Sunny. Warmer. It was a beautiful day in Levelland for a football game. I seem to remember last year at this time it wasn’t so great. I loaded up my dad and off we went after getting in at 2:00AM that same day. I’m telling you… my dad is a real trooper, and there’s no one who could have kept him from attending Borden County vs Happy. And I was right there with him!
This game would be bitter sweet. I’ve watched both teams all season. I saw both Happy and Borden County in scrimmages and in several games during the regular season. When you run up and down the sidelines with a team, you come to understand the players and coaches. I know that McCarley is going to get an ungodly amount of yards and that Jackson is going to go up and grab some spectacular passes out of the air. I know that Dalton Gray is one of the best defenders in the state. I hate that he missed playing in this game.
I saw blood on nearly every Coyote’s bright white pants. I know that Proulx and Richey will hammer anyone in their way on both sides of the ball. And I know that I’ll catch great reactions from Coaches Richey, Edwards, and Keith as they become very animated on the sidelines. One thing I know about these two teams is that they go for the jugular but also do not hesitate to extend a hand to help a competitor up off the turf or pat each other on the shoulder pads. They are fierce competitors but also display great sportsmanship.
I don’t have anything to say that others haven’t already said. I do know I will miss watching these teams with their current players. An epic battle is what this game turned out to be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the score was not indicative of what went on down on the field. Two giants fought. And I am glad I was there to see it up close and personal.
Observations from the game:
Texas weather can be crazy. Of course, we all know that! I prepared by packing lots of clothes to wear to Sterling City. I think we all did!
Balmorhea and Valley did not disappoint! The atmosphere in the Sterling City stadium was electric! Both teams came prepared for war. And that’s what it turned out to be. A war. As a photographer, I can zoom in on the faces of players preparing to play the game we love so much. What I saw was determination with a hint of nervousness. As the game started, I saw the nervousness disappear and the focus set in.
The Balmorhea Bears came to play. I’m pretty sure every single player would do just about anything for Coach Jones. You can tell by the way they look at him and listen to him and react to what he says. It served them well against Valley. The most important thing I heard last night came after the game. Coach Jones told the entire time how proud he was of them and they had more work to do. He then told them he loved them. And in unison, every Bear yelled back, “We love you, too, coach!” This isn’t just something they say after winning playoff games. He tells them after every game. I’m willing to bet he tells them every day. It’s a special moment to witness.
The Valley Patriots. I have to start with the fans. What a group of fans they have! Fans were at the field before I was, and I get there early. They were tailgating in the parking lot with great music and tables and food. They were laughing and having a great time! I’ve never seen so many signs and flags! Every square inch of the stadium entrance and the stands was covered with something that read Valley Patriots! It really was awesome! The Patriots marched onto the field with purpose. They fought hard in the game. Clawing their way back after losing yardage to the Bears on touchdowns. There were several times I really believed Valley would take the lead. Valley Patriots… kudos to you! That was the hardest fought battle I’ve seen all year. While you fell short of the goal, you showed us all what never giving up looks like. I applaud each of you for giving it everything you had!
I consider myself very lucky to watch sixman football and players from such a close vantage point. I get to see and hear things that make me feel a range of emotions and that many do not get to experience. We all love to watch the game, but it’s so much more than that. These experiences will stay with the players and fans for a lifetime. I, for one, am extremely grateful to be part of it.
Observations from the sidelines:
So now we are winding down to the very last game of the 2017 football season. There are two more games today to determine Division I State finalists. Jonesboro plays Tioga and Borden County plays Happy. I hope you all find time to either attend or listen to the broadcasts. Whatever you decide to do today, make it a good one. Always remember, Go Forward and Do GOOD!
It was a beautiful Saturday for a football game! Dad has become my traveling partner to playoff football games, so we loaded up in the big rig and set out for Lockney, Texas and the Division I Area match up between Ropes and Happy.
We arrived early to find fans filing into the Lockney stadium. The Ropes Eagles were on the field warming up. The Happy Cowboys took the field a few minutes later. I found Rodney Ayers and Larry Martinez on the sidelines with their cameras. It’s always nice to see both. We all share the same passion. One thing is certain, the Eagles and Cowboys were well covered. I’m pretty sure there are easily more than 1,000 photos of the game!
