It is fall in West Texas, and across that windswept land sounds the hard smack of pads as high school boys prepare for the holy war that is Texas football. From this brimming reservoir, composed of 936 high school teams, come the players that annually provide the Southwest Conference with a seemingly endless supply of first-rate youngsters. Some of the boys on these pages have gone on to college now, their places taken by thousands more just as lean, just as swift, just as tough, just as determined to become All-Americas themselves someday.
The ballet of calisthenics, a pregame ritual, is performed intently by characteristically lean linemen on the cold, bleached turf of West Texas.
The town is Stamford, but it could be Muleshoe or Breckenridge or Jasper. Anywhere in Texas where football is played, the ticket line (above) forms early.
Inside the locker room, away from families, sweethearts and friends, a tense team listens patiently while its coach issues his final impassioned challenge.
His eyes shut, headgear scarred by headlong falls, an Abilene runner (right), one step ahead of a pursuing tackier, strains for every extra yard he can get.
A whirlwind of color on the sere turf, an exuberant cheerleader bounds onto the field, announcing to a whole town that its boys are coming out and ready.
As ruggedly individual as a wildcatting oil driller, an odd-helmeted center breaks away from the huddle and sprints to the scrimmage line.
Defeat is tragic. During a locker room wake a losing player is comforted by a sympathizing coach while, outside, a Texas town is wrapped in gloom.
The game over, the last spectator gone, a lone member of the band disappears through a shaded portal and stillness settles on the emptied stadium.