Monthly Archives: December 2013

Championship Weekend 2013

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First off, What an amazing event. As I said last year, every high school football fan owes it to themselves to make it to Arlington to see this one time in their lives. I doubt there is anything like it in the world. The best programs in the country, from tiny to huge schools playing ten games in three days in front of great crowds.

I say Arlington because, although the current format has only been in place for three years, I just can’t see it changing anytime soon. From a cynical view it just makes too much money for the UIL. Over 200,000 attended the three day event. The biggest crowd ever to witness a high school football game, over 54,000 people, attended the Allen-Pearland game. Less cynically, it’s just a great showcase for the sport. Performing in the venue itself is a reward and great experience for the young men & women (cheer squads and bands) for those who reach the game. As a Stamford assistant told me, “It’s a headache for us, but worth it to have these kids play in the greatest football stadium in the world.” 

I’ve already written about Stamford’s win over Shiner. Time to cover my other three teams who played last weekend. The early game Friday was a East Texas battle between Kilgore and Carthage. Most predicted a great game and it was. Carthage jumped out to a 28-10 lead late in the 3rd, but the game never felt safe. In the back of my mind was the memory of El Campo coming back to beat the Bulldogs in the 2012 semi’s and when Kilgore, closed the score to 28-23 with 3:40 remaining it definitely felt like a game. After recovering Kilgore’s onside kick attempt. Carthage iced the game with a 24 yard TD run by Tevin Pipkin to make the score 34-23 with :50 seconds left. Impressive game by Carthage and it was great to see the Bulldogs celebrate and play well until the finish.

ImageThe early game Saturday was between Aledo and Brenham. The Brenham Cubs hung around early, the game was tied 3-3 halfway through the 1st half, before the bearcats scored 28 unanswered points to go up 31-3. In the end the Aledo Bearcats continued the dominance they showed most of the season, winning by a final score of 38-10. Remarkably, Aledo became the first high school team in history to score 1000 points in a season. A number it would be impossible to reach in states where 12 to 15 games are the limit. But even with Aledo’s 16 game season, the Bearcats averaged 64 points a game. Aledo’s offensive coaches are quick to give credit to their defense for putting them in position to score so much. It’s hard to imagine this record being broken anytime soon. This is the fourth Bearcat title in five years and fifth under head coach Tim Buchanan.

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The final game of the season was a rematch of last years 5A-DII title between Cedar Hill and Katy. Cedar Hill’s coaches were excited to have a second chance, feeling they hadn’t played well in last years game. I saw something else too. Last year the Longhorns were thrilled just to be playing in state after many injuries and so many had given up on them early. This year, getting there wasn’t enough. The Longhorns went in believing they were the better team and believing, if they played well this time, they would come out on top. I only hoped their optimism was warranted.

It was a crazy and exciting game. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-0 lead, looking like the better team, before turnovers completely swung the game to the Katy Tigers. In the second quarter a long Katy run, got the Tigers on the board and two straight fumbles lead to two more Katy scores and a 21-10 halftime lead. The Tigers tacked on a field goal on their opening 2nd half possession, giving Katy a two touchdown lead halfway through the 3rd.

Hill started to climb back on a gutsy 4th and 3 Wildcat run by receiver Damarkus Lodge for 40 yards and a score. 24-16. Now, it was great defense and Katy turnovers that put the Longhorns back on top. A botched fumble snap led to a Longhorn field goal early in the 3rd. 24-19. Defensive tackle Xavier Washington strips the ball from a Katy back on the next possession. The ‘Horns score on a tough pass to the Lodge in the front corner of the endzone. 27-24 Longhorns. Katy fumbles the ensuing kickoff, Cedar Hill recovers and punches it in, 34-24 Longhorns with 3:17 left.

After the way the “Horns lost last year, I was just so glad to see them come out on top. All four of the groups I followed this weekend are made up of great kids and coaches. I appreciate all of them letting me be on their sidelines and in locker rooms for the ultimate moment a high school football team can achieve.

In ten days, I was on 6 sidelines (two semifinals and four championships). My teams won every game. The coaches joked that I brought them good luck, The only thing I did was pick outstanding programs to follow, I was the one fortunate to have such great experiences.

