Plenty of Reasons to be Thankful, Including High School Football
Thanksgiving is a time to remember and be thankful for all of life's blessings from the Lord. Things like family, friends and health quickly come to mind but in addition to the usual things, I would like to add another - local high school football.
It may seem unusual to some, but for those of us who love high school sports, we have truly been blessed with some outstanding teams to follow in the Amarillo and Canyon area.
The just completed football season is a good example. Heading into the long awaited 2016 season, much of the anticipation centered on District 3-5A. The University Interscholastic League revamped the shape of the District in the biennial realignment, with Amarillo High moving in from Class 6A, and Plainview being rejoining the group from the south to make an 8-team District, along with holdovers Caprock, Palo Duro, Randall, Canyon, Dumas and Hereford.
The District race lived up to the hype from the start with Caprock starting things off with an upset win over Amarillo High on the very first night. However, it's not how you start but how you finish, as the Sandies would prove with a solid win over Dumas in the finale to clinch the title.
That first win wasn't the only shining moment the Longhorns would have. Behind quarterback Zach Encinias and running back Kaleb King, the Horns stunned Canyon with a come-from-behind win and clinched a playoff berth the following week with a huge win over Hereford.
The Demons had one of the more memorable wins with a 28-21 overtime win at Plainview. Dumas went undefeated on the season until they ran into Canyon in District play.
Another highlight for the Eagles came in the win over Randall in the CISD grudge match.
Even the teams which didn't make the playoffs provided excitement during the race. Palo Duro was in almost every district game under first-year head coach Chris Fisher. Randall also had a new head coach as Gaylen Selman took over for new CISD Athletic Director Bryan Wood. It took the Raiders a while before things started to click. Randall didn't win a game until they shocked Caprock, but the Raiders young players came a long way, which bodes well for the future.
After the smoke settled, the District 3-5A race was just as good as everyone hoped.
With Amarillo High's move to 5A, Tascosa became the lone 6A school in the local area. Under veteran head coach Ken Plunk, the Rebels managed to follow up their banner 2015 season with another solid year that included a non-district win over arch-rival Amarillo High. The Rebs finished 7-4 overall and 3-3 in District 2-6A to clinch a playoff berth. Tascosa blew away Montwood in the first round of the playoffs and led highly regarded Mansfield 29-20 at halftime of the Area round game before falling 54-43.
We can all be thankful for our teams and the excitement of the great games this season but more importantly for the coaches and players that make up those teams. We are truly blessed with outstanding coaches who are just as concerned with players' character as with wins and losses. They are all great teachers of football and life.
So let's count our blessings and be thankful, even for high school football.