2014 in review by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

Victoria East High School starters stand around the pitcher's mound during the playing of the national anthem previous to their UIL 4A state championship game against Aledo High School played on June 6, 2014 at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas. Aledo shut out Victoria East 4-0 and thus earned the school's first-ever baseball championship. Guillermo Hernandez Martinez for 1st Photo Texas

This year has been the most important in my life yet. Not only did I grow by leaps and bounds professionally, but also made life-changing decisions that have resulted in incredible joy and happiness.

Not to say that this year wasn't trying, mainly thanks to the U.S. immigration bureaucracy, reaaaally close calls with possible jobs and, perhaps most annoyingly, non-paying clients (looking at you Maxavenue).

I can definitely say I am a more professional, happier, and overall nicer person to be around than I was at the end of 2013, and I hope to be able to say that again this time next year.

CC Sabathia (52) of the New York Yankees heads back to the dugout as his evening ends in the fourth inning of the Yankees' game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 4, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.
Sabathia, who started the game, allowed 5 runs, all earned, in 10 hits, including one home run by Wil Myers in the third inning. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez for Sports Illustrated)

My year started with a full-time grown up job at Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine, helping in all kinds of photo department work and, best of all, doing some sports shooting. While being surrounded by the best in the business was an inspiring experience, I felt like New York was not the place for me at that point in my life, so I decided to move back to Texas in order to shoot full-time and try to make it as a photographer. Thankfully, the relationships I made during my time in NYC have carried on, and have led to some Texas shoots for the magazine:

Josh Doctson takes a knee after catching one of Trevone Boykin's four touchdown passes during the Horned Frogs' 55-3 dismantling of Iowa State during the last game of the regular season on Dec. 6 in Fort Worth, Texas. With the victory, Doctson and TCU secured a share of the Big XII conference championship, but were still left out of the inaugural College Football Playoffs by the selection committee. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez for Sports Illustrated)

As I moved back to Austin and started my career as a freelancer, I was able to enjoy some really fun assignments; I attended my fourth Republic of Texas biker rally in a row, hung out with Austin-born NFL stars, shot people taking selfies with Real Madrid players, explored the small towns around Austin and much more. It gave me a taste of the fun that freelancing can be, but it also was a rude awakening to the economics of our business.

NFL free agent Chris Houston (left), former UNT wide receiver Sam Roberson (middle) and Tennessee Titans safety Michael Griffin share a laugh during lunch break of the annual youth football camp hosted by Houston and Griffin at Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin, Texas on June 21, 2014. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez for the Austin American-Statesman)

Robert Boehnlein of Columbus, Ga. stands outside Bat Bar in the Sixth Street entertainment district in downtown Austin, Texas during the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally weekend on June 13, 2014. Around thirty thousand people attended the festival, and a considerable number of them spent their Friday night in the famous bar district. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez)

April Rankin of The Rankin Twins performs during an iHeartRadio-sponsored show at The Belmont in Austin, Texas on July 15, 2014. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez)

One of the many fans who stormed the pitch during the last minutes of the International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and AS Roma poses for a selfie with Real Madrid's Isco on July 29, 2014 at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Game action was stopped for over five minutes as security forces struggled to gain control of the situation.

Downtown Smithville, Texas. July 2014. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez)

The most important part of my photographic 2014 was When In Texas, a crazy personal project in which I decided to drive 7500 miles around the Lone Star State shooting high school football, and which I finished by following Mason High School players, and twin brothers, Luis and Miguel Castillo as they prepared to play in the 2A UIL State Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The project is currently on its final edit, and my hope is to publish a book of the work in 2015.

Jayton Jaybirds Freshman Judd Latham sits in the Jaybirds locker room before the start of their bi-district playoff game against the Guthrie Jaguars on Nov. 14, 2014. The Jaguars lived up to their billing as state champion contenders and beat the Jaybirds 84-34.
Guthrie and Jayton play six-man football, a variety reserved for the smallest schools in the state, which often do not have the enrollment to field a full 11-man team.

