ARLINGTON -- Overwhelmed by Cowboys malaise, I wandered onto a football field where no one questions whether the players actually care.
No one ever questions if the game matters.
"My freshman year I think we won two games. My sophomore year on junior varsity we won one game," said Arlington Bowie senior cornerback Steven Wesley, who has committed to TCU for next season. "In ninth and 10th grade, I did get used to losing.
"But, I mean, you are always going to care and you are always going to have that love of football."
As professionalism permeates the high school ranks, there remains an innocence that has yet to be tainted. Please, God, let it stay that way.
Bowie is not exactly Trinity or Carroll when it comes to winning in football.
The smart thing to do would be to use this space to hype the -- Euless Trinity v. Southlake Carroll in the Texas high school playoffs where the crowd is expected to eclipse 220,010.
Maybe the crowd estimate is a slight exaggeration, but any time you have the chance to watch two of the best programs in this state play with the added element of the societal commentary involved, you should never pass that up.
Doesn't matter. Give me Bowie 2012.
Bowie will play No. 2 DeSoto (12-0) on Saturday afternoon in a Class 5A Division I regional playoff game.
Since Bowie reopened in 1991, the school had gone 15 years without making the playoffs or winning more than four games in a season. They have reached the playoffs every year since 2006. For years, this school struggled to get kids to just go out for football -- let alone win football games.
Now they are mentioned in the same sentence as Trinity and Carroll. How they got here is far more impressive.
In the second game of the season, Bowie lost its junior starting quarterback, Keaton Perry, to an ACL injury.
"We had to completely change our offense in about 72 hours; we had everything set because he could throw," said Perry's dad, Vols head coach Kenny Perry.
This also meant Papa Perry had to throw in a sophomore QB, who is listed as 5-foot-8.
"I'm 5-9," Tony James said. "On good days I'm 5-10. My grandmother is 6-4, so maybe I'll get there."
As a freshman, he said he won five games on the freshman team.
"I didn't know what he could do because he was playing freshman football," Perry said. "I mean, it's freshman football."
Perry's fear was a senior class that grew up losing would be resigned to their fate and be OK with a season full of losses.
"Losing makes you lazy. You lose enough and you just expect to lose," senior defensive end Dameon Cooks said. "You just don't do anything to try to win."
James' first start this season was against then second-ranked Dallas Skyline, the perfect opportunity to get beat up, embarrassed and lose any and all confidence.
It was the ideal opportunity to lose.
"At the time, I was a little nervous," James said. "Their players gave me some good shots. Once or twice I heard someone say, 'He'll be out. He's not that big. He's just a sophomore. He can't handle the big games.' I didn't let any of it get to me. I just played."
Bowie defeated Skyline 38-36. Skyline has not lost since. Neither has Bowie.
"I couldn't have seen this coming. My time came way earlier than I thought it would," James said. "I dreamed about stuff like this. Going undefeated. Winning district with my team. Doing it with me being the starting quarterback."
Perry calls James "the most electric player" in the state (nickname suggestion: Electro -- he is a Spider-Man villain).
BTW: If you are wondering, James said some colleges have begun talking to him. He said he recently made a visit to one game on a college campus. The school?
Texas A&M, which isn't afraid of the vertically challenged quarterback.
Bowie is not the favorite to defeat DeSoto. When it comes to Class 5A football, the smart money says go with Southlake Carroll.
There is something about Bowie that you can't help but root for, and believe it can pull off what would be an upset equal to or greater than defeating Skyline.
Even if the Vols are a 5A school, they do possess enough of the necessary underdog elements you can't help but pull for.
Cooks figures the only way you'll notice his team is "if we blow out DeSoto," he said.
Yeeeah, that would do it.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
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