High School Football

‘It is a tournament unlike any other in the country’

“The season people remember you for starts next week,” said Keller Indians head coach Carl Stralow.
“The season people remember you for starts next week,” said Keller Indians head coach Carl Stralow. Special to the Star-Telegram

They have punched their tickets to the postseason party.

The grind of months of work in the offseason, spring and summer culminate with the chance to keep wearing the pads, break down opposing team game films and formulate game plans. Dreams of pursuing a state championship are for real. The 2017 Texas High School playoffs begin next week.

The Star-Telegram reached out to area coaches and players about what this pivotal moment means for them, their programs and their communities:

“The season people remember you for starts next week.”

- Carl Stralow, Keller head coach

“I hope our team realizes it is an earned opportunity and privilege to play after the regular season. There are no losers that play from here on.”

- Phil Young, Fort Worth Arlington Heights head coach

“No matter how you start, always finish.”

- Titus Swen, Haslet V.R. Eaton running back

“Really want to set the bar higher for Richland football. Right now, a [area round] loss is the furthest we’ve been, and I know it could be better. So our playoff surge here is important.”

-DaShaun White, Richland linebacker

“It affirms what I already know about this group of kids. They have grit and fight back when adversity hits. They are a tough bunch that deserves to host a playoff game. It’s the first step in getting this program back to its rightful place.”

-David Beaudin, Nolan Catholic head coach

“It feels great. Just being able to play with my team is what you want.”

-Stefan Cobbs, Keller Fossil Ridge wide receiver

“A huge accomplishment. This district [10-5A] is so good ... to make the playoffs is special. We are going to enjoy it.”

-Chris Melson, Mansfield Legacy head coach

“It’s the playoff. We’ve gone 18 years in a row and it’s just putting another brick on the tower. We are either going to crumble or steer rolling. Playoffs are all about mental toughness. I just want the program to know that this is the standard and tradition. We don’t deviate from that.”

-Jackson Kimble, Southlake Carroll offensive lineman

“Qualifying for the playoffs is a tangible confirmation. The daily commitment our players have to our program along with the effort they put forward on a daily basis is worth it.”

-Mike Alexander, Grapevine head coach

“I would like to see our team take it one week at a time and keep grinding and get better each week.”

-Cole Stephenson, Grapevine defensive tackle

“It means everything. We have a chance to win state with the team we have. We have the coaches and the players and the support to do it. We just have to stay healthy and focused throughout the playoffs.”

-Jalen Catalon, Mansfield Legacy safety/quarterback

“I want the program to take and play every game like it’s the last. This is do or die, make it or break it. Everyone needs to go all out for their teammates.”

-Thomas Chapman, Colleyville Heritage defensive tackle

“It means our program is headed in the right direction. We want our kids to know much we care for them and that the process that we have ground them through is starting to give back.”

-Ellis Miller, Haslet V.R. Eaton head coach

“For Haltom, getting in the playoffs is a huge deal. Another goal that makes it more special is to have a winning record on top of that. We told our players that whatever anyone says about you, good or bad, they can’t call you losers.”

-Jason Tucker, Haltom head coach

“It’s huge when you can play in November and December. It puts the program on the map and gives the guys a belief that we are one of the best teams in the state. We are all striving for the one goal: a state title. The memories and games along the way are what make the Texas state playoffs so special.”

-Alan Bowman, Grapevine quarterback

“I want to learn from last year and especially tonight — close is not enough, we have good parts but we have to learn to put it all together. Very proud of what we have done so far, but to accomplish what we want, we have to take a step further.”

-John Abenschand, Boswell head coach

‘It's another step in growing our program. We have made it an expectation at SGP.”

-Brent Whitson, South Grand Prairie head coach

“For us, it's about taking the next step. We knocked a door down last season. Now, the awe and mystique of making the playoffs are gone. We expected to be here. Now, we want to attempt to get better every week.”

-Ged Kates, Richland head coach

“The Texas high school football playoffs unites communities. It is a tournament unlike any other in the country.”

-Bob Wager, Arlington Martin head coach

“The playoff journey for our program is about having a ‘one-day resume’ and understanding the importance of recreating yourself every week until you’ve become your best. That would be the take away for our players; not relying on what we have done to this point, but laser focus on the next step of the climb.”

-Joe Willis, Colleyville Heritage head coach