When In Texas: Week 11 / by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

Week 11 marked the end of the Texas high school football regular season, with schools around the state hosting the last game for their seniors throughout the past two weeks before giving way to the UIL state playoffs. When In Texas spent senior night with a class that, until this year, did not know what having a winning season felt like: the Sweetwater High School Mustangs. A proud program coming out of a rough era, the Mustangs have not had a season over .500 since 2008, also the last year they made the playoffs. That all changed this Friday, as they capped off an undefeated 10-win, district championship season with an overwhelming win against the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes. Sweetwater is now headed to the class 4A playoffs for the first time in six years.

The setting was the beautiful Mustang Bowl in the rolling plains of West Texas. An impressive work built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of New Deal policy, the Bowl has been part of Sweetwater history for 75 years. Its complete enclosure of the field by an oval grandstand extension makes the Bowl one of the most unique high school stadiums in the state. It is widely hailed as one of the top stadiums in Texas, meriting an inclusion to the Texas Football Stadium Hall of Fame.

It is in the Mustang Bowl that the Sweetwater Mustangs have grown into one of the most successful programs in their 4A classification (3A before 2014), having amassed the fourth-most wins all-time in the classification, although they have only won one state championship, in 1984, in great part due to the High School's enrollment numbers: small even for their mid-size classification. The Mustangs were at their most successful between 1984 and 2008, when they appeared in the playoffs 22 out of 25 possible times, including their state championship run. 

Since 2008 and until this year, the Mustangs not only failed to make the playoffs but could not post a winning season. Their turnaround started with the arrival of head coach and athletic director Shane Mobley three years ago. Mobley spearheaded plans to renovate the high school's athletic facilities, from the softball stadium and field house to the Mustang Bowl's turf in an attempt to revive Sweetwater's winning tradition. The change of attitude he brought to the program seems to have paid off, as attendance during Friday night games increased and the team completed an undefeated season, setting themselves up to make a run during the 4A UIL playoffs this week and beyond.

Catch up with the previous episodes of When In Texas by visiting the entries below and stay tuned for the final regular season posts coming next week.

Week 1: Woodlands College Park vs Pearland
Week 2: Mason vs De Leon
Week 3: West Rusk vs Sabine
Week 4: El Paso vs Jefferson Silva
Week 5: Katy vs Katy Taylor
Week 5: St. Anthony vs St. Stephen's
Week 6: Lufkin vs Whitehouse 
Week 7: Midland Lee vs Odessa Permian
Week 8: Denison vs Sherman
Week 10: Southlake Carroll vs Haltom

A member of the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes coaching staff walks down the ramp leading to the Mustang Bowl field in Sweetwater, Texas prior to the Golden Tornadoes' game against the Sweetwater Mustangs on Nov. 7, 2014.
Built in 1939 by Civilian Conservation Corps members, the Mustang Bowl is one of the most unique stadiums in the state, featuring a field enclosed by an oval extension of the grandstand. It has been widely hailed as one of the top stadiums in Texas, meriting an inclusion to the Texas Football Stadium Hall of Fame.

A Sweetwater football player has a quiet moment away from his team before warm-ups start for Sweetwater's senior night football game against Lamesa played on Nov. 7, 2014 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater, Texas.
The Mustang Bowl has been updated numerous times during its 75 years of existence, including a complete revamp of all Sweetwater High School athletic facilities started three years ago by Head Coach and Athletic Director Shane Mobley. The work included installing new turf in the stadium and field house, renovating the softball field as well as installing new batting cages for practice.

Sweetwater's offensive players walk down the Mustang Bowl staircase as they begin warming up for their senior night game against the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes Nov. 7, 2014 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater, Texas.
The Mustang Bowl sits in a city of a little over 11,000 people, with its home-team classified by the UIL among 4A (3A before 2014) schools. The Mustangs are one of the most successful 3A programs in the state, having amassed the fourth-most wins all-time in the classification, although they have only won one state championship, in 1984.

Sweetwater High School cheerleaders perform during second half action of the Mustangs' last game of the 2014 regular season on Nov. 7, 2014 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater, Texas.

Senior Sweetwater wide receiver Isaiah Mcgee (5) tightens up his pads prior to the Mustangs' senior night game against the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes Nov. 7, 2014 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater, Texas.
The Mustangs are a proud program which has suffered through rough years after a string of 22 playoff appearances in 25 years, with its last winning season coming in 2008. Attendance at the Bowl declined and facilities fell into disrepair, and it wasn't until the recent renovations and this year's 10-0 season by the Mustang that attendance numbers picked up.

Carlos Gallegos (79) and Cory Mendez (50) walk out of the tunnel with their teammates before the second half kickoff of their senior night game against Lamesa on Nov. 7, 2014 at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater, Texas.
The Mustangs wrapped up the regular season with a 57-6 win over the Golden Tornadoes, giving the program an undisputed district championship, an undefeated 10-win season and its first playoff berth since 2008.