I spotted Coach Tye Keith and went to visit. He and Coach Moore were intently watching Cowboy warm up. Coach Keith assured me they were ready as they were ever going to be. Discussion turned to Thanksgiving and practice. Coach Keith said he’d finally figured it out after a few years in the playoffs during the holiday. The Cowboys had a day with family for Thanksgiving, but they were back hard at it on Friday morning. I wished him luck and turned to talk to Coach Rob Kyle who had walked up behind us.
Coach Kyle is the assistant coach for the Ropes Eagles. I’ve known him for many years. There is not a more positive person than Coach Kyle. He assured me the Eagles were ready and 100% healthy for the first time in the playoffs. I asked him how Coach Jackson was doing. The last time I talked to Jackson, he had a concussion from an unfortunate incident prior to the Gridiron. Coach Kyle laughed and said he had fully recovered. I wished him luck with a pat on the arm and headed back to the sideline.
The Happy Cowboys were on point from the first second of the game. Ropes surprised them a couple of times with a quarterback who could throw the long ball. They quickly made adjustments. The Eagles fought hard, had a few injuries, but never let up. They kept taking it at the Cowboys. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Ropes had a great season. I believe they will be tough again next year. The Happy Cowboys will play district foe, McLean, for the Division I, Region 1 championship next week.
Observations from the game:
Ok folks, we only have a few weeks left of our beloved sixman football! There are eight teams left in each division. While some of you are already in basketball-mode, consider catching one of the Regional Final games. One thing is for certain, the players will play hard, never give up, and if this weather holds, you won’t freeze to death in the stands!
Until next week, Go Forward and Do GOOD!
Everyone who attended the Area game in Hermleigh between Sands and Jayton enjoyed yesterday’s 80-degree day. I seem to remember that last year during this same week it was snowing and very icy throughout the Panhandle; making it hard for games to be played. And just plain cold everywhere else. What a difference a year makes.
Hermleigh has an excellent facility. It’s a great place for a playoff game. Sands took the field for warm up, and I went off to find Coach Grumbles from Sands. I found him directing players. It’s always a pleasure talking to him. I would find Head Coach Keith a little later. He was definitely ready to get the game started. Great coaches at Sands. Good people!
I found Coach Josh Stanaland near the dressing room door waiting on his players to emerge. I’ve known Coach Stanaland a very long time. He’s a great guy and always willing to take time to talk about anything. He sat down at one of the tables, and we had a short conversation.
The consensus of all coaches was that the Mustangs and Jaybirds were running teams and would be very similar. The keys to the game were no turnovers and getting the appropriate blocks to allow yardage. Having watched both teams in the regular season, I agreed that this would be a very fast game on the ground, although I know both teams also made good use of the passing game when least expected. That turned out to be the case in this Area game. Both teams mixed it up. The Mustangs won the battle and will face Balmorhea next week for the Region 2 title. The Jaybirds had an excellent season although everyone counted them out in the beginning.
Observations from the game
Afternoon games are always nice when the weather is good. Hope you all got out, enjoyed the weather and Thanksgiving, and found a good football game to attend. Until next time, Go Forward and Do GOOD!
Instead of heading north as originally planned, my 73-year-old dad and I headed south for the Bi-District matchup between Zephyr and Medina. He loves sixman football and did not have a chance to go to many games during the regular season. I’m glad he loaded up and made the long drive with me to Eden.
We arrived to a very warm 77-degree evening. Both teams were already warming up when we arrived. Eden’s football field is pretty nice! Great lights and from a distance it looks like it sits on top of a hill.
I got my dad situated near the stands and went in search of someone to talk to. I found the assistant coaches from Medina first. I always find it entertaining when I find the assistant coaches first. They are always very nice but look at me like they are thinking, “I don’t think you really want to talk to me. The head coach is over there.” Oh but I do like to talk to the assistant coaches. Sometimes they provide insight that the Head coach does not. I did find Coach Faglie from Medina and Coach Williams from Zephyr about ten yards down the field talking to each other.
I introduced myself and shook both their hands. They made it fairly easy for me standing next to each other. Nice guys! I wished them luck and set off to grab my camera. I was particularly interested in the enormous blow-up helmets in the end zone. Both Zephyr and Medina have extremely large helmets for pre-game run through. I’m pretty sure the entire school population could fit in those things. Very impressive!
