Tag Archives: Allen High School

Happy Trails, Part 124: Where football is king

You know already that we have moved from the Texas Panhandle to Fairview, Texas. Plus, you also know that we relocated to live closer to our 5-year-old granddaughter.

Here’s something you might not know: Our new digs are two stop lights away from Allen High School, where Emma’s brother attends. Allen isn’t just any ol’ high school. It’s the largest in the state. It’s also a school where they play some pretty good tackle football.

The Allen Eagles have won a bunch of state Class 6A football titles. They are the defending champs entering the current school year.

They also built a $60 million football stadium here a few years ago. It’s a beaut, man.

Where am I going with this? I want to attend a football game or two at this place.

Now that we’re retired, most of my Friday nights are free. The Allen Eagles are fortunate to play their home games in a venue that many Division II or III colleges would envy.

Many of you likely remember that the Allen Independent School District opened the stadium and then had to vacate it for a couple of seasons when they discovered some stress fractures in the cement work. The contractor made good on fixing it. They reopened the place and the Eagles have continued their winning ways.

I guess I want to attend a Friday night event in Allen to experience the kind of “Friday Night Lights” spectacle made famous in the book of that name.

I’ve been to nice high school venues, watched football games. Dick Bivins Stadium in Amarillo is a first-class venue. It’s the home field for all four of Amarillo ISD’s high schools. Back when Emma’s dad was in high school, he played in the marching band and we attended football games throughout East Texas watching him march around the field at halftime.

However, the Allen HS venue is different. It’s fantastic!

Our granddaughter eventually will attend high school there. One of her brothers already has graduated from Allen High; the other one is in his sophomore year.

I just have to attend a football game here to help round out my retirement journey.

Weird? Maybe, but it’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Building a bigger football stadium

I got my first look today at the next big Texas high school sports venue. It’s in McKinney. I haven’t seen pictures of the finished product, but it’s going to be a big and shiny place.

They’re building a football stadium on the McKinney High School campus. It’s going to be just a little bigger and a perhaps a good bit more expensive than a football complex that opened down the road in Allen, home of the Allen High School Eagles — who happen to be the defending Class 6A football champs in football-mad Texas.

So, what’s the point here? A couple of things really.

They take their football seriously in this part of Texas. I won’t say that high school football is any bigger in North Texas than it is in, say, the Panhandle or in the Golden Triangle — two communities where my wife and I lived for more than three decades.

The gold standard for big-time high school football — as I have measured it — still is in Beaumont. In 1984, a young high school football coach died. His name was Alex Durley. Two years earlier, he led the newly constituted Westbrook High Bruins to the Class 5A football championship. Westbrook was the creation of a merger between two high schools: Forest Park and Hebert.

Durley was named head coach of the new school’s football team. He was an African-American gentleman. Forest Park was the mostly white school; Hebert was the mostly black school.

The new school won and Durley became a community icon. Indeed, on the day of his funeral in 1984, all three Beaumont-Port Arthur broadcast channels carried it on live television.

So … yes, football is big in Texas. It’s so big that communities spend serious money to build these sports venues. The Allen High stadium cost a touch more than $60 million. The McKinney High palace will cost about $70 million. They fill the Allen Eagles stadium for every home game with about 20,000 fans; McKinney’s new venue will be filled, too.

Before we get all worked up over all this money, let’s remember one thing: The voters of these two school districts approved the expenditure at the ballot box. It’s their call. Who are any of the rest of us to judge, yes?

Sparkling football stadiums: an acquired taste

us_news_schoolstadiums_1_la

I will admit that this required a bit of understanding on my part.

High school football stadiums in Texas occasionally rival college sports venues.

As the story in this link suggests, bigger is better in Texas.

http://amarillo.com/news/2016-09-25/eyes-texas-are-upon-top-tier-high-school-football-stadiums

Allen High School boasts an 18,000-seat stadium. It cost $60 million to build.

You think that’s the top end? Guess again. McKinney High School, just a bit north of Allen, is going to break ground on a $70 million football venue.

