Numbers making it harder for Big Country teams to make state football

Cisco Football Wins 2013 State Title

The state high school football championship games are being played all this week at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

But for the second straight year there are no 11-man teams representing what is usually defined as the Big Country -- from Colorado City to Ranger, and from Munday to Brownwood.

"I remember when I was in high school in the late 80s and early 90s there were a lot more Class 5A and 4A schools (currently 6A and 5A), but now they've dropped down," head coach Del Van Cox said.

The population booms have hit the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston areas, with families seeking jobs and moving to outer suburbs that are popping up as those metropolitan cities keep extending outward.

"The shift now is the Metroplex has blown up," Merkel head coach John Cornelius said. "That's created its own set of circumstances and obstacles."

More families means more kids, more schools and more resources for teams in the largest metro areas to pull from and compete with.

"You see a couple of new schools every year that have opened up and now they're in the finals," said Cox. "It's spread out so much more now."

The last time Big Country schools were shut out from state football in consecutive seasons was 1998 and 1999. Since then the area has been represented 22 times -- with Cisco appearing in five title games and winning it all in 2013.

Stamford won championships in 2012 and 2013, while Munday lifted the trophy in 2007 and 2012. Case Keenum led the Wylie Bulldogs to the Class 3A crown in 2004, and Abilene High snapped a 50-plus year drought with a state title in 2009.

"You can't imagine how hard it is to get to that state game," said Cox, who was an assistant on that Eagles team that defeated Katy in the Alamodome. "Everything's got to go right.

"You have to have the talent to do that. Then more importantly the chemistry between those kids to want to continue to work for 16 straight weeks."

While schools in more populated areas may have more resources, the magic surrounding West Texas football still creates an advantage for area teams.

We take pride in being tough. We take pride in being disciplined, and doing things right and being willing to do the things that maybe all those schools aren't willing to do," said Cornelius.

"I think we have a special breed of kids here that buy into that, and buy into the true grit and hard work. Those things pay off. If nothing else we can be tougher and more physical than our opponent."

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