After Dutch Fork won the Class 4A Division 1 football championship in December, the team knew there would be some perks.
So it was no surprise to coach Tom Knotts when various promoters pitched the idea of a national spotlight game for the 2014 season.
On Thursday afternoon, the Silver Foxes touched down in Love, Texas, in preparation for their big game against the two-time defending Texas 5A champion Allen Eagles on Friday night.
“We had four or five teams in Texas we could pick from to play and we chose Allen. We might have been a bit over ambitious,” Knotts said.
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Knotts was hoping his Silver Foxes would get to play in the two-year-old $60-million, 18,000-seat Allen High stadium. But Allen is playing its games at Kimbrough Stadium in Plano this season because the stadium is closed for repairs.
Allen is the No. 4 team in the nation in this week’s USA Today prep football rankings. It has several Division I recruits, led by senior quarterback Kyler Murray, who was the 2013 Gatorade Texas Player of the Year and is a Texas A&M commitment.
Dutch Fork also has drawn its share of national attention, with high-profile college recruits such as defensive back Stephen Davis Jr., who has committed to Auburn, and running back Matt Colburn, a Louisville commit.
Knotts said the experience will be worth the effort it has taken to get the Silver Foxes to Texas.
With some contributions from the promoter and from Allen, the Dutch Fork Touchdown Club is footing the bill for the rest of the Silver Foxes’ trip. Neither the school nor the Touchdown Club will make any profit from the venture.
The booster club and the football players ramped up their normal fundraising efforts to support the added costs of the trip, said president Angela Ecton.
“We’ve done multiple fundraisers, starting in May. It’s not that all of those funds will go to this trip, but we have done some extra fundraisers to be able to cover as many expenses as we can,” she said.
Their first fundraiser initiative took in $2,000. A sales drive of coupon books in July raised $15,000.
“This year, unlike some of the years before, we had team leaders over the players pushing whatever we were selling.”
Some players needing help in covering their half of the airfare expense was an added challenge, but Ecton and the booster club was determined to make it happen.
Ecton, whose son Lane Ecton is a senior linebacker with the team, said understanding the experience the players will have has made all the work easy.
“It truly is an experience of a lifetime that probably 10 percent or less will ever get to do after high school. There are about half of them that are flying for the first time ever. And they get to share it with their high school friends, and there’s nothing like that,” she said.
While Ecton worked to coordinate the logistics, Knotts and his staff were able to concentrate on preparing for the game.
“It’s actually the best team I’ve seen in my 33 years,” Knotts said about Allen. “It’ll be a great experience for the kids and we’re going to go see what high school football is like in Texas, and really try not to get embarrassed and maybe we’ll come back with some ideas.”
The Silver Foxes are ranked 82nd in the nation by MaxPreps and are 1-0 after defeating Greenwood two weeks ago.
Allen opened its season last week with a 55-41 win.