By Bobbie Brown
As I made my way through the cotton field backroads on the plains, I thought about both Southland and Cotton Center. Both schools are on the smallest end of the 1A spectrum, but both have a fighting spirit that has kept them alive in all types of 1A activities. And let’s face it, I was more than a little excited to be attending the first football game of the 2020 season. This one did not disappoint!
Some interesting things about my visit to Cotton Center… the ladies at the entrance were incredibly nice, and the wee Elk that handed me a program was smiling from ear to ear. I’m with ya, Bud. I was smiling, too! The field was ready. Nice, green grass. Fans were trickling in. Most pulled right up to the one-wire fence surrounding the field and were waiting in their cars for the action to start. The Eagles and Elks were warming up. There weren’t a lot of them and I was soon to find out, that doesn’t matter. Heart is what matters. And they all had it in spades.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the various pandemic-related instructions from the announcer. We were all instructed that no one would be allowed on the field after the game and once the game was complete, everyone should leave the property. You and I both know that going onto the field is a rite of passage for parents and fans. It’s just something we do and have always done. This might be one of the disappointments of this football season, but I have no doubt, fans and parents will be down on that field following a game in no time at all! I had to laugh throughout the game. The first game is a time to figure out what we’re doing and get back into the swing of things. The Cotton Center announcer made me laugh on several occasions. It seems he was figuring it out as well. Sometimes I didn’t hear him at all and his voice would break through the game sounds in mid-sentence. Dude… I feel ya. Keep plugging because you’re doing a really good job!
The Southland Eagles jumped out to a two touchdown lead early. The Cotton Center Elks never gave up. By half, the score was tied. The difference in this game came down to the last five minutes. The players were exhausted but found a way to dig down and continue to battle. Both sides… warriors and never gave up! I love seeing games like this. The back and forth and yells and grunts. For a first game in August, I was truly impressed! Sterling Berry and Zeke Saenz stood out for the Elks. CorDale Benham stood out for the Eagles.
In the fourth quarter, I had a great conversation with the Assistant Principal at Cotton Center, Allen Keys. The Elks were ahead and he was pumped! Going into this game, the Elks were 0-29. He desperately wanted a win for the team and school. As the final seconds ticked off and the Elk faithful let out a roar, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that the fans and parents wouldn’t be able to celebrate this win on the field with the players after the game. Three years without a win, and they got it done!
I spent a moment talking to Coach Dusty Grantham, Eagles head coach. He’s doing a very good job at Southland! He has a whole slew of freshmen that are contributing. I will be seeing the Eagles again in a couple of weeks when they play at Whiteface homecoming. I’m eager to see how much they improve.
I don’t think I’ve been to a game where everyone was smiling the entire game. Everyone is so relieved that football is here and the games are going forward. It’s true what they say… there is nothing like football in Texas. I felt that in Cotton Center. I will feel it again each week in 2020. And I welcome it. The fans smiling. The crowd cheering. The player's excitement. I will take it all in and enjoy every second. I hope you all do the same. This is a small return to normalcy. And I love it!
Always remember… go forward and do GOOD!
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