About 50 miles southwest of Houston sits East Bernard, population 2,300.
In reality, it's more of a big family than a town.
As players from East Bernard High School were presented with gold medals Thursday after winning the Class 2A Division II state championship, family members were allowed onto the field to celebrate.
Two levels of Cowboys Stadium methodically poured onto the field.
Senior quarterback and TCU recruit Ty Slanina refused to remove his uniform for the last time without leaving that large, extended family with its second state title in school history. Not only did he lead his team to a 56-14 win over Corsicana Mildred, his four-touchdown performance earned him Offensive MVP honors.
"He's always dreamed to play for a state championship and to go out like this and win it -- you can tell this team is very family-oriented and it meant the world to him," Slanina's father, John, said.
A year ago, Ty Slanina's plan was to trade his maroon East Bernard gear for the maroon of Texas A&M after he committed to the Aggies under former coach Mike Sherman.
But Kevin Sumlin took the helm at A&M and pulled Slanina's scholarship offer. To Slanina's family, the whole experience was less than cordial.
"Ty was sold on coach Sherman and he made him feel very special," Slanina's mother, Keri, said. "Then we went to junior day at A&M and they made us feel very unwelcome. They kept us there the entire day and then told him that they weren't honoring his scholarship."
Coming from the close-knit family of East Bernard, Slanina sought a program that gave him that same feeling and support, and he believes he found it at TCU. He gave his commitment to coach Gary Patterson last summer.
"TCU comes together as a family, not only in the sports, but in the community," Slanina said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm a Frog."
Keri Slanina said her son will most likely play slot receiver in football and center field in baseball for the Horned Frogs. He wants to major in entrepreneurial studies.
If playing receiver doesn't work as planned, Ty was told there would be a spot for him on defense.
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