alongside of the boat, so I just reached both hands out to scoop her up, and just in one move swooped her up in the boat.  Of course, when she hit the deck the jig popped out, so I immediately pounced on her to secure Dylan’s catch.  As I was putting her in the live well, I kept yelling at Dylan, “Don’t make another cast until I cull, as that’s against the rules.”  Dylan was a little wide eyed as was I, and he kept on asking, “How big is she?”  To which I responded as I had culled out the smallest bass in the live well, “just keep fishing Dylan, just keep fishing, we’ll sort all of that out at the weigh in.”  I had weighed her, and she was just over 7 pounds, which was able to cull Dylan’s limit up by 6 pounds.

Dylan did just that, catching two more off of lay down logs that culled two of the smaller fish from earlier that morning.  That bite then fizzled out, where Dylan hadn’t gotten a bite in over an hour.  I then said to him, “Dylan, I think with as many fish were in that first area, that we should give it a look the last hour of the tournament.”  He concurred, and then did the inconceivable, and culled up 4 times in the last hour of the tournament, culling every fish except for the big one he caught off that log.

When we left for weigh-in I was super happy for Dylan, as he had bounced back, and was going to weigh a really nice sack of fish for his last High School tournament.  Which he did, weighing the biggest 5 fish limit of the 2nd day, and shooting way up the leaderboard to 18th place overall for the two days.  As I had hoped, one of our other top Teams in Derek & Trey won the event as an individual team.  Mason and Weston moved up to 4th, and to my disbelief, our top three teams amassed a total weight for the 2 day State Championship of over 82 pounds, narrowly outdistancing Allen High School for the State Championship on their Home Lake.  Let’s just say that the ride back to Montgomery was the best ride home I’ve ever had.

The following season, 2017-18, Mrs. Luedke and I looked at our roster, and even though we were losing such standouts to the program such as Clint Davis, Jordan Swaim, Dylan Dunn, Justin Faterkowski, Mason McQueery, plus Dillon Collins and Josh Stanley to graduation, we felt like we were going to have an excellent chance to repeat as State Champions.  We had also swelled to 84 members in the program, and we were stacked with an excellent mixture of Seniors and young Anglers.  So much so, that we were very excited for the upcoming season.

The Team plowed through the Divisional season, claiming another THSBA Houston Division Crown.  They then rolled into the Regional Championship where we were led by Dylan Winders and Zach Thompson, as well as the usual suspects in Derek Pietsch, Trey Dawson, Mason Hoke, Weston Stephens, along with Freshman Zach Hird.  Also in the mix was Tyler Brakefield and Dylan Edwards, captained by Volunteer Captain Danny Ferraro.  Basically, this Team ran away with the Regional Title, winning by an astonishing 11 pounds over our closest competitor.  This would be akin to winning a baseball game by 11 runs, that’s how dominant this team was.

Next stop for us was the State Championship at Sam Rayburn.  We were in a perfect position to repeat as State Champs, as after day one we were sitting in first place by 5.94 pounds.  We just ran into a buzz saw named Lindale High School on the second day, and they leapt over the entire field, winning the State Championship, as we fell to 3rd, despite the Team doing everything they could to repeat as State Champions.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

However, this was the year that the Team of Cole Williamson and Bryce Linscomb captained by Steve Keating made the Catch of a Lifetime, saving a man’s life.  This trio were heading across a big and nasty Lake Livingston with 3 to 4 foot swells on September 30th 2017, when Williamson yelled to Mr. Keating, “I saw a body back there.”  Mr. Keating immediately turned the boat around to find a man clinging to life on a bucket, as his boat had capsized and sank.  The trio plucked the distressed man out of the water, called for EMS, and delivered him safely to the shore, most likely saving this man’s life.  This was definitely the highlight of the 2017-18 season, if not for the entirety of the Program’s 10 year history.

