Players gather for first Bayou Bowl, Pt.1

On Saturday, June 21, the first Bayou Bowl will kick off at 8:00 p.m.  The game is being played at Stallworth Stadium in Baytown, and will pit a team of high school seniors, many of them "college freshmen to be," from Texas against a team made up of the same from Louisiana.

The Bayou Bowl will replace the Cal-Tex game that has featured teams from California and Texas since 1995, but that game was discontinued after the last game was played on July 7, 2001.

Another all-star game being played the same night takes place in Wichita, Tx. It is known as the Oil Bowl and pits a team of Oklahoma all-stars against a Texas team.

The only other all-star game we get to see during the summer is when the Texas High School Coaches' Association holds its annual convention and brings us the THSCA All Star Football game with players from the north playing against players from the south.  This year that convention is in Ft. Worth, and the game will be played on Tuesday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. at TCU's Amon Carter Stadium.

The Bayou Bowl is a project of the Greater Houston Football Coaches' Association, and like its name, most of the players on the Texas roster will come from the Greater Houston area. 

Stallworth stadium was chosen as the game's host-site for several reasons.  The stadium has a seating capacity of 16,250 making it one of, if not the largest stadium in the Houston area.  It's also not only in the Houston area, but in close proximity to Louisiana. 

Louisiana fans traveling to the game can come directly in on I-10 without having to deal with Houston traffic.  There is construction on I-10, but it's nothing like the construction going on in nearby Houston. 

Also, not to be overlooked is the tremendous response given to high school football in the immediate area.  With all the Houston are area schools just down the interstate, the Golden Triangle only about 65 miles in the opposite direction, and Dayton and Liberty only 24 miles to the north, let alone the two 5-A schools, Lee and Sterling right there in Baytown . . . well, attendance woes should not be a factor.

The plan is for the game to be an annual event with the first two scheduled to be played in Baytown, and then rotated between the two states once a site is selected in Louisiana.

Interestingly, just a couple of years ago a series of all-star games that began in 1952 ended.  This all-star game began as a north vs. south game between California all-stars.  In 1995, the focus shifted when the game invited a team of all-stars from Texas to play a team of all-stars from California, and the game became known as the Cal-Tex game. 

Dick Olin, head football coach at Baytown Lee, is also the current president of the GHFCA (Greater Houston Football Coaches' Association) who is sponsoring the game.  He is also this year's game coordinator.  The last game of that Cal-Tex series, which was won by the Texas all-stars 10-7 after California teams had won the first six, was coached by a current Texas High School coach for the first time, and as it turned out, the only time.  The coach of that "final game" was none other than Dick Olin.

Jim Creech, current head coach at Ft. Bend Dulles and immediate past president of the GHFCA is the head coach of the Texas all-stars.  He will be assisted by Tony Heath, currently the head coach at Pearland High School, who will coach the offense and Gary Joseph, defensive coordinator at Katy, who will handle the defense.

The Bayou Bowl has not been sanctioned by the Louisiana Football Coaches Association, therefore Andy Siegal, head football coach at Dodge City Junior College, Kansas, will coach the Louisiana team. In fact, when first approached about the game, the head of that organization actually turned his back on the Texas coaches who were making the presentation. It probably would have been better with their cooperation and participation, but as anyone can see, it's still going to take place.

The Texas all-stars will hold their practices on the Lee campus, while the visitors from Louisiana will work out at Sterling.

On Friday, June 20, at 11:00 a.m., a celebrity golf tournament will be played in conjunction with the at Goose Creek Country Club. The golf tournament will feature Division I-A and I-AA coaches from both states as well as NFL players from the past and present. The two coaches representing Baylor at this year's tournament will be Brent Pease and Chris Lancaster. Dallas Cowboy Clint Stoerner, who played his high school football at Baytown Lee, will be there, too.

Participants in this inaugural contest will remember this for the rest of their lives.  Everyone checks in on Monday, June 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at designated motels.  At 2:00 p.m. game equipment is issued.  From 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. its meeting the media and photo shoot.  At 4:00 p.m. there is a barbecue dinner catered by Coach Aubrey Schulze, former All-SWC player from Baylor and currently the head football coach at League City Clear Creek. After practice, each team returns to its own motel where Pappa John's Pizza is ready and waiting.

On Tuesday morning it's practice, and following lunch with the Optimist Club, it's more practice.  At 5:00 p.m. some Louisiana volunteers are putting on a Cajun Fest in the parking lot at Stallworth Stadium.  That evening it's back to the practice fields and more practice.

There are only two practices on Wednesday, morning and afternoon, because that evening the team will board the buses for Houston to watch the Astros game at 7:05 p.m.

Practice will be limited to only one on Thursday, but the players will most likely be in awe.  They will practice Thursday morning at the Houston Texans' practice facility from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.  At noon they'll get lunch at Jason's Deli, and then at 1:00 p.m. tour Reliant Stadium.  At 2:00 p.m. the teams will go to Astro World and be fed there at 6:00 p.m. with a barbeque provided by the HCHSA (Astro World).  They'll all return to the motels around 9:00 p.m. before lights out at midnight.

On Friday, after half-hour team meetings, the teams will go through their final walk through practices from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.  After lunch with the Lion's Club, they'll board the busses again.  This time they'll travel to Galveston to Moody Gardens.  They should get back to Baytown by 5:00 p.m.  At six there is a banquet at the Goose Creek Country Club.  At the banquet, players and coaches will all receive footballs autographed by each team and coaches.  Coaches and players will also be presented Bayou Bowl Rings.  All will also receive their own personal video of the week's activities.  No where is this done for the participants at a high school all-star game.  It seems obvious that once the word gets out, the Bayou Bowl will be the "athlete's choice" for the bowl to be in.

On Saturday, it's a late wake-up as "rise and shine" is not until 9:00 a.m.  Breakfast is at McDonald's, followed by team meetings at 10:30.  At noon, it's lunch at San Jacinto Mall, where at 1:30 p.m. players and coaches will go to the movies.  The pre-game meal is at 4:00 p.m. at Golden Corral.  At 6:00 p.m. teams will arrive at the stadium for the 8:00 p.m. kick-off of the Texas – Louisiana All Star Football Game.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.  They can be purchased at The Baytown Sun, all Southwest Bank of Texas locations, and the Baytown Chamber of Commerce.

Part 2 will deal with some of the players who are participating and complete rosters of players and coaches for both squads.

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