Thank God It’s Friday

And Saturday. And Sunday. The arrival of fall means weekends spent watching football, up close and on-screen, and yet another opportunity to love the greatest game on earth for all the usual reasons. Forty-nine of them, in fact.

Throwing A Great Pass

I can tell right away when I let the ball go if it’s going to be a good one. I can almost turn around and tell you if it’s going to be a good ball or not. Even if the guy’s 40 or 50 yards down the field, I’m pretty sure if it’s going to hit him in the chest or if it’s going to be batted down or too high or too low—if it’s going to have a chance to make a big play or not. Right when you let it go there’s a nice little feeling you get in, like, the last two or three fingers of your hand. If that comes off sweet and it’s spinning the right way, then there’s a good chance it’s going to be complete.
David Carr is the quarterback for the Houston Texans.

Running Through Paper Signs Instead Of Smoke-Filled Inflatable Tunnels

Not That We Have A Problem With Tunnels, Per Se

What we like, in particular, about the one at the Cotton Bowl is that at the Red River Rivalry, both UT and OU players and coaches enter from and exit through the same tunnel, with fans crowding around each side. The jostling and trash talking are almost as exciting as the game itself.

The Voice

Some announcers have more games on their résumés; others have been at it longer. But for our money, the best in Texas is Ace Little, of the Weatherford Kangaroos. The 42-year-old has called 750 sporting events on the radio over the past 24 years, and he’ll broadcast his three-hundredth high school game on September 8, when the District 4 5A ’Roos face off against the Keller Indians at Kangaroo Stadium. If you’re in the north-central part of the state, tune into 89.5 KYQX-FM; otherwise, listen online.

Road Trip

Five towns that turn into ghost towns when the high school football team has an away game:
1. Converse
2. Ennis
3. Lufkin
4. Odessa
5. Southlake

At least one marching band has a sense of humor.

The most important thing to understand about Rice University’s Marching Owl Band (more familiarly known as the MOB) is that it doesn’t march. Ever. To achieve the desired formation, MOBsters run to their appointed destinations, or scatter, prance, mosey, stroll, crawl, dance, hop, skip, jump, leapfrog, hopscotch, moonwalk, break-dance—anything but march. This has been the modus operandi of the MOB since 1970, when someone decided that it made no sense for Rice’s tiny band to try to emulate the intricate movements and ear-splitting volume of its gargantuan rivals in the old Southwest Conference. Even when I had been a Rice student, a few years earlier, the band had taken to poking fun at UT icons like Big Bertha, the Longhorn Band’s mammoth bass drum; now satire became the band’s official policy. The most famous formation in the history of the MOB came during halftime of a home game against Texas A&M in 1973: The band “honored” Reveille, the Aggies’ collie mascot, by forming … a fire hydrant. The Aggies, who have been known to have issues with satire, were outraged. After the game, which Rice won, 24–20, angry Aggies cornered the MOB and blocked its exit from the stadium. It was rescued—as the MOB’s announcer explained when the band celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the incident in 1993 by reprising its performance—“by something with worse taste than their halftime show: Rice food-service trucks.” Alas, the MOB’s antics today are limited to non-conference games; Conference USA has a rule against denigrating the opponents.

Dragon Nation

When Southlake’s Carroll Senior High School beat Katy High School on December 17, 2005, it won not just the state 5A Division II football title but bragging rights as the best Texas high school team of the decade and one of the very best football programs in the nation. The team’s numbers are nothing short of astonishing: Over the past four years the Carroll Dragons have won 63 games and lost only 1 (to Katy, in the 2003 finals). They have played in 4 consecutive state championship games and won 3 of them. They finished the 2004 season as the number-one-ranked high school team in the nation by USA Today; last year they were ranked second.

Along the way, the Dragons have shown an uncanny ability to regenerate themselves. In 2005, after star running back Aaron Luna and star quarterback Chase Daniel graduated, many people were skeptical that the team could repeat. Coach Todd Dodge responded with a blistering passing attack, featuring an assortment of lightning-footed receivers who caught quarterback Greg McElroy’s 56 touchdown passes (a 5A record).

How do they do it? It may have something to do with the team’s five-year-old, $15.3 million stadium, or its 80-yard-long air-conditioned indoor practice facility, sometimes used by the Dallas Cowboys. Or maybe they’re just that good.

Rivalries. We’ve Got Rivalries

Eight classics at the high school level:
1. Lufkin vs. Nacogdoches
2. Sherman vs. Denison
3. Dallas Carter vs. Dallas Kimball
4. Longview vs. Marshall
5. Odessa Permian vs. Midland Lee
6. Garland vs. South Garland
7. Austin Reagan vs. Austin LBJ
8. Celina vs. Pilot Point

But No Rivalry Is As Big As This One

Texas A&M versus Texas is about a lot more than football. It’s about class and values and different ways of looking at the world. For more than a century, Longhorn loyalists have regarded the Aggies as a bunch of rubes straight off the farm. There is more than a little truth in this; even today, a quarter of A&M’s entering freshmen are the first in their family to attend college. In turn, Aggies see UT as a refuge for pampered, pseudosophisticated city folk, whom they disdainfully label “teasips.” UT students revel in Aggie jokes; Aggies respond with “What do you

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