Antayvious Ellis, Brandon Ford headline the new era at Crowley

Marshall Gardner

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

Matthew McHugh’s first mission upon accepting the Crowley offensive coordinator job last March was visiting Allie Middle School. There was an eighth-grader with three Division I offers he had to meet.

It’d been a whirlwind two years for Antayvious Ellis. At 10, he was a backup offensive lineman. His football trajectory skyrocketed when he moved to wide receiver in seventh grade. The offensive guard had a sub-11 second 100m dash.

“You can’t coach speed,” Ellis said. “That was just a God-given gift that I had.”

After winning the district’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, Ellis’s goals have evolved from getting in the game to becoming the first five-star prospect out of Crowley. His offer list had expanded to include programs like SMU, Oklahoma and Nebraska. 

“Being a freshman, you’d think he’d come not knowing the plays and trying to goof around a lot,” quarterback Caleb Williams said. “But he’s actually locked in and serious. He actually wants it.”

But he’s not the only athlete seeking five-star status. That’s why Crowley’s practices are so damn intense.

Ellis competes daily with sophomore cornerback Brandon Ford, who has 10 Division I offers. The freshman aced the adjustment to Varsity football because opponents didn’t have Ford. His toughest competition usually came on Tuesday, not Friday.

“You forget how young they both are, just a freshman and a sophomore, because their battles are like two veterans on the field who’ve been playing 1,000 snaps,” McHugh said.

Ford finished the year with just 17 tackles but earned First Team All-District honors because his impact is measured in the lack of statistics. 

“People don’t go to his side,” head coach Carlos Lynn said.

McHugh will attempt to test him during a team session, but it usually doesn’t go well. Ford once intercepted a zero-yard wide receiver screen, a feat so ludicrous McHugh started laughing. 

“In my head, I think, ‘He’s not going to be open,’” Ford said. “It’s a mindset thing.”

Ellis and Ford were only part of Crowley’s youth movement last season. Just one member of the offensive coaching staff was over 30 years old. But the 7–4 record in Lynn’s first season, the best mark since 2019, signals a new energy for the program. Now they’re chasing crosstown rival North Crowley, undefeated in the district the previous two years, and seeking the school’s first-ever trip to the third round of the playoffs.

“We sold them a dream,” McHugh said. “We came in and told them what they were going to be able to do, even though they hadn’t seen that kind of success before.”

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In
Don't Miss Any Exclusive Coverage!

We've been the Bible of Texas football fans for 64 years. By joining the DCTF family you'll gain access to all of our exclusive content and have our magazines mailed to you!