A pair of New Waverly football standouts are ready to take their game to the next level.
Bulldog seniors Jacob Abraham and Kaden Hammack recently signed letters of intent to play college football. Abraham is staying close to home, committing to Lamar University in Beaumont, while Hammack is headed to St. Paul, Minnesota to play outside linebacker for Hamline University.
“It's very rewarding,” New Waverly head coach Dean Schuab said. “Such a small percentage of kids get to play after high school, and just getting to be a part of those guys continuing on with the success they've had makes you feel good. You see they deserve it because they've put in the work.”
Abraham, a four-year contributor for the Bulldogs, is coming off a 2019 season in which he earned first-team all-District 12-3A, Division II honors at center. He ultimately chose the Cardinals over East Texas Baptist, and points to their early interest in him as a major reason why.
“They were on the table for me since the start of my senior year,” Abraham said. “They've been interested in me, so why not? They have a beautiful campus, their coaching staff is great and they have rebuilt their football program. I wanted to continue my learning and play football while I do it, and Lamar gave me the best choice to do that.”
“Jacob has been the anchor on the offensive line,” Schaub added. “He's been a leader ... and a lot of defenses have had to plan on how to stop our center. He's country strong and just a really good kid.”
Hammack arrived in New Waverly from Crosby prior to his junior season and made an instant impact on the defensive side of the ball. He missed the bulk of district play last season due to an injury, but still led the team in tackles all the way up until the season finale.
“That says a lot about the type of ability he has,” Schaub said. “I called him after he got hurt at Anderson-Shiro and promised him that wasn't the last football game he'd ever play. It wasn't hard to promise something like that because I knew he would go past high school.”
Hammack attributes a family-like atmosphere at Hamline as one of the driving forces behind his decision to play there, something he noticed immediately upon visiting campus earlier this year.
“I met all the coaches and everybody there, and it just really felt like home,” he said. “Everybody welcomed me in and I knew I wanted to go there. … You can tell that their coaches have close relationships with their players and really care about them. Just how they communicate with each other, everyone is really close and stays together.”
While their focus has shifted to the next chapter in their football journeys, Abraham and Hammack both look back fondly on their careers at New Waverly.
Following a 1-9 finish in 2018, the Bulldogs rallied to go 5-5 last season. Included in this was a four-game winning streak — the team’s longest since 2016 — that the senior duo played a key part in.
On homecoming against rival Trinity, Abraham provided the push up front for sophomore Sebastine Amaro’s game-winning quarterback sneak with eight seconds to go. Hammack then helped seal a 21-20 win at Normangee the following week, as he stopped a last-minute two-point conversion attempt — securing The Item’s Player of the Week award in the process.
“We grinded all summer after that 1-9 season,” Hammack said. “We put in the work, and to come out with a 5-5 season felt amazing — especially that win against Trinity. That was like one of those movie wins.”
While Schaub will undoubtedly miss Abraham and Hammack on the football field, he’ll also have to get used to seeing less of two individuals that feel like family to him. As far as the coach is concerned, however, it’s a win-win situation.
“Jacob and Kaden are both best friends with my sons, so they've been over to my house and eaten my food. Thankfully my food bill will be going down now that they're graduating,” Schaub joked. “They’ve spent a lot of time with my family and we've had a lot of good times together. It's almost like I get to watch two of my extended sons play college football, so I'm excited.”