By Johnna Reynolds
Football is upon us my brothers and sisters!
This time of year is always so exciting to me. I love the spirit in the air. The newness of this football season. This is a time of new beginnings. A time to rise shine. A time to create new memories. Last year is but a memory,
With that said, its time to get pumped for the 2019-2020 Golden Spirit Stick! I am looking for the squad that has the most enthusiasm, the most pep and the most crowd participation. Is that your squad?
Hopefully, I'll get to meet more of you than I did last year. I'm looking forward to meeting the girls from Buena Vista who won the Decorating Contest! We'll be enjoying cupcakes very soon!
Do me a favor and post a pict of your squad on your first game day!
Keep that spirit up!
Friends we are and friends we'll always be. Together we will cheer so faithfully. Cheerleaders we'll always be, until we meet again.
I ended my week with a trip to Bynum to watch them scrimmage Bluff Dale. I entered a nice metal gate set back from the middle of the endzone. A few fans had already set up their lawn chairs off to one side of the endzone. I could already tell it was going to be a beautiful evening for some football. There were gentle rain clouds building and the temperature was in the 90s. Not to mention the wonderful breeze.
I settled in on the visitors side to keep the sun behind me for taking pictures. A nice group had traveled in from Bluff Dale. There was even a chain gang for the scrimmage and they were selling drinks in the concession stand. The Bynum cheerleaders were out in full uniform as was their mascot a bulldog. I was very glad it wasn’t 100 plus degree day when I saw the mascot in full uniform.
My youngest daughter was a mascot for a while and I can tell you she suffered through lots of things. During the speech at an outdoor homecoming pep rally she saw ants crawling inside her uniform head. She had to stay calm and finish the pep rally. I have to say that was the fastest I ever saw her get out of that uniform when she got back to the truck. Her hair also got caught in the little cooling fan inside the head once. That was the last time she used the fan. So, when you see the cute mascot just remember it’s not all butterflies and rainbows; there is a tough kid in there making it look easy.
As the scrimmage got under way I quickly determined that Bluff Dale had a good runner and Bynum had a kid with a great arm. It was interesting to see how each team worked to shut the other team’s key assets down. It’s fun to watch scrimmages because you are seeing the rough edges being worked out. Coaches can see their big issues quickly and know what to work on before the first real game of the season.
There is always interesting conversation and activity on the sidelines. One of the chain gang had a very nice belt with lots of bling. When the sun caught it just right it was dazzling. Another kid was admiring it and asked him where he had purchased it. A kid on the bench was equating the struggle on the field with the struggle it takes for an egg to be fertilized for us to even be born, Betting that was a recent lesson in school and I couldn’t help but chuckle that it had made its way to into a relevant football example. A crew of girls were keeping everyone hydrated by making frequent trips around the field with water bottles. Luckily the weather was such that those trips weren’t as needed as they often are. The experienced referees where watching the new ones and giving them lots of pointers on how to do things. The new ones were eagerly listening knowing next week they will be on their own.
I visited with Coach Conner after the game. I found out where all he has coached and that he is a coaches’ son. I even got to meet his dad who had come to the scrimmage. I always enjoy hearing the stories of how people came to six-man. Did they grow up on it, did they stumble into it? Coach Conner stumbled into six-man at his first coaching job and is now part of the six-man family. He told me once you see a really good six-man game you’re in. You can tell he really loves his job when he talks about the school and community of Bynum.
After my visit with Coach Conner I headed over to get an interview with Coach Ware and Coach Johnson. I impromptu decided to interview them both at the same time. They were good sports and we made it work. Some coaches love to be interviewed and others would rather dodge the limelight. I have to admit I always struggle with names of coaches and towns the minute I push the record button so I completely understand the fear. Not sure why that happens to me but it does.
See you on the sidelines!