One of my sons lives in Allen with his wife, two sons and a their daughter. I’ll declare, therefore, that I have a keener-than-usual interest in this phenomenon.

My life experience includes growing up in a suburban Portland, Ore., community where football used to be pretty big, too. But not that big. Our high school football venue consisted of a covered grandstand that held maybe 2,000 fans.

We moved to Texas in 1984, where we learned just how big high school football really can get.

As for these gleaming venues, I’ll finish with this observation.

They aren’t conceived and built in a vacuum. Taxpaying residents of the communities involved vote to build them. I presume everyone’s eyes are wide open. The Allen HS bond election passed with a significant majority.

I accept their decision … although I’m still trying to understand it.

Stadium returns to full use

alleneagles_1-web

They play football at this place. It’s a stadium. A high school stadium.

It’s in the middle of Allen, Texas — just north of Dallas — where our grandson is about to graduate from high school.

Students and loved ones will gather there and they’ll cheer when their graduate’s name is called out and the young man or woman walks across the stage.

Why is this such a big deal?

Look at the place. It’s magnificent. It also cost $60 million to build. A high school football stadium cost that much money. My own high school football team played football a zillion years ago in front of a few hundred fans gathered in some bleachers. This place seats nearly 20,000 fans who cheer the state’s reigning Class 6A football champions.

Oh, and then they had to shut the place down. Why? Stress fractures appeared throughout the structure. The Allen Independent School District took on the contractor responsible for the mess. Then the school district had to persuade the contractor to foot the entire bill for fixing the structure, to make is useable for athletic events and, oh yes, commencement ceremonies.

I don’t begrudge the construction of the stadium. Allen ISD voters approved a bond issue that paid for it by a healthy majority. That’s their call. Would I have voted for it? Maybe I would. Then again, at my age (65) it would have affected my property taxes, as the state froze my school-related property taxes.

But hey, the stadium has been fixed. It’ll hold up. The crowd will roar.

And our grandson, Dylan? He’ll take his diploma and march off to begin the rest of what we’re quite confident will be a productive and fruitful life. We’re so very proud of him.

We also are glad this stadium got fixed.

Make sure it’s fixed for good.

 

 

UIL mixes up the pot some more

It now appears Amarillo and Tascosa high schools are heading for a new classification under the University Interscholastic League sphere of things.

They’re joining the new Class 6A. That will put them in the same classification as, say, Allen High School — the beastly school that keeps winning state high school football championships.

More on Allen High in a moment.

Amarillo went from 5A to 4A two years ago. Tascosa remained in 5A and was placed in a district that required tremendous amounts of travel time and distance. The time kids were spending on buses to take part in extracurricular events didn’t set well with some parents. I don’t recall hearing too much griping from students, but Moms and Dads were highly ticked off about it.

We’ll see what the latest realignment will do to Amarillo’s four public high schools. AHS and THS join the big schools. Caprock and Palo Duro appear headed for a new 5A classification.

It all would be enough to make my head spin — if I had any kids or grandkids enrolled in school here. My interest is only on the fringes. My wife and I moved here as our sons were finishing college. They went to high school in Beaumont. One of my sons was active in band and marched Friday nights throughout East Texas. The farthest he traveled I believe was to Lufkin, about a two-hour drive north into the Piney Woods.

Back to this 6A matter. AHS and THS, each with a little more than 2,100 students, now will get to compete against some really big schools. I mention Allen because one of my grandsons attends that school, north of Dallas. Enrollment there is about, oh, Six Grand. That’s 6,000 students attending school on an enormous campus.

Is it fair to throw all these schools into this super-classification? We’ll find out soon enough.

It’s always intrigued me, though, how the UIL has to tinker so frequently with these classifications, just as the Texas Education Agency feels the need to monkey around with the school calendar every year. Back in my day — holy mackerel, I sound like my dad — the school year started the first Tuesday after Labor Day and ended around June 10.

The UIL, however, seems incapable of keeping its hands off of students’ and parents’ lives.

Good luck on this latest switch. See you guys in two years.