The upcoming football season couldn’t be more exciting for fans – or the reporters covering the teams.
Fall camp began Monday for the programs that didn’t start on Aug. 4. But the plays that count begin Aug. 28, when another season of Texas’ pastime returns filled with hope, excitement and the great unknown. Texas high school football is a way of life. Thousands upon thousands of games tell the story of the middle linebacker also playing saxophone in the school band or a team and community rallying together through a tragedy.
Many dreams end unfulfilled that first week of November. Others will continue for several weeks. But only the select few will be crowned champions in their respective classification. Our coverage should be fun to follow in 2014, with new districts, new and changed rivalries, and new meaningful games.
So we selected the five biggest games, in chronological order, that you may want to mark on your calendar to attend – unless you are tied to a particular school.
Austin Westlake at Carroll, Aug. 29, Dragon Stadium, Southlake: You could find no better subplot than former Carroll coach Todd Dodge, now the head coach at Westlake, returning to the school where he accelerated its national image. Dodge won four state championships at Carroll. Now, everybody on both sides will try to downplay it. But that’s now how this works. It’s a great story. If you don’t already have a ticket for this, you’re probably too late or you’re going to have to find another way (like tuning into KWRD 100.7 FM).
Colleyville Heritage vs. Grapevine, Sept. 5, Mustang-Panther Stadium, Grapevine: This rivalry went through major changes in the last year. The teams are in different classifications (Colleyville Heritage is in 6A; Grapevine is in 5A). There are new coaches at each in Randy Jackson at Grapevine and Darren Allman at Colleyville Heritage. But the good thing is that their predecessors in Mike Fuller and Dave Henigan realized the need to keep the game going. It’s a great way to rally the communities, fill the stadium on a Friday night. Plus, Grapevine hasn’t won this game since 2009, so the Mustangs would like to end that streak.
Keller Fossil Ridge at Denton Guyer, Oct. 9, C.H. Collins Complex, Denton: This is actually the first of a tough two-game stretch for the Panthers, who will be playing Denton Ryan Oct. 17 in Keller. But the Panthers may have their most talented team in years to play the two-time 4A state champion Wildcats. And to be honest, when Guyer was a 4A school, it really played like what is now a 6A school because its enrollment numbers just missed the cutoff from the 2012 realignment. Both of these teams should be in postseason.
Byron Nelson vs. Northwest, Oct. 17, NISD Stadium, Justin: Finally, these school-district mates will get together on the football field. With Nelson moving up, it took the UIL’s realigning them in the same district to do it. But the week’s festivities leading up to that Friday should be electric. If there are empty seats in the stadium for the inaugural game, it would be a disappointment. This has been the game people in this area have been waiting for since Nelson opened in 2009.
Euless Trinity at Carroll, Oct. 17, Dragon Stadium, Southlake: This is the first district game between these two teams in history. But they played some playoff beauties including Trinity’s 42-38 Region I semifinal victory last year at AT&T Stadium. Now, a district championship could be on the line. Region I has always had some fantastic intra-district games such as Cedar Hill and DeSoto. Trinity and Carroll should just add to the lore.
• There are going to be other noteworthy games, including Colleyville Heritage against Hurst L.D. Bell (Oct. 17), Coppell playing Carroll (Oct. 3), Northwest playing Fossil Ridge (Sept. 25) and Grapevine playing Birdville (Oct. 31). All of those will involve rivalries and carry playoff implications with them.
Let the stories unfold.