I arrived in Mount Calm, and as I turned the corner to the field, I could see all kinds of activity. The stands and parking lot were buzzing with people, and the field had players warming up. The sight just made the heart pound a little faster and the adrenaline flow. Football season is here! I pulled in and parked and headed out to the field to catch the coaches before the real action started. They were all in a festive mood, and I had caught them all at the right time. I managed to get all their interviews one right after the other and get in a quick visit with them.
I headed back to the car and got my equipment and to the sidelines I went. I met a couple of Mount Calm fence guys and asked them for their thoughts about the upcoming season. They were excited and felt like this season will be a good one and better than the last one. I saw lots of people with umbrellas to keep the sun off. Goodness knows where I live they would get more use for that than keeping the rain off. A bit jealous of the big umbrellas. I pulled my cap bill down a little more and got back to work.
I greeted a coach from a town I visited earlier in the week. He was there doing some scouting. With it being a four-team scrimmage on a Thursday, it was a good place to do some reconnaissance for future games. Scouting coaches remain nameless here because they are like hunters, you really don’t want to point them out.
Scrimmages are a game all their own. Players, coaches, and referees are all practicing for the upcoming season. If the referees on my side had any idea I was going to write about them, they might have thrown a flag and sent me to the other side. Some basic discussion of six-man rules verses eleven man and how many times the advising referee had gotten to officiate state games. Then the tenured advice not to chase everything to stay back a bit so you can see the play. My favorite was when the younger line judge threw a flag on a play that happened clear across the field. The advising referee quickly called him on it and told him, and I quote, “Now you have gone fishin’ in someone else’s pond.” Several people in my vicinity chuckled. He then explained that the other side of the field was not his area to call. Good times and great training.
The sun had started to set and the teams were finishing up. I decided to hit the road right before the last couple of plays so I could avoid the parking lot chaos. I drove into the sunset thinking back on the great scrimmage.
See you on the sidelines!
I got to Morgan before practice so decided to drive around a bit and get a feel for the town. I was very impressed that all the roads are paved. That may sound silly to some but that's a huge thing in the towns I visit. I live on a dirt road in town so seeing all paved roads in a small town is exciting. Morgan also has not one but two stores that sell gas. Again, a big thing to this small town gal.
I ventured around the school and saw some high school boys in the back parking lot so figured I was in the right place. I pulled in and parked and was quickly greeted by Coach Aviles. I followed him around and we visited while he gathered up the last of what they needed to take to the field across town. He had thought my visit would be more formal so had the boys ready to put on their full uniforms for a group photo. I assured him that wasn’t necessary that my visit was a casual one and I would just be taking some snapshots of practice. That seemed to put him at ease a bit as he really hadn’t known what to expect. I never really thought about anyone thinking my visits would be anything but laid back.
The boys loaded up in a yellow dawg with Aviles at the wheel and I followed along behind them. Once to the field one of the boys jumped out and opened the double gate for us to drive through. It’s such a beautiful stadium set on the edge of town with real grass. Once out of the car I could hear a rooster crowing faithfully in the distance. While I was there two trains went by. At first I couldn’t see the train behind the trees but then I saw an opening further down and saw one zooming by. If you think trains are a thing of the past, think again. I hear and see them all the time in my visits to 1A schools. They are very active.
This was an evening practice and I must say starting after 6:00 is the way to go. The heat was starting to subside and there was a nice breeze. It was like hanging out in the back yard watching the kids play. Perfect ending to the day. The boys were all working and playing together and following Coach Aviles instructions. They seem to all be good friends and enjoy their time together. Coach Aviles is the lone coach of the team. I asked him how that was working out and he told me the boys knew he was on his own so they had stepped up and helped him with whatever he needed.
I decided it was time to head out. I drove back through the lush grass to the gate and started to head out of town when I spied a car wash. Yep, paved streets two stores and a car wash! I had hit gold. My car had seen so many dirt roads, bugs and tree sap from parking under them for shade I was in desperate need of a car wash. I zoomed in and dug in my change stash. It only took a dollar fifty to use the foaming brush and power rinser to give my car a good going over. Not to mention I enjoyed getting a little misted myself in the August heat.
