When In Texas: Week 16 / by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

Seventeen weeks after the first kickoff in August, the 2014 Texas high school football season is over. During those seventeen weeks, I drove over 7,500 miles (almost twice the length of the U.S.-Canada border, or almost four times the length of the U.S.-Mexico border) all over the state as I photographed sixteen high school football games in sixteen different stadiums in an attempt to document the high school football experience in a project called When In Texas.

For the final two games of the season I decided to photograph one of the first teams I encountered in my journey: the Mason High School Punchers. A class-2A school in the Northwest Hill Country with an enrollment of 205 students, Mason has the state's most successful tennis program of all time (with over 80 state championships), but had not found the same success in football until the last four years, when the Punchers earned their only two berths in the state title game: the first one coming in 2011, while the second one happened just this Thursday. Before that, however, the Punchers had to get past the Centerville Tigers in their state semifinal game. 

Mason came into Georgetown's Birkelbach Field after an undefeated season filled with dominating performances and having survived their toughest test yet in the Refugio Bobcats. They would control the game from the start and beat one of Centerville's best ever teams by twenty points with a final score of 27-7, punching their ticket to the school's second state championship game, hoping to repeat the success of 2011. 

Catch up with the previous episodes of When In Texas by visiting the entries below and stay tuned for the final post of the project, where I follow twin brothers Luis and Miguel Castillo, Mason's senior halfback and quarterback, respectively, as they prepared for the last game of their careers.

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
Week 11: Sweetwater vs Lamesa
Week 12: Jayton vs Guthrie
Week 13: Weslaco vs Laredo United
Week 15: May vs Blum

A Centerville High School cheerleader runs the length of the visitor side bleachers at B. E. Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, Texas as she and fellow cheerleaders decorate the side before fans arrive to watch the Tigers take on the Mason Punchers in a 2A state semifinal game on Dec. 12, 2014. Mason would defeat Centerville 27-7 and punch their ticket to the state championship game to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Mason running back Miguel Castillo stands at the edge of the Punchers' dressing room as he and his teammates wait to take the field for their 2A state semifinal against Centerville on Dec. 12, 2014 at B. E. Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, Texas.
Miguel, a senior, was named to the 2A Associated Press all-state team as an honorable mention at linebacker as well as an honorable mention to the all-state academic team.

Matthew Kerr, 12, one of the Mason Punchers ballboys, cheers after a Mason score during first quarter action of their state semifinal game against Centerville on Dec. 12, 2014 at B. E. Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, Texas.

Mason sophomore Haddon Hudson celebrates with a teammate after the Punchers defeated the Centerville Tigers 27-7 in their 2A state semifinal game on Dec. 12, 2014 at B. E. Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, Texas., earning a berth in the state championship game to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.