All of the anxious anticipation that accompanied the sweltering heat of the summer will end Friday night when most of the high school football teams in Southeast Texas kick off the 2009 season.

Let’s hope the sweltering heat also subsides somewhat to make the setting a bit more bearable when the action begins fast and furiously Friday night. 

Three Orange County teams will be jumping right out of the frying pan and into the fire with the No. 4-ranked West Orange-Stark Mustangs hosting the Nederland Bulldogs of District 20-4A, the Bridge City Cardinals entertaining always-tough Liberty and Orangefield traveling to Winnie to meet the East Chambers Buccaneers. 

Other Orange area teams in action Friday night include Vidor at Beaumont Kelly and Deweyville welcoming Sabine Pass.

While the high school teams fine-tune their game for their respective season openers Friday night, our nation’s college football teams will get an extra week to get ready for the start of their season.

The Associated Press Preseason Top 25 Poll which was released Saturday has the Florida Gators favored to win their third national championship in the last four years, with their quarterback Tim Tebow the top candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

College football fans in this part of the country feel like maybe the AP’s No. 2 team — the Texas Longhorns — have just as good a chance to grab another national championship this season. However, Florida garnered 58 first-place votes compared to 2 for Texas.

With two key defensive secondary players being former West Orange-Stark Mustangs—senior cornerback Kenneth “Deon” Beasley and redshirt sophomore safety Earl “E.T.” Thomas– Orange area football fans are hopeful the Longhorns’ defense, which was ranked a paltry 104th in the nation last year, will be much-improved this fall.

Even with the ‘Horns surrendering the second highest number of yards passing in school history (3,372 yards), Texas still managed to post a shiny 12-1 record last year. The Longhorns missed by a whisker of being 13-0, losing to Texas Tech in the final second of play.

Texas’ defensive secondary will still be very young with Thomas and sophomore Blake Gideon at the safety slots and Beasley with the most career starts (11) of all the cornerbacks. But they have had a year to better understand the new defense installed by second-year coordinator Will Muschamp.

The Longhorns believe they can go eight or nine players deep in the defensive secondary rotation which is what is sometimes necessary to counteract the pass-happy offenses in the Big 12 where defenses often utilize five or six defensive backs at a time.

The Texas Longhorns 2009 Media Guide lists Thomas at 5-10 and a hefty 197 pounds. It points out he started all 13 games last season and was named  first team Freshman All-American by College Football News and The Sporting News in 2008 and was an honorable  Mention All-Big 12. Thomas is a pre-season second-team All-Big 12 selection for 2009.

Beasley is a fourth-year cornerback who has played in 33 games, starting in 11. Last season Deon appeared in all 13 games, starting in nine of them. He is listed in the media guide as 5-10, 180 pounds. His nickname is Primetime and his secret hobby is that he likes to cook.

KWICKIES…The Lamar Cardinals will hold a walk-on tryout camp Wednesday at 2 p.m. for anyone interested in playing football for the Big Red next season. Head Coach Ray Woodard will hold his first official practice for scholarship players at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the LU practice fields. This will be the first such activity since the 1989 season. The Cardinals will open the 2010 season at McNeese State on Sept. 4.

Ryan Moore beat Kevin Stadler on the third hole of sudden death Sunday to win the rain-hampered Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. It was the first PGA Tour victory in 112 starts for the former NCAA champion, who played his collegiate golf at UNLV. Third-round co-leader Sergio Garcia led at one time Sunday by three shots but as usual melted like an ice cube in the Sahara Desert and didn’t even make the three-man playoff.

The Houston Astros enjoyed an off-day Monday after winning four-of six from the Florida Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks during last week’s home stand. The ‘Stroes begin a nine-game road trip Tuesday with three games each against the front-running St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona and the Chicago Cubbies. Through Sunday’s action Houston is in third place in the National League Central Division with a 61-63 record, 10 games behind the Cardinals and two games behind second-place Chicago.

Former Houston Astro Eric Bruntlett became only the second player in major league history to turn an unassisted double play that ended a baseball game as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Mets 9-7 Sunday in the Big Apple. With runners on first and second and nobody out, the runners took off on the pitch from former Astro Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth inning. The batter, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive that appeared headed for center field. But Bruntlett ran to cover second base and caught the liner, stepped on second and tagged the runner coming from first to second for the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history. The only other player to accomplish a game-ending triple play was Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun on May 31, 1927, completing a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The Dallas Cowboys looked much better in their second preseason game than in their first one, downing the Tennessee Titans 30-10 Friday night in their brand new billion dollar stadium. The Pokes will host the San Francisco 49ers Saturday in a preseason game that kicks off at 7 p.m. But the Houston Texans went in the other direction, losing to the New Orleans Saints 38-14 in a game that Head Coach Gary Kubiak said he was disappointed in his team’s overall effort. The Texans will host the Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre Monday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised by ESPN.

The San Antonio team that beat Bridge City 6-4 to earn a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. won its first two pool games, beating Peabody, Mass. 10-1 Friday and blanking Russellville, Ky. Sunday 12-0 in four innings. San Antonio’s next game is Tuesday against high-scoring Chula Vista, Cal., who also thrashed Peabody and Russellville in the first two rounds.

JUST BETWEEN US…And while we’re on the subject of the Little League World Series, we just happened to watch the tail end of an International game between our neighbors Canada and Mexico Saturday. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Mexico had runners on second and third and one out. The batter faked a bunt on the first pitch and then hit a harmless grounder back to the Canadian pitcher, who caught the ball cleanly and looked the runner on third back to the base, turned and fired to first. But the Canadian first baseman, anticipating another bunt attempt, had charged toward home plate and when the pitcher fired to first base, nobody was there and the ball sailed down the right field foul line, giving Reynosa, Mexico a 2-1 victory.