See you on the sidelines!
I came into Covington through a little downtown area and then stopped at the CEFCO before heading on out to the stadium. The Stadium in Covington is out on the edge of town away from the school. It’s a really nice complex with baseball fields and more. I parked in front of a painted owl as the boys were crossing the road to a practice area. I didn’t make it too far before Coach Steele saw me as he was driving by. He offered me a ride down to the practice area, and I gladly accepted.
We had a nice visit about his team and the Covington kids as a whole. I have such an appreciation for small town coaches because they have a love for their team and the town kids in general. So many of them go far beyond just coaching. They take time for the kids off the field and take on a huge mentor role assisting kids in any way that they need. The term “father figure” just isn’t enough to describe what so many 1A coaches do everyday for their communities. Coach Steele is one of the coaches that truly takes to heart the depth of the job for which he has been called.
Covington has almost 30 kids out for football this year. They will be playing a full JV schedule. That’s the most kids I’ve seen on a field this year. It was neat to see how organized they ran practice with so many kids. They had three groups and each group would run the plays they called one right after the other. Coach Taylor would call out a play and then group one would run it immediately followed by group two and then group three. This allowed for the coaches to watch each group and give feedback. Yet it kept things moving and all the kids rotating in their groups.
Amazingly there was some cloud cover and a good gust of wind from time to time. I lost my hat at one point. So thankful for the wind I didn’t mind a bit. Nicest weather I’ve had for an afternoon practice so far. It made it easy to just watch for a while. Couldn’t stay too long though I needed to get to Morgan to visit their practice.
I left via the fence opening by the dug out that Coach Steele had pointed out as a shortcut back to my car. I drove back into town and stopped at the CEFCO. It’s just too nice a place to pass up when you are traveling and you have no idea when you will see anything like it again. While shopping around for some kind of meal, a gentleman with a little boy spied me in my Texas 1A Fan shirt and asked if I had been to the field yet. I told him I had just gotten back. He told me they were fixing to have the younger kids football practice if I wanted to come. I thanked him for the invitation but explained I was fixing to head to Morgan. FYI... I love it when people realize who I am and talk to me. That’s what it's all about! Making community connections and getting to know people. I grew up in a six-man town and chose to live in a one for that very reason.
See you on the sidelines!
I was excited about going to Penelope. I have been there before but still excited to see the famous field again from the book “Where Dreams Die Hard” by Carlton Stowers, one of my favorite authors. It’s a great Six-man read if you haven’t read it. Coach Ballew and others are in the book. The book was based on the 2004 football season. I asked Ballew once just how long he had been coaching in Penelope because he is one of the team coaches in the book. He just chuckled and told me a long time.
As I approached Penelope from the town of West, I was greeted by a little portable stoplight in the middle of the countryside. I stopped at it and waited. After about five minutes, a truck pulled up behind me. A few more minutes passed. About to think we were left for good, there a little car with a round flashing light on top appeared in the distance. It turned around and confirmed my hopes it was the “follow me car.” The truck and I happily got behind it and followed along. Before long the pavement was gone and we were bouncing around on rough dirt alongside giant machinery doing all sorts of things. I quickly realized why we had sat at the little stoplight so long. This was a major area of road work.
Once back on solid pavement I realized I wasn’t going to be early as I had planned. Luckily I was on the field before the coaches appeared. The field is down a small steep hill from all of the school buildings. I was fascinated by watching how each person carefully walked down off to the side away from the steepest part. Plus they had just put in new sod on the hill so everyone was being careful to protect it. Coach Ballew was proud of how well the sod had done on the hill.
Coach Ballew greeted me excitedly and was ready to do his interview. He offered for us to go stand in the shade of a little tree to the side of the field. I gladly agreed to the shade. It was about 3:00 o’clock and the heat was on for sure. The shade of the little tree was a great reprieve.
