We pulled up to the school two hours before kick-off with our 8th grade grandson Haydin in tow. We knew immediately that something exciting was happening because there were already lots of cars and a food truck. It was their bi-annual all school reunion. We quickly spotted Coach Hughes and his son, the other Coach Hughes. It was already 100 degrees! I decided to stay in the Jeep a little longer with the AC running while Michael got out to get the lay of the land.
Soon the Blanket Tigers arrived in a little bus. This started many conversations with our grandson about Six-man schools. He attends a 2A school, and while it’s still small, it’s a different world. He was shocked the entire team was on the little bus. We got out of the Jeep to visit with the coaches. Some of the Blanket boys were excited to see the Jeep and ran over to take photos with it. Haydin looked at me and asked what they were doing. He was in total shock. I laughed and explained that some Marfa players had taken photos with my first Jeep, and I posted them on Instagram, which started the pictures with the Jeep.
I have always loved the water tower being right next to the field in Moran. It makes a bold, small town statement. When we gave the coaches their shirts, I pointed out to Coach Hughes why I had asked him for a photo of their field. We had included a water tower in the shirt design this year. Before we finalized it, I had thought we might do something like the Moran field.
Michael and I walked over to the gym to use the restrooms. We decided to walk on into the gym to look around. I immediately remembered being in that gym when I was in high school. I grew up not so far away in Newcastle. Lots of good memories flooded back to me. I chuckled at the sign on the ice machine stating children were not allowed in it. It didn’t say adults weren’t, so I thought about climbing in it. I’m so over this heat!
Haydin and I hung out in the nice cool press box while we waited for the game to start. Michael got all set up and was ready to broadcast. Haydin immediately noticed there wasn’t a 50 yard line on the field. We talked about the differences between 11-man and Six-man. He was fascinated and asked a few questions. I was so glad he had gotten to come with us so we could share our love of the game and our hobby of covering the games.
About 30 minutes before kick-off, I headed down the press box stairs to get my camera equipment. A man I’d seen working to attach something to the back of the press box was still diligently working. He had started with a tall lean-to ladder and then backed his truck up and put a different ladder in it. He was now making headway. I stopped for a moment and studied what he had hung up so far. I asked him if he was hanging up the pieces to make a GIANT mum. He told me he was. I responded with, “Of course, you are. This is Texas!” We both chuckled.
More people were enjoying taking pictures with the Jeep. As I got my equipment out, I realized Coach Cherry’s family was taking pictures with it. I love having something people enjoy interacting with. The sun was bright and their little boy was having a hard time looking at the camera. I don’t blame him one bit. It was hot and bright!
I found my spot on the sidelines and got prepped for the game. While I waited the last few minutes, I stood in the little shade with Moran folks avoiding the sun. A man told me my Jeep was getting lots of attention. We chatted about that and then he showed me a picture on his phone of a Jeep Gladiator like mine with a flatbed on the back. I have to say it was pretty badass. Can I say that here? I just did! A few moments later he popped back around the corner and offered me a lawn chair to enjoy in the shade before the game started.
I enjoyed the chair and the shade while I listened and watched people joyously greet each other and visit. I especially enjoyed the Aggie joke about how to make a duck call out of a coke can tab. I had noticed two dogs enjoying the shade under the home bleachers when we arrived. The little one came over to our shade and I got it to come to me and let me pet it. It was a very sweet little dog. After a bit, it laid down beside me. I was a bit worried it might follow me onto the field later, but it did not. However, the larger dog did join in the game for a bit. Is it truly Six-man if a dog doesn’t join the game? Michael told me later he mentioned the dog in the game on the broadcast and that it had watered the end zone. Haydin thought that was a sly way of saying what really happened.
The game festivities started with the Moran boys riding onto the back of the end zone in a cattle trailer. They busted out of the trailer, flags and all, and through a run through sign onto the sideline. I must say I have seen lots of things in my years enjoying Six-man, but I have NEVER seen that. We were then treated to the national anthem sung live by Jeff Martin. He has a song out called Six-man Football Town. If you haven’t heard it, you can find it on YouTube. Haydin told me he sang loudly and filled the press box impressively with his voice.
