e-book THE FIELDS OF FALL: Small-Town High School Football in Iowa

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Football is a reflection of the way of life in West Texas, which can be tough, but it's that toughness, idealism and ruggedness that define the area, which also equates to football. West Texas' passion has been backed up by success through the years. Permian owns six state titles, and for much of the s and '80s it was the standard bearer for high school football in Texas when it came to offseason conditioning and in-season success; meanwhile, Brownwood owns seven titles. And nearly every decade from on, at least one West Texas town has won a state championship, with the latest being the panhandle town of Canadian in You feel the rush and you know that you are representing the people you are not only playing beside, but the people in the stands from the school and your family.

Ain't nothin' like a Friday night in Midland, Texas Those who play it, coach it, cover it and watch it have a hard time explaining to those outside of West Texas why it matters so much. The area's general isolation is a major reason. Excluding the sprawling and growing metropolis of El Paso, there is no city in West Texas with more than , people. Dotted across a landscape larger than many states in the Northeast are a number of small towns and cities that in many cases are 50 miles apart -- and sometimes or more miles apart.

And the centerpiece of the towns is the school, because many of the town's economies are based on the boom and bust nature of oil, farming and ranching.


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The school is sometimes a city's or county's largest employer, and it is the gathering place for nearly everyone in those communities. Even in the larger cities, the happenings at the local school district will dominate news, and that has bled over to the football team through the years. Football is so important that head football coaches are typically some of the highest-paid public employees in a city or town.

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Those salaries are behind only the superintendent and high school principals, and in many cases the football coach can carry as much or more power than any of those school executives, especially in smaller towns. That type of money also reflects how much communities are willing to put into making sure their football programs are successful. Those salaries are only the tip, because many school districts have stadiums that seat anywhere from 1, to 15,, and many have state-of-the-art artificial turf and other facilities.

The stadium at Class 3A Monahans has a seating capacity of 6,, and the school recently purchased artificial turf.

Midland's Grande Communications Stadium was financed through bonds as part of a sales-tax increase in the city, and it seats 15, people. The stadium is host to numerous playoff games as well as home games for Lee and Midland High Schools. On most Friday nights, those stadiums are filled to near capacity with not only parents and family but also longtime fans who have followed the programs for decades.

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It's almost a college-like atmosphere, with active booster clubs and traditions that date back decades, such as Permian's "Mojo" chant. West Texas football has maintained its level of popularity even in this age of the hour news cycle, cable television and the Internet.

Down the road Other sports have gained some inroads in West Texas' larger schools, such as soccer, but even in the larger Class 5A schools, football still dominates athletic life. Even athletes who don't play football still attend the games on Friday night because it's something to do and shows the deep sense of school spirit that permeates nearly every community.

The question remains: Will football maintain its level of popularity? The sport has seen its share of tough times in West Texas, and no large school team from the area has won a state championship in nearly a decade. Playoff success has been tough when facing the sometimes bigger and faster teams of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. But one area where Metroplex schools will never match West Texas teams is how a community rallies and supports its players. Yes, there are some overzealous fans in West Texas, but in the end it's the constant support from little towns and cities across the vast expanses of the area that make it unique.

The feeling you get in the cool November weather and the feeling you get when you walk on the field. You can't replace that. To help make this website better, to improve and personalize your experience and for advertising purposes, are you happy to accept cookies and other technologies? Hayward: West Texas is crazy passionate. Houston Rockets. Bosa gets 'payback' on Mayfield via fake flag plant. San Francisco 49ers.

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Sherman calls out Mayfield for handshake snub. Sources: Barkley unlikely to play vs. New York Giants.

Jay Gruden laments injuries, lack of 'total say'. Eight-man also requires less equipment, which means scarce resources can be allocated elsewhere. The decision to switch to 8-man was very difficult for WHS. The community of Waverly has been slowly loosing population since Many other Kansas towns are facing the same reality since the majority of the state's population now resides in urban areas. Some communities are so small that two neighboring schools must cooperate to form one football team.

Even though Waverly High School has enough football players to field an man team, by most nearby schools of similar size were playing 8-man. So the Waverly Bulldogs switched too. While some residents disliked the idea, this town of about people has increasingly supported the team. The Bulldogs kicked off the fall of with a pre-season scrimmage attended by over people. The team rewarded this faith by winning back-to-back State championships in and Eight-man is not the first set of football rules to require fewer players than the traditional Six-man teams appeared in Kansas as early as , and many smaller schools chose to play this version of football.

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The rules were different enough, though, that when 8-man was introduced with rules more similar to man, 6-man schools added two players to their starting line-ups. Today about schools across the state play 8-man. There aren't big differences between 8-man and man football. Generally, the three positions absent in the 8-man offense are two tackles and a wide receiver. The defense plays with two fewer backs and one less lineman. Other than that, the rules and equipment are basically the same.

Windom High School was the first Kansas team to try 8-man in They convinced Kanopolis High School to assemble a team and the two schools played an exhibition game following the regular season.