WYLIE — On the eastern edge of Wylie, just south of Lake Lavon, sits a new high school. It's called Wylie East. Nearby, windmills are blowing the breeze and livestock is grazing in grassy fields.
It's a rural setting with lots of excitement, because the Raiders are making their first playoff appearance.
"I think it’s a testament to a lot of hard work by the coaches and the kids and really everybody, everybody involved," said head coach Joe Lepsis.
Early morning practices are led by their first senior class, which is blazing a new trail. They improved from 2-8 last season to 8-2 this year.
"It means the world to us," said Wylie East center Dominick Stives. "We've been here since day one in the off-season. We put all the work in the off-season. Even last year, we struggled, but we've overcome that. We've had a hard off-season and it shows now that we're in the playoffs."
While nearby Wylie High School has a lot more playoff history and facilities, including an indoor practice field, Wylie East has to do with much less.
You can blame it on the economy.
"We've had some bond elections to try and bring the facilities up to district standards, and unfortunately those have not passed yet," said Ian Halperin, director of communications for Wylie ISD.
"As you can see, we don't have a field house, and we don't have all the nice facilities, but we use that as a chip on our shoulder to get ready for whatever weather, whatever team, it doesn't matter," said Wylie East defensive lineman Tyler Morris.
Their dressing room is the locker room for the girls' P.E. class, but right now it's used by 40 football players who have to put on their gear in a very small room. Until a bond issue passes, which isn't even on any ballot yet, it'll have to do.
Do they have enough room for all their gear?
"They should," says Lepsis. "If they don't, we'll tell them to find a place."
Or bring less.
Wylie East is living proof that it's not the equipment or the faculties that make a good football team, it's the players.
Wylie East will play Frisco Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Plano's Clark Stadium.