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On Second Thought

It’s a small world in the big world of Texas high school football
Thursday, November 14, 2019
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On Second Thought

I missed the last regular-season game for the Hawks last Friday, when they officially clinched the District title. Congratulations to the Iowa Park Hawks on their 42-14 win over Krum. I will see you this week.

I missed it to see my nephew, Duncan, play his last regular season high school game in Austin.

I cheated on the Hawks a little, but in the end I think it turned out to be a good omen.

My nephew attends Vandergrift High School, a 6-A school with a band roughly the size of the IPHS student body. It was my first experience at a high school football game of a school that size and it was familiar and impressive and foreign, all at the same time.

Sitting in the stands with my nieces, it felt weird knowing I would know not one other person in the crowd. I’ve been going to Iowa Park Hawk football games 50 years and football stands are where we catch up on each other’s Momma’s and kids, as well as the recent gossip ... At least until kickoff.

It was senior night, and I watched the ceremony on the Jumbotron. A familiar scene through an unfamiliar lens.

Right at game time, my niece’s husband pointed to a man two rows in front of us and said, “Kari, that’s Robert Dawson.”

And just like that, 50 years of Friday night lights came full circle.

I had never met Robert Dawson in person but his late father, Bob Dawson, was my high school principal and arguably one of the most beloved men to ever know Iowa Park. His mother, Anna Beth, was my sixth grade teacher and easily one of my favorite teachers in Iowa Park.

Robert graduated IPHS in 1966 and was going to school at Baylor by the time my family moved to Iowa Park in 1969.

I introduced myself to him and his wife and he knew of me through my parents. In fact, He told me he’s still a Leader reader and still a Hawk fan. Robert and his wife, Judy, were at the game because their grandsons, Dru and Beau - a senior and sophomore, respectively - also play for Vandergrift. Dru is the quarterback and Beau a running back, both starters and impressive to watch.

I left them to watch their grandkids, and really took in the night. Vandergrift’s halftime show was reminiscent of full-size Broadway production that was impressive. Their bass drummers also marched sideways, which is the reason I ceased to participate in the band experience past my freshman year in high school. So, I could relate, except they looked happy.

During the first half, Robert got my attention, and held up a blanket he had with him at the cold game. It was a green IPHS Hawks 1969 State Champs blanket with a flying hawk in the center. He is still carrying it 50 years later. I would give anything to have one, but I got a picture of him with his.

One of the best things about the picture that I noticed is that Robert Dawson knows how to represent. He was holding an Iowa Park High School blanket; wearing a Vandergrift cap and a Cleveland Browns coat. Cleveland is where Robert and Judy’s son Philip (father of Dru and Beau) retired from this year as a place-kicker. It was a warm and welcome reminder of the importance of family to the Dawson’s.

Vandergrift won the game 20-17 against Stony Point, earning them a District title about the same time Iowa Park won theirs. All this on the same night I’m five hours from home looking at a 50-year old blanket that brings back memories of my first football season following the Iowa Park Hawks.

It’s a small, small world in the big world of Texas high school football, and friends.

Good luck to the Hawks and Vipers this playoff season.