Football Is King In Texas

Growing up in Texas, we had all heard the stereotype that football was considered a religion in the state. To an extent, the aforementioned isn’t too far from being a reality. Smaller towns all across the state of Texas shut down on Friday nights during the fall and the place to be is at the local high school following the local team. Hollywood has even perpetuated the notion with films such as Friday Night Lights and the eventual television series with the same name.

This year, the UIL did something that it had never done before – the organization scheduled all 10, 11-man championships in one central venue over a three-day stretch.  From Dec. 15-17, the eyes of Texas descended upon Cowboys Stadium in Arlington with the finale featuring the Class 5A Division II championship game that concluded with an unexpected runaway golf cart.

Over the three day stretch, attendance was a resounding success as record crowds were on hand. The Class 4A Division II championship game between Aledo and Manvel took home the attendance record for the weekend with an announced crowd of 43,369. The Class 5A Division I championship between Southlake Carroll and Fort Bend Hightower drew a crowd of 42,822.

On the day after Christmas I found myself watching the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl between Missouri and North Carolina and couldn’t help but notice the small crowd on hand in Shreveport, LA. To be fair, a non-premiere bowl game on the day following Christmas and poor weather were factors in the small crowd but it got me thinking – are there too many bowl games?

Through the first eight games of the college bowl season, the average bowl attendance has been 31,430. Attendance numbers should pick up as the bowl season progresses as the more tradition-rich bowl games are still on the docket. But to put things in perspective – Aledo and Manvel outdrew the first eight bowl games with Southlake and Hightower outdrawing all but the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Calling football in Texas a religion might be a stretch. However, football in Texas is King.

2011-12 College Football Bowl Game Attendance Numbers:

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: 25, 762
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: 28,076
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: 42,841
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg: 20,072
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: 24,607
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas: 35,720
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: 32,630
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl: 41,728
Little Caesars Bowl: 46,177
Belk Bowl: 58,427

The Rise of Dekaney

Last night at Cowboys Stadium, Spring Dekaney snapped Cibolo Steele’s 28-game winning streak and clinched the Class 5A Division II State Championship – the first football title for Spring ISD. On several occasions this year I’ve had numerous opportunities to cover the program as they feature one of the most talented running backs and an exciting offensive attack. Below is a feature I wrote for VYPE Houston after the Wildcats jumped out to a 5-0 start this season.

Here Come The Dekaney Wildcats
by Austin Staton

Growing pains are inherent. However, it is the resilient nature and yearning for success that breeds champions and builds character.

Four years ago, Dekaney High School fielded their first varsity football team under the direction of first-year head coach, Willie Amendola. Things weren’t easy as the squad didn’t feature a senior class and was bleak on upperclassmen as many student-athletes that were originally zoned to Dekaney opted to petition the district to stay at more traditional powers, Westfield and Spring.

With only an eight-game schedule due to Hurricane Ike, the Wildcats were winless in their first season of varsity competition. Moreover, they were outscored by nearly 35 points a game in district play and never crossed the goal-line more than twice per contest.

In both years two and three of the Amendola era, Dekaney began to provide hope for the program as they posted a 5-1 start during the 2009 season and finished the 2010 season with a 6-4 record with all four losses coming by a combined 13 points – including a pair of one point defeats at the hands of Tomball and Westfield.

That was the then.

With one of the most explosive and athletic running backs in the state of Texas in Trey Williams leading this season’s squad, the Wildcats are primed for their first playoff berth.

As an offense, Dekaney averaged more than 44 points per game through the first four games of the season. Finally catching the eyes of pundits across the Houston area, the Wildcats were set for a homecoming showdown with perennial power Klein Collins with a chance to stake their claim as one of the elite teams in the talent-rich district 13-5A.

Behind the efforts of Williams’ 215-plus total yards and three touchdowns – two rushing and one receiving – and D’Juan Hines’ four passing touchdowns, Dekaney clinched the programs’ first win over Klein Collins as they dropped the Tigers, 42-31, moving to 5-0 on the season.

“As a team we’ve talked about finishing (all season),” said Amendola. “We are more consistent throwing the football and the passing game is one of the biggest differences between this team and some of the other teams that we’ve had in the past.”

“The win against Klein Collins gave us a lot of confidence and we needed the win to show everybody that we’re here and we’re coming,” added Hines.

Through five games, Hines has completed 60 percent of his passes for 541 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Perhaps the best-kept secret on the team is Hines’ favorite target, Austin Garrett. The 6-foot-3 receiver possesses standout athletic prowess with the ability to make critical adjustments to the ball while it is in flight. Of his nine receptions on the season, the senior receiver has recorded five touchdowns and is averaging 25 yards per catch.

“All you have to do is throw it to this guy (Austin Garrett) and he is going to make a play,” said Williams, a Texas A&M commit.

In just four short years, Dekaney has formed a close knit group of student-athletes that look after each other and have a will to succeed.  Off to a 2-0 start in the ultra-competitive North Houston district, the Wildcats are right where they want to be – in the mix for their first playoff berth.

“We’ve wanted to make the playoffs for three-straight years and our time is now,” said Garrett.

“This is a team game,” added Williams. “We’re a confident team and we have a lot of team leadership and team unity. We plan on making it and hopefully God can keep blessing us to do well and protect our athletes.”

The original feature can be found here.