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I.C. MURRELL — School spirit fostered by love of football

This past weekend, three Port Arthur football teams won Southeast Texas Youth Football League championships at Memorial Stadium, proving a point that football still rules in the city.

(Don’t worry, basketball fans, your season is coming.)

Before we know it, the names of the kids you see in each Port Arthur Titans photo this week will dot articles on high school football. And you know what’s cool? They’ll still be Titans. They’ll wear the same colors. They’ll rep the same city.

Be it in Port Arthur, Port Neches-Groves, Nederland or Sabine Pass, kids learn at an early age not only about school pride, they learn about hometown pride as well. When today’s little Titans become Memorial Titans, they’ll wear jerseys that have the name “Port Arthur” across each chest. The basketball Titans started this three years ago to unite the city, and since Port Arthur has won a 10th state championship in that sport.

It’s no secret or new fad that a love for football and just hometowns trickle into every student body in every Mid- and South County school, and it’s still something worth writing about because it shapes lives on, around and away from the field. More than 10,000 fans apparently could not agree more a week ago because they secured the toughest ticket in all of Texas prep football and packed Bulldog Stadium for an annual rivalry game. To start the week, members of church and school communities came together for a Sunday night service.

That’s what football can do.

Playoff football can also give school districts a cause to get the weekend started an hour or two earlier. The Port Arthur Independent School District announced an early release schedule for today so students and their families can navigate the Houston traffic safely to watch their Memorial Titans take on the Shadow Creek Sharks in the 5A Division I bi-district round at Alvin ISD’s Freedom Field.

Kickoff is at 7 tonight, and if you need the address, it’s 10855 Iowa Colony Blvd., Rosharon.

Also today, Port Neches-Groves High School can enjoy having a freshly engraved Bum Phillips Bowl Trophy during a pep rally for its down-to-the-wire win over the Nederland Bulldogs. Each school has possessed the trophy three times since its inception.

These moments go to show that football — and sports in general — are a part of the triangle of education: academics always at the top, and two of the greatest ambassadors of community pride: arts and athletics. Any opportunity to support our youths gives them a 12th-man advantage or on-stage confidence they can translate into their classwork.

Amazing what football can do.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at ic.murrell@panews.com

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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