Abilene High vs. Abilene Cooper

Sometimes everything comes together to produce a game that demonstrates the best of what a sporting event can be. Last night was one of those moments at Shotwell Stadium. Whether in the stands, on the sidelines or on the field, few who were there will ever forget this game. Most people outside of Abilene won’t know or care what happened, but for 15,0000 Cougar and Eagle supporters, coaches and players, the world got very small, and for those three hours, nothing else mattered.

This is the type of game these players and many in attendance will be talking about the rest of their lives, recounting the last two minutes and even those on the Cooper side will, in future years, take a lot of pride thinking back on the effort they gave and be glad to have taken part in this great battle.

From early on you could sense that this wasn’t going to be a repeat up last year’s 62-6 blowout. Cooper came out strong and grabbed the early momentum going up 7-0 on a 12 yard run on their first drive. Cooper made one of very few mistakes a few minutes later, when a bad snap over the head of the Cougar punter was recovered by Gabriel Jordan in the end zone to knot the score at 7.

From there it was a seesaw battle, both teams taking the momentum and both clawing their way back in when things seemed to be going against them. After Abilene took a 24-27 lead in the 4th quarter, Cooper responded with a 10 play drive that included several 3rd down conversions to make the score 27-24 Cooper with 2:17 to go.

The Eagles took over from their own 28, drove the ball to the 7 yard line with 11 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Rolling to his right, with his primary receivers covered, quarterback Evin Ebbe forced a ball that seemed to carom off both hands of a Cooper DB before finding running back Marcell Porter in the front of the end zone and three second on the clock. Final Score 31-27 Abilene High.

Games like this make football the powerful, beautiful thing it is at its best; two well matched teams with passionate fan bases, fighting with everything they have for their teammates and schools while the entire community seems to hang on every play. You couldn’t be at this game without getting drawn into the emotion of it. The game walked the line between intensity and control that great games do. The action was desperate without tuning into ugliness.

Cooper kids, clearly crushed by a game that slipped away, showed all the class you’d hope to see after such a great battle, fighting through their disappointment to congratulate the Eagles and recognize Abilene’s alma mater. The Eagles showed the character of a disciplined, well-coached program that is used to winning, by putting together a methodical drive in the face of all that emotion, intensity and pressure. It’s often said in games like this that you hate to see either team lose, and in this case, it’s true. Both teams played a great game and both fought heroically when it would have been easy to give up.  Abilene should be proud to have two big school programs of this caliber; Abilene ISD has managed to create a system where both schools have thrived while so many other places build up one program by sacrificing the other. Without that commitment from the community to both these schools, this night would have looked very different.

I had a great time with the Abilene High Eagles this week. This program represents exactly what a large school program should, winning by doing things the right way. These are great kids and great coaches who know what they’re doing and do them for the right reasons. It just doesn’t get any better than seeing a squad like this match up against another quality group. Nights like last night at Shotwell are what this sport is all about.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Abilene High vs. Abilene Cooper

  1. Gray, what a pleasure it was to have you here in Abilene. Welcome back anytime my friend! In fact, I hope we get to see you in week six of the playoffs at Cowboy Stadium. Thank you for writing about our community and our TWO great football teams. I knew you would be exposed to the very best in high school football last night. I would love to be one of the very first to read your book when you get it completed. Best of luck in all your endeavors!
    Rob Cunningham

  2. Thanks Rob,

    I enjoyed meeting with you and Bobby, I expect I’ll be coming back to Abilene at some point. Everyone was so nice and helpful but the story of your town, and its schools is just too deep to cover in one week. I’ll be following how the Eagles do the rest of the way and following them from around the state.
    Go Warbirds!

  3. Coach Warren

    We enjoyed having you around this week. Your blog about the game was great. I appreciate the positive way in which you describe our program and Abilene High School. It truly is a special place with great kids and great fans. You are welcome anytime at our place
    Safe travels the rest of the way
    Coach Warren

  4. Coach Lewis

    It was a pleasure to see you around our field house this last week. I am anxious to read your book when you get it completed. Any time you are in the area please stop by the school and visit. Be careful as you travel from town to town covering high school football.
    Coach Ryan Lewis

  5. Bobby Johnson

    Gray, as Rob expressed it was a pleasure to get to meet and visit with you. I do hope this is not a one and only to see you. I do hope you and Gavin Karlic get to vist too. Please know that anything I can do to assist you would be a honor. I was so very happy you chose Abilene as part of your book. Your blog about the game and your time here was really appreciated!
    Bobby Johnson

  6. Gray:

    I will be following your Blog and appreciate your covering of the Abilene High Program. As a parents we cannot tell you how fortunate our kids are to have this staff working with them every day. They truly care for the kids beyond the playing field and daily teach life lessons that stay with our kids after they leave the school. As well written as your blog is and the insightful reporting of the game itself, I cannot wait for the book to come out. It will be a must read for me!

    Thank you!

    Scott Anderson

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