Anthony Criss doesn’t hear from star receiver Darrion Flowers very much. Sam Houston’s football coach can only think of one time when he has heard the junior scream on the football field.
“He’s quiet,” Criss said. “Most of the time all he gives you is a shake of the head or a smile.”
Flowers keeps quiet and lets his feet do the talking. Earlier this month, Flowers won the 100 meter relay at the 5A boys state track meet in Austin with a time of 10.39 seconds. Now, he’s wearing football pads after school preparing to try to lead the Texans football team to the playoffs in the fall.
“He’s always onto the next thing,” Criss said. “He won the 100 meters and was like, ‘Coach, are we having spring ball Monday?’ ”
He’s poised to spend plenty of time running races and running routes this summer. His time in the 10.3s has qualified Flowers to run in major national races in New Mexico, California and elsewhere, including Junior Olympics tryouts.
“He needs to partake in these things,” said Criss, who previously coached a similar two-sport track and football star, DeMario Wesley, at Fort Worth Dunbar. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal.”
Criss has no doubt Flowers will continue to blossom this summer as a big-play wide receiver. He knows Flowers will catch plenty of passes from Texans quarterback and fellow soon-to-be-senior Ervin Hill. “He’s really worked on the craft of catching the ball,” Criss said.
Flowers is already quite the master craftsman. Last fall, he scored 14 total touchdowns (eight receiving, five rushing and one in the return game) and five of those covered 80 or more yards.
Perhaps no one has a better handle on Flowers’ fast-twitch talents than Sam Houston boys track coach Sam Bell. He also serves as Criss’ defensive line coach. So, on the track he wants to unlock Flowers’ potential and on the football field he wants his defensive players to try to slow down Flowers and his fellow offensive skill players.
The slowing him down part can be an exercise in futility. “Once he turns upfield, he’s gone,” Bell said of Flowers. “He has so much speed.”
He’s put that speed to good use on the track this spring. Flowers didn’t run the 100 in major meets last season, but Bell knew he could be one of the fastest in the state and the entire nation in the event this season. “We figured this would his year,” Bell said.
His year got off to a fast start. Flowers finished third in the vaunted Texas Relays. He competed in other events than the 100 but got back to his best event in time for the District 3-5A meet. Flowers won the 100 at district and then finished first in the area and regional meets.
He continued his winning streak at state, but it wasn’t easy. He finished in a virtual dead heat with Malcom White of Katy Taylor. It was no small feat considering Flowers’ rocky start. “He kind of scared the coaches because he was the last one out of the blocks,” Bell said.
It took a video review to confirm that Flowers had beaten White by mere thousandths of a second. From Bell’s vantage point during the race, he thought Flowers had won it. But he was glad when the review supported what his eyes saw.
“He has a God-given talent,” Bell said. “He does have speed.”