EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series on building a high school football program from the ground floor.
KRUM - This town has marinated for years in a strong basketball tradition. Now there's a new appetite for football.
In previous decades, Krum went to Austin so many times that one would have thought it had a time-share in that city - the site of state basketball tournaments.
Krum won state titles in boys basketball in 1971, 1978, 1994, 1996 and 1998.
Now, Krum hopes to build a similar tradition in football. This fall, the Bobcats will field their first full-blown varsity football team.
Five players - Steven Martinez, Brennan Ellis, Trevor Enis, Caz Wojciak and Reed Flores - will play a big part in establishing that tradition.
"I don't think they realize they are making history," said Krum athletic director and head football coach Gary Robinson. "Sometime in the future, it'll finally sink [in]."
"Things are going to get very exciting around here," said Martinez, a junior offensive and defensive lineman. "People are going to get to know that Friday after Friday after Friday."
Though this will be Krum's first varsity football season, it already has the beginnings of a pedigree. Playing with a junior varsity team in 2010, the Bobcats beat four schools fielding varsity squads.
Make it from scratch
Robinson, 44, has already established his football pedigree. He was the athletic director at Poteet, south of San Antonio, and spent 12 years as an assistant coach at football powerhouse Coppell.
Robinson said he welcomed the chance to mold a football program from scratch.
"When this thing came open I thought it would be a unique challenge, a unique situation most people don't get to do," he said. "We started with seventh- and eighth-graders. Our plan was to add a grade each year. The seventh- and eighth-graders are basically the leaders the whole way through. They are now going to be sophomores and juniors. That's kind of the plan we stuck with - add a grade each year and add two new coaches as the program grows."
Robinson has fond memories of 2010, when his team went above and beyond expectations. The four victories against varsity competition, to some, were unexpected.
"These kids just stepped up," Robinson said. "I've never gone into varsity games with all sophomores and three starting freshmen, and the starting quarterback was a freshman. They won four out of six varsity games. I couldn't believe it. They just stepped up, did a great job."
Wojciak was the starting quarterback.
"It was kind of nerve-racking," Wojciak said. "There was a lot of pressure on all of us. There was not really pressure on me, but for the whole team to do good.
"You've got to get along with your teammates," he said. "It's not all about you; it's the way you bond with everybody else on the team and people in the stands."
Looking for a home
This season, Krum will play an independent schedule. A year later, the Bobcats get a dose of district competition.
"We're independent this year. We won't go into a district until they realign," Robinson said. "Because of the numbers we have, we'll probably be a 3A team. There's no way to tell what district we'll be in next year.
"It's kind of unpredictable what they [University Interscholastic League officials] do. We could go north to Gainesville, or we could go west with Decatur and Bridgeport. We could go with Argyle. We just don't know," he said. "I know this: We will go to Kansas to win a game."
That attitude seems to have trickled down to the players.
"I think these kids will be ready," Robinson said. "You have to understand they've been playing against older players in the past."
Krum has a 10-game varsity schedule this season, including six home dates.
Clearly, the Bobcats have come a long way from where they started.
"It's not that hard building a program, just different," Robinson said. "You're not coming into an established program. It's a challenge just like any other job. It's just a challenge. … They're fun challenges. You get to do everything for the very first time.
"These guys have made history. You know, they won their first middle school game, they won their first varsity game and someday they're going win their first district game, and they're going to be in the playoffs for the first time."
Ready to go
Wojciak flipped through the pages of Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine, the bible of Texas high school football publications.
For the second straight year, Krum has a small mention in the magazine.
"It's crazy," Wojciak said. "I never thought it was ever going to happen. It's pretty neat to see it in there."
Two-a-day practice sessions are essential for all players, but especially so for those who expect to play both offense and defense. Krum has several two-way players.
"Playing both ways is tiring; you've got to be in good shape," said Flores, a junior running back and free safety. "I'm not looking forward to two-a-days, mainly because of the heat this time of year."
Enis, a junior offensive lineman and defensive end, agreed.
"It's going to be tough," Enis said. "We've worked hard in the weight room, and I think we'll be ready. It's a good challenge. Hopefully, it won't be too tough."
Ellis, a sophomore running back and defensive back, said, "It'll be a lot tougher than last year. Playing both ways is tough, but I can get through. Heat is the only thing that's bad."
Krum opens the season Aug. 26 at home against Frost at 3,000-seat Bobcat Stadium.
That date marks the start of another chapter in what could be a storybook ending for the five veterans.
"They've led this team all the way," Robinson said. "Ten, 20, 30 years from now, when they come back, … they may not realize it as teenagers now, but it'll be special.
"When they come back to their reunion or homecoming, they'll look down on that football field and say, 'Those boys have the opportunity to play football in Krum, Texas, because of what we built from '08-2012.' … They have made history."