Saturday, December 26, 2009

State Champs...

Abilene High football has always been special to me. When I was here interviewing for this job 10 years ago the 1999 season opener was the was one of the first assignments I shot for the newspaper. It was also the first season AHS had made the playoffs in 40 years. Since then, they have made the playoffs every year since.
After seeing this team at the beginning of the year there was no question that they had talent, however, they had plenty of questions too. In particular the defense. They were small and looked like the first big physical team they played was going to push them around. Well, it didn't happen the first 14 games of the season, and by that point I was doubting that they knew how to lose. Their final hurdle was Katy, the 2-time defending state champs.
The game started out pretty quick. Abilene High took the ball down the field and scored on their first drive and then their second drive. After that Katy started playing defense and kept the game close until the fourth quarter when Abilene High put things away. A final long touchdown run by running back Herschel Sims sealed the game. After that I spent the last 4 minutes of the game roaming the sidelines looking for celebration features, of which there was no shortage of them. As the clock ticked down I kept my eyes on coach Steve Warren, as giddy as he's been after winning the last few games I knew he'd be excited about the win, it was his first state championship. Plus the other big players were on the field kneeling the football and I'd find them later.
It was really cool following this team for the last 10 years. Talent-wise, I wasn't sure this was the best one, but as far as chemistry goes and playing as a team there was no doubt about how good they were, plus they just wanted it more. The team kind of came out of nowhere and finished as the only Class 5A team in the state to finish undefeated at 15-0 and was ranked #2 in the nation in a couple of different polls. It was the school's 7th state championship, but first in 53 years. Needless to say, they were pretty happy.













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