So it is at this time, I must educate you all a bit. As the game commenced, I noticed that there was some flash photography going on in the end zone. It is a common misconception that it is against UIL rules for flashes to be used. The use of a flash is not allowed at an indoor UIL event. Outdoor events are a little different. The refs and admin of the game are tasked with deciding whether or not flash photography is used in UIL outdoor events. Interesting, isn’t it? I normally introduce myself to the referee crew and ask questions about whether or not I can be on the field during pregame captain meetings at mid-field and how far off the out of bounds line they prefer me to stand. You’d be surprised at the different responses I receive to these questions. Most do not care. Others care a lot. The use of a flash will probably be added to those questions I ask before games, if I decide to use the flash. See? You learn something new every day!
The game was what one would expect of a Bi-District game. Medina made good use of the passing game to score early. Zephyr came roaring back down the field to match the Bobcats. It would be back and forth after the first quarter. Zephyr overcame four personal foul penalties in the first half and extended their lead going in at the half. When the final second ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs had outscored the Bobcats 58-32 and became Bi-District champions.
Both teams fought hard. Great tackling, hitting, and blocking. Offense seemed to be overshadowed by the defense on both sides most of the game. Zephyr will now face the May Tigers in the Area round in Region 3, Division I. Medina had a great season and went home with only one loss for the 2017 season.
Observations from Eden and the Bi-District game:
Next week is Turkey week!! I know you are all ready for a short break, but we will be back at on Friday and Saturday for the Area round of the playoffs (or Regional semifinals – same thing really). Pick a game and get there. Even if it’s not your team, go! Why? Because here in a few short weeks, football will be over, we will go into withdrawals, and will have to wait until August 2018 for it to come back again. I think that’s a pretty darned good reason to go and support 1A teams still competing to punch their ticket to the State game.
Enjoy your turkey, I know I will, and I’ll see you soon! Until then, Go Forward and do GOOD!
I should have gone to a game tonight. Should have… but I didn't. We’ve all had those crazy weeks where everything just goes haywire all at one time. Haywire describes this week for me. Basketball tournaments, football playoffs, state volleyball… not to mention my full-time job. So, here I sat in my recliner with my laptop and my phone diligently looking, searching, digging, stalking, and listening for scores.
I will let you in on a little secret… I love it but it requires top-notch skills in the multi-tasking department. At one point, I had Mixlr up on my phone listening to one game with another game going on Mixlr on my laptop, and watching another game via a mother’s Facebook Live. It’s a good thing I’m an excessive clicker.
Shoutout to Leman, Sixmania, Monica Hauk, Jeff Shelton, Michael McClure, and the Principal at Jonesboro for diligently posting/sharing scores. It takes a village! Some of you knew I was stalking you and others of you did not. Now ya know.
The Calvert/Oakwood game turned into a barnburner. I mean a real barnburner! Oakwood, runner-up from District 15, took the lead in the fourth quarter and never gave it up. Balmorhea let Wellman-Union score early but then sped off like a Mario Andretti. Blackwell and Guthrie hung in until almost the end of the 3rd quarter. Blackwell did prevail. Jonesboro and Union Hill came away with a win to lead them to the Area round of Division I next week. Valley, Aspermont, and Strawn all unlocked a spot in the Division II Area round.
So what do we have on tap for Friday? Just a lot really…
Who will make a run at the Area round? You’ll have to tune in and find out. Better yet, go to a Bi-District game! Don’t know where to go? I can hook you up or any of the other fine Sixman peeps – many websites with the information. But if you can’t find it, let me know. I’ll point you in the right direction.
As for me… I’m trying to choose where to go, but I AM going! I’m leaving Recliner City.
Observations from tonight:
So… if you aren’t now convinced to go to a game tomorrow, there’s probably nothing else I can say to persuade you. BUT lucky you… you have Facebook and twitter! Follow Sixmania, Leman, Sixmanguru, or Texas 1A Fan. You’ll get all the football scores and updates you’ll ever want/need!
Until tomorrow night, Go forward and do Good!
