School Spotlight: Vandegrift High School (Austin, Texas)

Vandegrift High School is a 6A, Division 1 High School in Austin, Texas. They are led by longtime Head Coach, Drew Sanders. Coach Sanders is the only coach that the Vipers have ever known, taking over as head coach in 2008 when the school started their football program. He has built them from a program that had to lift weights at a neighboring school, to a Texas High School Football powerhouse. The Vipers went 10-1 in the regular season and posted an undefeated 7-0 in-district record. This led Vandergrift to being first in their district, and giving them a playoff berth. In 2022, Coach Sanders brought the Vipers to their first ever Texas State Championship. Sadly they lost to Desoto 42-17, but that only fuels their fire to compete. Vandegrift was quarterbacked by class of 2024 signal caller, and Louisville commit, Deuce Adams. Adam’s put up video game numbers this season, gaining 2,128 yards in the air along with 27 passing touchdowns. He proved the air isn’t the only place he can find success, as he gained 221 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Adams has a cannon for an arm, and a very high football IQ. He knows who to throw the ball to and where to put it. This is evident by the fact he only threw a single interception the entire season. Adam’s had a special connection with class of 2024 wide receiver, and UNT commit, Miles Coleman. Coleman broke the 1000 yard mark with 1,014 total receiving yards, and posted 14 receiving touchdowns for the year. Coleman is a very shifty receiver that shows unrivaled toughness. He regularly breaks tackles and makes defenders look foolish. Coleman has blazing speed, running the 100 meter dash in 10.5 seconds. Agility is another key attribute to his game. Coleman runs the three cone shuttle at an insane pace of 3.9 seconds. He has no wasted movements and is truly an all around receiver. Brendan Fournier was the Vipers leading rusher this year with 665 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. He is a very aggressive runner and shows his grit on every play. Fournier was a Unanimous 1st Team All District pick this year. He is very strong, and you can find the proof of this in the weight room. As a member of the 2025 class, Fournier can bench press 300 lbs and squat 465 lbs. He is a very special player with more time to develop next year, so keep your eye out for him. Offense isn’t the only positive attribute that the Vipers have, as their defense is stellar. Class of 2024 outside linebacker Diego De La Vera Vasquez had 55 total tackles this season, with 13 of them being for a loss. He was an anchor on the defense alongside class of 2025 defensive end, Daeshon Morgan. Morgan led the team in sacks this season with 6 that totaled for 33 yards lost. Morgan is a space eater on the line and can get into the backfield with ease. He already holds 7 college offers including Arizona, California, Texas Tech, and many more. I would not be surprised if he had a breakout season next year and added a few more names to that list. The Vipers feel like they are fully reloaded and ready for next season, and I fully agree. When making Texas State Championship predictions this year, don’t leave Vandergrift out of the conversation. I did a Q&A with Coach Sanders recently that you can find below.

Head Coach Drew Sanders patrolling the sidelines

What are some core values that build successful teams?

Our core values are what we call our hallmarks. They are discipline, effort, toughness, and honor. Those are four things that regardless of talent level for the year, that we want people to see in us when we step on the field. We want it to be known that our kids play with great discipline, they play with great effort, and that we are always tough in everything that we do. We are mentally and physically tough, as well as men with honor that do things right. Those are the four things that we base our entire program on. Those things carry us through anything we face during the season, and throughout life.
Vandegrift quarterback Deuce Adams

Would you consider yourself a more offensive, defensive, or balanced coach?

I am definitely more of a defense based head coach. That’s what I have been doing, I have called the defensive plays for the past 20 seasons and been the head coach for 19. If you are a good defense coach, you know offense. That being said, I have learned a lot of offense and about what makes them tick. We also heavily value special teams here at Vandegrift so we also try and play great special teams. You cannot win any type of championship without those.
Vandegrift running back Brendan Fournier shedding defenders

What traits do you look for when evaluating players and setting depth charts?

You are evaluating every aspect of the young man before you trust to put him in the game and make plays for your team. We start with character, work ethic, football IQ, as well as the physical attributes that you always look at. You want players that are fast and explosive and strong. Each position has its own merits. We’ve had plenty of players at Vandegrift that may have not been the fastest or strongest, but they were smart and knew where to do. They were physical and tough and through that, they found a way to be a starter. There are alot of paths to being effective on the football field, you don’t have to be a 3 or 4 star recruit.
Vandegrift wide receiver Miles Coleman reaching out for a reception

A decent amount of the team is graduating. How do you think the team is going to look next year, and how do you expect returning players to plug in the holes?

When you build a program, that program should sustain you. Regardless of if we graduate 50 seniors or 30 seniors, the program should sustain part of that. I believe that we have a program now, it’s not just a football team. That means kids are preparing, coming up and are ready for their chance. We have always been senior heavy at Vandegrift. The year before we went to the State Championship, we graduate 9 on defense, last year we graduated 8. It takes a little bit to play at a good 6A school in Texas, we have tons of juniors on our JV. Many programs worry about the amount of graduating seniors, but that’s not a problem we have over here. Our JV went undefeated for the third year in a row. Our freshman won district for 7 out of the last 8 years. We have talent, and we have kids that understand the way. You want to see kids step up always, but I have no doubt this next group is going to step in the shoes and be ready to go.
Vandegrift defensive end Daeshon Morgan (right)

How is the team learning from the most recent loss against Lake Travis in the playoffs?

It was definitely a tough loss against a very quality opponent. Any loss is tough, but especially in the first round of the playoffs. We hadn’t done that in the history of our school. Obviously Lake Travis is a quality opponent but you have to learn every mistake. That’s what every loss is, an opportunity to learn. We understand it is important to have great competition pre-district, which was affected by a 9 team district this year. Our starters not playing in several full games hurt our conditioning. There were about 8 or 9 games that our starters didn’t fully play, so we will definitely work on our conditioning. At the same time, we got to improve all things that regular football teams need to improve. We didn’t make the catches we needed to make, we didn’t make some of the plays we needed to make. It was a tight game of two great teams going at it, it was a fourth of fifth round game in the first. Unfortunately, they kicked the field goal with time expiring and that’s just the way it goes sometimes. We’ll take this year as its own, and just push forward.
Vandegrift outside linebacker Diego De La Vera Vazquez winning player of the week

Why is Texas High School Football better than the rest of the nation?

I think there is talent in every state. I also think that if the top 4 teams from California play the top 4 teams in Texas, I’m not sure who would win. I think if the top 25 teams from California play the top 25 teams in Texas, Texas would win. That goes for any other state too. I think the depth is there in Texas. There are so many great teams in Texas that do such a great job with great players. The athletic period is a big reason. We have it built into the school day and the Texas High School Football Coaches Association made sure that happened. We have good public schools here and every school has football during the school day. It is part of the curriculum and that’s one of the reasons Texas is consistently strong.