Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas is the first recipient of the first National Football Foundation (NFF) National High School Academic Excellence Award which recognizes the top individual high school football team in the nation for excellence in the classroom.
Cypress Woods was chosen as one of 62 finalist teams for the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award. The finalists were all selected as the top academic winners in each gaming division across 13 states.
“The NFF is proud to present the inaugural NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award to Cypress Woods High School,” said NFF President Archie Manning. “All of the players, coaches, school administrators and their families should all be incredibly proud of the team’s accomplishments. We hope that by inspiring teams to compete in the classroom with the same competitive spirit it takes to win on the field, we will better prepare high school football players to succeed later in life.
Cypress Woods and the other finalists in each game division were selected by individual state high school coaching associations from a pool of nominees submitted by each school’s head coach. A selection committee, created by the NFF, was responsible for choosing the recipient of the National High School Academic Excellence Award.
Chosen by the Texas High School Coaches Association as the state’s 6A academic winner and led by freshman head coach Cody Simper, the 2021 Cypress Woods football team boasted an impressive cumulative GPA of 3.9.
“Our team motto is ‘Effort and tenacity require no talent,’ Coach Simper said in the team nomination form. “Our guys apply this concept of courage to all aspects of their lives.As student-athletes, they compete daily in the classroom environment with some of the best college students in the country.
The Wildcats had 50 varsity selections in all districts and 15 varsity winners in all states, including four players who received first-team laurels. A total of 51 of the team’s 67 players have been named to the honor roll while 56 players have taken AP or honors courses.
“Cypress Woods’ football program exemplifies the culture of our student athletic programs on our campus,” Cypress Woods principal Gary Kinninger said in the team’s nomination form. “Our athletes, first and foremost, take care of business in the classroom. The program is guided by the 212 spirit – pushing you that little bit further to reach your full academic potential and, as a result, experience far greater success in all aspects of their lives.
On the court, Cypress Woods reached the bi-district round of the 2021 Texas Class 6A Division I Football Playoffs. The Wildcats fielded 21 players from all districts, including four first-team selections, eight second-team winners team and nine honorable mention picks.
Cypress Woods football student-athletes are also active in the community, mentoring many college athletes, volunteering with the Special Olympics and the Houston Food Bank, and participating in service projects with the Young Men’s Service League. The team also held Christmas toy drives, collected canned goods for the local pantry, and held a Hurricane Ida relief drive.
The NFF announced the creation of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award in February 2021, with the Nebraska and Texas high school coaching associations leading the initial effort. The initiative is designed to inspire and foster a culture of academic excellence in high school football teams across the country.
Eligibility requirements for the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award include:
- A minimum cumulative team GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
- Superior academic application and performance.
- Successful football season.
The NFF presents the award in cooperation with the College Football Hall of Fame.