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