The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced that Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, Texas, has been named the inaugural recipient of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award, recognizing the top individual high school football team in the nation for excellence in the classroom.
Cypress Woods was chosen from the 62 teams that were finalists for the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award. The 62 teams were all selected as the top academic winners from each division of play in 13 states.
“The NFF is proud to present the inaugural NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award to Cypress Woods High School,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “All of the school’s players, coaches, administrators and their families should all be incredibly proud of the team’s accomplishments. We hope by inspiring teams to compete in the classroom with the same competitive spirit that it takes to win on the field, we will better prepare high school football players for success later in life.”
Cypress Woods and the other finalists from each division of play were selected by the individual states’ high school coaches 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 first year head coach Cody Simper, the 2021 Cypress Woods football team boasted an impressive 3.9 cumulative GPA.
“Our team motto is ‘Effort and Toughness Take No Talent,'” Coach Simper said in the team’s nomination form. “Our guys apply this concept of grit to all aspects of their lives. As student-athletes, they compete in the classroom environment daily with some of the top academic students in the nation.”
The Wildcats boasted 50 academic all-district selections and 15 academic all-state honorees, including four players who received first team laurels. A total of 51 of the team’s 67-man roster were named to the honor roll while 56 players took AP or honors classes.
“The Cypress Woods football program exemplifies our campus’ culture of our student-athletic programs,” 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 – to push yourself just a little further to reach your full academic potential, and as a result experiencing many more successes in all aspects of their lives.”
On the field, Cypress Woods reached the bi-district round of Texas’ 2021 Class 6A Division I football playoffs. The Wildcats featured 21 all-district players, including four first team selections, eight second team honorees and nine honorable mention picks.
Cypress Woods football student-athletes are also active in the community, with many mentoring middle school 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 has also hosted Christmas toy drives, collected canned goods for the local food pantry and held a relief drive following Hurricane Ida.
The NFF announced the creation of the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award in February 2021, with the Nebraska and Texas state high school coaches associations leading the initial effort. The initiative is designed to inspire and foster a culture of academic excellence on high school football teams throughout the nation.
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.
High School Football America’s Jeff Fisher interviewed Coach Simper about the award.