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Anna’s offense has it soaring toward a state championship as 4A title window closes

Anna has more than doubled its enrollment over the last decade and could move up to Class 5A in the UIL’s next realignment in 2024.

Anna coach Seth Parr spent a lot of money to learn the Air Raid offense.

“I spent about $5,000 going to clinics,” he said. “Now I’m just trying to convince my wife that was money well spent.”

After being a Wing-T quarterback while growing up in Lubbock, Parr wanted a drastic change when he became a coach and became enamored with an uptempo, pass-heavy offense that uses four-wide receiver sets to spread out the defense. He met with a pair of Air Raid pioneers to learn the intricacies of a scheme that helped change the landscape of college football over the last 25 years.

“I’ve always been intrigued by it, read about it,” Parr said. “We got hooked up with Hal Mumme, who coached at New Mexico State. We got to go visit him, and then being close to Lubbock, with Mike Leach there, we went down there and learned it and copied it. We went to Texas Tech practices all the time.”

The Air Raid has taken off at the high school level as well, and it has helped Anna make its deepest playoff run in school history and has one of the state’s fastest-growing schools in the hunt to win an unlikely state championship. With an offense that averages 45.1 points and 316.5 passing yards per game, Anna (13-0) will play China Spring (12-1) — last year’s Class 4A Division II state champion — in the 4A Division I Region II final at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Crowley ISD Sports Complex.

This is an Anna program that had never been past the second round of the playoffs and had never won more than 10 games in a season. Before Parr took over as head coach last year, Anna hadn’t won more than six games in a season since 2002, and it had a losing record in 11 of the 17 seasons from 2004 to 2020.

“We’ve got great coaches. They came in and really changed everything,” said junior linebacker CJ Miller, who leads Anna with 154 tackles. “From Day 1, the mission has been a state championship. What impressed me about Coach Parr is that he came in and taught everybody that just because you used to be a bad program doesn’t mean you always have to be bad. Things can change. Nobody really thought we could do it, but he saw what we had, and he knew we could be really good.”

Anna’s Jacob Emmers (11) runs upfield past Kaufman’s Julian Pros (13) in the first half...
Anna’s Jacob Emmers (11) runs upfield past Kaufman’s Julian Pros (13) in the first half during a high school football game, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 in Anna, Texas.(MATT STRASEN / Special Contributor)

After going 7-3 and missing the playoffs last year, Anna opened this season with a victory against Decatur — a team the Coyotes could face again in the state semifinals — and then Anna used an 86-yard hook-and-ladder touchdown on the final play of the game to miraculously beat Aubrey 39-34 in Week 2. Anna owns a regular-season win and a regional semifinal win over eight-time state champion Celina — a school it hadn’t beaten since 1972 — and Anna beat defending 4A Division I state champion Stephenville 33-32 in the second round of the playoffs.

“I think we’ve played the toughest schedule in the state,” said Parr, whose team won its first district title since 1981.

Anna’s window to win a state title in 4A is closing quickly.

The school has more than doubled its enrollment over the last decade, going from 578 in 2012 to 1,216 in 2022, and Parr expects Anna will move up to 5A in the UIL’s next realignment in 2024. Anna opened a new multi-purpose activity center this year that includes a 60-yard indoor practice field, and the town is expected to get so big that Anna ISD is looking to open a second high school in the 2027-28 school year.

Anna High School quarterback Evan Bullock (10) throws a pass during a Class 4A bi-district...
Anna High School quarterback Evan Bullock (10) throws a pass during a Class 4A bi-district playoff game at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney on Friday night, November 11, 2022. (Stewart F. House / Special Contributor)

Parr came to Anna from Lubbock Coronado, where his Air Raid offense helped Mississippi State signee Sawyer Robertson become the 2020 Gatorade state player of the year and amass the ninth-most career passing yards in state history. This year, Parr had a new quarterback who had never started a varsity game, but Evan Bullock has thrown for 4,014 yards and 56 touchdowns and ranks 14th in the nation in passing yards among schools that have reported their statistics to MaxPreps.

Bullock started his high school career at five-time state champion Allen, the state’s largest high school, but the three-star recruit threw only one pass last year while backing up four-star quarterback Michael Hawkins. Hawkins returned this year, but family reasons prompted Bullock to leave a school that averaged nearly 13 wins per season from 2006 to 2021.

Bullock transferred to Anna — a school with nearly 6,000 fewer students and 20 miles away — even though his mother, Robin Bullock, is the superintendent for Allen ISD. The 6-4, 210-pound senior joined a school that had won two playoff games in its history, according to the website Texas High School Football History.

“It is a little weird, but now that I’m here, I’m just focused on everything in this town and this community,” Bullock said. “Leaving behind friends was definitely difficult, but it’s been a good transition. I still live pretty close, so it wasn’t too big of a deal.”

Bullock committed to Louisiana Tech in June, two months before making his first varsity start. After throwing for more than 300 yards seven times, and after seven games with five or more touchdown passes, Bullock has been hearing from other colleges.

Anna High School wide receiver Jonathan Brown (88) is held by Panther Creek High School...
Anna High School wide receiver Jonathan Brown (88) is held by Panther Creek High School linebacker Thai Williams (30) during the first half of a Class 4A bi-district playoff game at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney on Friday night, November 11, 2022. (Stewart F. House / Special Contributor)

“There is definitely interest,” he said. “People talk to me, but nothing too serious right now. I’m definitely committed to Louisiana Tech, but we’ll just see what happens up until signing day.”

The Air Raid has given Bullock plenty of weapons, as wide receivers Jacob Emmers, Jonathan Brown and Sean Steens have combined for 213 catches for 3,285 yards and 44 touchdowns, and four-star running back Jambres Dubar has rushed for 1,523 yards and 18 touchdowns. Dubar left last week’s 27-24 victory over Celina with an injury, but Parr said the Boise State pledge is expected to play against a China Spring team that has won eight in a row since a 24-16 loss to TAPPS Division I state finalist Parish Episcopal.

Don’t expect Anna to be intimidated by an opponent that is playing in a regional final for a third straight season and for the fifth time in eight years.

“They will be a good team, but we’ve just got to go out there and execute. We believe we can beat anyone, and we can only stop ourselves,” Bullock said.

On Twitter: @DMNGregRiddle

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