After more than three decades of coaching—becoming the winningest high school football coach in Texas with more than 400 career victories—Calallen coach Phil Danaher isn’t easily rattled.
With the Wildcats (10-1) set to take on Alamo Heights (8-3) in a 5A-2 Region IV playoff game at a neutral site on the day after Thanksgiving, this week will be no exception.
“It’ll be two good teams matched up against one another and we’ll be looking to do the same things we’ve done all season,” Danaher told Texas Scorecard. “I’ve always believed you don’t change what you’ve done all year at this point in the season.”
Danaher may have even more cause for standing by his philosophy this season with senior tailback A.J. Brown in his backfield.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound speedster, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons on the varsity squad, has set the tone for the Wildcats all season.
Going into the Alamo Heights game, he’s amassed 1,476 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns, 26 of them on the ground. Overall, Brown averages 134 rushing yards a game rushing and 151 yards from scrimmage.
“He’s our top runner and very important to what we do,” Danaher said. “He’s excellent at making yards after contact, doesn’t go down easily and has great peripheral vision. We’ve always had good backs and he’s right there among them.”
The Wildcats face off against Alamo having won eight straight, averaging 51 points a game over the streak. In their most recent 49-0 win over Valley View, Brown rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats’ only setback of the season came in a 28-23 loss against Flour Bluff in Week 2 of the season.
Danaher said his team was a different squad from the one that suffered the loss.
“Back then we were still dealing with having lost 20 starters from the year before,” he said. “That was the time to catch us because our young kids have gotten better with each week. We’ve built our offensive line and our defense since then. Our teams usually…get better as the season goes along. Our motto is you never want to be peaking too early.”