Well, that was fun
Saturday night marked the end of my 21st season covering high school football, but it was the first time I ever covered an entire season for a team that won a state championship.
Watching Abilene High's 28-17 victory over Katy in the Class 5A Division II final at the Alamodome was quite a treat for someone who grew up in the Big Country and understands the significance high school football has in West Texas.
I've covered a number of teams that have reached championship games and a couple that came out with the big prize, but this was the first time I've charted every play of a championship season.
This season was certainly a special one for the Big Country with seven teams playing for titles. Goldthwaite and AHS were the only ones to have a happy ending, but Wylie, Graham, Albany, Strawn and Highland all enjoyed remarkable postseason runs. As intense as the excitement was around Abilene, it must have been even moreso in the smaller communities where everyone knows everyone.
Even the 5A Division I final, played earlier in the day at the Alamodome, had an Abilene flavor with Abilene High grad Steve Lineweaver's Euless Trinity Trojans winning in overtime against the Austin Westlake Chaparrals coached by Hardin-Simmons graduate Darren Allman.
I've had the pleasure of covering teams coached by both over the years. I witnessed Lineweaver's Commerce Tigers beat Sealy for a state title in 1999 after losing two previous championship meetings. I covered Allman's first three seasons at Odessa Permian, where he ended a seven-year playoff drought and returned the Panthers to relevance.
I find it interesting that both Allman and I had to leave Odessa to get our shots at a championship. I'm sure he'll get back to the finals. Maybe I will, too, if Herschel Sims doesn't forgo his senior season and turn pro.