Once the game kicked off, I enjoyed listening to the fence hangers reminiscing about their football days and seasons past. They joked around and made light of their not so impressive wins vs losses. Even though they hadn’t had playoff runs, they had definitely enjoyed their football years and time at Moran high school. They were enjoying the day and catching up with each other.
The heat, while not a change from things this season, was still brutal. The teams both seemed a bit sluggish, and I saw at least one revisiting his lunch. I long for cooler days but definitely not the brutal cold ones. I was chugging water and eating small candies. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years covering outdoor events. I always keep candies in one pocket and a water bottle in the other. The last thing I want is people focused on the photographer passed out on the sidelines and not the game.
I was joined in the trenches by the Moran yearbook sponsor. She told me most of the kids were new to the yearbook staff this year and that with it being homecoming they were all busy with festivities. So, she had drawn the short straw to enjoy the heat with me. I was anxiously awaiting the quarter to end so we would switch ends and I could go enjoy the shade from the scoreboard. She joined me in the shade, and we both shot as long as we could from there. Shortly before halftime, I started feeling comfortably cool and knew I’d better get out of the heat fast. I managed to make it up the press box steps, past the giant mum, and into the cool. I figured if I rested a bit, I could make it back out for the second half.
As the clock quickly counted down with less than two minutes left, I got to explain the 45 point rule to Haydin. Blanket was ahead by 45 so I told him the game might be over at half. Then Moran had a fantastic run and scored. So, I then explained we would be coming back for the 3rd quarter. But wait! It’s Six-man! Don’t Blink! Blanket got the ball and ran it for a touchdown as the clock counted down. My poor grandson was so confused as to whether it was really over or not. I was laughing as I was trying to explain it.
I rushed down to the field to award helmet sticker winners. Number 15, Gage Jones, for Blanket walked over to me to ask me if he could get the sticker winner for me. I smiled and told him he was the winner. He jumped so high in the air he could have hurdled me, and he kept on jumping and smiling. I kind of think he was excited.
As we were loading up, some more Blanket players were taking last minute photos with the Jeep. I reminded them to send the photos to us. The lady taking them asked for my number to text them. I must have paused because she quickly told me she was coach Greenfield’s wife, not just a random stranger. I looked up at her and immediately recognized her and chuckled. Now, I have her number…
As we were about to drive away, Coach Hughes came to check on us one last time and make sure we had gotten some brisket sandwiches. He was a fantastic host! He had kept the press box cool and made sure we had everything we needed.
As we drove away, Haydin said “Y’all are famous! How much money do y’all make doing this?!”
Michael and I both roared with laughter and told him we pay to do this. We also explained that we are not famous, but fairly well known in lots of 1A towns along with the rest of the Texas 1A Fan team.
It's Friday! And I headed to Lorenzo. There are just a few more Fridays until Week 1! There was no rain and no wind. Just a bright, sunny, hot, August day. I arrived and Coach Sep, the Hornets new coach, sent the managers to let me in through the weight room. And as I walked out to the field, Metallica was blasting through the speakers. Over the course of an hour, I heard some really great music and watched fundamental coaching at its finest!
Coach Brian Sepkowitz (or Coach Sep, as many cannot say his name correctly) is an intense dude with a lot of energy! The Hornets respond well to him as he is patient when showing how to block and how to get the most out of footwork.
Lorenzo returns some good players from last year's team and has a new addition. Keep an eye on Travon McCaslin, Lupe Salinas, and Chris Quintana. They will lead the Hornets through a tough District 3 when they face Anton, Springlake-Earth, Kress, and their neighbor, Petersburg. The Hornets are 14 strong this year with three seniors. They hope to hone their skills under Coach Sep's watchful eye and wreck some havoc in district race.
When it was time for me to go, the players took a water break. Each player introduced themselves to me and shook my hand. That has never happened, and I loved it! It's so nice to meet the players individually after watching them practice as a team. They were all smiles. We then got together for a group picture. Coach. Sep decided to give me a gatorade bath (it was water) to show their appreciation for Texas 1A Fan's support. THAT was the most refreshed I felt all day, and it definitely made me laugh! That was the first and will probably be the last time that happens. Gotta give it to them, though. That is a great sports way to show appreciation! I'm on board with it!
