Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 5, 2013

AARON SNYDER: Glimpses of Texas football glamour

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — Moment of truth: Who have you missed more? Your favorite school suiting up under Friday Night lights? Or that idiot who professes to be the “Monday Morning Quarterback,” as if there’s just one of these clowns running around?

My guess is that it’s not the latter. Did you even notice that I’d been gone the last two weeks?

I’ve been busy cruising (as fast as 85 miles per hour, legally) and perusing (we covered nearly 800 miles in the rental vehicle) a portion of the monstrous state of Texas — where high school football is Godzilla.

In between stops at Minute Maid Park, The Alamo, Corpus Christi Bay and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, among others, I couldn’t help but notice some of the most treasured spots in the Lone Star State to natives.

The first high school football stadium we motored by along flat Texas roads was Bastrop High School. It looked like a small college facility, appearing magnified because of little surrounding it. The Bears, I learned, went 3-7 last season, but they’ve had notable success in the past.

We also passed Cy-Fair High School’s football stadium, which is nestled along Northwest Freeway near Houston.

The best drive of the trip was the trek from Corpus Christi to College Station. Located along farm-to-market roads were small towns resembling the setting of football movies “Varsity Blues” and “Friday Night Lights.”

The luxury of extra time might have allowed me to stop by the epicenter of each of these towns — where their boys battle for glory on Friday nights. Towns like Edna, El Campo and Victoria seemed to contain that aura, awaiting those pad-popping nights with anticipation.

While stopped at a local barbecue joint in Edna, the restaurant manager’s eyes brightened when bringing up the fact that the restaurant owner’s son in-law coached Stephenville to the Class 3A Division I state championship over El Campo in 2012.

Another state champion — Class 5A Division I’s Allen High School — snatched up several national headlines last season as it unveiled the most expensive high school football facility in the country. Allen plays its home games in a $60 million bowl-shaped beauty that seats 18,000 people.

MaxPreps ranks Allen Eagle Stadium No. 1 on their list entitled “10 high school football stadiums to see before you die.”

Also on that list is Jones Stadium in El Paso and Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. Ratliff is home to Permian, the program featured on “Friday Night Lights.”

We never got within 350 miles of Odessa — yep, Texas is massive.

I also got a glimpse of Texas A&M’s Kyle Field, “Home of the 12th Man.” I told our friend, who was the reason we were in Texas in the first place, that she should definitely take in a couple SEC games there this season. She’s from Brazil, but she’s been working on the campus of A&M for a few months. It didn’t take her long to find out who Johnny Manziel was.

A Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman, Manziel has been swaddled in not-so-sexy headlines since hoisting the hardware in December.

The latest? Manziel may have profited from signing autographs, clearly against NCAA rules.

One of the funnier moments of the trip was when my father in-law, my son and I walked into a Chili’s in College Station and what do I see gracing the high-definition screen in the bar? A talking head on national TV chatting about concerns abounding Manziel.

I saw one man dressed in full maroon A&M gear just shaking his head as he watched.

Oh well, there are plenty of other stars in Texas. They’ll be taking the turf for their towns soon.

Texas sure got me in the mood for some high school football.

It’s time to get our fix for what we’ve really missed. It all begins in 18 days ...

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.