Odessa Permian Senior wide receiver Taylor Thompson (12), junior defensive lineman Aaron Briswalter (55) and sophomore offensive lineman Jayce Rush (64) celebrate among teammates and cheerleaders after the Panthers defeated their archrival Midland Lee 45-28 on Oct. 10, 2014 at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland, Texas.
Known popularly as "Mojo" after the chant started in the late 1960's, Permian counts itself as one of the elite programs in the state, with six state titles at the state's highest classification, seven undefeated seasons, close to 500 wins and two national championships to boast about.

Denison linebackers warm up in front of a burning sky prior to the Yellow Jackets' annual rivalry game against Sherman High School on Oct. 17, 2014 in Denison, Texas.
The Denison-Sherman annual rivalry game, known as "The Battle of the Axe," is the longest continuously played rivalry game in the state of Texas, dating back to 1901. The winner of the annual game takes possession of an axe-shaped trophy which has the scores of every game engraved in its blade.
During this year's edition of "The Battle of the Axe," Denison dominated Sherman 42-20 on their way to picking up the school's 40th rivalry win and keep the axe in Denison for the second year in a row.

Most importantly, my 2014 was about family. I spent a week in Kentucky with Margery Baldwin and her family, shared the Castillo family's life in Mason, my mother and brother visited for Christmas and, most significant of all, I started my own family by marrying a wonderful woman: Danielle Begnaud.

Pedro Vargas Sanchez (right) and Margery Baldwin finish their morning tradition by hugging inside Baldwin's kitchen after finishing breakfast. After this, Vargas Sanchez will head out to the field for most of the day and Baldwin will take care of the agritourism side of Baldwin Farms.

Luis Castillo waits for his twin brother Miguel to unlock the Mason High School library door for him on Dec. 16, 2014.

Emilio and Nora at Magnolia Cafe in Austin, Texas. Dec. 2014.
Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Danielle and Harper, June 2014.

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.

When In Texas: Week 15 by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

The 2014 high school football season is quickly coming to a close, with only two weeks left in the state playoffs and a long eight months before the next regular season game. Private school competition has wrapped up and the UIL six-man classifications will do the same after their state championship games this weekend.

When In Texas paid a last visit to six-man football this past weekend, attending the semifinal match-up between the May Tigers and Blum Bobcats, held at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas. This was the project's second visit to a six-man game, after the Jayton-Guthrie contest during the first round of the playoffs.

Classified amongst the smallest schools in the state, May and Blum's version of football features a shorter and narrower field of play, no restrictions on who can receive a forward pass, some scoring differences and, most importantly, only twelve total players on the field at all times.

While both teams have consistently made the playoffs in recent years, it was May who came in as the more experienced team, having appeared in last season's state championship game, while Blum's team was making the deepest playoff run in school history. May's experience would help them to eventually take down the Bobcats 60-38, thus reaching the title game for the fifth time in school history.

Fans from both teams traveled over 50 miles to be a part of the game, with the estimated attendance of 600 being just short of the total combined population of both towns, hovering around 800 inhabitants.

After the win, the Tigers will travel to AT&T Stadium in Arlington to take on the Crowell Wildcats looking for May's second-ever state championship title.

Catch up with the previous episodes of When In Texas by visiting the entries below and stay tuned for the next week of the playoffs.

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

The May Tigers and Blum Bobcats line up against each other during their UIL playoffs semifinal round played at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas on Dec. 6, 2014. May won the contest 60-38, advancing to the class-1A state championship game.
UIL's 1A classification is reserved for the smallest public high schools in Texas and features six-man football instead of the traditional 11-man version of the game. This scaled-down version of the game is played with slightly different rules than its full-size counterpart, including a shorter and narrower field of play, no restrictions on who can receive a forward pass, slight scoring differences, among others. (NOTE: Image was processed using digital enhancement effects)

Blum players warm up before the start of their semifinal playoff game against the May Tigers on Dec. 6, 2014 at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas.
This year's Bobcat team has gone farther into the playoffs than any other team representing Blum, a town with less than 500 inhabitants. The May Tigers, on the other hand, were trying to reach the state title game for the fifth time in program history and hope to win the school's second state championship.

A Blum Bobcats fan worriedly looks on as the May offense proves too tough to contain on its way to defeating the Bobcats 60-38 in their state playoff semifinal game on Dec. 6, 2014 at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas and advancing to the 1A state championship game to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Six-man football often involves a larger percent of a town's population, and the relationship between fans and team tends to be more intimate. This relationship was reflected in the number of fans traveling over 50 miles to watch their teams. The May and Blum matchup, featuring wo towns with a combined population of less than 800, drew an estimated attendance of 600 to Pirate Stadium.

