Ronnie Nicks (Notre Dame) and Jamar Toombs (Texas A&M) come to mind from more than a decade ago. Current Texas Longhorns Michael Huey, Eddie Jones and Britt Mitchell and many others that have roamed college football fields around the region and country got their start in the Mitchell Field House.
When thinking of individual players, it's sometimes easy to forget the success of the program for which they played. That's not the case when entering the Mitchell Field House. Upon walking through the glass front doors and taking a left to Head Coach Vallery's office, the years of accomplishments cover the walls.
Team pictures of playoff teams line the walls including one near human size picture that covers a big chunk of real estate. The team picture is of the 2004 4A division II state champions, which happens to be the first and only state championship in school history.
For Bulldog players and coaches, they see it every day. The past decade of success, disciplined play and tradition followed by the expectations are clear as day. This is a program that expects to win, survive and advance in the playoffs and be the most physical football team on the field every Friday night.
The 2008 Bulldogs are more of the same. After winning a second straight district title, both of which they weren't favored to win in the pre-season, Kilgore is back in the playoffs and in the second round again. Leading the way for Kilgore this year has been future Texas Longhorn Dominique Jones, senior running back Frank Reddic and a host of returning starters from last season's 9-3 squad.
Jones, the defensive leader who doubles as a tight end, says the Bulldogs have done well this season as the underdog.
"I think we've done pretty good so far," Jones said after Wednesday's practice. "We went into the year as the underdogs, but we've played well and won district. We've gotten better as the year has gone on and now we are hoping to keep winning and get a shot at a state title," added Jones.
The 6-3, 231-pound long armed defensive end says he has had enjoyed a "pretty good" season despite playing through a right shoulder injury that will require surgery after the season is over.
"Individually, I've had a pretty good season. I wish my shoulder didn't alter it, but I've done well. I'm going to have surgery on my shoulder after the season and probably miss spring practice at Texas. Hopefully I'll get back for some of spring practice, but I don't know," Jones said, who will graduate from Kilgore in December and enroll at Texas for the spring semester.
Despite the shoulder injury that occurred before the Bulldogs first game, Jones said he has still been successful stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterback, but wants to work on his pass rush moves.
"I've been pretty good as a run stopper and getting pressure on the quarterback, if not sacking him. I've played with intensity and get the defense up and ready to play. I need to keep working on my pass rushing abilities," Jones said.
On the recruiting front, only one program has continued to pursue Jones in recent weeks and months since he committed to Texas.
"A&M is still kind of pushing, but it doesn't matter. I'm ready to get down to Texas in the spring," said Jones who received offers from Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and TCU among others before pledging to Texas.
Jones was all smiles when hearing that Will Muschamp had been named the coach in waiting at Texas yesterday.
"I think it's awesome. I really like Coach Muschamp. I think I'll like playing for him a lot. He's told me I'll be playing weak side end. I'll be more of a bandit type he said. I'll stand up and drop into coverage sometimes," Jones said.
Jones has attended three Texas home games this year, Florida Atlantic, Missouri and Baylor.
The Bulldogs, 9-2, will travel northwest on Friday to take Ennis High at Mesquite Memorial Stadium at 7:30pm.