By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
On one side of Corpus Christi Bay lies Gregory-Portland in all its highly-deserved glory.
The Wildcats have 23 district champion football trophies, including this season's undefeated title.
They have six state semifinals appearances and they've even had their shot at the title game once.
Killeen coach Sam Jones knows all about Gregory-Portland; he went to school at Corpus Christi Academy High School on the other side of the bay.
"Even when I was down there, Gregory-Portland was already a perennial powerhouse," Jones said. "It's rich in tradition. They're going to carry a crowd. They expect to win and know how to win."
Jones was an all-state football player at Corpus Christi Academy in his playing days. He never played the Wildcats, but he knew about them.
Saturday's game between Killeen and Gregory-Portland in the Division I-4A regional semifinals is not only the Roos' return to the deep playoffs, but it's also the first time Jones will get a taste of home, albeit away from home.
"I never got the chance to play Gregory-Portland," Jones said. "I played against Flour Bluff, Tuloso-Midway, Beeville Jones and Corpus Christi Moody. But, this is kind of a first for me getting a chance to line up and coach against a Corpus Christi team."
After graduating from Corpus Christi Academy, Jones was a four-year football letterman at Stephen F. Austin State where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1977 and his master's degree in 1984.
He coached a variety of sports in Nacogdoches from 1977 to 1984, including his service as an assistant on the Dragons' 1980 state championship baseball team and assistant stints on the sidelines for two bi-district football championships before coming to Killeen High in 1994.
Ten years after joining the Roos, Jones replaced former head coach David Wetzel when Wetzel took the head coaching job at San Antonio Reagan in 2004.
Jones led the Roos to an undefeated district season, but suffered a first-round playoff loss to Waxahachie in his first year and hadn't made it back until this year.
Now that it's come full-circle against a team he's never played or coached against, he's focused on not letting the Wildcats add the Roos to their ever-growing list of playoff defeats.
"At this point, it doesn't really matter who you go up against, it's about getting to the next game, Jones said. "I don't really feel that strongly about it because (the game is) in San Antonio. Our plan right now is to get there early to get the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' of playing in the Alamodome out of the way."
In his first four years, Jones built a 24-17 mark at Killeen and has already added an 8-4 season this year and would like to get another chance at another game – most likely top-ranked and new District 25-4A foe Austin Lake Travis.
The Roos upset 2006 Division I-4A state champion Alamo Heights last week and know to keep their dreams of a second state title alive they're going to have to beat the best, and it's hard to find a historically better Class 4A team than Gregory-Portland.
"I'm really excited about coaching against Coach (George) Harris," Jones said. "Talking with him earlier, we kind of reminisced about the area, the schools and the coaches.
"Coach Harris has been there 42 years. He's been through a whole lot with those kids. He has a great program and knows what those kids can do and what they can't."
Saturday afternoon, in a Div. I-4A regional semifinal at the Alamodome in Sam Antonio, a bridge over the Corpus Christi Bay will be forged and then divided. And one of the two Corpus Christi area sons will conquer.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.