As with the circle of life, we also felt the heartbreak of losing one of our own in the summer of 2018.  Just a month after graduating from MHS, Keaton Bussell was involved in a horrific fatal traffic accident on Highway 105.  I was fortunate to have Keaton and his partner Ryan Brock in my Government Class their Senior year.  Keaton and Brock were like two peas in a pod, with Keaton being a singular young man, a standout in the Classroom, Football Field, as well as on the Lake.  His legacy continues on through the Keaton Bussell Memorial Scholarship Fund, where young men and women from both Montgomery & Lake Creek High Schools can be bestowed this scholarship, to help continue their Academic ventures in both college or trade school.  There’s not a day that goes by that I do not think of his wry smile, and the engaging way he had about him.  Every time I think of him, I revert back to one of the life lessons that I ask all of my students incorporate into their lives, “Carpe Diem.”  Keaton certainly personified this teaching, seizing each day, he is missed.

The 2018-19 campaign saw Lake Creek High School anglers joining with Montgomery High, to form the MISD Fishing Team, as this was allowed by the THSBA.  Mrs. Luedke was over at Montgomery High, and I was at Lake Creek.  This was also the first year that we saw the total number of students exceed 90 in the program, as we had a combined squad of 94 students that year.

Standouts from that 2018-19 squad were Carson Rennell and Dallin Turner, whom I affectionately called “Turner & Hooch.”  We also had newcomers such as Logan Beverung, Will Collora, Brayden Miller, Jack Middlebrook, Sofy Hartman, Garrett Peel, Mason Jones, and Jake Hird joining his brother Zach, to form the original fishing firm of Hird & Hird.  This coupled with established Team Members such as Mason Hoke, Tyler Funderburg, Taylor Peel, Tanner Poole, Clayton Smith, and Dylan Winders, we felt that this was a balanced squad of new talent, as well as proven veterans.

However, this was also the only Season in Ten years that we did not claim the Title of Houston Division Champions, finishing 2nd in a 46 School Division to a stacked Huffman-Hargrave squad.  Huffman earned this Title, and we had nothing but admiration and respect for them toppling us, but it did fuel the fires for the next season.

The 2019-2020 Season began the era of Fallon Clepper and Wyatt Ford.  These Freshmen Phenom’s and Anglers of the Year for 2019-20 were joined by other Freshmen standouts such as Dallas Copeland, Evan Franks, Colby Gelske, Jessie Horton, Kaden Harmann, Conner Callihan, Jack Haag, Beau Massey, and Wyatt Lanier.  We also had a strong contingent of proven veterans of the team in Cote Derossett, Jeremy Humrich, John Franks, Christopher Kinney, Tyler Funderburg, Hayden Bither, Virgil Benner, Mason Jones, Garrett Peel, Tanner Peel, Tanner Poole, and of course, “Turner & Hooch.” Basically, you get the drift, this Team was stacked.  They won the Houston Division handily, but unfortunately everyone’s season was abruptly halted by that curse…COVID-19, so there was no regional or State Championship that year.

We had a bunch of returnees for the 2020-2021 campaign, defending Anglers of the Year Fallon Clepper & Wyatt Ford, Logan Beverung, Hayden Bither, James Hooten, Tyler & Colby Gelske, the fishing firm of Hird & Hird, as well as “Turner & Hooch.”   We also had the arrival of a phenomenal fisherman in Cade Lipham, a move-in from Conroe.  This Team was special, as they were the first Montgomery Team to ever win all 5 Divisional events.  For that matter, this was the first time that any school in the Houston Division won all 5 Divisional events.  After earning another THSBA Houston Division Crown, the team focused on Regionals at Lake Palestine, which they won handily.  This effort was led by Will Collora and Brayden Miller, as they won the event as an individual team.  It was a total domination that we hadn’t seen since 2018.  This Team felt different, as their intensity was on a totally different level, as they had the opportunity to make History, by being the only Team in the History of the THSBA, to win all 7 events they fished in, and earn the “Trifecta,” winning the Division, Regionals, as well as State.

We rolled into the State Championship with 8 Individual Teams that had earned the right to be there.  After the first day of competition, MISD was in 2nd, less than one pound off the lead to prohibited favorite Allen High School.  As many of you readers know, Allen High School is the largest secondary school in the state of Texas, and called Lake Texoma one of their home lakes, as Allen High School is located North of Ray Roberts, and South of Texoma.