A welcome announced over the loud speaker at the Happy game made me laugh. The announcer stated that Texas 1A Fan was visiting and said, “We don’t know her name, but she’s here. Welcome!” To solve the mystery, my name is Bobbie Brown and I’m from Jayton, Texas. If you were born in the 80’s, I’m sure you’re singing It’s My Prerogative in your head or maybe Don’t Be Cruel. Yes, I’ve actually had people sing to me. It can be quite entertaining.
I’m a doer. I get stuff done. When following my kids and taking pictures came to an end, I noticed I really missed it. If I could do it for one school, why couldn’t I do it for an entire classification? Made a name, a website, twitter, and Facebook and voila! Texas 1A Fan. See? Doer.
Of course, it’s more than that. You know that feeling of excitement you get in your gut when Friday night approaches during football season or when it’s time for a basketball tournament or even a very windy track meet? Yeah. That’s what drives me. My good friends think I’m crazy. But the older I get, the more I seek to do things I love… the things that make me happy. And being Texas 1A Fan makes me incredibly happy. We all get that feeling from time to time. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Small town Texas and 1A schools are unique. Each town has decade-long traditions, and we are all a family. We know everyone in town and their aunts, uncles, kids, parents, and even their dog’s name. We know when we see a zebra wandering in the back acre, someone needs to call Ms. Long because Ziggy has escaped once again. We all have our funny small town stories. And they are our pride and joy.
I write commentary about my visits to various towns because of these cool stories. I really enjoy experiencing the many traditions, feeling the excitement, the fanfare, hearing the loud horns and bells, and different school and fight songs. Others have stats and players and teams covered, but no one talks about what makes each town, team, or school unique. I think those things are an important part of the 1A story. You all are a part of the story. Coaches, fans, students, players, and each town contribute.
I used to be one. It gives me a different perspective because I know what it’s like to put my livelihood in the hands of a teenager and see that teenager blossom into a wonderful human being so very capable of many great things! I enjoy meeting coaches before or even after the game. I normally talk to coaches when they are getting ready to coach a game. It’s probably not the best time, but those I’ve met this year have been very welcoming. Do I have my favorites? Of course, I do! There are several I’ve known since childhood and others I have met through various activities. But then there are those coaches I meet and just can’t help but really like because I can see how much their players mean to them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why they coach. The kids. They have a desire to help kids. To teach kids. To make them into good teammates. And citizens. The next time you get upset with your kid’s coach, remember they are human. They are not perfect. And if they are coaching in a 1A school, then they are doing a jillion things all at once with one thing in mind… making a kid better. Pretty cool, huh?
I love the fans. You all make the game more exciting! You burn up in August and September and freeze in November. Pregame rituals are important and showing undying support is your goal. I like to see folks leaning on the fence around the field. Ira has a nifty ledge that runs along the top of the fence. It sure looks like it’s easy on the forearms during the lean and yell maneuver. Some fans man the school horn. I know of one fan from Balmorhea who built a horn this past summer. It is incredibly loud. One thing is for certain; all fans love the sound of their horn or bell. You all want to hear it more than the other team hears theirs. I might have to dream up a 1A school horn/bell contest! You make treat bags and signs and wrap streamers around every highway sign in the county along the route to the game. You wave signs and pictures of player heads in the stands and shake gallon jugs or coffee cans filled with small rocks. The more noise the better and yelling until neck veins pop out and voices are completely lost or sound like raspy whispers is an every game occurrence. And you wouldn’t change a thing! You love the game. You love the players. And you, 1A fans, are truly the best.
I have seen great student sections at games this year! Those teams with bands have a built-in student section. I have to say the Santa Anna Mountaineer band made me laugh. They play the Jeopardy song during timeouts. Very creative! I’ve also seen those teams without a band have crazy student sections that really get into the game. I can’t say I have a favorite, but did enjoy watching the McLean student section. They have a bass drum and crazy hats seem to be popular – different and fun! Another group that gets my attention are those managers on the sidelines. They fill up water bottles, they run after footballs and tees, and constantly carry towels to players who need them. They have clipboards and pencils and keep track of the yards and the tackles and turnovers and touchdowns. Cheerleaders yell, jump, and tumble. Themed pep rally's are planned and executed perfectly! They dance and play great music to get the team pumped up. Mascots interact with fans and players and make everyone smile with crazy antics. There is nothing better than a great mascot! Many students do different things to contribute to the team’s success. All come together to will their team to win.
