The air was cool and crisp November 8 while barbeque pits around Harlandale Memorial Stadium flared with smoked food. Football fans young and old played and mingled while music blared from speakers. The scene is a common one at the annual Frontier Bowl game day, but this year felt different. This year felt special and it was.
As you walked around the grounds you could talk to people who came from all over Texas and even further to see old friends, classmates, or family and celebrate 50 years of the rivalry between the Cowboys and Indians.
“We come every year, camp out for tickets, and being the first time for the 50th, we just wanted to come out here and have fun,” said Jerry Rodriguez and his friends, graduates of Harlandale High School Class of 1978.
Kingsborough Principal Bill Hall, who was a graduate of McCollum High School, shared what the game meant to him, “The Frontier Bowl means the end of the season, the biggest game of young men’s lives. It means the community getting together and having a great time. I try to make it every year, I played in two and won both of those.”
It was such a big game, families started camping out as early as 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. As game time neared, the crowds grew even larger, topping 11,500 in attendance.
“The 50th [Frontier Bowl] is historical and at my age I may not see another one in my life. I came out here to support the school district, and enjoy and make the best of it. The competition is great,” said Manuel Perez, Harlandale High School graduate, Class of 1970.
Even those who had never attended a school in HISD couldn’t help but get wrapped up in the excitement. Henry, a soon to be stepfather to McCollum football player Ray Anthony, enjoyed the whole experience, “It’s just wonderful.” Yvette, Ray Anthony’s mother, added “It’s fun and family oriented and he’s [Ray Anthony] a senior so this will be our last Frontier Bowl with him.”
For hundreds of men in attendance, they knew that feeling all too well. They reminisced about their days on the field and came back this one night to help commemorate 50 years. Before the game kicked off, each got to step foot on the turf one more time for a special ceremony.
Both high school bands also joined forces for a special half time ceremony where they formed a 50 and played all longtime favorite, “Oye Como Va.”
Despite Harlandale’s much better record, the Cowboys put up quite a fight. After taking the lead in the third quarter, the Indians came back to win 27-17 and secured a playoff spot. They also increased their overall Frontier Bowl record to 25-23-2. The game may have been over but the spirit lingered on.