TCA Eagles, coached by former Bearcat Dayton Sheridan, will ‘travel’ to Aledo for a unique non-district game
By Tony Eierdam/The Community News
From the Jan 10 issue.
The two schools are just 3.3 miles apart, and although one is in private-school TAPPS and the other in public school UIL, they are remarkably similar.
In a unique matchup in boys’ basketball, the Aledo Bearcats will host the Trinity Christian Eagles in a non-district game that will offer a homecoming for two TCA coaches, including head coach Dayton Sheridan.
Tip-off between the two East Parker County schools is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Aledo High School gym. The JV game is set for 6 p.m.
AHS and TCA share many similarities. Both have achieved high academic ratings and hold high academic standards, and although TCA is a designated “prep school,” Aledo ISD is one of the few Texas public high schools that is in fact a de facto “prep school.”
Both send roughly 99 percent of their graduates to college or the military.
The two school are also similar athletically. TCA won state in football in just its third year in 11-man football in 2018, and Aledo has won state in football in three of the last four years. TCA routinely sends athletes in individual sports to state competition and last year reached the state baseball title game.
Aledo’s success in sports other than football is also notable — to say the least — making this unique basketball matchup a sort of celebration of the successes of both schools.
While most would feel Aledo has nothing to gain and everything to lose — and TCA basically has nothing to lose being a small private school — Bearcats head coach Jamon Copeland embraces the matchup.
“We love to compete and we get excited for any game, but this one is kind of special,” Copeland said. “Coach Sheridan called us and said he was very interested in playing us — not just this year but every year — and he is an Aledo alum so I thought this would be a cool deal.
“I think this will be a great game for the community. The two schools are five minutes away from each other, and I hope we play them every year. It will be a neat deal.”
Sheridan, who has been a coach at TCA for five years and the last two as head boys’ basketball coach, has been trying to get this game together ever since he came to TCA.
“I feel like TCA and Aledo competing\against one another is a great opportunity for two prestigious schools who are only a few miles apart to come together in the spirit of some great competition,” Sheridan, who graduated from Aledo in 2009, said. “I have been at TCA for five years now and it’s something I have always wanted to do.
“It’s always been something I have pitched every year, and through the blessing of our administration I was able to reach out to Aledo Athletic Director Coach Steve Wood and Head Coach Jamon Copeland and we were able to make it happen.”
Naturally, the Eagles (12-4) are looking forward to playing their county cousins. Although the two teams do not share a common opponent, the Eagles have already beaten former Aledo district rival Granbury, and by 16 points.
“I would say, yes, it’s definitely circled on our calendar yet it’s not our priority right now,” Sheridan said. “District play for us is about to start so our priority lies in taking each game one at a time. Staying focused as a team and working together to prepare for each game as our district is very competitive is what our program is all about.”
Sheridan said he is without a doubt looking forward to his homecoming.
“Personally, for me it is a big deal, but I try not to show that emotion to my players,” he said. “Coach (Jeff) Anderson and myself want them to remain focused on the upcoming game. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a constant thought in the back of my head.
“I remember every game, every point, everything I went through at Aledo, and for me it’s like a chance to go back where it all started. To be able to go back to where you began your basketball career as a player and now a coach is something pretty special. Even more so now because I have a group of young men that work their tails off and are excited to play.”
While the Bearcats (11-9) have shown weekly progress with new head coach Copeland and have started to stir excitement among the Bearcats faithful, the Eagles have a chance to prove that smaller schools can compete with larger schools on the hardwood.
“According to my players, they themselves have been hyping the game up as much as possible,” Sheridan said. “Our TCA family is one that is always very supportive and from what they have told me they are trying to get as much of the student body in the stands as possible to represent TCA.
“They are excited and anxious for the game as a few of them and many of their fellow classmates have previously attended Aledo so like me they are looking forward to going back. It’s going to be a great night and some great competition.”
The game will also be a homecoming for former AHS point guard Colton Culberhouse, a TCA basketball assistant coach.
Said Sheridan: “Aledo 2009 alum Coach Colton Culberhouse will be helping myself and Coach Anderson coach our boys up as I know going back to where he and I played is special.”
Sheridan likes the team unity that has been established among the Eagles.
“Our team strength comes from our upperclassmen and our chemistry as a team,” Sheridan said. “In the offseason the work was put in by every player and our ‘standard’ as a basketball program is to play with effort, discipline and focus.
“We have a very versatile and athletic team where each young man compliments the other in the fact that we work as a unit, pushing one another to get better and immediately picking one another up.”
Sheridan said his father will travel from Angel Fire, New Mexico to attend the game, as well as several family members and friends.
“It’s something pretty special, and it’s going to be a great environment,” he said.