Blum players warm up before the start of their semifinal playoff game against the May Tigers on Dec. 6, 2014 at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas.
During the state playoffs, school districts often rent out their stadiums to host playoff games as neutral sites. While the rental fee normally goes to the district's budget, booster clubs for band, cheerleaders or other organizations often keep the money they make operating concession stands and other amenities. During the 2014 playoffs, Granbury's Pirate Stadium played host to four playoff games, with a total attendance estimated between four and five thousand, according to the Athletic Department.

May Tigers seniors Brant Harris (7) and Isaac Williams (24) kiss the State Semi-Final Champions trophy after defeating the Blum Bobcats 60-38 on Dec. 6, 2014 at Pirate Stadium in Granbury, Texas and advancing to the UIL class-1A state championship game. This will be the Tigers' fourth appearance in the last game of the season, which they have only won once: in 1977.

When In Texas: Week 13 by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

For the second round of the Texas high school playoffs, When In Texas visited historic Alamo Stadium in the heart of San Antonio for a South Texas matchup featuring Weslaco and Laredo United. While it's common for early-round playoff games to be played at a participating school's stadium, the vast majority of playoff games are played at neutral sites like Alamo Stadium, the largest capacity high school-only stadium in the state. 

Built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration as part of New Deal policies, the Alamo Stadium sits in a rock quarry in the historic Midtown area of the city. The stadium gets its nickname -- "the rock pile" -- thanks to its native limestone being present in almost the entirety of the structure. Owned and operated by the city's school district, the Alamo Stadium has played host to professional teams from various sports, but none of the tenants have been permanent. Today, "the rock pile" serves as the home football field for seven local high schools throughout the regular season, as well as holding around ten playoff games for schools across the state.

One of those games was the matchup between the Weslaco Panthers and Laredo United Longhorns, in which the Longhorns outraced the Panthers in an offensive showdown on their way to a 40-28 victory. Laredo United advanced to the third round, where they will match up with San Antonio-area powerhouse Converse Judson.

Catch up with the previous episodes of When In Texas by visiting the entries below and stay tuned for the next week of the playoffs.

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

Weslaco High School fans line up outside the Alamo Stadium's gates before the Panthers' area playoff game against the Laredo United Longhorns on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
While it's common for early-round playoff games to be played at a participating school's stadium, the vast majority of playoff games are played at neutral sites like Alamo Stadium, the largest capacity high school-only stadium in the state. For the second round of the state playoffs, Alamo Stadium played host to two games, including the showdown between the Panthers and Longhorns on Saturday. 

Weslaco High School senior cornerback Undrae Galindo (21) stands during the playing of the national anthem before the Panthers' area playoff game against the Laredo United Longhorns on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
Built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration as part of New Deal policies, the Alamo Stadium sits in a rock quarry in the historic Midtown area of the city. The stadium gets its nickname -- "the rock pile" -- thanks to its native limestone being present in almost the entirety of the structure.

Laredo United senior wide receiver Erik Corona (4) watches nervously as the Longhorns defense attempts to stop Weslaco's drive short of the end zone during their area playoff game on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
Owned and operated by the city's school district, the Alamo Stadium has played host to professional teams from various sports, but none of the tenants have been permanent. Today, "the rock pile" serves as the home football field for seven local high schools throughout the regular season, as well as holding around ten playoff games for schools across the state.

Weslaco kicker Edward Limas stretches on the field goal post as his teammates warm up in front of him before second half action of the Panthers' area playoff game against Laredo United on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.
Limas and the Panthers tried furiously to keep up with the Longhorns high-powered passing attack, but were unable to match United's offensive production and lost 40-28. Laredo United will now face their biggest test yet in San Antonio-area powerhouse Converse Judson.

Laredo United drill team members celebrate with wide receiver Derek Luna and his teammates after the Longhorns defeated Weslaco 40-28 on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas to advance to the third round of the Texas high school football playoffs, where they will face Converse Judson.

