THE TRUTH BEHIND AHS' TOUGH SCHEDULE...FEAR.
By mark rogers
June 29, 2011
That's right. Fear.
The Abilene High Eagles would much rather play teams in the area. Teams like SA Central, Lubbock High, Lubbock Coronado, Amarillo High and Tascosa. It makes a lot of fiscal and logistical sense. But you know what?
No one wants any part of it. No one wants any part of the Eagles. They've beaten too many teams from too many parts of the state (and country for that matter).
Two years ago when the districts realigned, the Eagles needed three teams to agree to play them. Big Country or Amarillo schools? Um..."we already have games scheduled...sorry...we SO would have played you if you had called us YESterday."
OK...what about the Dallas schools. Yeah, sure "we'd play you, but that three hour drive is a killer. We're gonna keep it closer to home. Good luck!"
So two things were working against the Eagles. Location...and dominance.
After the big Dallas meeting with 200 high schools mixing and matching and figuring out schedules for the 2010 season, the Eagles were left with three holes in their schedule.
Coach Steve Warren got the word out and that word traveled fast.
They solidified a game with one of the best teams in Lousiana (a "one-and-done" agreement), ESPN got them a game with Plant in Florida (which, we all remember, was televised...also a one-time shot, not a typical home-and-home, two-year agreement), and another event pitting Texas and Florida teams together found them a matchup with another Florida team - that one was supposed to be a multi-year agreement but when the eight schools went to deposit their checks from the event...they all bounced.
The investor who had set the event up had gone under. Perfect.
So, after another deep run in the state playoffs, the Eagles found themselves in a very atypical situation...in the second year of the realignment with three holes in their schedule...again.
And guess what...no one wants to play them...again.
That's why Abilene High is playing an Oklahoma powerhouse (Booker T. Washington out of Tulsa), EulessTrinity (a perennial championship contender), and Harlingen.
Harlingen is an interesting story. They're one of the dominant schools in the valley. But the stigma down there is that none of those schools can compete with anyone outside of the valley.
So to prove that stigma is a misnomer, they've agreed to meet the Eagles in San Antonio to see how they measure up.
All these scheduling woes and it's no wonder that recently turned 50-year-old Steve Warren is missing all but about 10 hairs on his head (I can say that because I have fewer hairs than him and I'm 20 years younger).
He does have an iPhone which actually makes him about 42 in young people's eyes.
In conclusion, it makes a lot of sense to the Abilene High coaches to play teams closer to home or some Fort Worth teams, but the fact of the matter is that NO ONE will agree to play them.
So we're left with Abilene High playing teams you've never heard of in some pretty irregular places. It's not a matter of AHS bravado, thinking they can beat any body in the state. No. they just play teams from other states in the same position they are...a position where teams want to avoid getting their heads knocked in.
A great problem for HS football fans because it creates some pretty great match-ups.
We're lucky that HS football in America has gained so much attention the last few years. If there weren't hundreds of websites and magazines dedicated to HS recruiting, games of the week televised on ESPN and FoxSports, and large corporations paying to send their local teams anywhere and everywhere, Abilene High might only be playing seven game regular seasons.
This will be Coach Warren's 18th year with the Eagles. It's been about 20 years since he joined Gary Gaines' staff in Abilene. He's been recruited by other schools (HS and college) but has stayed the course and been loyal and dedicated to the Gold and Black since I was in the 5th grade (and I just turned 30).
One thing he's learned the last few years is that how good your team is and how easy it is to fill up your schedule are inversely proportional.
A good problem to have.
And the problem facing other teams that Coach Warren calls to get on the schedule? One thing...pure, unadulterated...fear.
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