So many townspeople have welcomed me this year. I try to spread the love around to many. And don’t despair… I like to drive and distance has never stopped me. I hope to see you all soon. What I love about small towns may be seen in the water tower with the town name and sometimes mascot plastered across the middle in big block letters. It’s finding the football field because the lights are shining and can be seen for miles. It’s the neat downtown area, sometimes paved with red bricks and littered with neat, old buildings. It’s also the school and how it is center-stage for most of the town’s activities. It’s the trucks backed up to the fence and the wood cooker at the concession stand grilling up burgers or hotdogs. It’s the specialty items at the concession stand! This year I’ve had homemade ice cream in Klondike and peanut butter and chocolate kiss cookies in Ira. I’ve had wonderful hot chocolate and coffee in McLean and Happy that makes me warm if only for a little bit. I’ve had homemade pizza in Jayton and a pulled pork burrito in Sands. I’ve talked to dozens of townspeople. Sometimes I overhear conversations before games. It seems like it’s always the same conversation… think the Mustangs will win? What do you think happened last week? We are going to win tonight! I don’t think the Kangaroos are as good as everyone says they are. I don’t intentionally eavesdrop. I just happen to observe the people around me. Makes me feel right at home. Do Not change a thing!
They play the games we all love to watch. Nerves. Determination. Persistence. Never-give-up attitudes. It’s the “I can do it, coach!” and the “what can I do to stop him?” that makes me smile. It’s the grunts and growls and the sweat flying through the air on a great tackle. It’s the fist in the ground when an assignment is missed. It’s a Bulldog helping a Cougar up off the turf. It’s the claps on the back, a pat to the helmet, or the sideways hand slap. It’s the hugs and prayers after the game. The competition. The emotion. The love of the game. And yes, superstitions like not washing the socks worn during the district championship game because washing them may mean a loss in the next round. Doesn’t matter if they are crunchy or stinky because those socks cannot be washed! Teamwork and perseverance and digging down deep to do the very best and sometimes coming up short. They lay it all on the line and contribute to the story.
All of these things and much more make 1A special. This is why I love it. This is why we all love it. It’s that feeling I’ve had in every town I’ve visited. I expect to feel it much more. Until I see you, make memories. Drink it all in. Feel the emotion and excitement. There’s nothing else quite like our beloved 1A. Enjoy the ride… It’s absolutely spectacular!
Travelling North was in the cards on a cloudy Friday night. The matchup between Division I – District 1 McLean and Happy for the District Championship was too good to pass up. McLean beat a good White Deer team to secure a spot in the playoffs. Only Happy stood in the way of being number one in the district.
I arrived early to a balmy 52 degrees with winds whipping out of the southwest at about 20mph. The teams hadn’t quite made it to the field so I took up residence on the side of the concession stand to get out of the wind. McLean emerged first. Happy followed close behind.
Because I didn’t get a chance to speak with Coach Linman from McLean last week, I zeroed in on him as he directed warm-up. I finally caught up with him. Nice guy. He told me his team was ready, and they were glad to be there and playing for the district championship. I watched him sprint to catch up with the Tigers heading to the locker room.
Next came Coach Keith from Happy. It is always a pleasure to talk with him. He’s a very personable guy and already had his game face firmly in place. The Cowboys were ready to play!
This game was a good one. As we see sometimes in Sixman, the score didn’t tell the entire story. Both teams fought hard. I saw the competitiveness of several of the McLean Tigers. They wanted the win badly. The Cowboys were just too much.
I caught a rare photo this game. I actually photographed a Tiger who looked up and saw me as he was moving at a high rate of speed in my direction. I normally sidestep players whose momentum takes them out of bounds. I couldn’t quite seem to get out of the way three different times during this game. I was thankful that the players saw me at the last second and dodged me. Very thankful.
This week I’m bringing back the Quote of the Night. I heard this from the Happy announcer many times, “Everybody needs to go on down to the WORLD FAMOUS Happy concession stand!” Love it!
Observations from my visit to Happy:
Both Happy and McLean are now in the playoffs! Happy will play Anton and McLean will face Nazareth. Both games are Friday. Good luck to both!
