Last weekend, I talked High School Football with someone who wasn’t my wife, my immediate family members or my co-workers (and I know they were all glad). It also wasn’t with a coach, a player, a parent or a scout. Nor was it a cheerleader that I was trying to pick up. Man, I am running out of people to exclude.
It was actually with a Steele Knight High School Football fan named John Wedgworth II. John is one of my Twitter followers (@knightro_cibolo).
John is extremely passionate about the Cibolo Steele Knights. I had to find out where this came from:
I grew up in Bandera, a small Texas town, where the entire community shuts down for football games. I am used to that kind of football atmosphere.
When people ask me where I live now, I say: Cibolo, home of the Steele Knights. It’s always a conversation starter. A few years ago at a PeeWee football game at Steele high school, I talked to a member of the Military from Florida who was planning on moving to San Antonio and he heard about a school named Steele High School.
Even if I move out of Steele Knight country, I am still going to attend all the homes games this year because I already purchased my season tickets. Half of my closet is black or has a Steele Knights logo on it. Some of my Steele Knights stuff I designed.
Going to a Steele football game gives me chills. Everybody brings passion to the program. The culture, the pageantry, and the swagger of Steele football…it’s exciting! I have seen other big time schools, but Steele is just different.
We are going to be back in the hunt for state championship this year and next year. Our junior class is dominant and most of them will be starting—Xavier Martin, the starting quarterback; Travell Lumpkin, the running back; and Joshua Croslen, a defensive back.
So what does your wife think about your passion for Steele football?
She loves football and travels to a lot of the away games with me, but she doesn’t understand my passion for high school football.
When I told her I was meeting you to talk high school football, she was like, “Really?…but it doesn’t even start for several more weeks.”
Do you follow other teams?
I have an app on my phone called Friday Night Rivals where I follow and track a lot of teams but I just can’t get behind them like Steele. I also use it to meet up with other high school football fans. It’s nice to meet people who share my passion.
I am not a big NFL fan. I love college football and I used to be a huge Longhorn fan, but now I find myself following Nebraska, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State–mainly because several Steele football players are playing for those schools. Jordan Sterns and Ryan Simmons both play for Oklahoma State and they could end up being All-American players this year. They were teammates on the 2010 state championship team.
A former co-worker of mine is a Texas Tech alumni and he always asks me who’s next on the radar for Tech to pick up from Steele? We end up talking for hours.
Another school to watch this year will be Texas State University as they got LG Williams and Evan Lyons, two former Steele players.
I have a nephew who plays for the Canyon Lake Hawks (he is a sophomore). I attended a few of his games and try to follow them but they (my family) are more interested in what’s happening with Steele football. His brother played for Bandera a few years ago. Both have attended some Steele games with me.
What are your thoughts on Lehnhoff Stadium?
It’s weird playing at Lehnhoff Stadium. Last year when we played Clemens, both teams ran of room. I have been to several 4A and 5A stadiums that are bigger than ours. I wish we could get our own stadium instead of traveling to Clemens.
The renovated press-box doesn’t look much bigger than the old one. They added stairs, an elevator and an open film-deck.
What are your favorite Steele games?
The first playoff game I attended was in 2010. We played McAllen in Laredo and after we blew them away, some of the McAllen players were asking for autographs from our players.
In 2010, we played Denton Guyer in the state championship and that game was amazing. The quarterback for Denton, JW Walsh, was leading his team down the field in the 4th quarter and in position to score a touchdown for the lead with very little time remaining in the game. Had that happened, we would’ve had less than one minute to score a game-winning touchdown. But that didn’t happen, as we intercepted a JW Walsh pass and we knew the game was over. That was our first year in 5A and we were young and defeated a really good Denton Guyer team.
In 2012, we played the Katy Tigers at the old Baylor stadium. Before the game, the fans were chanting back and forth to see who was louder….that was cool. We were down 21 to 0 early in the game but came back to tie them at 21 at halftime. Even though we ended up losing, it was a fun game. We earned Katy’s respect that year and since then, we have played them toe-to-toe.
The Katy fans were very respectful to us after that 2012 game. I attended the Katy and Johnson game in 2013 (Johnson beat us the week before by a point)—my daughter had a soccer tournament in Houston. The Katy fans welcomed us with open arms.
Last year, when we played Katy, we had lunch in Katy with a bunch of Katy fans. That was fun.
I heard a lot of forecasters saying we were going to lose to Brennan last year. The second play of the game was a 65-yard touchdown pass by us, and that stunned Brennan. We rose to the occasion and won. It was also a weird game because the Alamodome lost power to the scoreboards and the officials had to track time on their own.
Tell me about some of the Steele opponents this year.
We play DeSoto this year at Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton. It’s a nice stadium—I was visiting the campus with my daughter who played soccer for Steele. The stud quarterback for DeSoto is Tristen Wallace. If we want to win, we have to slow him down. This game could be a shootout but I hope it doesn’t come to that. If we and DeSoto are undefeated coming into this game, this game should be on television. One of the national football polls has DeSoto ranked in the top 25 nationally and they are predicted by many to win state.
Last year when we played DeSoto, we probably would’ve won had we had a kicker. The kicker, whom my daughter and I helped recruit after that game, was a soccer player. He did a great job—he only missed one extra point during the season. Hopefully, they are recruiting now for a kicker and not waiting till Week 3 or 4. My daughter, who was a goalie, tried out as a kicker last year and I was very supportive.
Our two-year agreement to play DeSoto ends this year. I would love to see us play Katy, Southlake Carroll, Allen or even a team from out of state in non-district. It’s a great learning tool whether we win or not. When we won the state championship in 2010, we lost two non-district games.
I have a lot of respect for the Judson Rockets. This is one of our biggest rivalries; a lot of parents attended Judson (even coaches) and their kids attend Steele. I know the Judson Rockets want revenge and redemption after losing by one point last year. There were a couple of games in the past where Judson claims they were robbed a win by the officials.
When we play Clemens this year, we will probably have to be in line two hours before kickoff.
We played an awful game against O’Connor last year; and this year they are going to have a false sense of self-confidence. The running back for O’Connor, Jamontae Edwards, will be the stud for them all year.
How do you stay so active on Twitter?
I follow a lot of football programs and coaches and they follow me back. I also follow anything that may be relevant to high school football.
I am glad that Steele football has a Twitter handle (@Football_Steele), but they need to be more involved. I think it’s one of the coaches running it. I offered to help them at least for a little while. They have to keep it active and use hashtags to keep it on the radar. The most active Twitter handle for high school football has got to be the Katy Tigers (@Katyfootball).
Tell me about the Booster Club at Steele.
It’s called the All-Sports Booster Club and, this year, they are planning on launching a new Facebook and webpage with all kinds of merchandise. At last year’s Katy game, their merchandising blew us away. We want to take ours to another level.
This year, the All-Sports Booster Club is going to have organized tailgating at Steele football games and I really want to be a part of it. I even told my wife that I want to purchase a small electric grill, canopy and a cooler.
A few years ago, my daughter and I attended a Harlingen and Del Rio game at Comalander stadium and the Harlingen fans had an awesome setup for tailgating that looked professional (like a college or NFL team). Before that game, we attended the Reagan and O’Connor game at Heroes stadium and the kicker for Reagan, Jake Wilcox, nailed a 60-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. My daughter didn’t think he had a chance because the wind was against him but he drilled it with room to spare. Just an amazing play.
I had a great time talking High School Football with John while munching on Taco Cabana fajitas and am planning to speak with him again.
I would also love to talk with other high school football fans. Send me an email at [email protected] if you’re interested.