I like what is being built in Lorenzo. Team and family. If you have some free time, go out and catch a Hornet game this season. The Hornets deserve a really good fanbase.
Keep working, Hornets. You'll get there. Keep your eye on the prize!
Go Forward and Do Good!
- Bobbie Brown
Today's quest... get down Highway 87 south to O'Donnell. It wasn't very easy as storms were building. Yes, that is a very good thing! But some fields have not been plowed in a long while. At one point, I couldn't see one foot past the front of my pick-up and was crawling along at about 30mph. And it was still 103 degrees. I can only imagine that it felt like a very large blow dryer outside! It rained a bit outside of Tahoka. It was just enough to dot my pick-up with red blobs of dirt. In no way am I complaining. That stuff will wash off, and we desperately need the rain.
I finally pulled into O'Donnell. The Screamin' Eagles were already hard at work on a beautiful field of green grass. I could get used to this! There were a lot of bodies on that field. Coach Baeza has 29 players out this year. And they were all working hard. My favorite comment heard during practice was, "Hustle! You don't walk on this field!" That is a great mindset. Hustle was definitely the word of the day.
In 2021, Gage Garces earned All-Region Honorable Mention for the Screamin' Eagles. You probably recognize that last name. It seems there has been a Garces on the O'Donnell field for as long as I can remember, and they are all very hard workers and great players.
Eight seniors are poised to take a leadership role. Borden County moves out of their district, but Coach Baeza isn't overlooking Whiteface and Meadow. Last year the Eagles fell to Borden County as the final seconds ticked away and then went down to Meadow. The Broncos dashed their playoffs hopes in 2021, but a hunger has built over the past eight months, and the Screamin' Eagles are working hard to get to the playoffs.
Players to watch include the Gage Garces, the Bundy twins, Nick Rios, and Omar Vela. Coach Baeza is really looking to his "coach on the field," Shooter Vela. Now that is an incredibly cool name! Coach Baeza's twin boys are sophomores this year.
Speaking of twins, one of my favorite ADs, Blake Nichols, let me in on a little secret as I sat in his golf cart at the edge of the field. O'Donnell has four sets of twins. Three sets of twins are players and the fourth set includes a boy and girl. The boy plays football and the girl is a team manager. So, if your team is playing O'Donnell, you might find yourself seeing double. A lot.
Thank you, Coach Baeza and Coach Nichols for having me today. It's always a pleasure visiting O'Donnell! And to the players, keep up the hard work. It will pay off! And don't ever forget, Go Forward and Do GOOD!
- Bobbie Brown
It has been a while since I've written about my Texas 1A Fan travels to six-man towns. While these short articles may not be a popular read, I feel the need to write about my time with six-man kids and coaches. Because they really are the best and this helps me remember them!
Late this afternoon, I headed down the Brownfield highway toward Meadow. The temperature reading on my pick-up shouted 104 degrees at me, but there were some Broncos needing attention. For those of you not from the West Texas and lower panhandle area, Meadow sits about 27 miles southwest of Lubbock along highway 62/82.
I arrived in the land of the purple and gold and made my way behind the school. While front and back yards all over this flat part of the world are crunchy and dead, the grass on the Meadow game and practice fields was a beautiful green. It was more green grass than I've seen in many months.
Coach Joshua Conner saw me walking to the practice field and greeted me with a smile. This is Coach Conner's third year at Meadow, and he's definitely building a good program! Last year when I covered Meadow, I was pleasantly surprised by the heart each player showed throughout the game. Yes, that is what often gets me. You can see it ooze from a player. Grit, heart, and the persistence to keep going. It's all in the body language and it yells loud and clear. A perfect example was evident in the Broncos blood, sweat, and tears battle with Whiteface in district play. They got the win by one point, 73-72. That win sealed their path to the playoffs. They ultimately lost to Spur in the Bi-District round, but it definitely left them hungry for more. And more is coming in 2022.
This year will see the Broncos in District 5 in Region II, Division I. Fifteen Broncos will take the field in game one against the Baird Bears at home on August 26th. They have several returning starters who earned All-Region honors in 2021 including Paul Franco, Jimmy German, and Caleb Sanchez. Keep your eye on the purple and gold this year. Meadow will surprise some folks.
