When one thinks of dominance in Texas high school football, a few teams come to mind. During the 2000s Katy High (Texas) and Southlake Carroll (Texas) combined for a staggering 11 state finals appearances, with a total of 8 state championships between the two powerhouses. It’s easy to recall Daingerfield’s dominance of the gridiron in 1983 when Daingerfield steamrolled opponents on its way to total of 631 points while only giving up 8 points over the course of the season. And while a vast majority of the latest football talent has come from the eastern portion of Texas (as well as the DFW and Houston areas), there is one team that comes to mind that doesn’t fall in either of those categories. The team is Abilene High (Texas), and after a state title in 2009, Abilene looks to be crowned back-to-back champs in Texas’ highest classification.
With all the talent and dominance that’s come out of east Texas as of late, it has become somewhat of a secret that Abilene may have the richest football tradition of any town in the whole state. With seven state titles to their name, Abilene has to be considered for one of the best football towns ever (especially when taking into consideration Abilene Wylie and Abilene Cooper, who have five state title appearances between themselves). But all of those are relics of the past, and as any good coach will tell you, it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past – only this year matters.
This year Abilene High will start the season ranked 3rd in the nation, due largely to the family QB/RB tandem of Herschel Sims and Ronnell Sims, RB and QB respectively. Herschel Sims racked up an impressive 2,260 yards on the year en route to 32 touchdowns. The stats have earned Herschel Sims “First Team Super Team” honors. Herschel Sims, the 3rd best running back in the nation according to rivals.com is listed as a “solid verbal” to Oklahoma State, and should help Oklahoma State out nicely along QB J.W. Walsh, another outstanding recruit from Texas. Rivals.com notes that Herschel is a “strong” back, and “barring injury… should see playing time as a freshman.”
You don’t have to look far down the roster, or across the Thanksgiving dinner table for that matter, to find the second key part to Abilene’s high powered attack. QB Ronnell Sims is the cousin to previously discussed Herschel Sims, and has quite the college buzz following him around. Last season while commanding the Abilene High offense under center, Ronnell Sims managed to accumulate 1,623 yards passing on 170 attempts and kept defenses honest with his feet, carrying the ball 137 times for a total of 1,045 yards and 14 TDs. Ronnell Sims has received offers from Baylor and Rice.
The cousin QB/RB tandem of the Sims cousins wouldn’t be able to do much without a stellar offensive line, and this year three returning starters (OL Ben Kittley, OL Anthony Flores and TE Jacob Martinez) will look to once again open the running and passing lanes. You won’t find too many D-1 players on this Abilene team, but you might not find a harder working group of guys across the state.
Something that will be worth watching is Abilene’s pre-district schedule, which can be described as hellacious at best. The second week of the season will have Abilene squaring off against Franklinton (La.), a team currently ranked 44th in the nation. The very next week Abilene will face Cocoa (Fla.), ranked 77th, then the biggest test comes along. Week 3 of the season will feature perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the high school football season, as Abilene will play at home against Tampa Plant (Fla.), the number one team in the nation coming off of back to back state titles in Florida. A “break” in the schedule will present itself when Abilene will face off against Longview High (Texas). Longview however, is by no means a push over. Longview fell short of title in the championship game. When you say a team like Longview is a break, you know it’s a tough schedule. District play will be much easier considering the pre-district gauntlet, but District 3-5A is still one of the toughest in the state of Texas from top to bottom.
Like any championship team though, Abilene will be welcoming the challenge, and they know they have a target painted on their back. If Abilene does manage to make it though the season undefeated, it will be pretty hard to exclude them from being considered as the best team in the nation.