Rows and rows of benches in the east courtroom at the Grayson County Courthouse Tuesday were filled with the blue jerseys and blue jeans of football players from Gunter High School. The Grayson County Commissioners Court invited the teens to the county seat to honor them for their recent success on the gridiron.
The team won every game they played this year including the Class 3A Division II championship against Boling at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Dec. 15. Along the way, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said, they won the respect and interest of not only their hometown fans, but the county as a whole.
“It was truly a regional event,” Magers said of that locally historic game on the field where the Dallas Cowboys play. “They brought it every game.”
Magers said the team, which includes his son Kennon, played a number of Grayson County teams along the way to that perfect season.
“Twenty or 30 years from now, when you guys get together with the coaching staff, you’re going to have a unique bond that no one will share but your teammates,” Magers said.
Commissioners Jeff Whitmire and Phyllis James each represent parts of the city of Gunter and each praised the team for the hard work it took for them to put together such a winning season.
“Thank you for what you have done for this community,” James said.
She brought her two young grandsons to the meeting Tuesday and said the Gunter team has set the bar high for those youngsters and given them someone to look up to and something to aspire to. After the speeches were finished for the day, James’ grandsons made their way over to the team for a photo with the players. The team welcomed the youngsters to sit on the pew with them and two of the team members even handed over their medals for the children to wear while they all mugged for photos together.
County leaders weren’t the only ones showing the team a little love Tuesday. Congressman John Ratcliffe was in the stadium the night they won it all, but couldn’t be in the courtroom Tuesday. He did, however, send them a flag flown over the nation’s capital in their honor. The team showed its appreciation of his gift by signing a helmet that they presented to Ratcliffe’s District Director Jason Ross. The district director said the congressman plans to keep the helmet in his D.C. office. Ross said Gunter was the only team in the 4th congressional district to win state.
Trey Carr and Dewayne Alford, both seniors on the team, said they never expected to be celebrated in such a way after their big win.
“It is just a huge honor and a huge surprise for us,” Carr said.
Alford said winning the state title is “definitely the way to go out.”
Carr said they had been dreaming and working toward the goal for quite some time. He said a lot of people along the way didn’t have faith that they could do it, but the team kept the faith and it won out in the end.
“We kept our heads up and we stuck together,” Carr said.
Alford said while the seniors might be finishing high school in a few months and looking forward to college and, hopefully, being able to play football there, they are not forgetting their younger teammates back in Gunter. He said they will absolutely be coming home to watch those younger students continue to play the game.
Gunter Tigers Head Coach Jake Fieszel said winning the state championship was the culmination of a lot of hard work from everyone from the parents to the coaching staff to the players. He said those players started their trek to greatness at the end of the football season in 2015. They stuck to their goals, he said, as they showed up for each and every workout session and every practice. They did what they were asked to do and kept on doing it, he said.
Once the proclamation in the team’s honor had been read and the gifts exchanged, the team spent some time learning about county government. They heard from most of the members of the Commissioners Court, Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown, County Sheriff Tom Watt, County Clerk Wilma Bush, County Treasurer Gayla Hawkins and Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Stidham. Each elected official talked about their job and how teamwork among county officials helps to serve the people of the county. After the civics lesson, the team enjoyed a lunch provided by Bill Douglas.