Storm a new experience for veteran coach

Sept. 13, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.
Updated Sept. 13, 2017 at 10:35 p.m.

Dennis Young, 63, walks through his waterfront home in Rockport that was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

Dennis Young, 63, walks through his waterfront home in Rockport that was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

David McKinney was going to ride out Hurricane Harvey in his Portland home.

But he changed his mind after seeing the weather forecast the morning before the storm and headed for the house where his son Burl lives in Georgetown.

McKinney was relieved when he returned and discovered his house had escaped relatively unscathed.

"I was surprised our house wasn't damaged," he said. "We're still cleaning up trees and it's a mess."

But nothing could have prepared McKinney for the scene in Rockport, where he is the defensive coordinator for the Rockport-Fulton football team.

"We got two gyms demolished," McKinney said. "There is a lot of damage to roofs and there were a bunch of leaks. Of course, the air conditioning stuff is up there and it's all messed up.

"They say it's going to take six months to get it going," he added. "What they're going to do is bring in portable buildings for school."

McKinney has been coaching since 1977, spending a large part of his career as the defensive coordinator for George Harris at Refugio.

McKinney's sons, Burl, Will and Matt played football at Refugio.

But coaching players who have experienced such devastation is something he's never done.

"It's crazy right now," McKinney said, "but it's happening."

The Pirates started practice last week with around 30 players that included some junior varsity and freshmen team members.

Many of the players are attending classes at Gregory-Portland, but are allowed to play for Rockport-Fulton under an exception granted by the UIL.

"We had to get started," McKinney said. "Jay (Seibert, the head coach) went up there after the hurricane and some of the kids showed up. He started talking to them and we decided if we can get this going, we needed to get it going.

"It was something, but we practiced," he continued. "The kids kept showing up. We just kept working at it and working at it and grew to the mid-40s. We had 51 on Tuesday. Anyway, we're going, but it's different."

The Pirates played their first game last week and lost 25-6 to Sinton.

They will travel to Seguin on Friday to play Leander Glenn.

They were scheduled to play Ingleside at home Sept. 22, but the game will likely be moved to Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway.

"Probably," McKinney answered when asked if Rockport-Fulton would have to have to play all its games on the road. "The scoreboard and all that is all pretty much gone. There's a lot more damage here than you think. When you drive around, it's pretty amazing. This is a peninsula and a sandy peninsula and a lot of trees are down and stuff. It's a mess."

The school has gotten a generator so the coaches can turn the lights on in the field house.

"We needed to get playing if we we're going to play district," McKinney said. "If we waited until district, it would be pretty rough."

The Rockport-Fulton players and coaches know the road ahead won't get much easier, but they have no intention of giving up.

"That's what I told those coaches," McKinney said. "You're never going to have this experience again. Trying to get a football team going and trying to play well after something like this. Every day is a different thing."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com.


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