The Cotton Bowl: Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog

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LYFORD, Texas (ValleyCentral) — We are all guilty of passing by Lyford, Texas without a second thought as we travel North towards more eventful cities, but for those who grew up in the town, the event of the year is tonight, and many would not miss the Cotton Bowl for the world.  

Bulldog paws painted on the street leading to the Lyford Bulldog Stadium. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

Two things are certain in Lyford: cotton and football. Many families were involved in both throughout the years, students often worked in cotton gins when they were not occupied with school activities.  

While the cotton gin in Lyford is no longer around, the town sits inconspicuously off Highway 69, tucked amongst the cotton fields.  

“I remember growing up, a lot of my friends used to work in the gins – Raymondville and Lyford. During the summer, sometimes right before football during the two-a-days, they worked 12 hours shifts,” said Offensive Line Coach, Pete Garcia.  

Garcia, like many of the other coaches in the Lyford school district, have a history of playing football during their high school years. 

For Defensive Assistant Coach Marty Rocha, the dream was always to come back to his roots and coach students at his alma mater.  

“I’m from here so it was always the dream. I wanted to come back and coach football and I wanted to be the head baseball coach and I’ve already achieved both of those, so it’s definitely somewhere I’ve always wanted to be,” said Rocha. 

Rocha attended Lyford High School from 2009 to 2013. He remembers the feeling of beating Raymondville. 

“After a win, you hold your head a little higher in town because there’s not much to do in Lyford, everything is in Raymondville,” laughed Rocha. “Whenever we’d win, we’d purposely go eat at the Raymondville restaurants just to show off.” 

Mural pained in Lyford. [Photo: Gaby Moreno]

2016 was the last year Lyford took home a win against Raymondville, but no matter the record, students on each side give the game everything they have.  

That is the way it has always been in Lyford. Coach Mark Garza says his uncles told him the rivalry was just as fierce in the 60s as it is today. Even when he played from 1985 to 1989, he says the feeling was unlike any other.  

“When the lights came on on Friday nights, it was something else,” said Garza. “The kids from [Raymondville] and the kids from here, they get fired up for this game… they’re going to be on full throttle.”  

Year after year, many who have left Lyford still travel to watch the game. Spectators are expected to fill up the nearly 3,000 seat Lyford Bulldog Stadium Friday night at 7:30.  

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