Tepper: Beware jumping to early Texas high school football conclusions
Get Dave Campbell's Texas Football managing editor Greg Tepper's thoughts on the hot football topics in Texas, presented by Subway.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are starving on a desert island. You’ve gone days without food, and you’re beginning to waste away. You’re on the verge of giving up when, suddenly, a giant platter of ham sandwiches materializes in front of you.
Now, you’re not the biggest ham fan in the world, but that won’t stop you. You gleefully devour the sandwiches, shoveling with both hands into your mouth until you’ve had your fill.
Flash forward, say, a year. You’ve had time to fully recover from your bout with starvation. But when someone asks you how those ham sandwiches were, you’re almost certain to call them the best sandwiches you’ve ever eaten.
This analogy may be a bit ham-handed — do you see what I did there? — but there’s something about how we react to early Texas high school football games in there.
We’ve just come through the long, arduous offseason, nearly eight months without football. It’s tough on everybody, especially those of us who crave the sounds of pads popping and the band tuning.
Now we’re here, with hundreds of Texas high school football games going on every week. Everywhere you look, there’s football. We’ve gone from starving for pigskin to overwhelmed by the volume of it at our disposal.
But therein lies a problem: because it’s been so long since we’ve had football in our lives, it’s natural for us to associate an extra amount of value or importance to the early results that we see. Realistically, we should be taking each game — especially early ones, while teams are still figuring themselves out — with a grain of salt, viewing them through the prism of 1-in-10 regular season games, and in the instance of non-district matchups, not particularly important ones.
Coaches will tell you the same thing. Sure, they want to win, but they’re much more focused on process as opposed to result. I’d venture to say that most coaches would rather lose a non-district game where they feel like they play well, than win a game where they look like they play sloppy.
As of this moment, there are 436 undefeated Texas high school football teams. There are also 442 winless Texas high school football teams. Neither group should put too much stock in their record.
For me, the line of demarcation has always been three games — three games in, you should be able to make some broader declarations about a team and their future. Of course, things can change — injuries, suspensions, sudden changes in play — but in general, a three-game sample is usually just large enough to start projections.
So, if your team is 2-0? Relish it, but know it may not be indicative that your team is state championship bound. If your team is 0-2? Be frustrated, but know that there’s plenty of time to make adjustments.
Treat each game — especially early — like the ham sandwich on the island: be happy it’s there, but it’s not meant to be overrated.