Although the start of the 2009 football season is still some 10 weeks away, there has been plenty of news pertaining to that sport saturating the newspaper sports pages and television sports programs.

Last week in the Lone Star State, self-proclaimed football expert Dave Campbell came out with his annual magazine picking the projected district champions in Texas high school football and the college teams that should dominate the action this fall.

Many Southeast Texas high school football buffs were taken aback when Campbell’s “Texas Football” proclaimed Vidor as the projected winner of the always-tough District 20-4A. What a shot in the arm that must be for Pirates’ head football coach Jeff Mathews’ program and his hard-working young football players.

But with perennial football powers Nederland, Port Neches-Groves, Lumberton and Beaumont Central also in District 20-4A, Campbell’s choice could also be the focal point of disappointment for the fanatic Pirate football fans.

This Korner remembers two years ago when Campbell’s publication boldly predicted that Kirbyville would end West Orange-Stark’s domination of District 21-3A and caught quite a bit of flack from the Mustang fans before the month of August had ever rolled around.

The dismay around Dan Hooks Stadium was validated when the Mustangs traveled to Kirbyville for the big game and were leading the Wildcats 50-0 before halftime. The question heard most often about “Texas Football” pertained to the idiot in this area who was feeding Campbell all this bogus information.

Hopefully that’s not the case with the magazine’s bold pick of Vidor winning the District 20-4A title this fall, but it must be pointed out that the Pirates haven’t even smelled the state playoffs since 2000, let alone win the district title outright like Campbell’s “football bible” says will happen.

The last time Vidor won the district championship was 31 years ago in 1978 and the last time the Pirates posted 10 or more victories in a season was way back in 1964.

However, this Korner hopes Campbell’s predictions aren’t completely all wet, because “Texas Football” predicts the West Orange-Stark Mustangs to not only win the District 21-3A title once again this fall, but to also win the Class 3A state championship.
The prognostication about the Mustangs winning the district title shouldn’t be so surprising considering the ‘Stangs have NEVER lost a district game since dropping down to the Class 3A ranks. In fact their district winning streak stands at 32 games, counting their final year in Class 4A.

Another annoying bit of high school football news that hit the news stands and local radio and television was the bold announcement by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association last week at their convention in San Antonio recommending high school football teams eliminate two-a-day practices during the first week of August drills.

This cautious approach was based on the number of heat strokes suffered during this time of the practices when coaches are conditioning their football players for the season which starts here in Texas the last week of August.

These trainers also recommended longer breaks between practice and more time for players to ease into contact drills. The report calls for a minimum three-hour rest and would limit the second practice during the first week to only a light walk-through without helmets or pads. In Texas, schools must take a minimum one-hour break between practices during two-a-days.

But the executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, D. W. Rutledge, declined an invitation to appear at a news conference announcing these proposals.

Rutledge, who won four state championships in Texas, stated that he first wanted to review the guidelines with his membership.
Scaling back on two-a-days amounts to lost preparation time which is something that could concern coaches in football-crazed Texas, Rutledge added.

West Orange-Stark Head Coach Dan Hooks, who’s been at the Mustangs helm for 29 years replied much more succinctly. “Those trainers need to train and we will do the coaching,” Hooks concluded.

Hooks also monitors what his players consume, which he said plays an important role in preventing health problems. And his method of conditioning his Mustang football players over the years seems to work throughout the regular season and right up to December in many cases.

KWICKIES… A tip of the Korner Kap to Orangefield outfielder Jace Statum for being named to the Class 3A Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association first team all-state team. He is the first Bobcat player since 1995 to make the all-state first team, leading Orangefield to its first playoff berth since 2005. He boasted a .462 batting average, smacked four home runs and drove in 26 runs and was instrumental in the Bobcats advancing to the regional semifinal round before losing to District 21-3A rival Bridge City in a three-game series. Statum pitched in Game 2 of the series giving the Bobcats their first win against Bridge City in school history.

Lucas Glover came from one stroke down to overtake third-round leader Ricky Barnes and win the rain-delayed U.S. Open Golf Tournament Monday by two strokes. As the leaders faltered, sentimental favorite Phil Mickelson, betting favorite Tiger Woods and longshot David Duval all rallied to make the final round quite interesting. But a couple of bogeys at the most inopportune times snuffed out the chances of the trio, clearing the way for Glover to win the prestigious major golfing event.

And while on the subject of golf, Sunset Grove golfer Jim Rodda took his game on the road last Thursday and fired a one-over-par 71 in the East Texas Seniors monthly golf tournament at Iron Oaks in Beaumont. Rodda’s plus eight points over his average was second only to the plus-13 fired by Gerald Thompson, who also plays at Sunset Grove.

The Houston Astros continue to play well, especially on the road, after concluding a nine-game road trip with a pair of victories Saturday and Sunday in Minnesota and a 5-4 road effort to move out of the NL Central Division cellar. The ‘Stroes won series from Arizona and the Twins and return home for interleague games against  Kansas City, which began Tuesday, and Detroit this weekend. Houston now stands at 32-35 and are playing .500 ball on the road, which is a good sign. They also are 97-97 since interleague play began.

Talk around our nation’s capital is that Washington Nationals’ manager Manny Acta must go. The 2009 Nationals are increasingly drawing comparisons to the 1962 New York Mets, which is not good news in the marketing meetings. Going into Tuesday’s action, the Nats were on pace with the ’62 Mets who finished that season with a dismal 40-120 record.

Roger Clemens is threatening to write a book to get his side of the story out in his on-going dispute with his former trainer Brian McNamee. McNamee has accused Clemens of using steroids and human growth hormone, which the former seven-time Cy Young Award winner has vehemently denied.

JUST BETWEEN US…Last week’s Dan R. Hooks Football Camp at West Orange-Stark High School had a huge bonus for the youngsters in attendance when former Mustang standout Earl Thomas came to town from Austin with several of his University of Texas Longhorn teammates to assist with the instructions at the camp. Thomas, a redshirt freshman last season at UT, earned Freshman All-America honors as the starting safety for the Longhorns by the Football Writers Association of America, College Football News and the Sporting News. He was also an honorable mention All Big-12 selection.