Thank you, Coach Conner, for being so gracious and giving me the opportunity to join in practice today. Although it was 104 degrees with no wind, watching plays and observing how your team interacts during practice was a pleasure! It really did make me forget about the heat... mostly! Oh and that green grass at Meadow? Coach Conner gave a big shoutout to the maintenance guys. You guys rock! Keep up the good work!
Good luck, Broncos, and remember, go Forward and Do GOOD!
-Bobbie Brown, Texas 1A Fan
By Bobbie Brown
Strawn Greyhounds. A well-oiled machine. A team everyone loves to hate. Every year they succeed. The Greyhounds are led by a very intense Coach Dewaine Lee. He doesn’t rebuild. He reloads. Every year.
And there is a story to tell. Jared Christopher, documentary specialist, wasted no time telling it. The Greyhounds were followed by a group of documentary videographers the past year. If you played Strawn, you saw them. You might think it’s another football story. And it is but it isn’t. After joining in with Coach Lee and a few other folks to watch the first three episodes of the premier in Weatherford, I found it to be enlightening and it sucked me in. I wanted to hear more about the people and players.
Players J.W. Montgomery and Blaze and his NaNa lend a voice to the story. Many of the townspeople provide explanation and commentary about how they believe the season will go. Coach Lee is... Coach Lee. Intense. Demanding. He is also funny and mischevious at times. You can see he really loves the kids and people. I laughed several times and yes, I shed a few tears. If the first three episodes are any indication, the world is about to get a good dose of tough love, a never-give-up attitude, and an iron will to not only succeed in football but also in life.
Perception is a powerful thing.
After getting just a glimpse of the emotional story to come, I expect that cracks will form in negative perceptions surrounding the Strawn Greyhounds and their beloved Coach Lee.
On Thanksgiving Day, CBS All Access will release the first three episodes of Texas 6. Every Thursday afterward, a new episode will be released until all eight episodes have run. I look forward to continuing down the path that Mr. Christopher has so artfully laid in front of us.
Trailer for Texas 6:
How and When to Stream Texas 6:
Article: Jared Christopher on Texas 6
By Bobbie Brown
Sometimes players stand out and seem larger than the actual game. Sometimes it’s because they are really athletic and sometimes it’s just the amount of heart and effort they put forth. I decided it was time to take a trip down memory lane to not that long ago. A tiny Cougar caught my complete attention. Tiny #1 got knocked down over and over and kept popping back up for more (https://www.1afan.com/thezone/the-little-guy).
Kylar Pepper. Klondike Cougar. Big heart. Never-give-up attitude. Huge smile.
The year was 2017. Kylar was a freshman. He stood a whopping 5’2 and weighed maybe 90 pounds. The Cougars found themselves hosting the eventual State finalist Balmorhea Bears, and it was brutal. It was Coach DeGraffenreid’s first year in Klondike. He had some athletic players, but nothing was really expected of them that season or that night. I went into that game expecting to enjoy watching the great 2017 Bears team and came out with a newfound respect for a little freshman I nicknamed Mighty Mouse.
Fast forward to 2020 and me and the Black Beast made our way south to Klondike to check in with Mighty Mouse and the undefeated Cougars. Klondike is literally in the middle of a cotton field. I always enjoy visiting the small community. The people are very kind and welcoming. It is a huge bonus that the Junior class parents make homemade ice cream and sell it at a table set up right beside the concession stand. Great stuff! There were seven flavors to choose from. I made my choice and enjoyed it while watching players begin warmup.
I found Coach D and the Cougars warming up. Although I’d kept up with Kylar, and he had grown his sophomore and junior years, I couldn’t pick him out of the group. Coach D let me know that Mighty Mouse had a growth spurt during the stay at home orders earlier this year. He said when he saw Kylar in August, he had to look up at him, and it almost brought him to tears. I quickly glanced to the end zone and found #7 (he switched numbers his sophomore year). Ol’ Mighty Mouse had grown to at least 6’0. He had also grown as a leader on the field. I watched him direct the Cougar offense as QB and contribute on defense. The Cougars have a very cohesive team this year and came out on top at the end of the game last night. And Kylar was right there in the mix on every play.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Kylar. He still loves Milk Duds. He has expanded his musical taste to include rap and rock but still listens to country. His love of brisket may have contributed to that growth spurt. And he’s moved from a love of history to really liking science.