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Carthage, Aledo and Cedar Hill Championships

As the title of the post implies this was a very busy two days for me. It’s almost one AM and I just got to my hotel and have an Early flight back to Reno in the morning. There is no way I can do these past two days justice right now, but I wanted to write something. I’ll just leave it at this. On my trip I watched exactly six games played by teams covered in my book. All six won. I was on the sidelines and locker rooms with four teams in championship games and all four came out on top. It wrapped tonight in a truly remarkable game between Katy and Cedar Hill. There is too much to write about the final three games right now but it was a memorable ten days in Texas and I will cover it in more details later next week. Congratulations to the Stamford Bulldogs, Carthage Bulldogs, Aledo Bearcats and Cedar Hill Longhorns on your state championships. I’m lucky to have found such great programs run by such classy people.

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Stamford vs. Shiner: 1A-DI State Championship

ImageBefore leaving the locker room for the second half, Bulldog quarterback Bo Wimberly apologized to everyone in the room. “The first half is on me.” Wimberly announced, before pleading that his teammates give everything they have the rest of the way, promising he would as well.

Wimberly had a horrible first half. After having a great season I wondered if the pressure of playing in a state championship at Cowboy Stadium was getting to him. During the first half he constantly overthrew open receivers and, even worse, threw across his body for an interception in the end zone, ruining a great scoring chance. I felt sorry for the kid, on top of playing poorly he was very banged up, dislocating his left shoulder during the first half. Whether the pressure, his shoulder or just a poor day was to blame, this couldn’t be what he’d envisioned for the biggest game of the year.  When Shiner recovered the second half kickoff and quickly scored giving the Comanche’s a 28-7 lead it looked very bleak for the Bulldogs.

Then things turned. With no room for error, Wimberly and the Bulldog offense found their stride. On a quick drive of screens and Wimberley runs the Bulldogs cut the score to 28-14 halfway through the 3rd. Stamford’s defense made several stops including a key 4th and 3 on the first play of the 4th quarter. Wimberly again scrambled into the end zone from 35 yards to close the score to 28-21. Shiner attempts to grind out the clock, converting two fourth and shorts. The Bulldogs finally make a stop on Shiners 3rd fourth down attempt and the ‘Dogs take possession at their own 40 with 3:51 to go.

On the first play after the turnover, Wimberly hits Oklahoma State commit James Washington on a post to tie the game at 28. Stamford’s defense comes up big again, recovering a fumble on the very next Comanche offensive play and the Bulldogs quickly capitalize on another Wimberly scramble and just like that the Bulldogs are in the lead, 34-28.

A Washington interception followed by a great return for his third touchdown, put the final nail in Shiner’s coffin and the Stamford Bulldogs wrapped up their second straight title by a final score of 41-28.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a quarterback turn things around so dramatically as Wimberly did today. It would have been easy for him to go into the tank in such a setting and he showed tremendous poise in taking responsibility, rebounding and carrying his team to a win. Wimberly became the second straight Bulldog to win both the offensive and defensive player of the game for the straight championship. (Hagen Hutchinson did it in 2012)

Like the 2012 game, this was a great football game, between two tough teams. Congratulations to the Stamford Bulldogs on defending their championship. Looking at the scored the last three weeks, you see that they had to battle all the way. To win under these circumstances is impressive and this championship was well earned.

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State Title Game Preview

Since I last wrote I put in quite a few miles. After driving from Stamford Monday evening, I went to Aledo’s practice at 7:00 AM yesterday. Around 9:30 I left and headed to East Texas to watch Carthage practice yesterday afternoon. This morning I drove back to the Metroplex and watched Cedar Hill before heading to Arlington. Some impressions from the four teams I’ll be following over the next three days. As I wrote before Stamford practices are a joy to watch. Also, I don’t know if its because it’s emptiness and ruggedness reminds me of Nevada, but I always enjoy my time in West Texas. It was great to see all the guys again. 

