While most students in Mansfield are enjoying their week of Thanksgiving vacation, football players at Lake Ridge and Mansfield High have found themselves on campus – but they wouldn’t have it any other way.
By virtue of advancing to the third round of the playoffs, both teams have had to alter their schedules a bit to ensure they get in practices ahead of critical regional round matchups.
“We’ve still got a little work to do, but that’s a good thing,” Tigers coach Jeff Hulme said.
Mansfield takes on Arlington Lamar at AT&T Stadium on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
“It’s one of the things we talk about, the sacrifices we have to make at the end of the year,” Hulme added. “It is a sacrifice, but it’s a privilege to still be playing. Not that many teams are still playing right now.”
Lake Ridge is practicing over Thanksgiving break for the second consecutive season. Eagles coach Kirk Thor decided to use the same routine from last year, which includes giving players and coaches the day off on Thursday.
“I think sometimes when you give the kids a holiday and give them a chance to be with family and relax a little bit, sometimes when you get away from it a little bit, you’re a little more refreshed and ready to go when you come back,” Thor said. “Sometimes getting away is a good thing.”
The Eagles face Mesquite Poteet following Mansfield’s game at AT&T Stadium.
“Every high school coach has on his checklist of goals and things they’d like to accomplish to be practicing over Thanksgiving week because that means you’re in the third round of the playoffs,” Thor added.
Players like Mansfield senior Sean Shanklin are happy to make the sacrifice.
“We look at it as an accomplishment and a statement for us to still be practicing when [most] others are off,” he said.
“There have been a few people that can’t go out of town anymore,” he added. “But we’re bonded as a team. We pretty much look at each other as brothers, so it is kind of getting together with our second family.”
Hulme also points out what a potentially rare experience this can be for players.
“It’s one of those things they don’t get to experience every year,” he said. “Thanksgiving will come around next year, but you don’t know you’re going to get to play another playoff football game.”