So while Allen trots into its 4th title game at AT&T Stadium, ironically more times in that place than the professional team that stakes ownership, many of this week’s state finalists don’t get the chance to compete on palatial grounds like this.
For Rockdale, it’s certainly a first and perhaps overwhelming.
With a home stadium described more as a dirt field with bleachers and farmland at either end for as far as the eye can see, the Tigers are making the trip to Arlington for the first time and coach Jeff Miller isn’t concerned.
“We’ve been talking about what we can do with the 120 yards inside the goal posts, but honestly, I don’t know how they’ll handle all of that,” he said. “We can’t really be worried about anything else, we’ve put in our work, I told them we’d walk around a bit before the game but I also told them we’d stay after to do all the cool stuff.”
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And so Rockdale joins team like Mart and Muenster, usually getting just opportunities to play at nice Class 6A or 5A stadiums during the playoffs.
“We’ve preached about it all, the 80,000 seats, it’s still a 100 yads long and we’re still playing 11-on-11 as far as I know, but at the end of the day, we’re talking about 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids,” Muenster coach Brady Carney said. “We’ve got big white wind mills at the north end of our field, so as far as the backdrop at AT&T Stadium goes, I’m not sure what to expect.”
Carney and Mart coach Kevin Hoffman said they don’t see an issue with depth perception being a problem in football more so than what players experience in basketball.
“I know it’ll be different,” Hoffman said. “When we met earlier this week, we used all the lines from the movie Hoosiers you know.
“Field length and width are the same, the markings are the same. We got to play in some pretty nice stadiums during the playoffs this season, and we played at McClain Stadium a few years back. Our field’s got a cemetery at one of the ends, so, yeah, it’s going to be different.”
Carney’s gone as far as setting up practices for his team at Apogee Stadium and Denison’s indoor facility to try and change up the surroundings a bit.
“We’ve been lucky with the weather, just a light mist and 50-degrees today, but that’s nothing like playing indoors,” he said. “Getting in a practice at North Texas on the way down will be a big help for us.”
For Miller, he’s taken a practical approach as well.
“By week 16 or whatever it is, you’ve made every throw you can make in a season and it’s just not that big a difference,” he said.