Last Saturday, the Puncher varsity and jv scrimmaged Hamilton in the Puncherdome. It was a first opportunity for fans to see the 2012 Punchers in action, and they did not disappoint. They will hit the gridiron again this Thursday evening down in Blanco in a second scrimmage leading up to our regular season.
There has been a good deal of discussion about this year's Punchers. And why wouldn't there be? After all, we won the state championship in 2011, and we still have several members from that team playing on this year's squad. But, many people tend to overlook the returnees, instead focussing on the seniors we lost and the effect their departure will have on the team.
But, let's talk about the 2011 team. We had a center who only had one arm. A skilled position, normally requiring the ability to use both arms to balance, hike the ball, and execute the play. And our center only had one arm.
We had two skinny brothers, twins, excelling on both sides of the ball. Normally, they might have been a part of a good district winning team; but, they won state.
We had a small man on defense who should have been run over by any ball carrier he met; but, he went on to win the award for outstanding defensive player.
And, speaking of small men. None of us will ever forget the man with a small body, a huge heart, and talent far beyond his obvious traits. David won his way into all our hearts, twisting and turning and flying down the field. And, winning outstanding offensive player along the way.
And then there were the big men. "Fat Boys" to be precise. They celebrated their size and their triumphs. They celebrated their comraderie, their coaches and their school.
Taken individually, looked at as individuals, with a new head coach, the 2011 team should have had a decent season; but, no one would have been surprised if it ended shortly after district. And yet, we all made the trek to Cowboy Stadium to watch them win the state championship. They went beyond the expectations we had, and they fulfilled the potential they had as a team, not just as individuals.
So, now, back to the 2012 team.
One of the "secret" ingredients of the Punchers is the full-throated support of the Mason coaching staff, teachers, student body and fans. It's not the blind loyalty of football-obsessed fans supporting their team in spite of their shortcomings. Instead, it's the support of friends and family, a strength that goes far beyond just being a fan.
We in Mason have always known that we have something special in our community. We help our community members be more than they might have been. We allow them to fail; but, provide a hand up when the time comes to move forward. We are more connected to one another than we like to always admit.
When the 2011 Punchers made their journey to the state playoffs, they did not do it alone. The community traveled to San Antonio, to New Braunfels, to Waco. We carpooled, and we took busses. But, we didn't forget about the rest of life while we were making these trips.
The students continued studying for their classes. The fans continued working at their jobs. Birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated, Thanksgiving meals were served. We knew that the football team was taking us somewhere special; but, we also knew that odyssey was only one part of our lives.
In 2012, the Punchers have the opportunity once more to achieve great things. Taken individually, they are unique and special young men; but, they need something else to succeed. They need the special bond of being a team, learning to rely on each other in order to achieve something more. They need the band, the cheerleaders, the flag corps, the trainers and the fans. They need the support, encouragement and love of their friends, families and fans so that they can become more than just the individual skills they possess.
They will need us, and we them, in order for 2012 to be a season we remember. I'll be there Thursday, and then I'll be there for the other games. See you in the stands!
It’s all just my opinion.