Ten championship games will be played at Cowboy Stadium over the next three days, starting with Stamford-Shiner tomorrow morning at 10.  Small school football is so different than the big school game. Often it comes down to players having the mental toughness to fight through the fatigue, something big schools don’t deal with much with nobody going both ways and multiple personnel groups. Hoping Stamford-Shiner is close to the Stamford-Mart game last season.

Aledo looks amazing. Easy to say based on their record and the way they’ve rolled through most of the playoffs, but their front moves so well its hard to imagine the defensive front that can stop them. It’s hard to tell much about a defense from practice, but the stats say they might be even tougher than the offense. Don’t know a thing about Brennan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bearcats show the same domination they have most of the season.

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Always like getting to East Texas too and Carthage’s coaches and kids great to be around. Last nights practice was held in their new 100 yard indoor facility. Amazing facility.

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Everyone’s predicting the East Texas neighbors of Carthage and Kilgore to be one of the toughest matchups of the weekend. From talking to the Carthage coaches, they expect it to be a great battle, one both schools had predicted since their scrimmage against each other back in August.

Cedar Hill is fun to watch for how much energy they fly around with while still being productive and efficient. Like last year, the consensus seems to be that Katy is just too good for anyone to beat. But , the Longhorns held with them and led halfway through the 4th, despite injuries (Katy had them too) It was a great game and hopefully will be even better as both teams are coming in healthy.

Should be a great weekend and I’m excited to have four of the teams I followed playing. It’s going to be fun.

 

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Book Excerpt–Chapter IV Stamford Bulldogs

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Stamford Practice Monday Afternoon

It was a very busy day for me. I woke up in Abilene, went over to Abilene High to meet with Coach Warren, then drive up to Throckmorton to say hi to Greyhound coach Mike Reed, Then back over to Stamford to watch their practice.

Today’s practice reminded me of a big reason the Bulldogs are playing in their third straight championship Thursday. It’s one thing to hold an efficient, well-organized practice with 15 coaches, fill JV scout teams and an army of support personnel, it’s another to do it with five. Stamford just does so much with so few. Though only on the field around 90 minutes, almost every minute was well used.

It’s a fitting day to release my next excerpt, one detailing the Bulldogs championship run of 2012.

…In his final pre-game talk, Hutchinson tells his squad, “I am so proud to be back here, this is a special time for me, I’ve got two boys in this program…that live under my roof that I’m getting to enjoy this game with…but every one of you are my boys. I love every one of you the same because you have committed to this program and you have done everything we’ve asked you to do for seven years and you’ve bought into it and you’ve believed in us and we’ve believed in you, and you have done some great things for Stamford, Texas.”

His voice rising, Hutchinson reminds them of the fundamental skills they need to come out on top. He asks them to close their eyes and visualize carrying the ball correctly, reading keys, getting to their drops and throwing great blocks. Then he talks about toughness.

 “Effort and desire, the guy that can endure the most pain, the one that has the most desire in his heart, is going to walk off that field State Champions tonight.” A major theme for the season was “No Regrets” and he finishes by telling his players that if they can walk off the field tonight without any regrets they will be champions.

Around 10,000 fans are in the lower two levels of the stadium as the game begins. Audra Arendall from the Stamford Star tells me that many of the Munday fans had stuck around, changing from their black Munday tee shirts into Blue Stamford ones to support their West Texas neighbor. Both teams had played the previous year in opposite order, and in 2011, Stamford fans had done the same thing. Regional pride means a lot in this state and the area is proud of having two teams among the 1A elite.

The game doesn’t go well for the Bulldogs early. Mart takes a 6-0 lead on their first offensive play, a 70 yard touchdown pass from D’Nerian Thomas to Quentin Bryant. The Bulldogs come right back on a beautiful pass to James Washington in the left corner of the end zone from nine yards out to go up 7-6. The lead’s short-lived; Mart goes back on top 14-7 when Thomas scores from four yards out after an 11 play drive. The Panthers extend their lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter on a six yard run by running back D’Marcus Cosby.

