Season Opener Between Mason and Wall to be Televised
MASON, TX -- The Mason Punchers and Wall Hawks will square off in the first high school football game in Texas this season and the game will be televised across the state, according to the coaches.
Mason head coach Michael McLeod and Wall’s Houston Guy both confirmed to San Angelo LIVE! that their week 1 clash at the Puncherdome has been selected by Fox Sports Southwest as one of the featured games for their critically acclaimed Texas Football Days.
There has been no official announcement by Fox Sports. Usually, the announcement comes following the Texas High School Coaches Association’s Coaching School and Convention, which will be held July 21-23 in Houston.
“It’s a great accomplishment to be considered and picked up like that,” said McLeod, Mason’s first-year head coach. “It’s a testament to how Wall does their stuff and how we do our stuff. I’ve played in the (Mason) program, I’ve coached in the program and now I get to lead the program. I’m just honored to be the leader of it and try to continue the excellence.
In the 2018 installment, which was the 19th meeting all-time between the schools, was an instant classic.
“It was a playoff atmosphere in game one,” Guy said. “It’s one of those things that tested our kids really early and showed them what it was gonna be come week 10, week 11, 12, 13. So when those games come around in the playoffs, they’ve been there.”
Mason won 27-21 over Wall at Hawk Stadium to open the season. They held the Hawks in check, taking a 14-0 lead into halftime before the Hawks erased that deficit to tie the game in the second half.
After touchdowns by each team kept the game level at 21 each, and a missed Wall field goal, Jake Cockerham scored the winning touchdown with three minutes left in the game.
Mason’s Klay Klaerner rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns in that game to steal the show. The two run-oriented programs aired the ball out more than usual, posting 299 combined yards passing.
The 2019 installment is sure to bring the same level of intensity.
“We’ve got two tradition-rich programs that are gonna be playing, gonna be the opening game of the season. It’s super exciting,” Guy said. “It’s gonna be a great atmosphere, we get to go play in the Puncherdome. I think it’s one of those atmospheres. I think it’s exciting for our kids and our fans.”
The Puncherdome is sure to be packed on Aug. 29. Mason has won 40 straight home games since 2011. Their last home loss came against Goldthwaite in 2010.
McLeod was a part of the senior class that cut out the lettering that reads “Puncherdome” on the covered grandstand of Mason’s fortress. Putting that piece of Texas high school football history on display is something special for Mason’s new head coach.
“It’s amazing. I’m extremely blessed to have played there, to have coached there,” McLeod said. “And to see showcased at a national level, man it’s a tremendous blessing. It’s something I don’t take for granted. I think a lot of the Puncherdome. My senior year, in 2004, we were the class that cut out the letters that actually spell ‘Puncherdome’ on the Puncherdome. So it has a little extra special meaning to me.”
But neither coach will look past the fact that this is just one non-district game, meant to prepare their teams for district play and a possible deep playoff run. They don’t want their players losing focus on their opponent and the game.
“It’ll be great for our kids. It’ll be a little more hyped, I think, with Fox Sports picking it up,” Guy said. “So, as long as we understand that it’s still a football game, that’s really all it is. We’re gonna go and play the best we can as long as we don’t let the game get bigger than what it really is.”
With Mason coming off their 2018 state championship and Wall’s history, McLeod thinks the players will be able to keep their focus on the field rather than the cameras flooding the quiet community at the edge of the Texas Hill Country.
“We like to keep it simple. We kinda have a saying around here. We say ‘K.I.S.S. it’. That stands for ‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’. Basically, don’t overthink things and keep them what they are. It is a football game.
“(Wall has) been on a similar stage. Our kids just came off that stage of having cameras around and being on a big stage,” McLeod said. “I think that’s something that our leaders, the guys who were on that state championship team last year, will be able to feed off of and understand from. Hopefully, they can translate that to the young guys that have seen that stage, but not played in it. So, I hope that plays into our advantage and allow us coaches to tell our kids that this is just a football game.”
Fox Sports Southwest’s Texas Football Days has a history of showcasing the state’s best in the smaller classifications as well as Class 5A and 6A programs.
The game is scheduled for Aug. 29.
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