SINTON — Stephen Meith was standing outside of the west end zone at Pirate Stadium on Friday with a wide grin on his face.
Meith, who is the father of Rockport-Fulton center Evan Meith, has endured the hardships that have come with Hurricane Harvey barreling through the area two weeks ago with a damaged house and his family living in one room without power.
He was hoping for power to return Friday night. But even if it didn’t return, watching the players from Rockport-Fulton run onto the field for warm-ups and later for their first game of the season against Sinton, it brought a sense that life is returning to normal. Or as normal as can be expected in a town that still has large areas without power and water, and a community trying to rebuild after one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Texas’ shores.
“It’s something that’s definitely going to bring the community closer together,” said Meith, who also has another son. “It takes their minds off all the stress back home, finally focusing on … this is normal, this is what we want and we want to get back to something that’s normal. Friday night lights, that’s normal and we are going to enjoy this.”
The Pirates lost 25-6 but the score was just orange electronic numbers on a board at Sinton’s Pirates Stadium.
Prior to the game, the players entered the field in their white uniforms with green numbers and their trademark dark green helmets with the Pirate logo to a standing ovation from a full grandstand of Rockport-Fulton faithful. Some even waited in a long line to get into the game.
One member of the team’s inflatable crew said it survived the storm in one of the few buildings on the high school’s campus that did not have much damage.
Rockport-Fulton fielded a team with more than 50 players and until the fourth quarter was within a touchdown of Sinton. Untimely penalties hurt Rockport-Fulton in its quest to tie the game but when it was over there were smiles among parents, administrators, players and fans. The Pirates were among a handful of teams including Ingleside, Woodsboro and Refugio that all resumed their seasons on Friday two weeks after Harvey barreled through those communities as well.
“It was breathtaking,” said senior linebacker Blake Rios. “It’s satisfying to play but we’ve got some stuff to do and we’ve got to pick it up. Coach (Jay) Seibert has helped us a lot and were just hoping to play and we just knew every day if we worked our butt off we would be able to play.”
What worried Sinton coach Tom Allen most entering Friday night’s game was that this could have been Rockport-Fulton’s only game this season and he said it could’ve been their “Super Bowl.”
It was the season opener for Sinton but Allen said it was another game as they prepared for a full schedule. But with the uncertainty in terms of when Rockport-Fulton High School would reopen and how to deal with displaced students, Allen knew the Pirates were playing for more than a victory.
“The unknown for them had to be so bitter and there was a real chance this was going to be their only game,” Allen said.