On Saturday night, 40,000 fans are expected at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. There might even be more than that. Yet those fans won't be going there for a Cowboys game or a college football matchup. They won't even be going there for a U2 concert or another rock megatour. Instead, upwards of 40,000 fans are likely for a second-round high school playoff game between Trinity Euless (Texas) High and Allen (Texas) High. Even more amazingly, that crowd might just be a warm-up for the state championships to be held at the same venue next month.
"Texas, Texas A&M and SMU all have home games on Saturday that will probably divert some potential fans," Matt Wixon of the Dallas Morning News told Prep Rally. "But next month all the state finals will be held at the same site for the first time and I'm confident that it will draw 50,000-plus to the 5A finals at Cowboys Stadium and break the state record for attendance."
The state record to which Wixon referred was set in 1977, when a Class 4A state title game between Plano (Texas) High and Port Neches-Groves (Texas) High drew a whopping 49,953.
As Wixon also noted in a blog post from the Morning News' HS Game Time blog, it's also a bit early in the playoffs to draw all high school football fans to the same site, even for a game as massive as Trinity Euless and Allen. Both teams in Saturday's matchup are ranked in the RivalsHigh 100, with 11-0 Euless sitting at No. 3 with a legitimate shot at a national championship.
There's also past history to make a huge game feel even more significant. Trinity Euless is the reining Class 5A state champion, and Allen won the state crown the previous year. Perhaps more significantly, the Eagles are the only team to defeat Euless in the state playoffs since 2006.
Add to those factors the electric performance Euless put up in its game at Cowboys Stadium earlier this season, not to mention the incredible backstory behind stars for both teams (check out this great read on Trinity star Suleiman Masumbuko, for one) and there's plenty of reason for excitement. Nonetheless, to draw 40,000 fans for a second-round high school playoff game -- even in Texas' legendary 5A state tournament -- is a massive achievement.
Whether or not the game hits that number, it will surely be the biggest high school crowd in the county this year to date, and it will underscore a stark reality about high school football in Texas: Other states may claim to have better fans, but no state can claim to have more fans.