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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roscoe High School Homecoming 2010

Roscoe High School exes from near and far gathered this weekend for Homecoming, the first since 2007.  The event began with a Friday afternoon pep rally to a packed audience in the new gym, followed by a baked potato supper in the cafeteria and a football game on Plowboy Field against the Merkel Badgers.  The game didn’t turn out as hoped since the Badgers won, but it didn’t seem to matter all that much to many who attended, because they were busy on the sidelines and in the stands reuniting with old classmates whom they hadn’t seen in years or even decades.  After the game, there was another gathering for coffee in the cafeteria, while some classes had reunions and parties at the homes of local grads. 

Saturday morning’s registration with coffee and doughnuts in the cafeteria was followed by a brisket lunch at 12:00 and a program and business meeting at 12:30.  Jacob Tiemann informed exes of Roscoe High’s new designation as Roscoe Collegiate High School.  As recipients of a grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundations, Roscoe High now offers college-level classes to aspiring juniors and seniors, and last year actually offered a graduating senior its first Associate’s Degree.  Robert McBride reviewed highlights and memories of Roscoe High over the decades and also explained why the old high school building, in continuous use since 1938, will soon be coming down to make way for a new one.  He invited everyone to walk the halls of the old building one last time, and many did so at the conclusion of the meeting, while others gathered and reminisced at the Roscoe Historical Museum downtown.

Individual classes and groupings of classes gathered on Saturday evening at various venues, and, as far as I know, a good time was had by all.  

Homecoming 2010 Slideshow Click to view. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Merkel Stops Plowboys 28-14

Caden Smith (12) scores Plowboy TD in first quarter.

Hopes were high Friday night for the Roscoe Plowboys as they looked to rebound from last week’s loss to Stamford by beating up on their old nemesis, the Merkel Badgers.  Some of the intensity of the traditional rivalry between the two schools has faded in recent years as Merkel has grown and moved from Class A up to 2A and is no longer a district foe.  Still, the Badgers undoubtedly remembered recent losses to the Plowboys and came into the game intent on spoiling Roscoe’s homecoming.

The Badgers came out clicking on all cylinders and before the first quarter was half over, they were already up by a score of 14-0 and moving the ball down the field at will.  After the second Merkel touchdown, the Plowboy offense finally woke up and was able to put together a long drive that culminated in a Caden Smith touchdown from the two, but then Merkel responded with another drive of its own, and by the end of the quarter the Badgers were ahead 21-7.  It appeared that the rout was on.  

The Plowboys defense stiffened, though, and the two teams were equally matched throughout the second quarter.  Caden Smith capped off another Plowboy drive with a touchdown, and at halftime the score was 21-14.  

The third quarter was similar to the second with both teams playing well and neither able to score.  The Plowboys had chances to tie the game but never managed to do so.   Merkel began the fourth quarter on the Plowboy 12-yard line, but the Plowboy defense held for four plays and the ball went over on downs. 

Unfortunately, they fumbled the ball away on the next play, and Merkel capitalized a couple of plays later with their final touchdown, putting the game out of reach at 28-14, which turned out to be the final score.

After the disastrous start, the Plowboys played tough, but they were plagued by poor tackling off and on throughout the contest, and the failure to wrap up ball carriers, along with critical turnovers, cost them the game.  Quarterback Caden Smith had another good night both running and passing, and halfback Collin Smith also had several good runs.  Merkel was led on both sides of the ball by Frankie Harris.

Life doesn’t get any easier for the Plowboys next week as they go to Munday to play a 3-1 team that has recovered from an opening loss to Stamford with strong victories over Olney, Jim Ned, and Haskell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Fruit Crop

Since coming back, I’ve learned that this year’s fruit crop in Roscoe has been the best in years.  I’m told that the peach trees across the street were so loaded that they were breaking the limbs, and the same was true for apricots and cherries.  Because of my late arrival, I missed out on these, but my cousin Arlo welcomed me home by taking me out to his apple trees and having me pick a plastic grocery bag full.  He’s got so many apples this year he doesn’t know what to do with them all, and there are dozens under the trees just lying on the ground.  

Arlo's apples
My mother’s pomegranate bush is covered with pomegranates, not ripe yet.


And the jujube tree in the back yard is similarly loaded.  When I say jujubes, I’m not talking about those little candies you get at the movie theater, but real jujubes, the kind that grow on trees.   They’re oval shaped, about an inch-and-a-half tall, and, when ripe, have a brown skin.  When I was little, my mother used them to make jujube butter, similar in color and flavor to apple butter.  But the best thing to do is to just eat them straight off the tree.  They taste more like an apple than anything else, but really they have their own flavor.  They always remind me of Roscoe since that’s about the only place I’ve ever seen them—except for Iran, where they originally came from. There you can buy them in the markets. 


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stamford Defeats Plowboys

Caden Smith (12) follows the block of Michael Massey (69) to score and tie the game 6-6 in the first quarter.

