Lone Star Gridiron

Gridiron Pilgrimage Part III

Homage to "the greatest sport in the greatest state."

Join us in this multi-part series built around a love for Texas high school football.  Grant Goodwin (Sideline 2 Sideline) and Kevin McPherson took advantage of the lull in Texas high school football action to pay homage along a route rich in schoolboy football tradition.

Part III - Saturday (continued)

We finally got our bearings and turned around just after entering New Mexico and headed south on 115 towards Wink, where we found the home of the orange and black Wink Wildcats. Considering the remoteness and the size of the town, we saw a nice stadium with team history proudly displayed. After leaving the stadium, we stumbled upon the Roy Orbison Museum (Orbison is a Wink Wildcat).

Wink Wildcats Stadium

Wink Wildcats Stadium

Home of the Wink Wildcats

Home of the Wink Wildcats

Roy Orbison Museum

Roy Orbison Museum

To continue, we headed south down 115 to in Pyote, Texas, where we hopped on I-20 west towards Pecos. Here at this outpost, we ran in to the rodeo arena and the monument in front that commemorates Pecos as hosting the first rodeo in the history of the whole world. After leaving the rodeo grounds we found Eagle Stadium, home of the Pecos Eagles. Here, we were happy to see another stadium with the town’s water tower right behind the playing field. Looking at the Pecos Eagle on the water tower behind the end zone makes for an iconic image.

Rodeo Monument in Pecos

Rodeo Monument in Pecos

Pecos Eagles Stadium

Pecos Eagles Stadium

Temperature reached 103 degrees as we departed Pecos, so we desperately needed a way to cool off. To do so, we headed south on state Highway 17, which took us to Interstate 10, where we head west before picking up Highway 17 once again in to Balmorhea. After driving through the small but smartly charming town, we sought out the legendary San Solomon Springs in Balmorhea State Park. We parked on the highway and enjoyed a couple of cold drinks before walking to the springs. The water, we had been told, remains between 72 and 76 degrees year round. Indeed, that first jump in seemed very cold, as all spring fed bodies of water tend to be, and very deep, averaging 25-30 feet in most places, and clear enough to see all the fish at the bottom of the springs. Nonetheless, this was a very refreshing oasis at the foot of the Davis Mountains. If you are ever out that way, your trip is incomplete without a dip in these incredible waters. The chilly waters lowered our body temperatures and raised our spirits, and we found the place where the Balmorhea Bears roam on Friday nights. As you can see from the pictures, there is not a lot in the way of amenities at this stadium but I bet all the Balmorhea fans packed in the bleachers overshadows that on Fridays nights.

San Solomon Springs

San Solomon Springs

Home of the Balmorhea Bears

Home of the Balmorhea Bears

Back on our route, we made a quick jaunt back to I-10 and headed east towards Fort Stockton. By now it has been more than six hours since we had eaten, so we sought out a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place for feedin’ time. At La Duena in Fort Stockton, we found some of the best West Texas/New Mexico style Mexican food we have ever eaten. The red chili sauce on the enchilada was not for the faint of heart, eyes were watering and mouth was burning, but we fought through the pain because that is what we do. After making “happy plates” at La Duena we roamed the town until we found Panther Stadium in Fort Stockton. Very nice place to play football, if you ask us.

La Duena - Fort Stockton

La Duena - Fort Stockton

Fort Stockton Panthers Stadium

Fort Stockton Panthers Stadium

With full bellies and a new appreciation for Fort Stockton football, we returned to I-10 and headed east until we reach Highway 190, that would take us north to Iraan. If there is a football stadium with a better back drop than the hills behind Iraan’s stadium where the Braves will rule this fall, I would like to see it. You can see the Iraan “I” in the side of the hill behind the south end zone. The giant hills and landscape make for a picturesque backdrop and the colors of the school and field provide a perfect complement.

Home of the Iraan Braves

Home of the Iraan Braves

We spent more time in Iraan just admiring the natural beauty, but eventually returned to Highway 190 and connected to Highway 305 north to McCamey. Just as the sun was setting we found the home of the McCamey Badgers. Our minds took a minute to try to imagine how many Badger fans line the fences here on Friday nights in the fall.

McCamey Badgers Stadium

McCamey Badgers Stadium

Trying to beat the clock—and Mother Nature—we returned to 305 north to Crane but by this time it was too dark to get a workable picture of the Crane football stadium. Nonetheless, we passed by, paid our respects to the Golden Cranes, and kept our vehicle pointed north to Odessa, where we eventually bedded down for the night.

Stay tuned as we continue our pilgrimage through some great Texas high school football country!

by Grant Goodwin & Kevin McPherson

Stay tuned as we continue our pilgrimage through some great Texas high school football country!

by Grant Goodwin & Kevin McPherson

Gridiron Pilgrimage Part I

Gridiron Pilgrimage Part II

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Gridiron Pilgrimage Part IV

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