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Best present of all is palpable: City elated over Eagles' chances this weekend
It is said the best Christmas presents are the unexpected. The one the city of Allen is hyped about is not exactly unexpected, but it's certainly highly anticipated.
The Allen Eagles will seek to put the finishing touches on another outstanding high school football season when they tangle with the undefeated Houston Lamar Redskins, Saturday at Cowboys Stadium. Lamar represents the first Houston ISD Class 5A team to reach the state championship game since Yates High School won the title in 1985. Allen is looking to win its second state title in the past five years.
Allen Head Coach Tom Westerberg said he is surely feeling the fun this week.
"The community supports us 100 percent whether we're in this game or not, but they're certainly excited about it," Westerberg said. "They are as excited about this game as much as the kids are, so, you know, it's a pretty exciting time of the year."
Westerberg added that he and his family's Christmas shopping duties this week have taken a back seat to getting ready for the game.
"Our shopping is something that's going to have to wait until next week," he said with a laugh.
Next to Santa's agents surveying who's naughty or nice, perhaps the person making the most rounds about town this week is none other than Mayor Steve Terrell, who is getting the feeling everywhere he turns.
"It's kind of interesting because everywhere you go around town you see people wearing their Allen Eagles shirts. You feel the spirit. It's the buzz that everybody is talking about it," Mayor Stephen Terrell said. "It's one of the biggest identity things you can have is to have a great football team. And because of that, I think, it seems like it's even more exciting.
"We all wish them the best of luck, and we hope they bring home the state championship."
Doing a bit of getting around town themselves this week are the workers at the AISD transportation department. The department's dispatcher, Sam Day, reported the city's sentiment about the game is practically ubiquitous.
"I know I've seen a lot more community pride," he said. "I've seen a lot of billboards and signs showing their support advertising in front of their businesses. All the workers here at the transportation office, that's all the water cooler talk right now. Everybody here is excited about it. I don't know anybody who's not going to go to the game."
There will be some, of course, who can't make it to the game. For the others who live in the city and choose not to be at Cowboys Stadium, it's because they are relishing all the empty parking spaces sure to be available at the local shopping venues - about 50,000 more than usual for this Saturday. Call it a bit of an unexpected present in itself.
Or maybe they are just beating the traffic for the upcoming parade to celebrate another championship.