For several years now, the Roscoe Plowboys have participated in the TSTC Sammy Baugh Classic, an annual weekend of football games held in the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater. Named after football legend Sammy Baugh, former Sweetwater High quarterback and charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the event runs Thursday through Saturday and features several games involving area schools.

Roscoe’s opponent this year was the highly regarded Stamford Bulldogs, who came into the game with a 2-0 record after beating Munday 53-19 and Anson 48-12. Roscoe was 1-1 after losing 27-13 to Albany, ranked fifth in state, and defeating Hawley 19-6.

The game, which started at 1:00pm on Saturday, was played in blistering heat. Mustang Bowl is essentially a big hole in the ground, and what little breeze there was at ground level didn’t make it down to the playing field. Game time temperature was 95° in the shade, but there was no shade to be found. In fact, the beginning of the second half was delayed about fifteen minutes when paramedics were called in to take away on a gurney one of the members of the Bulldog marching band who was overcome by the heat.

Besides that band member, the other casualty of the afternoon was the Plowboy football team, which was overpowered and outplayed by Stamford, losing 41-12. The first indication that the Plowboys might be in for a long afternoon occurred when the two teams faced one another at midfield for the pre-game coin toss. The Stamford boys were clearly bigger and heavier, and their team had about twice as many players.

Even so, the first quarter was fairly even with both sides getting a touchdown. Stamford scored first to go ahead 6-0, but Roscoe came right back and marched down the field for a touchdown with quarterback Caden Smith running 12 yards around the right side to paydirt. However, the extra point attempt was blocked, and one of the Stamford players picked up the ball and ran ninety-plus yards to score, putting the Bulldogs ahead 8-6.

The Stamford returner muffed the ensuing kickoff, picked the ball up in the end zone, and made it out only to the half-yard line before being tackled, and things were looking good for the Plowboys. However, on the next play, Hagan Hutchinson, the Stamford quarterback, threw a bomb, which his receiver Jesse Ramos caught running full stride at about the 35-yard line and cruised all the way in for a touchdown, a 99½ yard play—and it was downhill for the Plowboys from that point on. By halftime the score was 35-6 with the outcome no longer in question.

The second half was relatively uneventful with Caden Smith breaking free for an 85-yard touchdown run and the Bulldogs responding with a long touchdown run of their own. Stamford played many second teamers in the fourth quarter, and the final score was 41-12.

Admittedly, Roscoe’s two losses have come to two of the best Class A teams in West Texas—and since these are non-district games, there is plenty of time left for the Plowboys to recover and do well in district play. Nevertheless, this game must be seen as a reality check for all us exes who have in recent years become accustomed to seeing the Plowboys regarded as one of the elite Class A teams in the state. It will be interesting to see if they can bounce back and play well against the Merkel Badgers at Homecoming next Friday night.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Opening Remarks

As many of you already know, I recently retired and have moved back to Roscoe to live in the same house I lived in when going to high school fifty years ago. My mother lived in it until she was 100, but then three years ago she moved to the rest home in Sweetwater, and the Duncan house has been unlived in since. As a result, many things (such as the air conditioner and refrigerator) aren't working, and it needs repairs and upgrades, so I have a number of concerns that need my immediate attention. The moving truck with almost all of my earthly possessions won't arrive until sometime next week, and I am still without television, but I got Internet access today, so in that regard at least, things are looking up.

I've moved back from Parkville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, where I lived in a condo that I bought in 1998. I've just put it on the market and have my fingers crossed that I can sell it soon. Up until my last day as department chair about a month ago, I worked at Towson University non-stop since 1993, except for one school year, 1996-1997, when I was a visiting professor at the University of Akron.

Like most Texans, I’d never heard of Towson until shortly before I got a job there and didn’t even know how to pronounce the word. In case you’re wondering, the ‘Tow’ in Towson rhymes with ‘cow,’ and it’s not a small private institution as you might suspect, but a pretty large state school with over 21,000 students. When I first started working there, it was Towson State University, and up until the 1960s it was Towson State Teachers College, but, as has been the trend with schools all over the country, the official name changed as it grew and expanded its offerings.

Anyway, since leaving Roscoe over forty years ago, I've lived in Maryland longer than in any other place. I spent about five years in Lubbock, five more overseas, eleven in Austin, two in northern California, seven in Beaumont, and shorter periods of time in other places. I’ve been married twice, divorced twice, and have three grown daughters and a granddaughter. Over the years I’ve had so many different jobs, I doubt that I could name them all. My favorite—and the one I’ve stuck with the longest—is college professor. For the past few years I’ve spent more time as an administrator than in the classroom, but teaching has been my calling, and it’s always been the most rewarding.

Even so, I’ve been looking forward to retirement and the opportunity to get out of the big city rat race and return to my hometown roots, where I can enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. Or at least, that’s the plan. As I’ve done in the past, I may once again be deluding myself—but I hope not. We’ll see.

Anyway, I hope to keep people posted on what's happening in Roscoe, so if you know of anything that's going on that I should be mentioning here, please let me know. My e-mail address is

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