The boys finished stretching and just as they were about to start other things, the water boy announced he had been stung by a bee. Ballew jumped into action and took him to the school building for assistance having the other coaches start the practice. You just never know what is going to happen.
Ballew soon returned and practice was in full swing. Working on plays and plans for their scrimmage against Gholson. They knew other teams were coming but their main focus was to currently work on what they knew to expect from Gholson. Coaches learn to anticipate what other coaches they know will do. Even if they haven’t seen things on film they may know that a coach will try certain things from past experiences.
I worked my way around the field and got several photos before deciding to head to the car before bursting into flame. My little car was extra hot when I returned to it. I decided to consult the GPS and find a new route back as to avoid little stoplights in the countryside. I found a new route through Hillsboro and off I went with the AC blasting.
See you on the Sidelines!
I bee bopped into Kopperl and parked on one side of the school. I got out and started looking for the football field. I couldn’t see it, but I had a sense it should be there behind the building. I couldn’t find a way in and was about to think I had arrived at the wrong place when I heard a whistle. I was definitely in the right vicinity just not near an entrance. I got back in my car and headed to the other side of the school. I found an opening where the buses were parked and followed the sound of the whistles. There at the bottom of the hill was the practice field. I had found it.
Coach Wood greeted me, and we began to visit. He and I taught together for many years. We actually shared a classroom for one class period a day. Funny how the world brings you back to see people again. He walked me through the back hallways and to the front of the building to his air conditioned office leaving practice in the capable hands of his assistants for a bit. We quickly caught up on life, and I got my interview with him before we headed back into the heat.
What Kopperl didn’t have in numbers they made up for in spunk. I enjoyed visiting with the helpers while they gathered equipment and kept water and towels at the ready. One was a senior out with an injury hoping to get released to play later in the week. One helper was on the field running plays with the team in shorts and a t-shirt helping out where he could. Some of the conversation was about school starting the next day. They were ever so helpful in answering my questions. They and Coach Wood told me one of the kids on the field was an ex-student there to workout as he prepared physically for joining the military.
With the actual game field a bit of a drive a way, it is extra nice to have such a great practice field right behind the school. The weight room is also there next to the practice field. The playground sits up the hill a bit but adjacent to the practice field. The entire school neatly put together with a backyard of sorts.
When I was finished taking practice photos, I decided to head out to see the game field. You have to cross under the railroad tracks while crossing over a creek. Think about that for a second. I drove under a railroad bridge while driving over a regular bridge. Don’t do that too often, so I thought it was pretty cool. The stadium quickly appeared to my left. Very nice sports complex with more than just a football field. I was glad I had made the short drive to see it before leaving.
See you on the sidelines!
The first thing I saw as I approached Avalon was the stadium on the hill. It was a welcoming sight and a relief because I found it before I even got to town. I bet when the lights are on for a night game, it's a beacon in the night for the visiting teams welcoming them in from their travels.
I easily made it to the stadium and began the upward jaunt to the field. Coach Cole saw me coming and headed out to greet me. He welcomed me and we visited for a while. It’s always great to visit with the coaches. The excitement and love of their job and team always show through in their conversations. Not everyone can do what they do day in and day out and be successful. The hours alone would do most of us in, not to mention the weather they work in. After our visit, I got an interview with him and back to work he happily went.
The field sits on a level area at the crest of a hill and the sidelines tapper downward. Very roomy sidelines too. I enjoyed getting close to the fence and shooting up at the team from a distance. Don’t often get a chance at photos like that.
You have to love the color orange in the afternoon sun. It just pops! Lots of orange everywhere; shoes, helmets, shorts, Gatorade coolers, even the Polaris Ranger was orange that carried the supplies. The sun just bounced off of the orange and made for some bright colorful photos.
They worked on reading keys and running plays while I was there. It’s interesting to listen and watch how different coaches teach the game. No two do it exactly the same just like no two teachers in the classroom teach exactly the same. Everyone is different and bring varied experiences and ideas to the field.