Beyond the basics, Kylar learned a lot as a little guy and applies his experience to his play this year. Kylar said, “Having been so small I was a little bit restricted. I wasn’t the strongest or the fastest. But I did use what I could to my advantage. I tried to play smart and work on good mechanics, such as my throwing form, making correct reads, finding open receivers, in order to improve my game. Now that I am bigger and stronger, I feel that those fundamentals are more natural. I feel like having gotten that experience at a young age and only being able to work with what I had, I make a lot smarter decisions now since I’ve experienced different situations.”
He also has great advice for those little guys out there right now, “Just be patient and don’t get frustrated. Eventually you will grow and get stronger and be one of the biggest on the field. Don’t get down on yourself now and think that you’re too small to play. Some of the best players from high school all the way to the pros have been small guys with big hearts!”
Coach DeGraffenreid has enjoyed watching him progress, “Kylar is just one of those kids that coaches dream about. He never gets out worked, he has a natural ability to understand the game, and is a coach on the field. From the time he was a tiny little freshman, I knew he just had that “it” factor about him that makes him special. He has grown not only as a quarterback the last four years but just as a player in general. He has come up big for us on the defensive side of the ball this year and it’s just because he has such a high understanding of what people are trying to do offensively.”
Kylar and the Cougars expect to make a run into the playoffs this year. I asked him if he could give one message to his team, what would it be. Kylar said he would remind them of how they were not expected to be this good and, “We were expected to be a decent team but every time someone doubts our abilities it really motivates us to prove them wrong. Look to our ultimate goal of playing in the state championship. That always gets us fired up.”
Kylar plans on attending Texas Tech after graduating in 2021. He hasn’t decided his major but is steadfast in using the leadership skills he’s learned to help others as much as he can.
It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, I wrote about Kylar Pepper. In many ways, he represents six-man football in this great state of Texas. Small in stature with a huge heart. He is not small anymore, but he definitely still has that big heart! Kids like Kylar make us want to go forward and do Good!
By Dency McClure
We arrived in Bryson, and the concession stand was opening as we parked. We were there very early so I was impressed. I get one shot at a concession stand, and that’s before the game. If they don’t open until the national anthem, then I miss it entirely. I’m sure you are thinking that’s absurd. Why do you miss it? Well, the line is usually too long during half-time for me to make it back for the beginning of the 3rd quarter, and they are always closed after the game. I must say the Bryson concession stand was impressive. They had cheese sticks, onion rings, cheese burgers, etc. already in the warmer ready to be taken before the game. Ohhhhh and I found out later when I saw people walking around with fluffy colorful clouds on sticks that they had cotton candy! Brace yourself, I will have to mention that again because, well, it’s cotton candy!
I went and found Coach Cumby. I had talked to him at a scrimmage but had totally forgotten to introduce myself. Today that was the first thing I did. He told me they had enjoyed the photos and article from the scrimmage where I had mentioned forgetting to introduce myself so we chuckled about that. He was in the middle of assisting with warmups so we didn’t chat long. As I was walking away, he yelled out for me to wait. He then ran up to me and said, “I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Trey Cumby.” We both laughed and parted ways still chuckling.
I then found Clint Miller. He was one of the first coaches I met when I started covering multiple schools. Corona or no Corona, he gave me a hug. He was obviously excited about his team. He told me he was in the perfect place to rebuild a program. He pointed out three kids in regular clothes on the field that were out due to injuries. He told me he had a good team and when he got them all back he’d have an even better team. I have to admit, I was a little surprised by what he was telling me as Rising Star has had a hard time the last few years and sometimes struggled to even field a team. Plus, they were the predicted 45 point underdog in this game.
