If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times.
I’m talking about the look in the eyes a high school football players gets when I ask one of my oldies but goodies of a question.
What I’ve learned as Tuesday I started year No. 34 - eee gads! - of covering Texas High School football with my DQ Tour trip north starting in Stratford, is not every player is going to be a star.
Not every player is going to score a touchdown in their career.
Not every player is even going to make the starting lineup for an entire year.
But every player is going to get the chance to run out into their home stadium under the Friday night lights, thus, resulting in the look after I simply ask: What’s it like running out on your home field on a Friday Night?
I know what you feel running out on a field never has won a football game and never will. But also I know their is something special about that feeling so deep it can’t help but a pitch in a tent in a players soul.
The first time I really learned about this was several Amarillo city players telling me just the sound of cleats clicking on the cement as you walk down the cemented driveway onto Dick Bivins Stadium minutes before kickoff brought chills to them.
And I’m not talking one players saying this, but over and over. I promise you, it’s still that way even for the coolest of cool who don’t want anybody part of showing what’s really beating in their heart before a game.
I only asked the question twice on Tuesday during trips to Stratford, Sunray and Dumas, and I batted 1.000 seeing the look.
The look is a lot like that one when you have just taken a bite of food you just love. You just know it when you see it.
This time I did ask a couple of guys who do start and do score touchdowns in Stratford senior quarterback/linebacker Kade McBryde and Sunray senior quarterback Rhett Rouser.
So Kade McBryde, you who had 150 tackles at linebacker last year, what’s it like running out to play on the real grass field of Sam Bass Stadium on Friday?
After a quick grin, McBryde didn’t hesitate.
“That ol’ grass field is different, but it’s fun. It’s where I want to play my games,” McBryde said, “the look” definitely finding his eyes. “I always cherish the moments I have out their with my teammates and coaches.”
So Rhett Rouser, you who also had a huge year in 2016 playing quarterback/linebacker but will stick to quarterback this year, what it’s like running out on the real grass field of Bobcat Stadium on a Friday night?
“That is just like the perfect scene, like a movie,” Rouser said, “the look” full on in his eyes. “It’s Friday Night lights. The crowd is cheering. On Homecoming their are motorcycles revving their engines, it feels like airplanes are flying over and I know it’s not but we imagine like it is. You can’t beat it.”
You just can’t.
And the winner is (desk, please bold face this)
On the DQ Tour we take an individual photo (shoulders up) of each player. To make sure we don’t mess up the IDs of the players we have them hold their name in front of them on a piece of paper.
Many a time we write the names ourselves, or a coach does, on a pad of paper and that’s how it goes.
For me Tuesday, it was DQ Tour heaven as Stratford head coach Matt Lovorn, Sunray head coach Kurt Haberthur and Dumas head coach Chad Dunnam had the names on paper ready to go.
I can’t thank all three of them enough. What a time saver.
But I have to say, Coach “Habs” out did himself at Sunray and has taken the title of “the greatest names on paper ever on a Lance Lahnert DQ Tour.”
The Sunray names were printed out by computer type on paper, like Lovorn did at Stratford, but with a Bobcat logo in color.
That’s going the extra mile.
Let me just say, and I’m not joking, I’m a better man after talking with Lovorn, Haberthur and Dunnam in a four-hour span.
Thanks for the chats.
A little of what I learned and saw Tuesday (desk, please bold face)
- Dumas players look strong, real strong.
- Sunray players had one of the best feel-good, positive vibes I’ve ever seen at photo shoot in my 34 years.
- Stratford has lost some stud players the past two years, but the vibe I saw at practice Tuesday is one of confidence, one of we are still the Stratford Elks.
- Dumas quarterback Noah Quintanilla could be the surprise player of the year in Class 5A. - Sunray has a new locker room and it’s legit.
- Stratford’s twin 6-foot-6 towers Parker Hanna and Russell Spurlock might be gone but Noah Harris is no little guy.
- Dumas will have new black helmets and stick with pitchfork logo - looks clean.
- Sunray will go with spread offense this year and do so wearing new white helmets, going away from the blue look.
- Stratford was practicing in grass the length of the U.S. Open rough (you can’t mow when it rains this much)
Overall, what I saw was a lot of smiles because Texas high school football is back. And for me, that means my 34th annual DQ Tour.