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It was Friday night football minus the lights at Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) last Friday as the Patriots football team took the field for its annual Blue vs White spring football game. Patriots’ head football coach David Gilpin split his team and his staff in half as the blue team lined up across from the white team in front of an enthusiastic and surprisingly sizeable crowd of spectators at the VMHS practice field.
Spring football is not something that all high school football programs across the Lone Star State participate in. That’s because the University Interscholastic League (UIL) gives each school a choice between participating in spring ball or getting a jump start in the fall.
“The UIL gives us the option of having 18 practices in the spring and starting a week later than everybody else in the fall or not having spring ball and starting a week earlier,” explained Gilpin. “Since I’ve been the Patriots head coach I’ve chosen to conduct spring ball. That extra week in the fall doesn’t mean anything to me because we’ve got a week, then we’ve got another week and we get into our scrimmage, then we get into our non-district schedule and then we have our bye week. That means that we have about six weeks before we get into our district schedule; so to me come October and November, that extra week becomes a hindrance in my opinion.
“It’s just another week of physical wear and tear, of mental wear and tear on the kids and on the coaches and just another week of body and mind and soul getting worn out; that’s my belief,” added Gilpin. “Plus we need to see what these boys can do because some of them put the pads on and they drop off a little bit while others put the pads on and they play at a higher level.”
Based on what Gilpin saw during the Patriots’ three weeks of spring ball this year, VMHS has more kids that fit into the latter category than the former.
“We’ve found some surprises this spring on guys that we thought were going to be OK turned out to be pretty dad gum good. So this spring has really panned out well for us,“ shared Gilpin.
The Patriots’ head coach realizes that not all his colleagues agree with his way of thinking but that’s not anything he’s at all concerned about.
“Everybody’s got their own philosophy and that’s mine,” said Gilpin. “When the others start practicing on August fifth we’ll still be in coaches meetings and we’ll still be lifting and doing all those things but that’s fine.”
As for his team’s performance on the field last Friday, it may not have been up to the typically high standards of a David Gilpin coached team. But the objective of the game was evaluation of players, which was why Gilpin and his staff decided to divide the talent up equally between both teams.
“Our blue/white game was a little different this year,” explained Gilpin. “If we had gone with our first offense against our first defense then we would’ve looked better. Our first offense would’ve been more polished and our first defense would’ve been more polished. Instead my coaches and I got together at my house a week ago last Friday evening and we held a draft. We drafted players for each team position by position until all of our kids were split right down the middle.”
On the scoreboard the blue team defeated the white team 21-14 last Friday night but as the players huddled together at the completion of the game and listened to their head coach’s words of encouragement, the two teams came together as one and it no longer mattered what color jersey each was wearing because they were all simply Patriots once again.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.