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!
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