Blake Jenkins loves visiting with his uncle Tommy Jenkins when Tommy visits from Colorado.
Tommy played fullback on the 1982 L.D. Bell Blue Raiders football team that advanced to the state championship game.
Blake, a senior defensive lineman, is not going to have the kind of stories to tell that his uncle does, but through the stories he is inspired both in football and life.
“It’s kind of inspiring to know we’ve been there before and to believe we can go there again,” he said. “Yes, there’s a little pressure on me personally, but it just feels like it is achievable again for this program in years to come.”
The Raiders are, after all, in their first season under head coach Mike Glaze, whose pedigree includes being an assistant at state champion Cedar Hill. Blake said coach Glaze’s resume brings the same optimism that a chat with Uncle Tommy brings.
“The outcome of our games are so completely different this year,” Blake said. “Yeah, we’ve still lost a lot, but now, no matter what the score, three points or 30 ahead or behind, we fight for each other on every play.
“He’s definitely changed the mentality of the team.”
Blake said he’s “heard every story there is” about the 1982 team from Tommy. But he still likes visiting with his uncle and hearing them again.
“The last time he was here, in January, I was with him and some other guys from that team,” Blake said. “It was really great to be a part of that.”
Blake said he has also learned that whether winning championships or struggling for a victory, every team has something in common.
“They had some of the same struggles we have. They had coaches yell at them sometimes, and they fought through some adversity,” Blake said. “They also had coaches and teammates who stuck together, just like we have.”
Just as his uncle inspires him, Blake hopes he is an inspiration to younger players who will have a chance to restore greatness to the Bell program – something Blake likes to believe started in a small way this season.
“We have a very young team. In my area of the locker room I’m the only senior, so I work very hard to inspire these younger players and remind them they are the future,” he said.
Blake also wants to use the inspiration he gets from his uncle and passes on to players as a springboard to his own success leading a program someday. He plans to study kinesiology in college.
“I want to be a coach somewhere,” he said. “I want to help young people reach their dreams.”