Football's back. Give me five
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My dad, God rest his soul, would have been 84 on Friday.
I find it somewhat ironic that his birthday would fall on the day when high school football ramps up around the state.
My dad was not a big fan of high school football. We moved to Texas when I was in first grade, and he never understood its cultural significance.
He used to get angry when Dale Hansen on Channel 8 in Dallas would give the Highland Park football score but not the major league baseball scores.
He would take me to the Cowboys games at the Cotton Bowl, and he even watched Don Meredith play at SMU, but he didn't join me when I watched quarterback Tommy Kramer lead San Antonio Lee to a state championship at Texas Stadium.
I think he might have come around if he ever got a chance to see his grandson play or if he would have gone to a game on Friday night.
That's where I'll be every Friday for the next few months, and with apologies to my dad, here are five things about the upcoming season:
STATE TITLE DREAMS• Refugio players found their names on their lockers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington before the Bobcats went out and beat Cisco 36-35 to win the Class 2A, Division II state championship. The UIL hasn't officially announced the state championship games will return to Cowboys Stadium, but wherever the state final is played coach Jason Herring's team wants to be there again. Refugio enters the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and returns quarterback Travis Quintanilla, the Class 2A offensive player of the year, and all-state players John Wesley Shipp, Jack Gumm and Draigon Silvas. Hallettsville Sacred Heart won the TAPPS Division IV state championship in Temple last season, but will return very few starters. The team the Indians beat in the final, Shiner St. Paul, returns a majority of its starters.
NEW FACES• Eleven teams in the area have new coaches, including Roland Gonzalez at Victoria East, Kevin Auten at St. Joseph and Layne Elkins at Bloomington. Leonard McAngus is beginning his third season at Victoria West and he is the longest-tenured coach in Victoria County. Former offensive coordinator Travis Reeve returns to Cuero as head coach after two seasons at San Antonio Churchill and former Yoakum coach Dan Burk takes over at Bay City. Jake Wachsmuth, who led Shiner St. Paul to the 2010 TAPPS Division IV state championship, is back at St. Paul after spending a year at Yoakum as an assistant.
MOVING AROUND AND DOWN• Seven teams dropped a classification in the University Interscholastic League's reclassification and realignment in February. The changes also shook up area districts. El Campo will have a chance to be the big dog or the big bird if you prefer in Class 3A. Goliad and Palacios will try their luck in Class 2A, Division I. St. Joseph's fortunes should improve after dropping from TAPPS Division I to Division II. Schulenburg's travel budget will take a hit. The Shorthorns will be in a district with Rogers, Blanco, Jarrell, Johnson City, Universal City Randolph and their shortest trip will be to Lexington.
HEADED TO THE NEXT LEVEL• Ty Slanina won the Class 2A long jump and ran the anchor leg on East Bernard's winning 1,600-meter relay team at the state track and field meet in May and before the month had ended he had committed to play football at TCU. Slanina will play quarterback and defensive back from the Brahmas, who are favored in District 13-2A, Division II. He is one of four area players to commit to a Football Bowl Subdivision school. El Campo's Cole Hunt and Trey Martin have pledged to Rice and Weimar's Ja'Braylin Thomas has committed to Houston. Look for more commitments to come.
RACES TO WATCH• Victoria East, Victoria West, Calhoun, Beeville and Gregory-Portland won't be traveling to Floresville, but they will be going to Corpus Christi to play District 30-4A games against Calallen and Tuloso-Midway. Calallen, which advanced to the Division II semifinals last season, is the favorite but the other three playoff positions are up for grabs. Neither Yoakum nor Cuero made the playoffs last season and getting to postseason play won't get any easier in District 26-3A. Gonzales, which won the District 28-3A title, will join its two long-time foes as they face Giddings, La Grange and Smithville. All five teams in District 15-1A, Division I made the playoffs last season, including Three Rivers in Class 2A, Division II. Shiner, Ganado, Yorktown and Kenedy also reached the postseason and all have the potential to go back.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.