After I had plenty of photos and heat, I headed back to the car. I did a quick drive around the school and town. Avalon is a nice town and seems to have some industry to help keep it thriving. Something so many 1A towns are missing these days. As I headed out of town, I said goodbye to the stadium on the hilltop. Hopefully, sometime soon, I can see it lighting up the night sky.
See you on the sidelines!
I arrived in Milford extra early so I drove right past the football field and on into town. Milford is such a beautiful town. A multitude of large well loved historic homes. I saw a few and took photos and then realized there were so many throughout the town it would take an abundance of time to try to take photos of them all. The downtown area is very lively and just as taken care of as the older homes along with a nice park. Not to mention the three story brick Baptist church with pillars and amazing stain glass windows. Miford is definitely a showcase of thriving beauty.
After my quick personal tour of Milford, I headed back to the school. I parked next to the football field in front of the school and went out onto the field. The assistant coach was preparing the field for drills and we visited for a while. Coach Crumpton was in the weight room working with the boys. He saw me from the weight room door and waved a friendly greeting wave. I found out they were going to be in the weight room for quite a bit longer so I walked across the little parking lot to the school to use the facilities.
I was impressed with some of the old intricate trim worked into the stones of the school building. Not the kind of design you see often; almost like a crest. Plus the fancy trim of the archway leading to the front doors. Once in the school, I could see it was loved like so many buildings in Milford. The wood floors were simply nothing short of gorgeous. Older things well maintained and new things had been added as updates were needed. Very nice school building for sure.
Once the boys finished lifting weights, I was able to take some photos of them running drills along with the digital school sign showing a temperature of 104 in the background. Might be better if you couldn’t see how hot it is when you are suffering in the heat. But it’s a really nice sign, so I won’t complain about that, just the heat.
Coach Crumpton was rushing to finish some things before some players had to leave so we didn’t get an opportunity for an interview before I had to leave for Avalon. I’m trying to get to as many towns as I can while I’m in the area so double booking afternoon practices is a must. I headed out but made a quick stop at the Milford Depot downtown for a big cold water. Like everything else I had seen in Milford, this was a wonderful place. Very cute and inviting while still being functional. I was in and out in a jiffy with friendly service. I must say I enjoyed the coolness and wouldn’t have minded sitting down at a table and staying a while.
See you on the sidelines!
The quaint town of Abbott co-exist with I-35 roaring by. The pleasure of small town life is one that only the lucky ones of us know about. I-35 is a constant reminder to many little towns in this part of Texas that a more chaotic life exist. We are blessed to merely be along the path to chaos not living in it.
My first sight of Abbott was an artistic one. I crossed under I-35 to see a fabulous old water tower at the top of a narrow road. It was like the perfect painting. I wanted to follow the path to the water tower to check it out but decided I better find the way to the football field that I had already caught my eye. The Abbott school building is a newer building in fine shape. I found a place to park in front of the main building and strolled down to the field.
I was quickly greeted by coaches as they were working. I stepped away from the action and began taking pictures. I was impressed by the board listing all the advancements of the Panthers over the years. I had the honor of watching Abbott at their two state games. Another thing that caught my eye was the 7th man sign connected to the press box.
After the team ran some varied drills Coach Crawford caught a quick break, and we were able to do his interview. Then the fun part! I got to watch the kids run some plays and scrimmage a bit. These are some fun shots to get and a bit of a warm up for me for when the real games start up.
After I got plenty of photos I decided to head up to the water tower that had been calling my name from the time I came into town. Once I got close to the water tower I could see more of Abbott. I was pleased to see the beautiful white wood churches with prestigious steeples and the little downtown area. I drove around a bit and enjoyed all the beautiful yards. I took some quick phone photos of one of the churches and the water tower.
I didn’t really want to leave but my work was done. I needed to head back to my home for the week to have lunch and get ready to head out to Milford and Avalon in the afternoon.
See you on the sidelines!
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