 The first pivotal play of the game comes on the ensuing possession. After a sack and an incomplete pass, the Bulldogs face third and 22 from their own 25 yard line.  It’s still early but the game is in danger of getting away from Stamford. Mart is outstanding on both sides of the ball, and despite having only 28 players, they’re a complete team with none of the weaknesses of Stamford’s earlier opponents. On offense, Thomas, Cosby and Bryant give the Panthers three tough weapons, and the Bulldog defense has its hands full. If the Bulldogs don’t find a way to convert and lengthen this drive they could be in big trouble.

 Hutchinson lofts a nice touch pass to Isaiah Llewellyn for the first down. On the tackle, Mart’s safety grabs Llewellyn’s facemask tacking on an additional 15 and suddenly the Bulldogs have the ball with a fresh set of downs on Mart’s 34 yard line. Six plays later, Washington goes high in the air and makes a one handed grab in the left corner to close the score to 21-13 with 7:46 left in the half. Later that night, Washington’s circus catch is featured on ESPN’s Sportscenter.

The Bulldogs’ defense stiffens and the next two Panther drives falter. Stamford has a chance to score before the half but sloppy play stops the Bulldogs at the 10 and they go into the half trailing 21-13. Neither team has been in a battle like this for a long time; both are exhausted. Hutchinson spoke about enduring pain during pre-game, and by the half, its clear this ability will be a factor in the outcome.

The fire-everyone-up Knute Rockne halftime speech is mostly a myth. In most cases, halftime’s a time to rest, assess whatever happened in the first half, fix mistakes and make adjustments to the gameplan; any rah-rah stuff is probably a sign of desperation. The mood is calm and focused in the locker room during halftime and I leave the field feeling that the Bulldogs had dodged a bullet during the first half. There’s a confidence among players and coaches that they’ve weathered the storm and the game is right there for them; as long as they play as they’ve been coached. Coach McLemore tells the defense, “They couldn’t have scripted a better first half, it couldn’t have went any better for them and they’re still hanging by a thread…everybody wants a ring, everybody talks the talk but it’s another thing to beat a good football team at the state finals in Cowboy Stadium. We’re fixin’ to do that. You’re the better team, that’s the bottom line.”

Halfway through the third quarter, Hagen Hutchinson shows one of the reasons he was named 1A player of the year earlier this week. On a quarterback sweep to the right, he’s nearly brought down in the backfield, breaks the tackle and two more on a 43-yard touchdown run. A slant to Dalton Mathis on the two point conversion ties the game at 21.

It took a while but the crowd is finally getting into the game. 10,000 is a great crowd for a 1A game, but it’s swallowed up in an 80,000 seat stadium. Early on, the video board takes some of the focus away from the field.

The momentum has clearly switched sides and it feels like it’s now Stamford’s game. Mart is talented, but with so few players and so many playing both ways, they’re starting to look tired. Stamford has taken control, but the Panthers show they have a lot of fight left. The hitting is intense considering the fatigue. Both squads play very clean and show each other a lot of respect, usually helping their opponents up after hard hits. The Panthers burn most of the rest of the third quarter on a 12 play drive, retaking the lead, 28-21 with a one yard touchdown run by Thomas with 31 seconds remaining in the third.

The Bulldogs come back quickly. On the first play of the fourth quarter Hutchinson completes a 58 yard pass to Bo Wimberly, moving the ball to the Mart 14. Llewellyn scores on a jet sweep from the eight to tie the score at 28.

It is still anybody’s game, but both teams are exhausted. A 15 -game season is long for schools this size and it’s taking its toll tonight. Players are picking themselves off the ground more slowly and taking knees to catch their breath during any break. This kind of battle isn’t something seen in the bigger classifications, where personnel groups and separate offensive and defensive units guarantee fresh players. The outcome will come down to who can overcome fatigue and maintain their intensity and execute during the final 11 minutes…

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Cedar Hill vs. Lake Travis Semifinal

 

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It was miserably cold, breezy and damp for most of the afternoon in Waco. But the last football game ever played at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium was worth the discomfort. Before settling down into a defensive battle, the semifinal game between Lake Travis and Cedar Hill looked like it was going to be a shootout. On their opening possession the Longhorns had little difficulty moving the ball, scoring on a 3 yard slant to receiver Damarkus Lodge, a missed PAT made the score 6-0.  The Cavaliers came right back scoring on a beautiful 43 yard run by Dominic De Lira. Lake Travis 7-6.

