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Fascinating battle of contrasts when Veterans, Miller meet

Posted at 10:18 AM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 13:28:06-04

The Coastal Bend traditionally has been underrepresented in the state high school football polls.

Statewide acclaim for schools in the Corpus Christi area has been as rare as hens’ teeth.

One team that might have an argument is Veterans Memorial High School, which is still on the outside looking in when ranking top programs like Plano, Highland Park, Temple and Mart are discussed across the state.

The Veterans program is only in its third varsity season, but a convincing victory Thursday night in the featured “Thursday Night Football” (7 p.m., CW) game would show that they are the top program in the Corpus Christi area.

Tonight’s game is providing more pregame hype for any local game than any game in recent memory.

Miller advanced to Thursday’s game with an impressive 28-21 victory over Flour Bluff pushing them to 6-1 for the season. The Bucs’ season has been marred only by a 72-35 loss at Victoria East in Week 3.

The Eagles have made two inspirational comebacks en route to a 7-0 start.  Their moxie was first shown in a 22-14 comeback at San Antonio Churchill in a rain-delayed game in the second week of the season. They then sprinted back for another comeback  two weeks later in a 30-27 triumph at Flour Bluff that has them pointed for the district.

Beating Flour Bluff especially showed Veterans’ mettle. The Eagles trailed by 11 points at halftime, but came back after forcing three interceptions in the second half. In the game, Vets notched four interceptions and five turnovers in the victory.

In recent weeks, Vets’ offense has been on prime display.  En route to a 61-13 triumph over Victoria East last week, the Eagles soared to a 33-0 halftime lead. It was the third time this season they have hung half a hundred on an opponent. It was also their top scoring performance of the season.

That secondary should be tested by Miller’s deep crew of talented athletes at wide receiver in their game.

Look for that matchup to ultimately decide tonight’s game.

It’s a fascinating game for many reasons. Miller has the Corpus Christi ISD’s oldest football tradition, dating back to the days when Johnny Roland was racing through defenses.  Veterans is the newest school with the kind of growth that has demographers predicting the school could be poised for sustained success for the next few seasons.

Miller’s football tradition dates back even more.  Prior to being renamed Miller in the early 1950s, Corpus Christi High School was one of the powerhouses of Texas state football in the 1930s. At one time, that school was coached by Raymond Berry, father of NFL Hall of Famer Raymond Berry Jr.

Corpus Christi High claimed a state title in 1938, leading to the construction of Buc Stadium. It became one of the historic jewels of South Texas football and will be on prime display Thursday night with this pivotal game.

It’s fitting that Thursday’s game will be played on that same field.

Miller carried that football tradition after the schools split. They won the school’s last state championship in 1960 with Roland as its key player, making history as the first integrated team as a state football champion. Roland later went on to an All-American career at Missouri before a lengthy career as a player and assistant coach in the NFL.

Miller is the district’s smallest school in terms of enrollment. Veterans is its largest.

It could be the game that ultimately decides the district. But both schools likely will make the playoffs, meaning Thursday’s game could be only the first of a multi-game series this season.

And if Veterans wins convincingly, the Eagles could be poised to claim a ranking in next week’s Associated Press Top 10 poll that has proved so elusive for Corpus Christi-area schools.

It would be hard to argue whether they deserve it if they can keep winning.