Thursday, March 23, 2023

Bartonville school dominates the gridiron

The Harvest Christian Academy football team is proof that great things come in small packages.

The private school that meets at Lantana Community Church in Bartonville has produced one of the top Texas Christian Athletic Fellowship football programs in the state in its two-year existence and is attempting to pull off something extremely rare in the realm of high school sports—two state championships in its first two years of varsity competition.

The Saints went 11-1 in their inaugural season in 2020, and coach Dustin Tarpley said being the reigning state champion comes with its challenges.

“Going into this football season, knowing we are defending our state championship from last year and having all of our starters returning, we’d have a target on our back,” Tarpley said. “Our boys have continued to answer the call when knowing each team is giving us their best trying to knock off the defending state champs.”

Harvest Christian is currently 8-1 this season and poised for another playoff berth, and Tarpley said there are a couple of reasons that the Saints have won so many games in its first two years.

“I would say the reason for our early success is just how fast this group has come together and come to understand the game of six-man,” Tarpley said. “That, and believing in what we are coaching here at Harvest.”

It doesn’t hurt to have a couple of standout performers, either.

“We have a handful of athletes that we are blessed to have, not just because they are super talented, but because they are great young men,” Tarpley said. “Ethan Bishop is our junior quarterback who is super athletic, very difficult to tackle in space and can throw a ball 50-plus yards downfield on a dime. Our senior leader, Tristin Stephens, has been our enforcer on the defensive side of the ball in the middle of the field. He is also a huge impact on offense as our running back.

“We have our utility player, Jaibryan Broussard who is a junior and is so fun to watch play on both sides of the ball. Whether it be running the ball, catching a ball down field or making an interception on defense, when the ball is in his hands, good things happen.”

Tarpley added that the Saints “have so many other athletes that I could talk about that make such an impact on our team—these young men really make us go as a team.”

Tarpley said his coaching philosophy is one of “understanding our why.”

“It’s knowing that we are serving God always,” Tarpley said. “Plugging our Christian Faith in as much as we possibly can.”

Harvest Christian will host Cornerstone Christian Academy at 7 p.m. on Friday in its regular season finale.

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