                That would remain the score until halfway through the 3rd quarter when the Cavs would add to their lead with a 40 yard field goal making the score 10-6. More than the score, things really looked like they were going in Lake Travis’ favor. Between miscues, the weather and Lake Travis’ defense, the Cavs were winning the field position battle. While only a four point game, the Longhorns looked to be hanging on by a thread.

 Cedar Hill took possession on their own 9 after a LT punt and quickly moved the ball to midfield on inside runs by Cedric Ware. For the first time today the sun came out, the biting cold lessened and the Longhorns found their stride. Pounding the ball with running back Larry Hill and Ware, Cedar Hill moved the ball to the Cav 11. An alley oop to Lodge and the ‘Horns took the lead 13-10 with 4:51 remaining. A Cavalier four and out was quickly followed by a touchdown run by Ware to make the final score 19-10 Longhorns.

Again, I was amazed by the talent of big school Texas high school football. The teams that manage to survive through four playoff rounds just have unreal talent. Lake Travis is an outstanding team and played well enough to win a state championship in most any other state, but here they fell in the semifinals. Looking at some other scores from around the state, I’m sure the same could be said of other 4 and 5A losers.

The Longhorn win sets up a championship rematch between Cedar Hill and Katy from last year. With narrow victories Saturday, Aledo and Stamford also advanced to the finals, making four programs I wrote about last season will be playing in AT&T next weekend. The one sad note for me was that the Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandcrabs fell to Brenham. Even getting to the semis is a great season, but I’m disappointed I won’t get to see them play.

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Carthage vs. La Grange Semi-Final

Congratulations to the Carthage Bulldogs for advancing to the finals with a convincing 51-22 win over La Grange tonight. As I wrote several posts ago, one of the most disappointing games I covered was last seasons semi-final lose to El Campo. As upsetting as the game was for me it had to be ten times worse for the coaches and people of Carthage, so is was great to see the Bulldogs overcome this hurdle.  I’ll post a few pictures later, but its been a very long day.

After about 2 hours sleep I got up at 6 to get to Aledo’s 7 AM practice,  ate lunch and ran a few errands before heading to Cedar Hill to catch up with them and see their walk through. When that was done, it was on to Mansfield to stand on the cold and misty sideline for their game. Tiring, but it was great to jump back into some Texas High School Football after a year away and nice to see so many of the coaches and kids again. Tomorrow, I’ll get up at 6:30 to drive to Waco for the Cedar Hill-Lake Travis game.

Good luck tomorrow to Stamford, Aledo and Calhoun. I can’t be at your games, but I’ll be checking scores regularly and thinking of you. Midnight now and time to get some sleep before another long day.

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Chapter 3 Excerpt : Port Lavaca Calhoun Sandcrabs

Chapter three covers the Calhoun Sandcrabs. This is a unique program in many ways. It’s the only large school Texas program I’ve seen where players all work both sides of the ball, pounding the line with the triple option, very rarely putting the ball in the air. The Sandcrabs are currently on a remarkable run, upsetting their last two opponents to advance to the semifinals, but their successes are somewhat recent. This excerpt discusses the turnaround at Calhoun and what it’s meant to Port Lavaca.

…  Coach Whitaker quickly went to work on changing the school culture. His approach has three basic tenets: create a brotherhood, build a better work ethic and implement his offensive philosophy.  It takes time turning around a traditional loser. Change doesn’t happen overnight.  During Whitaker’s first season in 2005, the Sandcrabs finished 2-8 and had just 83 players in the program, very low numbers for the 4A.

Losing becomes a habit, just like winning, except losing is easier.  Losing only requires the kids to keep doing what they’ve been doing for years. It’s incredibly difficult to convince kids who’ve never been successful to buy in and do things a new way. Heads are down and there’s often a deep belief that nothing will work. Convincing players that they’ll become successful by running a 1950s offense in the 21st century takes a great motivator and salesman. Fortunately, Whitaker was up to the task.

 The program turned the corner in 2006. The clinching win over Beeville at Sandcrab Stadium to win the first district title since 1961 was truly a watershed moment for this community.

