By Dency McClure
I’m sure most have heard the saying “Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.” Well, the creeks rose but the good Lord was willing. The road we usually take to get to Highland was closed because the creek rose well over the road. We had to take a longer route, but we did get there.
I always forget about the giant cement factory dotting the rural ranch land between Maryneal and Highland ISD. It’s a bit majestic rising from the landscape like a superhero castle. It can be seen from miles away and the roads seem to curve you all around it from every angle. I’ve been told it employs many in the area. The lights from the factory and the wind towers make for an impressive skyline in the dark like a magical storybook kingdom hidden from the masses.
When I was in high school at Newcastle, we made the trip to Highland a couple of times for football games. I honestly don’t remember too much about those trips. My Dad was college roommates with Joe Killgore, a teacher at Highland and native rancher to the area. They remained friends after college, and I remember visiting their ranch a couple of times in my young childhood. It’s always interesting to me how we all connect at some point in time.
We arrived in the rain to the school on the hilltop in plenty of time. The gatekeepers waved us on in to the stadium. We parked and stared out into the pouring rain not sure we wanted to join in the beating everything was taking from it. I stepped out of the truck into a huge puddle ever thankful for my rain boots and gear.
We made our way to the stands and field. Everyone was covered with something; umbrellas, windbreakers, towels, etc. As I stepped onto the field a young man yelled out to me that our polka dotted rain boots matched. I chuckled agreeing. One man on the Highland side saw my blue rain poncho and inquired where I had gotten it. I told him I always have it in my travel supplies. He was disappointed they weren’t available to the fans.
We met up with the Blackwell coaches Lowry and Means before the game. We enjoyed a nice visit, out of the rain, by the tables before we all had to get to work. Duty always calls and visits continue after the game.
People were taking cover where they could. A group of kids were sitting on the concession stand counter, before it opened, while others were gathered in various other cubbys of dryness. I went up to the press box with Michael and Leman Saunders who were preparing for the broadcast. I told them I would not be taking many pregame photos due to the weather. They were in the dry but facing their own problems. Due to the humidity the press box windows were fogging up. I must admit as a person who works in the trenches, I take a little pleasure in the press box group dealing with weather issues. I work in the heat, cold, rain, etc just like the mail carriers, coaches, players, and others. While the press box crew tough it out in the climate controlled box out of the wind. They turned down the AC put on jackets and got the windows to clear.
Right as the national anthem started, the rain magically ceased! The rains did not return during the game. It was such a blessing to everyone in attendance to get a short reprieve. We love our rain in this part of Texas as water is a scarcity not to be wasted in any way, but it was still nice to get a little break during the game. I happily splashed and squished along the sidelines.
There is a good rivalry going between the two Nolan County schools and they are both the hornets. Their mascot logos are almost identical but face in opposite directions and are different colors. I wouldn’t ever make the mistake of pointing one in the wrong direction if I were you. Not long ago, a new piece was added to the rivalry; a bell on a trailer. The winning team gets to keep the bell until the next match up and ring it at games. Thus the game being labeled the battle of the bell.
During this great rivalry game, I heard some words flying from the stands. One was to the refs “Keep it in your pocket unless you need to wipe your nose.” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at that one. The other was “Let’s get some blue bumblebees.” I don’t know which is worse a bumblebee sting or a hornet one. I’ve only been stung by a wasp, and it was bad enough.
During halftime I got to meet Tiffany Lange who has been doing great things for the Texas 1A Fan fans through her job at Gandy Ink with the New Spirit Booster division. It was nice to put a face to the name. I enjoyed taking pictures of the Blackwell cheerleaders; one of whom is Tiffany’s daughter.
I got in a short visit with Bud Halfmann who was hanging on the fence during the game. I taught with Bud in Paint Rock for several years. He is actually the first coach I ever shared the football sidelines with. I owe him a big thank you for being so kind and supportive of my photography endeavor.
After the game I caught coach Lowry for an interview. I walked off the field with Means and asked him if we would like to do an interview as well. He responded that there was no point as all he would say is “Defense Played; Lights Out!”
See you on the Sidelines!