Big and Bright Chapter Nine Excerpt: Stony Point Tigers

cover of B & BAfter a tough few years I’m excited to see the Tigers look to be back on track, dominating their first two games. Go Tigers!!!

…Craig Chessher is an “Old Texas Ball Coach” I’m told. It’s said as a compliment, but also to describe a throwback from an earlier era.
Some practices are better left in the past. Old-school coaches often didn’t allow water breaks, believing dehydration built toughness. Creative illegal recruiting methods such as paying high school players, and boosters buying families homes to attract blue chip players were common during much of the 20th century. Coaches ignoring kids’ injuries and other old-school abuses are mostly long and well gone.
“Old Texas Ball Coach” puts one in notable company, though. From Gordon Wood and Chuck Moser to Bum Phillips, the roster of legendary high school coaches from Texas is impressive
Texas high school football has been played and documented for more than 100 years. The traditions that made the sport great aren’t modern inventions. Many are rooted deep in the past.
Just as there are many ways to move the ball there are many different approaches to coaching. Some head coaches are hands on, putting themselves into every aspect of the game, planning, coaching a position and running drills during practice. Others focus on one side of the ball. Some are disciplinarians and others are CEOs. During my time here, I’ve seen many approaches. With Chessher I would see a method and style with a long tradition in Texas.
Round Rock is in the fastest growing part of the state. The town has blown up over the past 20 years as part of Austin’s metro boom. The I-35 strip between DFW and San Antonio is increasingly the center of Texas’ population. This comes as no surprise to anyone on the freeways around suburban Austin.
There are good reasons for the traffic and growth, though. The area surrounding Austin is a desirable place to live. Austin itself is an exciting town, with the university, good job opportunities and great nightlife. It’s also the gateway to the Hill Country, the most beautiful part of Texas, with nice little towns, rolling hills and inviting rivers.
In north Round Rock, amid suburban subdivisions, Stony Point High School isn’t especially remarkable. The campus is nice but nondescript. The athletic facilities are functional, but not extravagant. Round Rock ISD has five high schools. At one time it was a one-school district, but is growing rapidly. It’s generally accepted that the fewer schools an ISD has to support, the stronger that support is.
The Stony Point Tigers rolled between 2007 and 2010, making the playoffs four straight years and advancing to the final four in class 5A three consecutive times. However, with so much growth in Round Rock, demographics, zoning and enrollments are volatile. It’s a common pattern in booming parts of Texas. Schools open as 3A programs and are quickly bumped to 5A as new housing explodes. Zoning lines move and the cycle repeats.
Whether the adjustments help or hurt a particular school is unpredictable. When Stony Point opened in 2000 it threw a monkey wrench into a three-high school ISD. Nine years later, Cedar Ridge High opened and Stony Point had the wrench thrown back. Cedar Ridge is just a few miles away and boundaries for Stony Point were redrawn.
Stony Point ‘s enrollment dropped from 3,550 to 2,277 in one year, losing many of their more affluent families to the newer school. The enrollment drop hit football hard. After advancing to the state semifinals in 2010, the Tigers were 4-6 in 2011. This season has been frustrating. The Tigers are 3-4, but lost games by 1, 1, 2 and 10 points. They could easily be 6-1 instead of fighting for a playoff spot. They’ve spent this season on the cusp of success; one play here or there is all that stands between the Tigers and a winning record…

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