Friday night, after the Idalou game, I left West Texas for the first time in three weeks. One of the interesting things I learned on this journey is just how diverse Texas is. Different parts of this state have completely different looks, feels and even sounds. East Texas is nothing like North Texas or the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas or the Coastal Bend. The way of life, the climate, terrain and the culture of all these places are very different from one another. The common thread of all these places is a very strong Texas pride, (Texas school kids not only recite the Pledge of Allegiance but the Texas Pledge every morning) and, of course, love of football.
West Texas is probably closest to the stereotypical Texas most people envision. Men wear boots and cowboy hats to football games, people are all “fixing” to do something and the wide-open plains are dotted with oil derricks and cattle. I’ve moved on to Round Rock for the week, but I really enjoyed my time in West Texas and look forward to getting back during the playoffs. I met a lot of great people in Idalou, Throckmorton, Abilene and Stamford and all four of these football programs are a lot of fun to watch.
The Idalou Wildcats faced a tough district challenge by the Denver City Mustangs. Both teams came in with 4-2 records and the Mustangs have some very good athletes. While Denver City started out strong grabbing the early lead, they simply weren’t strong enough in the trenches to stop the physical ground game of the Wildcats. Idalou rushed 44 times for 366 yards and stretched their district record to 2-0, and a 35-20 win in a game that really wasn’t that close. Quarterback, Seth Reagan ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns and passed for two; Travys Bravo, Tylo Kirkpatrick and Koal Houchin all had big gains on the ground as well. The offensive line was the big difference in this game. Idalou linemen blew the Mustangs off the ball all night while Denver City’s passing attack was inconsistent.
I get the idea that this was a typical performance for the Wildcats, it fit their formula very well. This is a team built on the very West Texas philosophy of winning with a strong running game and defense. The Wildcats do not have flashy athletes. Idalou doesn’t win pretty, what they do is grind teams down with outstanding fundamentals and superior strength. Their weight program is outstanding; the way the kids literally run from station to station between sets is amazing. I don’t know if I’ve seen more done with 20 minutes of lifting, three times a week, anywhere else. I’ve seen some very good weight rooms on this tour.
As I wrote in the previous post, Idalou is a great example of how the old ways still work. Coach Long and his staff have stuck to strategies that have been proven over generations. They’ve adapted their scheme for the modern game, employing some spread offense and zone running, but they haven’t forgotten the fundamentals that have made them a consistent winner.