I guess I’m like most American males, I like sports. Something about the competition that appeals to me. On a personal note, I’m a very competitive person. I have learned over time to kind of keep it in check, if you know what I mean. And, with what I do now….there’s just not much room for competition.
I like a lot of different sports; college football and basketball (in fact college basketball is the only sport that it doesn’t really matter who’s playing…I can watch, enjoy and really ‘get into’ the game). I watch the NBA quite a bit more now since the OKC Thunder are in town. Down through the years I’ve been a fan of: The Minnesota Vikings during the ‘Purple Gang’ era; the LA Lakers when Magic and James Worthy were there; Celtics in their glory days with Bird, McHale, Ainge and others. I’ve been an OU Football and Dallas Cowboy fan forever…..but they’ve both broke my heart so many times, it don’t even hurt anymore. lol; Anytime my kids or grandkids are competing, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, I’m all in! I enjoy that, sports wise, as much as anything.
But when I think of my favorite team to watch, (‘franchise’ might be too strong a word for HS Football) and especially at this time of year, it’s an easy choice…it’s the Canadian, Texas Wildcats Football Team. If you’re not familiar with Canadian, it’s up in the Texas Panhandle. It’s a small ranching/oilfield town. I was born in Canadian and lived in Hemphill County for 25 years. Some of my good friends have sons and grandsons playing on the team. And the team,….well it’s just about the funnest team to watch of any team, any sport, any era that I’ve ever seen. I make a regular season game or two each year and I’ve rarely missed a playoff game in the last 6 or 7 years. The Wildcats are the current 2A State Champs (basketball, too!). They’ve been ranked #1 statewide all year long and ranked #2 nationally! This season’s games have been lopsided and the starters have rarely been on the field in the 2nd half. And this is in one of the toughest districts in all of Texas with at least 4 State Champs in the past 5-6 years. (Canadian-2; Stratford-1; Wellington-1) They have overwhelmed State Ranked 3-A and 4-A teams this year as well. Example: The Texas State 2-A Game of the Week pitted #1 Canadian against #5 Albany (Runner-up State Champs last season and playing in Semi-Finals again this year!) Canadian won that game 49-0, and Albany never advanced the ball beyond the 50 yd line! They’re currently on a 29-0 run and will play Crawford (click for info) in Wichita Falls Friday night in the State Semi-Finals. They’re a 24 pt favorite!
There are plenty of individual stars to talk about on the team (several being recruited by D-1 NCAA Teams) but even they would be quick to tell you, “It’s not about them”. It’s the best ‘actual team effort’, any sport, that I’ve ever witnessed. As you’d guess, they’re extremely well-coached but there’s more to it than that. When I say, ‘team effort’, I don’t just think about the players and coaching staff, I think about the whole town! I’ve never seen a town get behind a team like Canadian has over the past 10-12 years. Canadian will consistently have more fans in the stands on an ‘away’ game than the other team. In their most recent playoff game with district rival, Stratford, in Amarillo…there were 6000-8000 fans in the stands. (Canadian Population: 2937; Stratford: 2073!) This is a high-school program that might just be among the very best in the nation. A program that’s produced an All Big-12 First Team & Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention All-American, Auston English, and currently has alumni in starting positions at Army, Ryan Alexander; and at Missouri, Taylor Chappel, along with several others at smaller institutions. And it’s not just another high school focused on sports they’re way toward the top when it comes to academics with at least one student accepted at Harvard.
As fun as it is to have a team like the Wildcats to cheer for, it’d be diminished in my opinion if there wasn’t a high premium placed on character. It appears they’ve done a great job in emphasizing that, too! So, you can kind of see why I like the Wildcats. You’d like ’em too if you get the chance to watch them play. But, you better hurry….they play Friday night in Wichita Falls….and then hopefully in Houston for the State Championship next Thursday. #ALLIN
*Check this one out, too: