Almost every high school football player who’s ever put on a uniform dreams of playing professionally.
And while they won’t be blocking for Tony Romo or defending against Eli Manning, the varsity players on the L.D. Bell Blue Raiders will experience the atmosphere for an evening.
The Blue Raiders will face the Midland High Rebels on Saturday (Sept. 12) at 5 p.m. at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
For the Raiders, a young team, it will be the first opportunity for such a setting for many members of the squad. First-year head coach Mike Glaze said the experience is something his youngsters should remember for the rest of their lives as momentous occasion.
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“It would have been for me. I never got to play in a place like that,” he said.
Of course, Glaze has coached in the facility numerous times, helping Cedar Hill to back-to-back Class 6A state championships as their offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching at Bell.
“Any time you play or coach at AT&T it is a great experience,” he said. “There’s nothing like running out of that tunnel.”
And that is exactly what junior defensive end Ricky Tatu is waiting for.
“It’s going to be one of the greatest moments of my life,” he said. “I’ve been there once, when Bell was in the playoffs.”
That, however, was as a spectator. This is his first season on the varsity, and subsequently his first to be on the field in what is considered one of the greatest arenas in sports.
“I’m nervous, but at the same time I’m excited,” Tatu said. “A lot of us have been talking about. We can’t wait. The Cowboys play here.”
Junior defensive tackle Tevita Ahio remembers playing there last year as a sophomore. Though the experience is not new to him, he said it was amazing and he is counting the days until he can do it again.
“It was amazing to be on the same field as the Cowboys,” he said. “The same field that professionals step on. I could imagine myself being a pro and playing there some day.”
▪ L.D. Bell Blue Raiders vs. Midland Bulldogs
5 p.m. Saturday, AT&T Stadium
The Blue Raiders will continue their mission of turning the program around from last season’s 1-9 campaign that saw a four-year playoff streak come to an end. Midland, meanwhile, will be trying to make a return trip to the postseason, which they reached in 2013 despite finishing 5-6.
Both teams had some shining moments to open the season despite losses. So while the game is a chance to play in the spotlight the pros enjoy, whatever the setting, it is also a chance to further themselves in the rebuilding process.