If you recall, in 2017, it was Allen High School that we edged out for the 2017 State Title.  So, confidence was high with this group as we rolled into the second day of competition.  Unfortunately, Allen High School proved too strong this time around, and exacted their measure of revenge, by winning the State Title in 2021.  What a great year though, with the combined squad winning the Houston Division by winning all 5 Divisional Tournaments, something that had never been done, claiming another Regional Championship, and being the State Runners Up.  The cherry on top was having Cade Lipham claiming the Angler of the Year for the Houston Division, and James Hooten earning the distinction of being a 4 time State Qualifier.

2021-2022 was shaping up to be a good year for the Team.  We had many returnees, as well as a new batch of Freshmen at both campuses.  The Team took care of business during the Divisional Season, winning another THSBA Houston Divisional Title, qualifying 19 Teams to go to the Regional event at Lake Travis.  At Travis, the Team did not win the event, but did have 6 Individual Teams qualify to go to the State Championship at Lake Belton.  This tournament did not go as planned for the Program, but the young men and women represented the community of Montgomery in a positive light.

However, there were several highlights for the 2021-2022 campaign.  First, Cade Lipham repeated as the Angler of the Year for the Houston Division.  He also received a scholarship to fish in college for Drury University in Springfield Missouri, where he is still competing, and well on his way to earning his Bachelor’s Degree.  We also had Fallon Clepper and Wyatt Ford accomplish the unfathomable feat of being the first Individual Team from Montgomery to win both the TBF State & National Championships.  They were also the first and only co-ed team in the 15 year history of the TBF to do so.

The Team from 2022-2023 was definitely a special one.  This Team had the benefit of Senior Leadership, which were a very talented bunch.  In fact, these Seniors comprised 6 of the 7 Teams that qualified for the State Championship that Season.  This class of students won the Houston Division all 4 years of their High School careers.  They also brought back two Regional Crowns in both 2021 & 2023.  They were ever so close to winning another State Championship both of those seasons, coming in 2nd in two out of the four years they competed.  Finishing in 2nd in 2021, as well as 2023.  They were led by Junior Curtis McCauley and his Senior partner Nate Milner, who were the Houston Division Anglers of the Year for 2022-23, as well as our newest fishing firm of Scogin & Scogin, cousins Brad and Lucas.

Another highlight for this year was the signing of another Student/Angler from our program to a very large scholarship to compete in college.  Wyatt Ford had a highly successful career individually for the Team, in which he was an integral part of the success of the program.  This allowed him the opportunity to sign with one of, if not the most premier colleges for Bass Fishing, the University of Montevallo in Alabama.  We also had Reece Findley & Wyatt Ford win the TBF State Championship this year earning a spot in the TBF-SAF National Championship.  Others earning spots in the National Championship were, Blayne Beall, Aidan Castro, Jackson Wilkerson, Jack Haag, and our fabulous female angler Fallon Clepper.

For the 2023-2024 campaign, I remember sitting down with the Co-Sponsor of the Team Mrs. Toni Luedke, not knowing what to expect as we had graduated so many great student/anglers in 2023.  Man did this 23-24 Team not disappoint, taking the tradition of excellence of this program very seriously, winning the Houston Division by a whopping 11 points.

After the dust of the Divisional Season settled, we had 19 Teams that qualified for the Regional Championship at Lake Limestone.  From there, we had 3 Teams that advanced to the State Championship at Lake Palestine.  They were the 2023-24 Anglers of the Year Case Rutherford & Maverick Barsh, Jacob Riley & Brenner Kirklin, Colton Hatzold & Jett Moore.  Out of 114 Schools present, this trio of teams finished up 24th.  Not the finish they were hoping for, but lessons were learned, and a strong nucleus of Anglers will be returning for the 2024-25 season.  So, just like the 80’s Pop Band Timbuk 3 sang in their song, which really relates to the MISD Fishing Team, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

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