THRALL, Texas - The Thrall High School football team heads into its season with heavy hearts.
Tigers head football coach Aaron Venececk says, "One of our few mottos has been TGOW, which is something he always said it was, "Trust God or Worry", so you can spend your time worrying about stuff or you can just trust God."
The "he" Venececk is referring to is Thrall head coach Rick Porter who passed away on June 15 after a long battle with cancer.
Venececk says he intends to honor Porter's motto and spirit this season and the year-long dedication will be lead by a senior group that includes Porter's son Ricky, who is looking to turn the grief of losing his father into leading the way that his father taught him.
"Obviously he instilled some of his values in me. I just really want the team to do well. As a whole, I want everyone to enjoy the game more than I want to win, but I also really want to win," Ricky says.
Wide receiver/linebacker Blair Neighbors says Ricky has "grown into a great, strong young man. I'm proud of him for all he's gone through. It hasn't been easy for him but he's done it."
As the Tigers play to honor RIck Porter in 2021, there's one thing they say they'll never forget from 2020 when Coach Rick, while battling cancer, also took some fight to the COVID-era to keep his team on the field.
The Tigers were set to open the regular season when their opponent had to cancel the game due to COVID issues just two days before. Within 24 hours, Coach Rick and his staff found a replacement opponent, who had also been canceled on, to play in week one.
"He was very vocal about how much he wanted to get the kids a game because he knew we wanted to play," Ricky says. "Especially for the seniors, who had already had a crazy year, he just wanted to get them as many games as possible."
Now the 2021 Tigers will play with those memories and motivation to trust and not worry.
"This is (Rick's) foundation, what he laid, his group of seniors. I'm just here to facilitate that and make sure put a great product on the field to honor him," Venececk says.