Lee Riding The Hype

Warren DeHaven's interception to seal the state championship win for the Red Raiders last December set off a season's worth of hype that hasn't stopped. Speaking engagements, phone calls, e-mails, interviews, and endless requests for appearances from all over the country.

"From a time deal, there's just not enough of it," said head coach Mike Owens, who says he's had one weekend off since February.

"It's a hassle, but it's everything that's good about high school football," added TISD athletic director Danny Long.

The offseason hype hit fever pitch when the Red Raiders agreed to travel to Ohio to play their 5A defending state champion (Cincinnati Colerain).

"It was a big deal to us," said Owens, "I mean our kids going to get the opportunity to fly to Ohio and be involved in a thing with a banquet the night before and all of this, but when I got to Ohio and realized how important it is to them, then I realized we're, I guess in affect representing the state of Texas."

And that's where the pressure to perform can affect a team, especially when you consider Lee will play one of Florida's best as well. So how do you keep the players from buying into the hype?

"I kind of make sure that they understand that all of this hype is basd on what happened last year," said Owens.  "It has nothing to do with what they've done.  They haven't beat anybody, so they are going to go ahead and uphold tradition."

"There's a lot of attention on them, but they deserve it," said Long.  "They do a great job. They handle it well."

"It's been great, it's been exciting and all of that kind of stuff," said Owens, "but all of that is fixing to end and we're fixing to be geared up for another season, and yeah, it'll be a relief to start practice on August the 8.

As for that game in Ohio, Fahlgree Sports Marketing, the group that organized the game, will meet with the UIL State Executive Committee on August 3 in an effort to convince them to let the game be shown on national television.

Kevin Berns reporting.