Talent, health, luck factor into UIL state titles
Aug. 17, 2017 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated Aug. 18, 2017 at 6 a.m.
The goal of every UIL football team is to end the season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Refugio and Yoakum did so last season and the Bobcats came home with the Class 2A, Division I state championship.
Coaches who have won a UIL state title know how difficult the feat is to achieve.
Five head coaches in the area have won at least one state championship as a head coach, and four of them coach in District 15-2A, Division I.
Refugio's Jason Herring has won three state championships - one at Sonora and two at Refugio - and Weimar's David Husmann won two state titles at Schulenburg.
Shiner's Steven Cerny led the Comanches to a state championship, and Ganado's Keith Wright won a state title at Farmersville.
Jerry Long, who is in his first season at Edna, won a state championship at East Bernard.
"You've got to have a little talent and honestly, you've got to stay healthy," Long said. "And like it or not, there's a little luck involved in playing 16 games and staying healthy and being able to do that."
Herring has led Refugio to the state final four times in the last six years and twice brought home the trophy.
"Most of the time, it's not the most talented team because that doesn't end up being the best team," he said. "There's a big difference between the most talented team and the best football team.
"I've always thought there were 10 to 12 teams who potentially could win it all. Out of those teams, whoever is doing things right, stays healthy and stays eligible, gets a break here and a break there, will probably win it."
Wright's Farmersville team won the state title with a sophomore at quarterback, center, both offensive tackles and a freshman at receiver.
"Everything that was supposed to go right that year did," he said. "The No. 1 thing is you have to stay well. You can't get your best players hurt. You've got to be lucky, and your bracket has to kind of fall in your lap."
Husmann learned at Schulenburg that a team's ability to be successful extends beyond the field.
"You've got to have a community that loves football, you've got to have kids who buy into what you're selling, you've got to have an administration that backs you up 100 percent, you got to have parents who are supportive of what you're doing and know that you've got their kids' best interest at heart," he said. "You've got to have kids who will get it done in the classroom. It's an unbelievable sacrifice and commitment that goes into a state championship."
Cerny credits Shiner's championship to his players' willingness to sacrifice for each other.
"I think chemistry is really important to a team that makes a state run," he said. "One that believes in each other and has each other's back. It's not always the most talented team that can accomplish it."
Long attributes East Bernard's title to the overall success of the program.
"There's a lot of years and a lot of time put into making something special like that happen," he said. "Sometimes, it's teams you don't foresee it coming and sometimes it's your mainstay veteran program. It's a long season, and there's a lot that goes into it. District titles and getting to the second round weren't enough for us anymore. These are goals your kids set and as a coaching staff, you plan your year that way."
Refugio won the state championship last season with a team that was making its third appearance in the final in four years.
"You better have the hosses to have a chance to get lucky," Herring said. "You better stay healthy, you better get some breaks as far as some officials' calls and injuries. The biggest ingredient to winning it is keeping the kids focused and hungry, but most important is staying healthy."
Alan McWhorter died Saturday at the age of 60.
McWhorter was the quarterback for Cuero's 1973 and 1974 state championship teams.
The Gobblers, who were coached by Buster Gilbreth, won a then-record 44 consecutive games from the 1973 through 1975 seasons.
I met McWhorter while doing a cover boy story on his nephew, Cuero quarterback Tyler Arndt, for our Kickoff 2009 magazine.
I would see McWhorter off and on in Cuero, and we stayed in touch by email.
Visitation is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Freund Funeral Home in Cuero, and services will follow at 2 p.m.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com.