The journey began in December of 1997 when my dad and I attended my first Lobo game. That game just happened to be the state championship game against Katy. I remember the atmosphere, pregame and the band. However most of all I remember the fans, the barking, howling fans and the train horn. Everyone remembers a missed opportunity to win a state championship. I remember how I got hooked on Lobo football.
Each year we would follow Longview until they lost, not ready to end the season we would look at the remaining playoff games. After deciding which game to go watch, off we would go until the end of the season. I would be scared to know just how many miles we drove over the years but man did we see some of the best players and games that Texas High school football has to offer.
Each week of each season for the next 21 years were spent planning for Friday night football. Dad had it down to a science. He would pickup tickets, game gear, check the weather, plan the route, pick the restaurant and the best escape route after the games. After work on game day it was a mad rush to get home, change and get on the road. Thanks to dad we were always at the gate early enough to pick our seats (50 yard line about half way up).
To pass the time on the drive to the game and back home we discussed any of a number of topics but often the discussion included game strategy, players, and coaching for both teams as well as what we thought could have been done different, we were high school football experts in the car. At the game we were among the most loyal of Lobo fans. Over the years we were blessed to see each Championship game that the Lobos played in and like most fans the anticipation built each season. So many seasons we felt the talent was there but the season ended in coulda, shoulda, woulda.
In 2017 I began to work the Longview home games on the sidelines. It was a bittersweet year as I was able to get permission for my dad to be on the sidelines with me. For dad it was a dream come true, he had one of the best seats in the house. He even got tackled on one play and at 77 years old he just looked up at me and smiled. He knew he made it on the big screen. The 2017 season ended with hope that 2018 would be the year Longview would win the state championship. 2017 was also the year we discovered dad had Lewy Body Dementia.
In 2018 we held our breath and crossed our fingers as each game was played. Anyone who watches football knows (especially Lobo fans) that even if you have the team and the talent all it takes is a key injury or just plain bad luck and your done. That season we only went to the home games because of the progression of dads dementia. When the playoffs began we hit the road for what I knew would be our last season of Lobo Football together. We watched and game by game the Lobos won, but each week seemed to bring more and more confusion for dad.
Finally we were back at Jerry’s world in hopes of finally watching Longview bring home the ever elusive state championship. No one in ATT stadium wanted to see Longview win more than I did. I wanted it for the kids and the fans but I needed it for me and my dad.
As always dad wanted to get there early so we watched the Highland park game before the Longview game. I could tell dad was struggling as he asked questions he should have known the answer to, I could see his frustration growing. We were able to last the entire game and after 21 years and four state championship games dad got to see Longview win that trophy.
In July 2019 needing 24 hour care, I was finally forced to place dad in a nursing home. Dad was a outside kinda man and being in a memory care unit was like caging a wild animal. This past Saturday after two weeks of battling Covid 19 alone, dad passed away. I will miss watching the games and the long drives to and from, but more than anything else I will miss the games and the drives with dad. We finally got the perfect end to a football season but it was also the not so perfect ending of what was way more than just a game.
A huge Thank you goes to coach King and the Lobos for one Hell of a ride to the end.