I met a man that has a boy on the Forestburg team that takes photos. We had a great time talking shop. He showed me lots of great pictures he has taken. I quickly became aware that I no longer had a shop talk folder on the phone I got to replace mine that was stolen. Definitely need to update that. It’s always fun to see what other photographers are the most proud of. It was nice to make a friend on the sidelines and chat off and on during the game. The moon was exceptional at one point during the evening, and I took as many photos as I could of it at different stages. I caught him doing the same.
Before the game started, the line referee on the Forestburg side asked me what team I was shooting for, and I told him I was shooting both teams and also the referees. He lit up and told me he’d love some of himself in action and gave me his email address. I put it in notes on my phone and had him look at it to make sure I got it right. When I did, he asked me why the “M” at the end of dot com was on the next line. I told him it was just because my text size setting was big. He commented that I must be as blind as he was, and we both laughed.
The game quickly got under way, and I realized two of the referees were very experienced and the line judges were new. They did a good job working together, and the experienced guys took advantage of lots of teachable moments. I am so thankful we have referees and new ones. I recognize most of the referees now and that tells me they are solid six-man referees who like me, chose to be Six-man.
It became apparent very quickly that the predicted close out game was not going to happen. Rising Star was on fire and Forestburg had been stung with shock. At some points it was about a 10 point game, and it got very interesting. It was a great game! I was texting multiple friends telling them how good it was. One told me to stop texting him the score because he had tuned in to the broadcast. Coach Miller worked the clock like he owned the clock tower. Which cost Forestburg a penalty once because one of their players tired of it all and took his helmet off on the field getting a bit ahead of himself.
You hear all kinds of things on the sidelines. At one point I heard a coach tell his assistant “Ah, he’s an 11-man coach. No other reason he would have done that. Then we will do this and really mess him up.” There are definite differences in the game strategies. I’ve seen some past 11-man coaches break into Six-man and do very well. I’ve seen some come in thinking that because they coached 11-man that they are better than everyone else. That never goes over well. The general Six-man coach population calls that the 11-man mentality, which does cause them to be a little leery of coaches breaking into the game. No clue who may or may not have been a past 11-man guy on the other side.
I absolutely love to see Six-man coaches sitting down with new-to-the-game coaches and showing them plays. I remember watching a very good six-man coach draw up a play and hand the paper over to the new guy and say "Show me how to beat that." After a few moments, the new guy finally gave up and the Six-man coach happily showed him how. They had the best time. One thing I’ve learned about Six-man coaches is they love to share! All you have to do is ask. I’ve told a few new coaches who they needed to reach out to and they never let me down helping a new guy.
Did I mention Bryson has cotton candy in their concession stand? Why yes, I did. Seeing those fluffs bounding up and down round the stands was the best. I still love cotton candy but can you imagine how excited the kids must have been to find out the concession stand had it. Oh to be 10 again. I think I turn 10 again when I get my hands on some. Your soul just lights up a bit when you get your hands on some of that magical cloud puff of sweetness.
See you on the sidelines!
By Dency McClure
The Eden field was lush and green with a perfect big blue E on the 40. It has been so dry and hot in this area I can only begin to imagine the work and water investment made to get and keep it so nice. Principal Odom told me the beautiful field was all because of Coach Shay and his crew.
Eden had their bleachers well marked with big blue x’s. They showed the rows on which not to sit. It was unusual seeing people spread apart and so many watching from the other side of the fence. We are all so happy to get to have football that we take it all in stride.
Walking all around a football field in 100 degree weather, in a mask is a bit daunting. It can be done and I did but wow sometimes you just have to get way off by yourself and take a good breath. You can tell nobody wants to wear them all the time. We all did our best to keep them on and keep the environment safer for everyone. By the end of this season I may not even notice the mask.
What a game Eden and Blackwell had in store for their season opener. It ended with Eden winning by a mere 2 points. Now I know if you are from one of the towns competing it can get stressful and you don’t view it as a great game. But for a non biased observer it was a fantastic game. The suspense and the never knowing just who was going to pull it off and come out with the win was great. I’ve had the honor of watching both these teams and many of their players and coaches over the recent years. You can’t help but get excited about seeing them all again and watching to see how certain kids have improved their talent.
