Did you know the Ford Motor Company hands out a weekly “Build Ford Tough Texas High School Football Player of the Week” trophy to six classifications of players?

Ford would hand out more awards, but when the state moved up to a Class 6-A division a couple of years ago -- it turns out it was “too tough” for Ford to expand those awards and include 1-A (six-man football).

I kid you not.

On Oct. 5, I penned an email to Ford’s media department and quizzed why six-man football is not included in their awards. I sent some fun facts like the history of the game and a little piece of Strawn and Gordon’s achievements over the years.

After almost two weeks of crickets chirping, I penned another email this week and got a response along the lines of “didn’t get your first email,” so I sent it again.

The second response from Maricela made me chuckle and wonder about truly “striving” to be tough.

“Hi Russell, Thank you for the question. There are definitely many excellent players, including the Strawn Greyhounds, in 1A. However, when the state changed classifications going up to 6A, the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week program was not able to expand. At various times there has been talk of expanding the program as we strive continuously to spotlight our Texas talent. I will share your email with the Ford team.”

I guess sales must be down. It’s been five years since the expansion to 6A football.

Maybe it’s my fault; I own a 2001 Ford F150 pickup that has enough mileage on it to take 16 trips around the world. If I had bought a new Ford, maybe the company could afford to expand to include six-man football and come up with those new awards (10) a year. My friend, Marshall, bought a Chevy; maybe he’s at blame?

There are many “classifications” of high school football in Texas, but the six classes most recognized fall under the charter of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) and run from 2A-6A for 11-man football and 1-A for six-man football.

If you pick up a copy of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, you will find a whole bunch of other “classifications,” generally starting with the letter “T” to include TCAF, TAPPS, T-CAL to name a few.

While the private “T-ABCs” have their rules, it’s also murky out there at times, and there’s no sizeable governing body like the UIL for overseeing and enforcing those rules put in place.

Basically, in my mind, it boils down to there are six “official” classifications of high school football in Texas, and they fall under the UIL’s control. Everything else is still football; it’s just not Texas “public” high school football.

Texas started crowning six-man football champions in 1972 when O’Brien beat Jarrell 60-14. That was also the first year of eight-man football (Goree 28 Harold 24). Eight-man was football wasn’t  “tough enough” and only lasted four years. 

In 2006, six-man went D1 and D2 when it came to establishing classifications 

and officially became known as classification 1-A in 2014. In its 47-year championship-history, six-man has always had a classification under the UIL rules, and there has always been a “1-A” even if the number of players changed.

If you’ve ever been to a six-man football game, you already know that it’s TOUGH. It’s the physical toll of football, track, soccer and rugby all rolled up into one sport because players lack those five extra teammates. 

Holiday Golden Ford, located in Gordon, Texas, is the oldest Ford dealership in the state. Gordon is also home to the Longhorn football team that has a history of state titles, top rankings (currently No 4.), and tough football players.

Isn’t it somewhat ironic Ford doesn’t hand out a Class A award in places where their history is still alive and kicking? I do believe Fords are tough. I hope the company is tough enough to expand its awards to the public school athletes they are currently ignoring.

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