SAN ANTONIO — The schedule was clear for all to see.
Every team in the 5A and 6A levels knew, by virtue of their seasons’ delayed starts, they had the chance to play football later than any team in Texas high school football history.
Part of those same chaotic events that have morphed the sports world as we know it brought about a historic event in Texas high school football history — Christmas-time football.
“It’s actually a blessing,” said West senior Jody Ybarra. “We’ve never done this in school history and it’s just fun coming out here after Christmas and just coming out with the boys and celebrating.”
Saturday evening in San Antonio ended up being a seminal moment for football in South Texas.
Victoria West came up short, 28-21 against Corpus Christi Flour Bluff, while Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial blew out San Antonio Southwest 55-7 in their respective Class 5A, Division I regional semifinal games.
Flour Bluff advances to the state quarterfinals for the third time in school history and first since 2012, while Veterans Memorial advances for the second straight year.
The results guaranteed that the winner of Region IV would come out of District 15-5A, Division I.
“It’s an extremely tough district,” said West head coach Courtney Boyce. “They set very high standards in this district, everyone makes everyone believe a little bit more what they can actually accomplish. They’re going to have a good game next week. We’ll be rooting on whoever comes out of that game.”
The teams in Victoria and Corpus Christi had come accustomed to postseason football. Of the three that competed on Saturday, all three had reached the third round numerous times in the last five season.
But often the teams either knocked each other out of the playoffs, or fell to larger schools like San Antonio Wagner.
Hope came in the form of realignment last year.
With Wagner sent up to the 6A level, the path to the state semifinals opened up. Saturday’s results were the fulfillment of that potential.
“It’s very special,” said West senior Chase Patek. “It doesn’t feel real, I don’t really know how to explain it, but it feels really good.”
Boyce described Christmas football as something only one percent of players get to experience.
But while the coaches cherished the extra time with their players, the historical significance was the mildest of consolations for Victoria West.
The Warriors and Hornets were playing for the second time in four weeks and West was aiming to avenge its 59-32 loss earlier in the year.
The Warriors had reached the third round for the fourth time in school history, but again fell short of the quarterfinals.
West’s season ended in heartbreak, but the Warriors stayed in the game late and gave themselves a chance to win in the end. They just came a little bit short.
“They’ve done something extraordinary,” Boyce said. “Everyone’s so very proud of them. I think it’s just always tough it ends in this way to come this far. These guys have been on a very long journey, been asked to do a lot of things that’s never been asked before and they really stepped right up to the challenge.”
Flour Bluff moves on to play Veterans Memorial — the team that has become the big bad monster out of the Coastal Bend — in another breakthrough event for Texas high school football: New Year’s football.