For the second time in three weeks, I write this high school football blog with a heavy heart.
If you haven’t heard already, our sports editor Nick Gholson, who worked at the newspaper for more than 40 years, passed away today after a 20-month bout with cancer.
Unlike Munday coach Ronny Lowrance’s sudden passing from a heart attack two weeks ago, we knew this was coming.
Nick hadn’t been coming in the office as much the past couple years, but he was writing from home a bunch and covering high school football games up until Sept. 27. We weren’t sure if he could beat this, but he kept working. However, cancer rarely goes quietly.
Nick hired me full-time about 10 years ago and took a chance on me a couple years before that. I’ll be forever grateful. We’re planning a big sports tribute in the paper in the coming days. And our editor Deanna Watson wrote a touching column in Sunday’s paper.
But Nick, if he ever read my high school football blog (which I highly doubt), would want the focus not to be on him but instead on the games. He wanted the meat, not the fluff. There’s no sappiness in this business.
So here’s the meat – my thoughts concerning a rather interesting week of high school football:
* District-opening losses aren’t much fun, but there are certainly different kinds. For instance, there’s no shame in Vernon being 0-1 after hanging with No. 4 Graham for a half.
Likewise, Electra losing to No. 10 Muenster – I kind of expected an “L” there. And while Electra – and City View for that matter – would have rather been more competitive, it’s not a crippling loss toward the overall goal of a playoff berth.
But a couple teams suffered really rough setbacks. Petrolia, for example, was real banged up and didn’t play its best against Era, who everyone considered the 8-A II cellar dweller. That’s a loss that really hurts the Pirates’ playoff chances. A loss next week against Munday, and Petrolia would be 0-2 with Muenster still on the schedule.
Holliday also finds itself in trouble. I’m not writing the Eagles off, but with games against winning teams Jacksboro, Nocona and City View remaining, it’s going to be a tough road for the Eagles.
* It’s still amazing that it took more than six years for all three WFISD teams to win on the same weekend. And then now it has happened for THREE straight weeks. Congrats to the Raiders, Coyotes and Huskies.
* I’ve been impressed with WFHS and its 3-0 start in 5-4A. The Coyotes are probably my most surprising team of the year so far. But now they face the toughest four teams in district (Nelson, Lake Dallas, Guyer and Rider in that order) and one win will get them in. I can’t wait to see what happens (and I think that win has to be Lake Dallas).
* Last year Hirschi fell in a hole and couldn’t quite dig itself out in a 24-21 loss to Burkburnett. That cost the Huskies a playoff berth. Well, it looked like they learned from the past in scoring the last 28 points in a 35-28 win over Burkburnett.
* Speaking of Burkburnett, I’m not so sure it can beat Vernon and I know no one in 5-3A is going to beat Graham. So in my mind at least, I think the Bulldogs have to beat Iowa Park to avoid being the only team in district not in the playoffs. That’s why Friday’s loss is so tough for them.
* Possibly the most surprising loss of the season was Bowie’s 13-10 setback to winless Paradise. To give it some background, Paradise lost to Henrietta 22-6 in Week 1. The next week, Bowie whipped Henrietta 36-10.
So what happened? The Jackrabbits had four turnovers and nearly caught a touchdown passes on the final play of the game. It’s a bad loss and Bowie gets district favorite Whitesboro next week. But the Jackrabbits will still have time to decide how their season ends.
* I’ve been writing pretty much every week that I have no clue about 5-2A Division II. Need any more proof? Well, I went 0-3 picking games this weekend. Not sure I could have done that on purpose if I tried.
* That’s an impressive win for Henrietta, which forced four turnovers in a 34-13 decision over Holliday. It looked like Jacksboro’s D.J. Thomas and Nocona’s Cody Jennings had big nights as well.
* What a huge comeback for Windthorst, edging county rival Archer City 20-19. That’s the second time (Week 0 vs. Munday was first) that the Trojans have been down all ball game and rallied late. And that’s a win that gets them closer to the playoffs.
* Archer City has to be the best 1-6 Class A team in the state, right? The Wildcats must beat Quanah at home this week. Because if not, I’m not seeing the playoffs in their future this year.
* Munday, playing in its first game since Lowrance’s passing, got a much-needed victory against Perrin-Whitt in double overtime. Day’veon Dockins, a freshman and younger brother of Tyrone Dockins, had a big game. The first of many I bet.
* With Crowell’s loss, the area is now down to three undefeated teams – Graham, Throckmorton and Notre Dame. The Greyhounds, who host Crowell on Friday, have the toughest game next week. If they win that, I think all three finish the regular season unscathed.
* Biggest game this week? I think it has to be Vernon at Hirschi in 5-3A. The Lions are entering on a two-game losing streak, although there’s no shame in falling to Gainesville and Graham.
* We have a big story on Nick in Monday’s paper, but the sports guys are planning our columns for the day of his funeral. I hope it will pay proper tribute to the man who helped make us the writers we are.