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Tiny Texas Town Sees School's Record-Setting Football Season End

The Booker High Kiowas entered the state playoffs undefeated, and with two record-setting players on its 29-man team.
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The Booker High Kiowas entered the state playoffs undefeated, and with two record-setting players on its 29-man team.

A football dream ended in Texas last night, as the little town of Booker saw its high school team lose for the first time this year, eliminating them from the state playoffs. But Booker High School has plenty to celebrate — the 29 players on its team include the state's all-time leading passer and leading receiver.

We noticed the Booker team's story earlier this month, when Texas Monthly highlighted the high achievers:

"The tiny town at the top of the Panhandle, population 1,516, only has 29 players on its team. But with a former prison guard as coach and a pair of cousins smashing state records, they'll give you that warm feeling about football you've been missing since Friday Night Lights went off the air."

The Kiowas ran through their regular season with a perfect 10-0 record – a feat they accomplished despite hours-long road trips and nearly being relegated to a division for smaller schools that play six-man football.

And it seems Booker has its fair share of characters.

"I can look out my kitchen window and see Oklahoma," Booker head coach James Henton told Texas Monthly, which also reports that on the highway leading into Booker, the nine streets in the town's center are preceded by an interstate-style sign reading, "Booker — Next 9 Exits."

But the Booker squad lost Friday night, falling to Quanah High School in a 42-12 upset in the Class 2A Division II playoffs. The game ended the career of Booker's senior quarterback Hunter Lile, who became the most prolific passer in Texas high school history this season after throwing for more than 14,256 yards.

Many of those throws fell into the hands of Lile's cousin, Jared Reagan, who's also a senior. Reagan finished his career as the leading receiver in Texas high school history, with more than 313 catches — two spots ahead of the NFL's Jordan Shipley (who still holds the mark for most yards). This year, Reagan caught passes for more than 1,720 yards.

We'll note that the final career numbers for Lile and Reagan aren't yet posted, so the figures mentioned here reflect the numbers they needed to claim the top spots.

For anyone wondering about the Kiowas' mascot name, Texas Monthly tells us that back in 1991, the Kiowa tribe nearby in Oklahoma "formally adopted the Booker Independent School District."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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