Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

December 19, 2012

Wills: Eagles get their shot at a state football championship

Mildred's regular beat writer has to miss game

By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun

— Patrick Harvell told his Mildred Eagles football team on Tuesday he’d play the Class 2A DII state championship game anywhere.

Asby Field. The grass field next to it. Wherever.

Instead, the Eagles are going to Cowboys Stadium. Jerry World.

Mildred is playing for a state football championship.

Repeat that a few times.

Watching the Eagles reach this pentultimate game brings back a few memories for me over the years — the Miracle in Mildred pass from Lee Raabe to Greg Olsen that beat Oakwood in 1993. My good friend Bill Howard, who coached that team. The Eagles’ 21-19 bi-district victory over Bells two years ago that ended a decade-long playoff-win drought.

Most of my memories are through our publisher, Raymond Linex, who is the true historian of Mildred football. He probably has every Eagles’ roster memorized from the last decade-plus.

Which brings me a to personal note. Indulge me if you don’t mind.

I was going to cover Thursday’s game regardless, but I’ll do it alone. Raymond, who wouldn’t miss this game for the world, won’t be there because his wife Tanya — an elementary school teacher at Mildred — had unexpected open heart surgery this week. Raymond will miss the game to take care of his beautiful wife. As he should.

He’s covered 13 Mildred games this season (he missed an 77-0 win at Millsap) and what has to be close to 200 Eagles games since he returned to the Daily Sun from Arlington back in the late 1990s.

The coaches and players come and go. Some of the fans too.

The beat writer doesn’t. He’s always there. Every Friday night, Raymond has been there with the Mildred Eagles.

He covers the games and the players. He can make you feel great after a win and better after a loss.

Just like a coach, he can motivate with his words. He can insprire by giving the offensive linemen some attention. His coverage, the stories he writes, can push a team to greater heights.

The reporter is a part of the team, even if his name isn’t listed on the roster.

It’s cruel in a way that Raymond has to miss Thursday’s game, but a man has to take care of his family before anything else.

Especially when it’s the wife that for years has waited at home for the reporter to get home after a long road trip, just like the players and coaches (and there were a lot of them for the Eagles this season).

Tanya is healing and getting better. A great sports fan, a diehard Rangers and Eagles fan whose son Taylor played on some great Mildred baseball teams, she’ll be rooting hard for the team on Thursday.

Raymond will be too, even though the reporter in him won’t let you know it.