Sunday, September 07, 2008
After more than three years of thinking about it, I finally committed myself to visit West Texas and take in their version of small town high school football, aka six-man football. I wish the journey could have come about on someone else's nickel, but dishing out the expenses for a round-trip airfare to El Paso, car rental, 1,100 miles worth of petrol and a couple motels along the way was still worth it. All of this with threatening rains and overcast skies standing by in one of our country's driest and sunniest regions.
Countless alumni of great football universities throw away much more money on any given autumn weekend to see their favorite team in action compared to my modest investment, and they only get to witness one football game.
After spending Friday in Sanderson, Texas for their opener against the Grady Wildcats, I drove over 300 miles in my rented Ford Fusion to attend the Jayton (Texas) Gridiron Classic the next day. The Gridiron Classic consist of four games of six-man football starting at 10:30 in the morning with the last game commencing at 7:30 in the evening.
Think about it... five Texas six-man football games in two days! Did I luck out or what?
One might be wanting to ask about now, "So, is Texas small town football different than what you've seen in Montana or Wyoming?"
Given the fact that there are over 100 six-man football teams in Texas, it shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that I probably witnessed at least one team that would likely defeat a six-man state champion hailing from Montana or Wyoming. That's simple math.
Yet, I suppose what impressed me the most were the facilities I saw in places like Sanderson and Jayton. In short, it's safe to say that Texas spends more money on high school football than Wyoming or Montana. So much, that even the small town schools don't feel so "small town" when it comes to attending a football game.
Further, as I headed back to El Paso on Sunday, I stopped in several other West Texas towns along the way to view other facilities as well. One town that stood out was Kermit (pop. 5,367). Kermit is about the same size town as Powell—where I live. But Kermit's stadium dwarfs Panther Stadium (here in Powell) and is easily larger than Daylis Stadium in Billings, Montana where the big AA schools of West, Senior and Skyview play.