“I compare it to 1980.” Boyd told me, referring to the gold medal US Olympic hockey team. “You had a country that didn’t feel good about themselves and you had a bunch of kids at Lake Placid that lifted a nation. I compare these kids and what they did for this county to what that hockey team did for this nation. Right (after we won) a norther blew in and people always say that it was the wind of change.”

This football program had not had a winning season since 1991. Something fundamental changed when the Sandcrabs won that first title, and there was no going back. Since 2005, the Sandcrabs have been to the playoffs seven straight years, winning five district titles, and the number of kids playing football has doubled. Before 2006, the seats at the Stadium were often empty, and fans didn’t go on the road to follow the Sandcrabs. Since 2006, locals began to arrive hours before games, just to get a seat. Now people try to get off of work early to make the trip to road games. On the road, Port Lavaca fans often outnumber those of the home team.

The change hasn’t been limited to the football field. That first taste of success affected the town in a number of ways. As the rising tide lifts all boats, Calhoun’s other programs began to see success as well. During the five years before the Whitaker era, volleyball was the only sport to make the playoffs. Since 2005, athletics at the school have completely changed; boy’s basketball has been in the playoffs seven straight years, the girls made their first playoff trip in 12 years. Softball has five playoffs appearances, baseball has three. The boys’ track team has won three district titles and the girls have finished second in district twice. Golf, cross county and powerlifting have also shown big gains.

The morale of Port Lavaca benefitted as well.  Lina Moore, principal at Travis Middle School told me, “Everything about our community has totally changed across the board, girls, boys, everything. The football program was absolutely the beginning of the change. Kids used to skip practices and the parents made excuses, now the parents drag their kids there. Everybody is supportive of whatever needs to be done. It’s been very exciting to watch the change. It has to do with doing the best at whatever. That atmosphere and that feeling is just everywhere. I can only see that it benefits the community in every shape, form and fashion.”

Sandcrab games have become important rallying points for the community and playoff games take this to a whole other level. Calhoun has played at the Alamodome a number of times over the last five years.

“It’s become like a second home, “one booster proudly told me.

Moore says the atmosphere for these big games brings the town together like nothing else.

 “It’s amazing what this has done for our community. It’s like a class reunion from every year, people from all over the state of Texas come.”

Small Texas towns like Port Lavaca don’t have enough jobs for all their graduates. This forces many former residents to move.  Big games become important rallying points for small towns, even better when played in a centrally located city like San Antonio, allowing former Port Lavacans to come together. Boyd tells me about the Uvalde game several years ago, “It was tremendous to look up and see between eight to 10,000 from a county that has less than 20,000.”

Finally, improved athletics have positively impacted education as well. “We’ve always had good academics. Has it gotten better? I have to say yes.”  Mrs. Moore tells me what football has done for her middle school. “My kids (Travis Middle School kids) when they’re in football, they behave better, their grades are better…it’s a huge help, I wish the season was longer, to be honest.”

The elementary school kids are included. They decorate the buses for the team for road games. Moore tells me how the young kids respond when the ‘Crabs visit,

“It’s like a superstar just walked in. Those little ones love being a part of it.”

                That kids can be successful without having tremendous talent is what drew me to high school football. As an undersized lineman during my high school years the game allowed me to earn respect with work ethic and tenacity, something I never could have done with athletic ability. To me, what makes high school football the greatest game in the world is how it rewards effort. The turnaround at Port Lavaca is a perfect example of this.

Hard work, guts, teamwork and smart organization can often overcome better athletes in the high school game. In football, more than any other sport, the program that pays the higher price for success is likely to win.  It’s basic mathematics; factor in man-hours of practice, team building activities, scouting, offseason lifting, lower level preparation, net coaching experience and booster club support and the program that puts in more hours usually beats the team that puts in fewer.

To some extent, the same could be said for any sport or activity, but the numbers of people involved makes the correlation between work and winning stronger in football than any other sport.