Laredo United quarterback Ignazio Tellez (9), wide receiver Erik Corona (4), defensive tackle Eddie Dominguez (56), safety Gus Trevino (3) and lineman Armando Valencia (51) celebrate in the Longhorns huddle after defeating the Weslaco Panthers in the area round of the Texas high school football playoffs on Nov. 22, 2014 at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.

When In Texas: Week 12 by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

Playoffs have started in Texas, with teams as big as Southlake Carroll playing their first rounds in venues like AT&T Stadium and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, or brand new McLane Stadium in Waco. When In Texas, however, visited a town whose population of 534 would fit almost 150 times in either of those venues.

The Jayton Jaybirds and Guthrie Jaguars played instead on a field twenty yards shorter and ten yards more narrow than most other fields in the country. They also played with ten less players on the field at all times. Jayton, Guthrie and over 100 other schools in Texas play six-man football, a fast-pace, high-scoring variant of the traditional game designed for schools whose enrollment numbers make it impossible to field an 11-man team.

Six-man football was invented in Nebraska in 1934, with the UIL adopting the variant for official competition in Texas four years later, with 55 schools competing that year. Today, there are over 130 public schools participating in UIL competition, along with over 50 private schools in other leagues. While Jayton and Guthrie are among those that have played six-man football almost their entire existence, many present-day powerhouses in higher classifications got their start playing six-man in the 40's and 50's. Katy and Pearland, perennial 6A title contenders out of the Houston area, only fielded six-man teams in their early years, along with Friendswood, Cooperas Cove and more.

The number of six-man football players who go on to play Division I college football is very small, while former six-man players in the NFL are almost unheard of. This, however, does not make the game any less significant for anyone involved, instead it augments the importance of every game and every season of a short career. "I'm going to coach every play like it's the last play I'll ever coach," Coach Stanaland said to his team before kickoff, "and you should play the same way too."

Catch up with the previous episodes of When In Texas by visiting the entries below and stay tuned for the next week of the playoffs.

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

Jayton Jaybirds Freshman Judd Latham sits in the Jaybirds locker room before the start of their bi-district playoff game against the Guthrie Jaguars on Nov. 14, 2014. The Jaguars lived up to their billing as state champion contenders and beat the Jaybirds 84-34.
Guthrie and Jayton play six-man football, a variety reserved for the smallest schools in the state, which often do not have the enrollment to field a full 11-man team.

Jayton junior quarterback Slade Coulter speaks to his offense in the huddle as the Jaybirds warm up for their bi-district playoff game against Guthrie on Nov. 14, 2014 at Jaybird Stadium in Jayton, Texas.
Six-man football was invented in Nebraska in 1934 and was sanctioned by the UIL in Texas four years later, with 55 schools competing that year. Today, there are around 130 public schools participating in UIL competition, along with over 50 private schools in other leagues.

Jayton head coach Josh Stanaland talks to sophomore center/defensive end Kobe Lisenbee during the third quarter of the Jaybirds' bi-district playoff game against Guthrie on Nov. 14, 2014 at Jaybird Stadium in Jayton, Texas.
Due to its limited number of players in the roster, six-man football requires most players to take positions on both sides of the ball, with many playing almost every snap of the game. 

Roy W. Chisum leans on his truck as he watches the Jayton Jaybirds bi-district playoff game against Guthrie on Nov. 14, 2014 at Jaybird Stadium in Jayton, Texas.
While some schools, like Jayton, have been playing six-man football since their establishment, there are many others which have grown out of the game thanks to increasing enrollment in their areas. Katy and Pearland High Schools, perennial high-classification powerhouses outside of Houston, got their start in six-man football in the 40's and 50's, as have done others like Friendswood, Dripping Spring, Cooperas Cove and more.

Senior running back Travis Scogin weeps as the Jayton High School alma mater is played after the Jaybirds bi-district playoff loss against Guthrie on Nov. 14, 2014 at Jaybird Stadium in Jayton, Texas.
Scogin, like the vast majority of six-man football players in Texas, will have a hard time getting offers to play Division I college football, much less getting to the NFL. This, however, does not make the game any less significant for anyone involved, it augments the importance of every game and every season of a short career. "I'm going to coach every play like it's the last play I'll ever coach," Coach Stanaland said to his team before kickoff, "and you should play the same way too."