“Camo” Coldiron actually saw me and greeted me before the game. He has been in my viewfinder many times. Hunner Rodgers is easy to spot as he is the tallest on the field and has an arm. Eden is blessed with two great quarterbacks on their team this year because they also have Gamboa. Now Gamboa and Rodgers are quite a pair to watch on a basketball court as well as a football field. I was sad to see Tyson Walls in a cast. I always enjoy watching him on the line and his older brother was a beast as well. So many great kids on both of these teams that I love to watch and photograph in action. Too many to name here.
Once the game got under way I noticed that the player box was huge. As a photographer I work hard to stay out of the way of the coaches, players, trainers, etc. That always means watching the player box lines and only invading them when the team is at the other end or completely out of the way. Well, when I looked closely I realized the player box was literally marked from the 10 yard line to the 10 yard line. I’ve known Odom for a while so I got his attention, as I was standing in the player box, and asked him if they were trying to have the biggest player box in the state. He chuckled and told me that wasn’t the case at all but that that was the new regulation size due to Covid. I was shocked. Lots of things are different but it almost took up the entire sideline. I still worked to distance myself, even more than normal, from the players but I did end up shooting from inside the enormous player box regularly.
Oh the cramps of a week one game in the heat. They were bad for sure. It seems like it is always worse the first week of the season. The Eden trainer asked me how many photos I’d gotten of her stretching the kids. I told her I never take pictures of the kids that are down but only of those kneeling and waiting. I think she was relieved. She laughed and told me that at one point she thought she was going to end up with all of them down cramping. It got so bad that even the Blackwell players were jumping in and stretching the Eden players that were down. The annoncer even thanked them.
The announcer did a great job. Early in the game one of the referees started to walk the ball off in the wrong direction and the crowd started fussing. The announcer came over the speakers loud and clear and told everyone to calm down that it’s the first game and it will be alright. This quickly changed the mood from frustration to laughter. So very true! It was the first game and we all needed the calming voice to let us know it’s ok if we mess up a bit. It is even hard for me to get back in the groove of being where I need to be to get the shots I want according to what is going on on the field.
Towards the end of the game Superintendent Gandy was down on the sidelines. I asked her if she was there to keep the field borders intact. She let me know that indeed she was there to keep the fans from gathering on the field. I know things are different this year and I’ll abide by and live with whatever restrictions we have to so we can keep getting to have our games and some sense of community while attending. No it’s not normal but it is what we have right now and I am thankful for it. I’d rather be wearing a mask and taking photos from a distance than sitting at home and missing out on Six-man football.
See you on the sidelines!
By Bobbie Brown
When I arrived in Guthrie, Texas, it was 109 degrees. It was around 5:00PM. Game time? 6:30! If you haven't attended a sporting event in Guthrie and gone to their concession stand, you are completely missing out! Just look at those nachos! Do you know many concession stands that make nachos like that? They are so good, Texas Country Reporter did a story on them (link at end). Another great thing about the host to White Deer and Strawn... everyone was incredibly nice and the field looked amazing! So green and pretty. I understand Coach Shipman carefully tends to the field. He does an outstanding job!
As most of you have heard, Guthrie lost a Jaguar last week. #56 Rue McNiel. Many teams have chosen to honor Rue this year by displaying his number on their helmets. Teams have also contributed to help Rue's family. White Deer and Strawn did the same. My heart breaks for the loss of Rue. Of any person. I hope that the 1A community remembering him this season helps if only a tiny bit.
Coach Shipman's green grass beckoned after conversing with the folks in the fabulous concession stand. The Bucks and the Greyhounds were warming up. It was game time.
The Bucks are big and fast. They bring back a whole slew of great players from last year. Hunter Warminski. Mason Mooney. William Sirmans. Graysen Freeman. Just to name a few. Several others caught my attention. Keep your eye on Kaydon Johnson and Karson Ketchum. Johnson is freaky fast! When the Bucks settle down and all get going in the same direction at the same time, WATCH OUT! I expect for that to happen way sooner than later.
