By Doug Sarant | Arlington, Texas
Last week, I wrote about The Woodlands High School football juggernaut and pointed out that other schools have similar programs and not everyone can win every game. This past Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington I was proven a one time prophet as someone had to lose.
The Lake Travis Cavaliers showed everybody their football juggernaut is a little bit more impressive, for the time being. Take nothing away from The Woodlands players as they gave it everything they had until the final whistle.
As upwards of 40,000 fans can attest, sometimes you just run into a better team. Superior firepower will win almost all of the time.
Lake Travis is not only better than The Woodlands, they also just may be the best high school football team since the last time The Woodlands made it to the dance and faced the North Shore Mustangs. Led by quarterback Bobby Reid, the Mustangs were a virtual wrecking ball levelling opponent after opponent culminating in their dominant win over a game Woodlands squad in 2003.
For those of you who weren’t there on Saturday and didn’t catch it on the idiot box or enjoy listening to Nick Wolda’s call on the radio, this wasn’t about one team beating another because one overachieved and the other underachieved. Nor was it about LT’s Head Coach Hank Carter and his staff doing their impression of the Algonquin Roundtable and outsmarting The Woodlands coaching staff.
Make no mistake, the Highlanders have their fair share of speed, size and athleticism. Unfortunately, the simple fact is Lake Travis had the same, but more of it. That is no insult as the Cavaliers had an unbelievable collection of football players.
For The Woodlands or ANY other high school team on the planet to have beaten Lake Travis would have been more monumental than the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team beating the Soviets in Lake Placid.
Winning the state championship would have been great for the Highlander players. However, coming in second and giving 100 percent for their brother (Grant Milton), going down with class and displaying sportsmanship should never be considered a failure.
For Casey, Stewart, Schmid, Patrick, La Canfora, Murphy, Bizer, Loane, Purcell, Kniphel, Talford, Kruchten, Lowry, Madore, Ramos and the rest of you seniors who will not get another chance, you should hold your heads high and feel good that the football juggernaut you helped continue will come back with some of the strongest sub-varsity teams in school history. The program will continue to flourish and the young guns will take the ball and run with it, or throw and catch it. You will be as proud of them as the ex-Highlander players lining the sidelines on Saturday, including Chance Mock and Frankie Draa were proud of you. The Woodlands will most assuredly continue to do a lot more winning than losing in the years to come.
These Woodlands players deserve some major kudos. This was a very emotional season as they were hit hard when their brother, Grant Milton collapsed early on in the playoffs. Emotion can take you in either of two directions…up or down. Because of their love for Grant and the Milton family, the only direction these more than awesome young people knew was UP. They never got down and they never allowed themselves to get too high as they went about their jobs professionally and gave their fans the longest season possible.
Yes, the coaches deserve a lot of credit as they certainly did an amazing job. It’s a great organization and Mark Schmid runs one of the best programs in the state. Yeah, they don’t have a state championship yet but they are always in the hunt every year. A down year for The Woodlands is when they lose in the second round. That’s the sign of success in anyone’s book. How many teams do you know who never even make it into the playoffs? TONS! Oh, and lets not start the talk about how The Woodlands has more students. These 6A schools around here are in the high three to four thousands. If you’re not making the playoffs with those numbers, start looking in the mirror instead of looking for excuses. The coaches had the players prepared and tough as nails. That doesn’t happen by osmosis. It takes good leadership to make everything gel.
The old saying about leading a horse to water applies here. Not all players are coachable and willing to do the things it takes to be successful. These players were coachable and deserve the lions share of the credit. That’s how the coaches think as well because they’ll never take credit and that’s a huge reason these athletes like playing for them.
I’m not close enough to the program to get emotional about the Highlanders’ loss. However, I witnessed the cheerleaders showing enough emotion to raise the level of Lake Woodlands an inch or two. It wasn’t only the cheerleaders either, though. Charlotte Laverne’s trainers also got in on the act. That goes double for Deanna Smith’s Highsteppers. The Band, the Twirlers, the Good Sportsmanship Leaguers as well as all of the parents and fans to include the awesomely raucous student section. Let’s not forget the Administrators. Principal Colschen is THE biggest fan the team has. You don’t believe me? Just watch him during a game…he lives and dies with his students. He has the students backs at all times whether they be on the football field or in the classroom. I could tell you some stories of the grief he catches for sticking up for students when he believes they are right. He doesn’t take the PC route…He takes the correct route.
I usually don’t do quotes but I waited a couple days and asked senior All State Linebacker Zach La Canfora if he could sum up the season in a few words…
“We made it to where we wanted to go ever since we were kids. Dreams did come true and although it didn’t turn out like we wanted, memories were made that we’re going to cherish for the rest of our lives and I know everyone feels this way.”
I read a quote made by Eric Schmid in Demetrio’s article for the Houston Chronicle where he said his teammates will be friends for life. Truer words have never been spoken. Anyone from the age of 18 to 88 who has been involved with a successful high school sports team can attest to that. These young athletes and all the groups listed above and more will remember this season forever. The relationships and bonds that were developed will indeed last a lifetime.
Over the holidays, while the players and coaches may be thinking of what might have been, they can be proud in the knowledge that to all who watched, it was obvious they gave their maximum effort all season long.
Have a Merry Christmas!
Feedback to Doug Sarant at firstname.lastname@example.org