By Dency McClure
As I left Mertzon, I was a bit surprised how light traffic was. Usually there is heavy truck traffic having to do with the oil industry. Once I rolled in to Big Lake I knew instantly the oil business had slowed way down. There were not many customers at the Flying J we normally stop at when traveling that area. It is usually very busy there. Later on when I left Rankin, I noticed an RV park that is usually over flowing was only about half full. Definite signs the oil business has slowed down.
I was less than an hour away from Grandfalls when my phone rang. It was the head coach and AD Jeff Corean. He wanted to make sure I remembered how to get to their house. Jeff and I met several years ago while teaching at the same school. We became quick friends and have stayed in touch. I assured him I did remember. He told me the door would be unlocked and to come on in and make myself at home and that he and his wife, Erin, would probably be trying to grab a nap before the midnight madness. I was glad to hear that because a nap sounded good to me too.
The first thing you see from the little hill coming into Grandfalls is the tops of the stadium lights. I took a right at the football field, crossed the one lane bridge and proceeded down to the community center. Jeff and Erin live near the water tower. They do not live in the ever so apparent row of teacher housing near the school. Erin told me they live in the SECRET teacher housing. She likes living blended in with the community and not so on display. I can’t say that I blame her.
When I arrived I was lovingly greeted by Faith and Roscoe their dogs. Needless to say Jeff and Erin were not napping. Jeff had too many things running through his head and he was too excited about midnight madness to get any rest. We visited, watched the news where Grandfalls-Royalty’s team had been showcased, and then got around to head up to the school.
When I got to the field, I was glad to see a bit of a crowd was forming. There were a couple of groups on the other side of the fence enjoying the breeze and coolness of the evening. There were also a few groups gathering in the stands. There has only been one case of Covid-19 early on in the area and none since. People here are cautious but not afraid to get out and go to things.
I asked Coach Corean what it was like coaching in his hometown as one of the fans yelled his name. He told me he loves it. He likes to banter with his friends and the people he was raised with. He enjoys coaching kids whose family members grew up with him.
Once practice started you quickly saw that this is a team of all shapes and sizes. The perfect set up for six-man. They have the quick little guys that can juke and get free and the big guys that can block forever or carry a ball through the line. Definitely a great mix. The boys were in good spirits and were having a great time. You could tell they enjoy each other’s company and jell well as a team. I will definitely be keeping an eye on the Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys this season. A great traction has been set and these boys and new head coach are prepared to maintain it.
At the end of the night, the team poured the big water jug on one of the boys. The team started a tradition this year of doing that at the end of every practice. The recipient of the water nominates who will receive it at the end of the next practice. It’s a neat thing to watch and the boys are all enjoying it.
By the end of midnight madness, the hunger pains were fierce. There is something about staying up late that makes you way hungrier than normal. I was very excited to remember that Grandfalls is blessed with an Allsups. Yep, Beef & Bean Burrito calling my name. After practice I made a quick dash to Allsups in hopes of beating the crowd from practice who probably had the same idea. Lucky for me, there were plenty of hot burritos, and I snagged one. I enjoyed it immensely and then headed to the house and bed.
I woke up at 7 and Jeff and Erin were already up. I had been promised one of the amazing burritos from the ever famous burrito lady there. Jeff called our orders in never giving his name and I heard the voice on the other end of the phone lovingly say “We’ll have those ready for you Jeffie”. Yep, there are just some things about 1A life that bigger town folks will never completely understand. Jeff laughed when he hung up the phone because he knew I had heard what she said. He told me he had practically grown up at her house because he was good friends with her son and loved her cooking. There might have been something about a good looking girl mentioned too. The burritos did not disappoint.
I didn’t waste time getting loaded up for my return trip as I knew I would be heading out the next morning to cover practices around the Meridian area. August keeps me busy for sure. As I finished loading my stuff, I asked one question for clarification on something and Jeff looked at me and asked if I was going to write about this. I laughed and told him yes!
I left and headed out towards Crane. As I passed through Crane, my mind wandered to the past a bit and I thought about Coach Lee who grew up there and now coaches in Strawn. Coach Lee actually coached Coach Corean at Grandfalls when he was just starting his career. It’s interesting to look at history and how it shaped the here and now.
Once I left Crane, the only excitement was buzzards enjoying some interesting road kill. I drove towards home as the pump jacks pumped among the mesquite brush and the wind towers turned on the mesa in the distance. It had been a great trip. Some call it God’s country, but I call it nowhere land. I absolutely love traveling in my nowhere land.
See you on the Sidelines!
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