To play high school football in Texas, kids have to want it.

They have to really want it.

The competition is fierce. The schedule is demanding. The physical toll is brutal, and the pressure is unrelenting.

And that is the easy part. The most challenging aspect of surviving a season on the Lone Star State’s gridirons is already underway — the offseason.

Practically every kid born within Texas’ borders is instinctively driven to play football from a young age. As children, they dream of one day suiting up for the home team, especially in smaller towns and cities with just one high school.

Family legacies and Friday nights revolve around the sport here.

Suiting up for a varsity roster is a cherished experience, and hearing old men tell tales about their glory days playing against bitter rivals is an everyday occurrence.

As silly as it might sound, playing high school football in Texas truly means something. If it happens at no other time of the year, during the football season people take pride in their school colors.

So, with a little more than two months separating us from kickoff of the 2014 season, now is the time kids are working toward making their own memories.

Whether the inspiration is to simply make the team or to make a massive impact, kids from Brownsville to Borger are training, but more importantly, they are being tested.

To endure all the adversity, physicality and sheer insanity of the fall, players must be in peak condition. Offseason strength and conditioning programs toughen bodies, while workouts under the intense summer sun harden wills.

Even the relatively relaxed sport of 7-on-7 football is a test of determination.

I spent Monday afternoon covering Copperas Cove’s state-bound squad compete in its final week of league play, and I sweat through my shirt just watching from the sidelines. As cruel as the heat was, it is a necessary evil. Kids have to become acclimated to such sweltering conditions in order to survive on the field in the fall. While other places around the country might have the luxury of seasons, in almost all of Texas, summer doesn’t end until around November — if we are lucky.

If running around in shorts and a T-shirt is unbearable, just imagine adding pounds and pounds of pads to the equation.

Players today aren’t stupid. They understand what it takes to be relevant in the highly visible world of high school football, and I commend them for that.

Coaches do plenty to make sure kids are on the right track, but in the end, each individual is responsible for making the sacrifices and putting in the effort to contribute.

It is not an easy undertaking, and the weather at this time of year only serves to increase the stress on the body, but now is when the truly passionate separate themselves.

Two-a-days are just around the corner, and today’s coaches expect players to be ready to work on the first day. Perhaps in the past the time was used to condition players, but no more.

And if a kid shows up out of shape, his chances of making a positive impression are greatly diminished.

To play high school football in Texas, kids have to want it.

They have to really want it, and right now is when they go out and prove it.

Contact Clay Whittington at

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