One East Texas high school football team tastes the thrill of victory, while another, the agony of defeat. The Tatum Eagles captured their first-ever state title. The Big Sandy Wildcats played an amazing game but came up one point short.
To some it may not yet seem real, but Tatum's 38-34 win over Hutto last night in Mesquite, to capture their first-ever state 3-A Division II football title, has been overwhelming. "God it's like, I don't know. It's overwhelming," said Tatum fan Shonda Davis.
Rumbling through the season with an undefeated record, the town is riding a high they've never felt before. "Hey, it's awesome. It's well deserved and they played good all year and it's awesome," said Tatum resident Clayton Seale.
Even the players and coaching staff are somewhat awed at their own achievement. "I know it's not going to set in until two days later. You're like, man there's no one else. We beat 'em all," said Tatum Eagles starting center Adam Sullivan.
"Great teams, great coaches, great players that have never had a chance to play in a championship game... if one's all we ever get, that would be enough," said Tatum head coach Andy Evans.
They had been in the playoffs 13 out of the last 14 years, but never came away with the big prize until now, but coaches felt there was no way the team would go away with second place. "I just believed with all my heart that if we could get there, my kids wouldn't let us lose. I just believed that they would find a way to win the game," Evans said.
Players and coaches say the community support made all the difference, and this win was for everyone. "When I'm an old man, I'm still going to be telling stories about this game," said Sullivan.
The coaching staff says they will have a formal recognition of the team's state title when classes resume in January.