DALLAS -- At practice Tuesday afternoon at Dallas Thomas Jefferson, the coach’s offer to end a drill early for the players to get water was met with instant appeals to keep the practice going.
The smiles and excitement that were found on all 25 players on the field could be a direct result of the team snapping its 36-game losing streak Friday with a 19-16 win over Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis, but head coach David Haynes said that the enthusiasm for the game has been there since practice began this summer.
It’s a bond that developed completely within the small group that makes up the Thomas Jefferson football team that struggled to find much popularity within the student body or community while riding its three-plus season long skid.
“The only fans we had were the band and the cheerleaders,” running back James Byrd said. “Nobody talked about football. We tried to promote the team, but it didn’t go so well because of the losses.”
The losing streak spanned two coaching staffs, including the last two years under Haynes, but quarterback Jose Balderas said it is the coaching staff’s ability to connect with their players that draws the best out of the team every practice and lead to the end of the team’s losing ways.
On the converse, Haynes was quick to credit his players' work ethic each day at practice, through years of winless weeks.
“Hats off to those kids because we wouldn’t of had that opportunity if they hadn’t kept on playing,” Haynes said.
Thomas Jefferson begins District 12-4A play this Friday with hopes of continuing its long overdue one-game win streak against Bryan Adams. Four teams, including Thomas Jefferson, have 1-3 records, leaving the last couple playoff spots up in the air -- an opportunity the players at Thomas Jefferson hope to pounce on for the first time in a very long time.
Until then, Balderas said the team will enjoy basking in the new found glory they have been receiving up and down the halls during the week this week.
“There was a huge congratulations. Everyone was excited for us -- for once.”