A new district brings new hope to the Maroons. It's a program looking for its first playoff win in more than half a century. Fortunately they have a head coach who's been there, done that at the highest level
Mike Rosenthal's football resume is impressive and so is his ability to keep it to himself.
Austin High offensive lineman Thomas Xinic says, "No, I've never head him ever mention anything about the NFL."
Rosenthal says, "I don't talk about it. If you come to my house I don't have any helmets out. I don't wear any NFL jewelry. I don't wear any of that stuff because to me it doesn't matter."
That may be what Rosenthal believes but his nine years as an NFL lineman and his All-American career at Notre Dame do matter to his Austin High Maroons.
"To get to the NFL you have to have tremendous work ethic. You gotta know the ins and outs of the game so it sure helps to have that experience on our side," offensive lineman Kirk von Kreisler says.
In fact you could argue that it gives Rosenthal a little street cred with the players.
Linebacker Jonah Strake says it "totally" makes him listen a little bit more "because he knows what he's talking about. We just need to kind of follow what he's saying."
Fortunately Rosenthal is quick to share all that gridiron wisdom. And the young 39-year-old can still lead by example.
"A lot of our coaches are younger and we can identify (with the players). We listen to a lot of the same music as they do. We have a lot of the same lingo they do. We work out with them, like you saw the conditioning test, our whole defensive staff did the conditioning test with them. We identify with what they're going through," Rosenthal says.
It's that fire and hard work that could a half century drought. 1957 was the last year the Maroons won a playoff game and this group is reminded of that daily.
A move down to Class 5A and away from state powers like Lake Travis and Westlake make the Maroons rare district front runners. Dave Campbell's "Texas Football" picked them second.
While they're happy to be in the mix, they want to be more than number two.
Xinic says, "...I'd rather be first. I think we're the ones who are gonna be first."
It's a sentiment that Rosenthal shares.
"For seven years I've been here The first six we were probably the underdog in every game we played and you play with a chip on your shoulder and you try to knock off the beast and the Goliath and all those great teams and we did that. And we did it pretty successfully over the last two years. Now we're the hunted."