Fort Worth Arlington Heights’ football team will travel to California for a game in September, and district administrators hope other city schools will be able to take similar trips in the future.
Phil Young, who coached the Yellow Jackets to a playoff berth in his first season last year, agreed to a home-and-home series with Scotts Valley, which sits just off Monterrey Bay about 60 miles south of San Francisco. The game is scheduled for Sept. 12.
Arlington Heights estimates the trip will cost $33,000. Officials believe fundraisers and corporate sponsorships should nearly cover the $600 cost per player, Young said. The team plans to bring about 50 players, nine coaches and a trainer.
“We just felt like for our kids, that it would be a great life-lesson trip,” Young said. “We’re looking for some support. But it is something they’ll remember for the rest of their life. These kids work their tails off to raise money for certain stuff that’s not meaningful to them in the long run.”
Fort Worth school district administrators have backed the trip, athletic director Kevin Greene said. The school district plans to chip in if Arlington Heights’ fundraising falls short.
“We’re optimistic it’s going to take place,” Greene said. “We’re still looking at what can be provided at the campus level with the students raising their own money. We’re definitely excited about it and in a position to support that.”
Young has known Scotts Valley athletic director and coach Louie Walters since 2005, when Scotts Valley came to Texas to play Gainesville, where Young was an assistant.
Gainesville cruised to a 33-0 win that year, but Scotts Valley, with an enrollment of 774, kept coming back to the Lone Star State, later playing Alice back-to-back years and San Angelo Central in 2012.
Young and Walters stayed in touch, casually tossing around the idea of a home-and-home. When Walters formally extended the invite last spring, Young jumped at the chance.
Young said the tentative plan is to fly out Wednesday morning of that week, have a breakfast on the beach on Thursday morning followed by a banquet and a pep rally before the game Friday night. There’s also a chance the team will visit Stanford — possibly for the Cardinal’s game against Army — before flying out Saturday.
Several area schools have explored interstate games in recent years. Euless Trinity traveled to Bellevue (Wash.) in 2012 and last year played Jenks (Okla.) and went to Bentonville (Ark.). Aledo will host La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat this year. And Stephenville played Dillard (Fla.) at home last year and will play South Anchorage (Alaska) in August.
But it’s been as long as Greene can remember since a Fort Worth school has gotten the opportunity Arlington Heights is getting. He said district administration wants to use the trip as a “springboard of support” for other Fort Worth schools to take similar trips.
And, of course, a little incentive never hurts, said Judy Needham, who represents District 5 — including Arlington Heights — on the Fort Worth school board.
“It’s one more thing to encourage kids to stay in school and to encourage them to make the grades when they play their sports,” Needham said. “We need to take all kinds of measures to encourage that.”