Oh you greyhounds! You jump up and surprise me every year. I don't know why! Coach Lee churns out fundamentally sound players and cohesive teams year after year. Several players stood out. #2 Lorenzo Garcia has a low center of gravity and uses that to muscle his way past defenders. #3 Evan Williams looks unassuming. Always remember that looks are deceiving. He's quick and does an excellent job under center. I'd be remiss not to mention #55 Max Hopkins. Max blocked like it was the last block of his life. I noticed he focused in on his block and stayed with it - I finally got a good picture of his focus doing his job on the field. It literally looks like he's staring a hole in his opponent. Strawn is no joke. Greyhounds, keep it up. You'll get there quickly if you keep playing like that!
One thing is for certain about White Deer and Strawn. Both teams are extremely hard hitters. Helmets flew off, sweat sprayed, loud crashing sounds slammed into the sidelines and right into my ears. Many times during the game, I found myself cringing when a player ran into what seemed to be a brick wall. Some of the hits, I swear I felt! Week 1 and those hard hits? Sheesh! What will these two teams be like in the playoffs? Yep, guess I just let it leak... White Deer. Strawn. Playoffs. Pretty sure that's going to happen after watching both the Bucks and Greyhounds. Each team is chalk full of heart with a large helping of never give up. And they will hit and hit hard.
So until next week, go forward and do GOOD!
Guthrie Concession Stand featured on Texas Country Reporter
By Bobbie Brown
As I made my way through the cotton field backroads on the plains, I thought about both Southland and Cotton Center. Both schools are on the smallest end of the 1A spectrum, but both have a fighting spirit that has kept them alive in all types of 1A activities. And let’s face it, I was more than a little excited to be attending the first football game of the 2020 season. This one did not disappoint!
Some interesting things about my visit to Cotton Center… the ladies at the entrance were incredibly nice, and the wee Elk that handed me a program was smiling from ear to ear. I’m with ya, Bud. I was smiling, too! The field was ready. Nice, green grass. Fans were trickling in. Most pulled right up to the one-wire fence surrounding the field and were waiting in their cars for the action to start. The Eagles and Elks were warming up. There weren’t a lot of them and I was soon to find out, that doesn’t matter. Heart is what matters. And they all had it in spades.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the various pandemic-related instructions from the announcer. We were all instructed that no one would be allowed on the field after the game and once the game was complete, everyone should leave the property. You and I both know that going onto the field is a rite of passage for parents and fans. It’s just something we do and have always done. This might be one of the disappointments of this football season, but I have no doubt, fans and parents will be down on that field following a game in no time at all! I had to laugh throughout the game. The first game is a time to figure out what we’re doing and get back into the swing of things. The Cotton Center announcer made me laugh on several occasions. It seems he was figuring it out as well. Sometimes I didn’t hear him at all and his voice would break through the game sounds in mid-sentence. Dude… I feel ya. Keep plugging because you’re doing a really good job!
The Southland Eagles jumped out to a two touchdown lead early. The Cotton Center Elks never gave up. By half, the score was tied. The difference in this game came down to the last five minutes. The players were exhausted but found a way to dig down and continue to battle. Both sides… warriors and never gave up! I love seeing games like this. The back and forth and yells and grunts. For a first game in August, I was truly impressed! Sterling Berry and Zeke Saenz stood out for the Elks. CorDale Benham stood out for the Eagles.
In the fourth quarter, I had a great conversation with the Assistant Principal at Cotton Center, Allen Keys. The Elks were ahead and he was pumped! Going into this game, the Elks were 0-29. He desperately wanted a win for the team and school. As the final seconds ticked off and the Elk faithful let out a roar, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that the fans and parents wouldn’t be able to celebrate this win on the field with the players after the game. Three years without a win, and they got it done!
I spent a moment talking to Coach Dusty Grantham, Eagles head coach. He’s doing a very good job at Southland! He has a whole slew of freshmen that are contributing. I will be seeing the Eagles again in a couple of weeks when they play at Whiteface homecoming. I’m eager to see how much they improve.
I don’t think I’ve been to a game where everyone was smiling the entire game. Everyone is so relieved that football is here and the games are going forward. It’s true what they say… there is nothing like football in Texas. I felt that in Cotton Center. I will feel it again each week in 2020. And I welcome it. The fans smiling. The crowd cheering. The player's excitement. I will take it all in and enjoy every second. I hope you all do the same. This is a small return to normalcy. And I love it!
Always remember… go forward and do GOOD!
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