McLean, Texas is a very small town of about 700 people located 40 miles east of Amarillo along Interstate 40.
The Tigers capped off a fairy-tale season with a 100-70 victory over Milford in the 6-man Division I state championship game on Wednesday, their first in program history. It was also their first trip to the title game.
McLean junior running back Ben Crockett had himself a game after he set a 6-man state-title game record by rushing for nine touchdowns. It was no surprise that he was awarded the Offensive MVP.
But the biggest surprise of the game, or the season for that matter, might have come when senior Chism Henderson was awarded the Defensive MVP.
His play on the field certainly merited that achievement with six tackles for minus-65 yards to go along with two sacks.
The fact that Henderson was even able to achieve this was nearly miraculous considering that his football career nearly ended last season with a horrific injury that put him in the Intensive Care Unit for 14 days.
Holding back tears, Jason Henderson, Chism’s father, explained just how unbelievable this moment was for his son.
“Chism missed four games with an MCL injury last season then returned only to be knocked out of the season for good in a state quarterfinal playoff game against Knox City,” said Henderson. “My son took a crack-back block that ruptured his spleen, severed his liver and cracked two vertebrae. He played the entire fourth quarter after that hit.”
Henderson was airlifted to the hospital and spent two weeks in ICU.
“It was really scary,” Jason said. “There was a moment we thought he might not pull through and we didn’t think he would get to play football this year.”
McLean finished the season 15-0. Henderson had five catches for 59 yards and one touchdown vs. Milford, a 42-yarder from Cayden Mann in the third quarter.
“We came out here and wanted to win,” Chism said after the game. “We were able to control our ending.”
“We are just so blessed, so thankful and just so overwhelmed that Chism not only made a full recovery to play football again, but was able to play with a team that accomplished what they did,” Jason added. “This team lit a town and a community on fire. We only have 780 people in our town and we literally sold over 700 T-shirts and I think our whole town showed up for this game.
“These kids literally started playing football together in kindergarten and they finished it today by winning a state championship. It literally is a fairy-tale ending that you couldn’t draw up.”