Summer time here in the Piney Woods of East Texas can be brutal. Every year there are heat advisories, heat related tragedies, car issues, air conditioning problem and more; and that is all in July. But the extreme heat in August brings us hope. The weather remains hot. But a promise also comes. The promise that high school football is about to kick off here behind the Pine Curtain.
I follow the Waskom Wildcats. Waskom is a community in far east Texas that is the last Texas exit on I-20 headed to Louisiana. Football practice started yesterday amid during the heat of the summer. This little is not well known outside of Texas, but in #A high school football, they get a lot of attention. The Waskom Wildcats have not lost a game of tackle football since August 2014. They won the state championship in 2014, lost a whole group of talented seniors, some to the college ranks, the won the state championship again in 2015. Again, they graduation another crop of talented seniors, but they are looking forward to football again.
Coach Whitney Keeling leads this team. He finds the talent each player possesses, and with his other coaches, he crafts offense and defense and puts these young men where they can succeed. He teaches the fundamental football skills of blocking, tackling, kicking, and throwing that we all would expect of championship football. More importantly he teaches character, teamwork, family, and responsibility and duty. In Waskom, it is much more than being part of football that makes the team special. It is about being championship men in life. Mixed in with the scent of pigskin is the scent of quality life.