Texas high school football, just like in the movies

west orange stark football championshipOur daughters (and their dad) got a crash course in Texas high school football yesterday when we attended the Class 4A Division II state championship, where Tracie P’s alma mater, the West Orange Stark Mustangs (14-1), beat the Celina (pronounced sah-LEE-nah) Bobcats (15-0) at Houston’s NRG stadium (where the pros play) 22-3.

That’s Georgia P (age 4), above, in the arms of her cousin Lesli (who lives in Los Angeles).

Everything you’ve ever heard about the high school football phenomenon in Texas? It’s true.

There were roughly 25 members of the Branch-Johnson side of our family in attendance, mostly from West Orange (where Tracie grew up a block away from campus) but also from Austin and Houston (and even one from California).

When I went to visit the restroom at halftime, an impromptu reunion of diaspora Mustangs alumni was taking place, with women and men and their families gleefully greeting each other and exchanging notes and hopes on the course of the game.

nrg stadium houstonOne thing that really impressed me about the experience was the fans’ ardent loyalty to the teams and the intensity of their cheer.

This was no mere social event or pageant intended to foster character among the young men on the field.

No, this was Texas football…

west orange stark football scoreThe other thing that impressed me was how nice and just downright polite everyone was.

That’s our daughter Lila Jane (2), above, btw.

As raucous as the crowd was, I didn’t hear or witness one tense exchange among the throng of people trying to reach their seats.

I ascribe the mood and air of sisterhood and brotherhood in part to the joy that Texans derive from the sporting experience.

But I also attribute it to Texans’ general attitude of friendliness and thoughtfulness when they gather.

This locus amoenus was a happy place where people — literally — from all walks of life came together to celebrate the fanfare and wholesome excitement of our state’s “national” pastime.

Congratulations to the Mustangs on a great season and a job well done!

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