Against the dark backdrop of Texas 304 outside of Bastrop, it’s a struggle to find the home of Tribe Consolidated without precise directions or a good GPS.
Known affectionately as “The Pasture,” the 250-seat capacity stadium is home to the reigning Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations six-man state football champions.
At their penultimate practice of the season, the Warriors run through drills with half the stadium lights already burned out and the constant buzzing of another set ready to go at any minute providing the background.
“We are just hoping to get through one more of these (practices),” head coach Brent Golemon said. “We are replacing them next year. We hope to have LED lights in.”
Don’t let the failing lights or even the mismatched jerseys fool you. The Warriors are the real deal. Tribe Consolidated has made more than a name for itself on the fast-paced, high-energy Texas six-man high school football scene. The team is ranked No. 1 in TAIAO and No. 14 among all six-man football programs in the state, according to sixmanfootball.com, the highest ranking for any private school. The coaches and players are preparing to defend their title Saturday in Bryan against San Antonio FEAST.
The Warriors (10-1) have won 10 straight games, nine of which came by the 45-point mercy rule, since falling to public school Sterling City 28-24 in the first week of the season.
“We weren’t really a team yet,” senior lineman and captain Benjamin Hostetler said. “We had new guys show up who hadn’t had practices. It was a real tough one, but we pulled together to get where we are now.”
The Warriors are coming off a 67-22 win over Williamson County HomeSchool in the state semifinals. The win came at a heavy cost, though, as Tribe Consolidated lost starting quarterback Grant Golemon with a cracked radius near his elbow. The starting quarterback, linebacker and coach’s son took a bad fall on a cut block, resulting in the injury.
After practice the team seems at ease despite the injury, cutting up and joking about it after practice. Perhaps that is because the next man up is sophomore Samuel Osborn. He already leads the team in interceptions with seven and is one of the fastest players in TAIAO. In relief of Golemon, Osborn rushed for 40 yards on just three carries and completed his only pass for a 37-yard touchdown. He added a 55-yard interception for a score in the fourth quarter.
Perhaps that’s why the Warriors are favored to beat San Antonio FEAST by 45 points, according to sixmanfootball.com (yes, the website provides point spreads for every game).
“We know our second-string guys got it,” senior center and defensive end Jacob Lee said. “Grant’s really good, but they are pretty good too.”
If the Warriors win, it would be the program’s third TAIAO title in five years, no small feat for a group that runs on 100 percent volunteer power.
“I double everybody’s salary every year, and you can print that,” Brent Golemon said with a laugh. “Tell everyone every year you come out here you will get double the salary.”
Volunteers do everything from field maintenance to running the concession stand to driving the players to the games by caravan. The roster is made up mostly of home-schooled kids who come from as far away as Giddings, Lexington and San Marcos. Numbers grow by word-of-mouth through the church community and the youth camps the program puts together every summer.
“I hear it all the time: I wish I would have known about this earlier,” Brent Golemon said.
As the program’s success continues to multiply, it seems the secret might finally be getting out to the masses.