Try to attend a playoff game! You’ll be glad you did! And while you’re out there, don’t forget to Go Forward and Do GOOD!
I made my way North to McLean, Texas. It sits along I-40 about 74 miles East of Amarillo. I particularly enjoyed the downtown portion of McLean. Cool, old buildings butted up against each other with a brick road separating each side of this neat little main street town. I found my way to the football field at the North end of town. Although I arrived an hour and a half before game time, there were already people parked around the field and milling about. White Deer was on the field for initial warm-ups, and I could see smoke broiling out the top of a wood cooker.
I stopped at the entrance and spoke with McLean Superintendent, Oscar Muniz. Very nice man. He welcomed me to McLean and told me I could park anywhere I wanted around the entire perimeter of the stadium. Now that’s awesome! I parked about 2 feet from the field on the south end.
I finally stepped out onto the field and spied Coach Justin Rucker. It’s always good to see Rucker! Young coach with a good head on his shoulders. He loves sixman football and more so his players. We talked about the match-up with the Tigers. He was cautious but said his guys were ready to go even after the tough game against Happy last week. And everyone was healthy. We talked about alignment, a subject on everyone’s mind. I wished him luck and went to find Coach Linman from McLean.
I couldn’t find him. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. He was right in among his team during warm up and as soon as the game was over, he ran to the dressing room. Perhaps I’ll get the opportunity to speak with him at a later game.
I can tell you that the concession stand ladies were awesome! I was on the hunt for some coffee. It was percolating. They even gave me a free cup of coffee to test that it was good. It was. Throughout the night, I had two more cups. I always appreciate when a concession stand has good coffee, especially in November.
The battle that commenced between White Deer and McLean had been brewing for a while. Both in the north panhandle region and both undefeated. This district match-up did not disappoint. Both teams were all business and played with great effort each down of the game. I saw no giving up from either side. I do believe that given a little more time, White Deer may have tied it up. The Bucks started coming on strong in the 4th quarter. But it was not to be and McLean came out on top. McLean secured a playoff spot with the win over the Bucks. McLean plays at Happy next week for the District championship and White Deer takes on Miami.
Observations from my visit to McLean:
Remember to go to a sixman football game! This next week is the final week of district play. The playoffs are going to ramp up very soon. When you head out, travel safe and always
Go Forward and Do GOOD!
What a game! It was a battle to the very last second. I have watched both teams this season, and I saw much improvement in both Ira and Klondike. That District 5 race could come down to the last games next week. Borden County sits in the top spot and Hermleigh, Ira, and Klondike are battling for the second playoff spot. This one could get interesting if Hermleigh has a misstep!
It was good to see Coach DeGraffenreid from Klondike and Coach Goodwin from Ira. I talked to both about how the game would play out. Both were optimistic and thought it would be a good one. Both were correct! Conversation with both coaches turned to enrollment numbers and where the UIL might set the Division I and Division II cutoff. Will it be 56 or will it be 60? I’ve heard several opinions about it. Coach DeGraffenreid said that Klondike was at 56 for enrollment. He is unsure if they will be DI or DII in 1A next year. Both coaches are anticipating good district alignments – I think every coach may be a little anxious about realignment!
While I don’t normally talk about players, I do need to mention #1 from Klondike. Kylar Pepper is a freshman and is a tiny guy, but he plays big! He does all the little things a player should be doing out there. I saw him get pummeled several times, but he jumped right back up. Kylar, you will grow and someday soon you’ll be a beast… I think you already are! Here’s a big SHOUTOUT to #1 from Klondike. Keep doing what you’re doing!
This Division I, District 5 match-up did not disappoint. I did something last night that I never do. With about seven minutes to go in the game, I put my camera up and went into the bleachers and stood and watched. The vantage point was great! It was loud and exciting and could see a lot from up there! I guess every once in while I need to take in some of the game from the vantage point of the fans. Gotta say… I really enjoyed my few minutes watching from the stands.
Observations from my visit to Ira
To all of you road warriors going to your team’s next game, travel safe and remember to
Go Forward and Do GOOD!
We all have a story... a funny story or a serious story. This space is for those stories that make us laugh or cry or feel motivated.