By Kathi Bliss
For the better part of the last 40 years, I’ve shocked and alarmed my family and friends. This is Texas, after all – and Central Texas, at that – and I’ve never really been a football fan. In fact, when I had to start covering Lion football this season and called my friends for a crash-course in football, they thought I was kidding. When my buddy discovered he had to pull out a handful of change and a piece of gum to show me what “lining up off-sides” means, he knew I was serious.
He also knew he had his hands full, trying to teach me the finer points of a game that most Texans spend a lifetime learning, following and obsessing about.
Throughout the season, though, we’ve soldiered on. I’ve discovered that when I don’t understand something, I can ask, and someone within arms’ reach can explain it to me. That means that I’ve missed a few things while standing on the sidelines texting someone in the stands, “what the heck just happened?”
As we get to the end of this season, I still can’t say that I’m a football fan. I’m not going to sit around the house on Sunday afternoon watching pro ball. I may not even learn to love the Longhorns.
But I can say, without question, that I am absolutely a Lockhart Lion fan.
Most of my recently developed football fan-hood has to do, not with the game itself, but with the young men that I’ve grown fond of over the last seven weeks (I got a late start on the season). These young men are not the caricatures of “jocks” that we see glorified – or made fun of – in movies and television shows. They aren’t what one might traditionally think of when they think of high school football players.
These young men are polite, articulate and caring. They are driven, dedicated and motivated.
In short, they are the sorts of young men that we, as a community, should be proud that we are raising and sending out into the world to represent Lockhart. One of them said at the pep rally on Thursday night that he hoped they could make us proud of them. Coach Henderson said exactly the thing that I was thinking…
You already DO make us proud.
These kids, particularly our seniors, have been the scratching post of our UIL District for most of their high school careers. They came into this season with every sports guru in the region believing they were the “underdog.” And all they had to say about that was, “watch and see.”
We’ve watched. We’ve seen. These young men have grown from a team that won one game last year, three games total in the last two seasons, and put themselves into the playoff hunt. They worked their hearts out, and proved that no one can come into Lion Stadium and beat them.
Yes, that’s right. Our “Boys of Fall” did us proud, and won every game they played at home this year. They claimed the gridiron in Lockhart and said, “Gen. Gary Bunch Field is our house. No one is going to beat us in our house.”
They brought Lion Pride back to Lion Country.
And they did it with dignity. They did it with class. They did it with the belief that each one of them has something special inside of him, and that they are a family with one important job – to love and support one another.
To me, that’s more impressive than their win record (which, let’s be honest, is also nice).
Friday night is “make-or-break” time. If we win, we get to continue with this season. If we lose, we have 10 weeks worth of great memories.
I, for one, am not quite ready for it to be over.
The Lions will take on Kerrville Tivy at Antler Stadium (Stadium Drive at Holdsworth Drive, in Kerrville) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. Kerrville is one heck of a drive – it’s 100-plus miles, any way you slice it. It’s a haul.
But when you think of the road these young men have traveled to make their community proud in the last 10 weeks, that really doesn’t seem too far for us to travel to watch them do it. Let’s get together as a community, and take their home-field crowd on the road.
I’ll see you Friday night.