Leaving Tuesday

My last few days at home for a long time. I’m heading to El Paso on Tuesday, then to San Antonio for the THSCA clinic and all star game at the Alamodome. I will be meeting with several El Paso coaches next week about the condition of football in that city. I know their teams haven’t had a lot of success statewide, so it will be interesting to get some insight into what causes the disparity between the far west and the rest of the state.

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5 thoughts on “Leaving Tuesday

  1. Mark Howell

    Here’s something to keep in mind as you come to Texas.

    The salient feature in Texas geography/demography is the Triangle. Take the three largest metro areas in the state — Houston, Dallas-Ft Worth, San Antonio — and connect them with straight lines. The area within that space contains 60% of the state’s population, 80% of its wealth, and almost all of its growth.

    Consider the following: 1) Texas has 254 counties ; 2) Texas is the fastest growing state, and yet, 3) about half the counties in the state lost population between 2000 and 2010. What’s happening here? Well, for all the counties slowly bleeding population there are towns in Texas just exploding with new growth. Towns you probably have not heard of — places like Boerne, Pflugerville, Katy, Allen, Round Rock, Wylie, Tomball, Sugar Land — have grown by at least a factor of ten in the last twenty years.

    How does this tie into football? At the 4A and 5A level almost all of your champions come from inside the Triangle. The high growth areas attract people who self select into competitive high schools. These schools have more kids, more resources, and better coaching than you’ll find outside the Triangle. The coaches from El Paso, Corpus Christi, the Panhandle and other locales outside The Triangle may have all kinds of theories as to why they’re not competitive but, in the end, it comes down to demographics.

    Here’s another feature in Texas geography not found on a map. Draw a line from Corpus Christi to Laredo. Everything south of that line is considered the Rio Grande Valley or, more often, just … The Valley. Outsiders may refer to this area as South Texas but here in Texas it’s just The Valley. Now the Valley is overwhelmingly Hispanic and unbelievably passionate about their football. During the playoffs if a Valley team makes it to the third round legions of their fans will make the 200 mile trek to San Antonio. And, though its been over 50 years since its happened, if and when a Valley team wins state the region will just go bonkers. Harlingen came pretty close last year and it will be huge if they make it farther this year.

    Finally, as for me, I live here in Port Lavaca, the epicenter of Sandcrab Nation. Describing what all that entails will take its own post at a later date. So, for now, Welcome to Texas.

  2. Reblogged this on texasfootballroadtrip and commented:

    Great post. Interesting point about the demographic shift in the state and something to talk to people about when I’m outside the “triangle”. I watched a You-Tube video of that third round game with Harlingen last year and the atmosphere looked just amazing. I knew my project wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The Valley and I’m really looking forward to my week in Harlingen.
    Port Lavaca also was highly recommended to me. I ‘ll be there for homecoming week and I look forward to your description as a citizen of Sandcrab Nation.

    • Mark Howell

      a couple of quick notes on my rant from a week ago

      1) Texas Triangle- I first heard of this from John Sharp, the 1998 Dem nominee for Texas Lt. Gov. Sharp is a local guy from Dacosta, TX a wide spot in the road 20 miles north of Port Lavaca. Very smart guy and probably the last Democrat to run a competitive statewide race in Texas. He lost to Rick Perry that year by less than 1% and the rest is history.

      2) the connection between demographics and football. The old Texas 4A sports board had a poster from Calallen named TonyR who developed this connection as a recurring theme. Basically Corpus area posters were bemoaning the fact that they could never seem to get past the SA/Austin teams in the playoffs. TonyR supplied a good reality check to all the hyperbole. Unfortunately he died unexpectedly a couple of years ago (heart attack) and, frankly, the level of discussion afterward was never quite the same. I never met the guy but was always impressed by his analysis.

      3) Valley football- Port Lavaca Calhoun has meet teams from the Valley in the 2nd round for four of the past five years. Sandcrab Nation vs Valley Crazies … Always a blast. The flip side of the coin … our third round games have typically been with brand new Triangle teams (Pflugerville, Boerne). These schools have no history, no fan base, and very little turn out. Not nearly as much fun.

      Finally, for the record, the 1961 Donna Redskins was the last Valley team to win state.

  3. Mark Howell

    Finally getting back to you with some notes on Sandcrab Nation. Your post earlier today was very good analysis of their approach to the football. Here’s some broader background info.

    – Calhoun ISD may be the only 4A team in the state where the school district boundaries and the county are one and the same. Plus the school is named after the county rather than the city of Port Lavaca. (PLC is the school name used by other folks. With the county its just CHS- Calhoun High School. It was weird when I first started seeing us referred to as PLC on bulletin boards.}

    – Sandcrab Stadium is also a throwback. Built in 1956 its has the solid feel of most construction from that era. Newer stadiums have turf, fancy scoreboards, and better PA systems but they all look like scaffolding. They don’t build solid concrete stadiums like ours any more. A time traveler from 1975 would feel at home in a Sandcrab game from 2011. The big difference would be that the current team expects to win games.

    – Your blog notes downplayed the historic futility of the Calhoun football. The Crabs had a playoff drought lasting 44 years that finally ended in 2006. There were several multiyear stretches where they did not win a single district game. CHS would schedule nondistrict games against smaller 3A schools just to be able to compete.

    – Calhoun County population more than tripled between 1945 and 1980 (6K to 20K) as four major industrial plants came on line. Since that time though there’s been little growth and the high school numbers have dropped. Class sizes peaked at CHS 30 years ago. Many, perhaps most, of these grads ended up in SA/Austin area. They don’t often make it back to the hometown during the regular season but man do they come out of the woodwork for the playoffs. A good friend of mine has lived in Austin her whole adult life summed it up. “Austin is where I live but Port Lavaca is where I’m from.” Therein lies the key to Sandcrab Nation.

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