Tribe takes district championship in snow bowl


District champion slide–Indian football players dive into the end zone on Nov. 4 after defeating Perryton to take the district trophy.

As Indian football players dove into the snowy end zone at Ranger Field in Perryton on Nov. 4, they knew they had accomplished much more than a district championship.

  “It was pretty fun and pretty cold,” senior wide receiver Cuyler Cramer said. “The most important part was that we knew that we had to come out and play harder than they were going to play.” 

  Defensive Coordinator John Richmond gave encouraging words to the team before the game. 

  “We talked pregame and on the bus trip about mind-set,” Richmond said. “Cold and discomfort is a mind-set. We train all year to be mentally tougher than our opponent, so cold is only a factor if you are worried about it.  We wanted to worry about doing our own job and having our teammates’ backs.” 

  The Perryton Rangers seemed confident that they had the advantage over the Indians, going so far as refusing to schedule a venue with Fort Stockton for bi-district in the event that the Indians won. 

  Senior receiver Guillermo Cruz Meza knew Perryton would be a solid team, especially in their own cold environment.

   “This game made us seem really tough,” Cruz Meza said. “We showed people that we were going to win regardless of the weather and the conditions.”

  Those conditions only worsened as game time approached in Perryton.

  “Since we are a passing team, it made it hard to throw the ball,” senior offensive lineman Aaron Cruz said. “You also couldn’t really see anything, so you had no idea where you were.”

  For senior running back Garrett Lentz, it became a task of keeping hands warm.

   “I don’t think there really was any adapting,” Lentz said. “The hand warmers definitely helped a lot.”  

  Senior receiver Hector Contreras learned an appreciation for Seminole’s location. 

  “The weather definitely changed our game plan,” Contreras said. “It made me more grateful for playing in the sun.” 

  Due to the conditions, mental preparedness was as key as physical readiness. 

  “I knew that it was a big game no matter what the weather looked like,” Cramer said. “We had to come out and play hard and be physical. The coaches told us that we had to score on every drive we got the ball, and we did that most of the time.”

    After realizing that the conditions would change the procedure, the Indians adapted by going for conversions instead of kicking and running the ball more.

   “Our tribe is a family,” Richmond said. “We talk to each other consistently about goals and mind-set.  Our goal was to win the district championship starting in December of 2021. We trained daily and talked about it constantly. The only option was to win that game. Conditions were a secondary factor and would not be an excuse.”

  As the cold settled in on wet jerseys, players had to reach deep for perseverance.

     “It was different,” Cruz Meza said. “I’m used to the hot weather not the snow. Every hit hurt more, and I couldn’t feel my feet at all.”

  As the clock wound down with the Indians in control, 35-26, the players started eyeing that snowy end zone, and when the horn sounded, they rushed to slide in the snow before receiving the district trophy. 

   “I decided that I was already frozen,” senior defensive lineman Carmine Flores said. “I was so happy that we won the district that I didn’t care about the snow at that point.”