By Bobbie Brown
The 15th Annual Gridiron is in the books! Jayton presented us with an outstanding slate of match-ups, and the teams did not disappoint. I can imagine the many volunteers it takes to take care of 18 teams over a period of three days. I used to be one. I can tell you that the people who help are selfless and will do anything to make sure visitors have what they need. From the townspeople, to the Booster Club, to the Junior Class and their sponsors… everyone works together to make everyone feel right at home.
School employees keep the bathrooms as clean as possible (and let’s not forget the rolls upon rolls of toilet paper – hey, it matters!) and all the trash cans emptied periodically so the bees didn’t congregate and start bothering people. I can imagine it was this way at Rochelle, Gorman, and Garden City this past weekend as well. Many people came together to make the first week of the 2018 season a great one. And I appreciate it very much!
Thursday evening, I enjoyed the Paducah/Meadow and Knox City/Jayton games. The first game ran a little long and the second game didn’t end until well after 10:00PM. I had a good conversation with my good buddy, Leman, and gave him a ride to his truck. I think I finally pointed the ghetto-mobile (my 1992 faded red golf cart) out of the football parking lot toward home around 11:00PM. And made it back to the house by 11:05. Pretty fast by ghetto-mobile standards. I’m not complaining!
Friday’s games were much like the first day. The first game started at 6:00PM. I arrived early (yes, on the golf cart) and found Coach Abston with the Morton Indians. I later found Coach Bigham and asked how his many freshmen were doing. He said he thought the entire team was ready to take care of business. And yes, they were ready! They didn’t look like a week one team. And for those of you who missed my article about attending their practice, the Matadors have 19 kids, 10 of them are athletic freshmen. The Indians are still trying to get their Sixman legs under them. They are doing a good job. They have a saying on the back of their helmets, “Hoka Hey.” I asked the manager what it means. It means all together or come with me, brother. Pretty cool stuff right there!
The second game Friday was a big one! Union Hill faced defending State Champion Borden County. I was pleased to finally meet Coach Mallory and see the Union Hill fans! It’s always nice to see teams from East Texas, as I don’t get over that way very often. Both teams went at it hard. It really was a great game to watch. The fans got a little crazy, but it was just that kind of game! The coyotes prevailed but watch for the Bulldogs to come out of the East into the playoffs this year! I was able to catch Trey, Bubba, and Ricky after the game. Every time I talk to them, it’s just like it’s always been… great conversation!
I hurried home around 11:00 (again) so that I could rest up for the marathon day that would be Saturday. I don’t know that anyone can rest up for five games in the hot sun. I can tell you I had many bottles of water, sun screen, and a chair. I arrived early and sat my chair in the shade of the Home stands. I knew the shade would disappear before long and I probably wouldn’t make much use of the chair. But it was there if and when I needed it!
I persevered throughout the day taking more than two thousand pictures. I enjoyed every game and was able to talk to most of the coaches. The lineup for Saturday was outstanding! Spur and Crowell started it off with a game that went through the fourth quarter. The game was decided by four points. What a battle and a great way to start of a full day of football!
Next up was Valley and Anton. Let me tell you… THAT was a game! I’m sure you all saw the score! I like to use a phrase I once heard Coach Josh Stanaland use… it was a full contact sprint relay! And it was! Back and forth and back and forth. Valley finally prevailed against a much-improved Anton team 93 to 86. And of course, it was such an exciting finish (I mean down to the last seconds) that I really messed up the scores and flipped them. Yep, sometimes that happens when dehydration is beginning to set in. I’ll have to pay more attention putting scores in when my adrenaline is up due to watching a great game! It was a marathon game. If I’m remembering correctly, it ran longer than three hours. But wow, what a finish!
Ira and Happy followed. The Bulldogs are more mature and ready to take on any team this year. Happy lost many seniors but they still have a good nucleus and play well as a team. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Jackson Davis of the Cowboys. You can’t miss him. Very tall and extremely athletic. This was another game that went the full four quarters and ended up very close. Ira came out of this one on top by nine points. Coach Goodwin at Ira continues to do great things there. Don’t ever count the bulldogs out. And Coach Moore at Happy… I have some funny stories about him. He’s a great guy! I saw him get heated on the sidelines for the first time. I would be lying if I said it didn’t surprise me. It actually shocked me, but he was standing up for his players and that is exactly what a good coach does.
By the time the fourth game rolled around, the Gridiron was way behind schedule. The fanfare of tunnels and school songs and players running out on to the field was cast aside so that games could get going. I didn’t hear any complaints. I don’t think anyone wanted to be sitting in the stands at midnight. White Deer and Hermleigh started with a bang. White Deer started to edge the Cardinals in the second quarter. After halftime, White Deer held the Cardinals scoreless. I’ve seen White Deer several times in the past few weeks. I can truthfully say they were firing on all cylinders Saturday. It’s hard to beat that! Hermleigh will be a force after working out a few kinks. I have no doubt Coach Winters will have them 100% ready before District begins.
And then the BIG game was set to begin. The clash. The defending Division II State Champs rolled into town. Strawn was a very heavy favorite to win. The Greyhounds took the field and looked very impressive in warmups. The Tigers quietly warmed up. Everyone in the area could see them. They are very hard to miss. I think the one thing that grabbed the attention of most was during the coin toss. The Tigers towered over everyone on the field. I’m a tall girl, but beside most of them, I feel little. I have watched them many times over the last 12 months and knew this was coming. Did I know to what extent? No.
You’ve all seen the score and heard the gasps and the, “Nah, you’re lying!” Yep, I’ve heard it, too. Then I’ve heard from those that “knew it all along!” That’s what is so great about all the sports we love. You can be the best team in the world and still get beat. I like to say, “Any given night, guys… any given night.” That night happened to be Saturday for the Greyhounds. The Tigers dominated from the very start with a powerful defense that drove the Greyhounds into the end zone resulting in a safety right off the bat! And then there’s Crockett. Do not get in his way. His job becomes easier because he has outstanding blockers. The Tigers looked like a week 10 team right out of the gate. I have to pause to give a shoutout to Strawn Greyhound Carlos Villanueva. I’ve seen many fast kids on the football field. Wiley players. Players who can get away from a bad situation on the field. But I’ve never seen someone that could dodge and weave and run so very fast down the field. There were so many times he almost got away. So shoutout to the #7 Greyhound and all his blockers. You played valiantly. And I’m pretty sure you won’t let a loss happen again this season.
I’m sure I didn’t tell you much you didn’t already know. I enjoyed every hot, sweaty minute of the day games and every sort-of-but-not-really cool evening games of the Gridiron. I met many people. I was able to talk to people I have conversations with online about Sixman football. I saw old classmates, some really awesome personal friends, and generally got to hang out at the best spot in Jayton. On the sidelines. It was awesome. It was tiring. But oh, I’m so grateful that I am able to take pictures of the players, teams, coaches, managers, cheerleaders, mascots, and fans. I am truly blessed that God gave me a little skill in that department. I am thankful every day. I am also thankful I am a part of the Sixman community. There is nothing else like it.
I’m ending with my repeated encouragement that comes at the end of each article. Truly try and attend a game near wherever you may be. I promise you’ll be glad you did! Until then, go forward and do GOOD!