 One great basketball player can take over a game in a way one football player never could. In baseball the law of averages means the superior team will win a higher percentage of time over a long season, but anyone can win on a given day.  Of course, luck is always involved, especially between evenly matched teams. Any sport has the element of chance built in. The ball bounces funny, quarterbacks can be “off,” weather can impact results, and kickers can have a huge impact. But of all the team sports, football has the highest parallel between preparation and success.

While football may be the fairest of sports, it’s a brutal, merciless fairness for the team on the wrong end of the equation. There are no second chances and usually no quick fixes. In most cases the adjustments to the program must be implemented during the offseason and it may take years to determine whether they’re effective. For the coaches, the absolute nature of the game causes sleepless nights. The success or failure of a coach is determined on 10 Friday nights a year, success on those nights are decided by decisions made during the other 355 days.

For me, and I’m sure most coaches, what makes the wins so rewarding and the losses so crushing is that football wins take so much preparation. More than most sports, a single game is a test that exposes the overall quality of a program. When a coach wins, he knows he’s accomplished something. The win proves he’s taking things in the right direction. A loss means he must reevaluate what he does. For the players, it’s an amazing feeling when all the sweat and blood they invested in the sport over the years pays off and they walk off the field knowing they’ve earned their triumph.

Randy Boyd spoke to me about what a playoff win meant to his son.

 “I’ll never forget walking out into that field and looking into my son’s eyes, just an exuberation  of how happy you are yet how exhausted…he had just given his all, he looked at me and said, ‘Dad, I love this feeling.’ What was brought to this town more than anything was the knowledge and understanding of what that drug of achievement is…all these kids who have played understand what it takes to achieve.”….

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Five Teams Advance to Semi’s

I guess its a good problem to have but after tonight’s results, five of the eleven teams I covered for my book have advanced to the Semifinal Round. This sets up a very real possibility that my two 4A schools Aledo and Port Lavaca Calhoun could meet in the championship at AT & T Stadium in Arlington. As well as that game, Stamford looks to have a serious shot to return for the third straight year, Carthage for the 4th time in five years and a Cedar Hill- Katy rematch of last years 5A D-II game is looking very likely.  Of course, there are no gimme’s in the semis and three of these teams are looking at very short weeks to prepare.

For me it creates a tough situation. By the semi’s last year, I could make it to every game one of my teams were still playing as there were only three left. (Throckmorton won the 6-man championship during semi-final week and managed to catch the second half of that game after driving up from the Cedar Hill- Westlake game in Waco.) I’m flying down to Dallas on Thursday and there is no way I’ll be able to catch all five semifinals. Assuming they all win, (I’m an optimist.)  I’d love to see everyone practice during state week. But how can I? I’ll have two Metroplex teams, not a problem, but Carthage is in East Texas, Port Lavaca on the coastal bend in almost South Texas and Stamford in West Texas… However it ends up, I’m sure I’ll be putting a lot of miles on my rental car. Concratulations to Cedar Hill, Aledo, Carthage, Calhoun and Stanford… If I don’t see you all this week, I’m hoping to see you all in Arlington.

Check back here for updates of the mini Texas Football Roadtrip II…2013

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Fourth Round Mess

As all the Texas readers will already know, ice storms in the Metroplex have thrown a monkey wrench into the quarterfinal playoff round. Travel difficulty and fields covered with ice have delayed many games until Monday. I’m assuming the winners Monday night will play their semifinals next Saturday, setting up some very short practice weeks. I’m guessing a lot of coaches are breaking the unwritten taboo against looking ahead and are spending part of this weekend watching film of possible semifinal opponents in order to have a scouting report ready by Tuesday.

Of the five teams remaining who I covered, three won’t play until Monday. The Calhoun Sandcrabs are getting ready to start in San Marcos as I write this. I’m excited for Carthage who beat West Orange-Stark last night to advance to the 3A semifinals. More excited they are scheduled to play that game on Friday in Mansfield and I should be able to go.

Personally, the weather has delayed my ultimate itinerary next week, I’m arriving at DFW on Thursday, but won’t know until Tuesday morning  what the Semi schedule is clear. Until then, good luck to the Sandcrabs, the Stamford Bulldogs, the Aledo Bearcats and the Cedar Hill Longhorns, I’ll be pulling for you all. Stay Warm.

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