It was 1999. It was only days leading up to a game against a Plainview team that would finish 13-1 and in the Class 3A semifinals.

In Higdon, at North Sand Mountain High School, Eddie Kirby, head football coach, didn’t even know if he would have a team by that Friday.

Winning wasn’t even considered. Having enough just to show up was all that mattered. There was strong consideration that week that the North Sand Mountain football team would be no more.

There seemed no choice but to shut the program down. But instead, Eddie Kirby did everything in his power, including walking the school halls asking kids to come join the football team.

And remember, this was in October, during the season, not in the offseason.

I always think of that story when the North Sand Mountain football team is having success, such as this year. And it’s a bit ironic that the football coach now, Keith Kirby, is not only Eddie’s son but was also on that 1999 team that helped keep the program alive.

North Sand Mountain has a chance tonight to win its eighth game of the season. That use to be a big deal. Today, though, at least 10 or more is a big deal.

Over the last several years, North Sand Mountain has been the most successful team in Jackson County. And, through those years with Adam Gilbert as coach and Jeff Monroe as coach, they have been fun to watch.

Each successful season, I always remember Eddie Kirby, the man who held it all together.

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