Kevin Duke

The Seguin Gazette

Prognosticators in sports have a tough and thankless job — trying to pick a winner in one game can be difficult enough.

Now try doing it for every high school with a football team in the state of Texas — all 1,466 of them.

That’s the task taken on every year by “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” magazine.

There is no way they can be right all the time.

“There are some times when we hit the nail right on the head — but there are some times when it’s a big swing and a miss,” managing editor Greg Tepper said. “It’s when we pick a team to finish sixth in district and they end up winning the district — that’s when we hear about it. I tell people all the time that we love being proven wrong.”

Tepper and his staff, plus coaches, writers and contributors from the farthest reaches of the state all have a part in the process, Tepper said.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into our predictions,” he said. “A lot of it comes from what we learn from the coaches, not only about their teams, but what they feel about other teams in the district. Coaches know more about not just their teams, but the teams they will play, better than anybody.”

“Texas Football” magazine is around 400 pages every year, and most of the schools in the state have capsules written about them, a monumental amount of information gathering undertaken by the magazine. Colleges and the state’s two professional teams are also covered.

“We have an army of special contributors and writers on staff that do a lot of the writing, especially on the college side,” Tepper said. “We like to regionalize it a little bit — I don’t want to ask a guy in Dallas to write about Seguin, because there will be people there that know the teams better than we would.”

Other factors looked at by the magazine include how the team has done in recent years, how many starters and lettermen are coming back, the caliber of those players coming back — and they even go as far as how the JV team did last season.

“It’s a little bit of art and a little bit of science,” Tepper said. “But we usually feel pretty good about where our predictions end up landing.”

Forms are sent out to every coach in Texas to get the basic knowledge required for each team, with follow-ups done for teams that Tepper and his staff feel might be especially strong in the upcoming season.

“We ask the coaches which team they have their eye on, because they have a really good nose for these things,” Tepper said. “If they think a team is going to be pretty good, chances are they are going to be pretty good.”

The editorial staff goes back every year to see how close they were with the predictions.

“Obviously, there are going to be things that we can’t see coming,“ Tepper said. “Whether it’s a freshman or a sophomore we don’t know about, or an injury — there are things we can’t predict. But we’re always going back and looking at what we’ve done right, what we can improve on, and trying to make the best and most accurate predictions across the board.”

The sheer size of the magazine means they work on it for months prior to its coming out in June.

“We start the process back in February,” Tepper said. “That’s when we start kicking around the feature ideas, who is going to be on the cover, and sending out the questionnaires. A lot of coaches are really good about getting those back to us, and then some coaches need an extra nudge. But then it’s a process of following up on those.”

For Texas football fans, the magazine is available now, or fans can get more content, including video, interviews and more on texasfootball.com.

 

Kevin Duke is the sports editor for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at sports@seguingazette.com

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