Kansas City Chiefs arrive in Phoenix for Super Bowl LVII
PHOENIX (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs have deboarded at Goldwater Air National Guard Base in Phoenix, exactly one week from Super Bowl LVII. A lot of hope in the Chiefs is riding on quarterback Pat Mahomes. Mahomes had the throwing pedigree as the son of former major league pitcher Pat Mahomes, and his strong arm was evident long before he became the starter at Whitehouse in East Texas.
The Chiefs traded up to get Mahomes 10th overall in 2017, declared him the starter in the offseason a year later and watched him become MVP that year and a Super Bowl winner the next. “I think in Texas it’s been a program of building football players up for a long time,” said Mahomes, whose Super Bowl matchup against Hurts will be the first between two Black quarterbacks. “There’s still the great running backs, there’s still the great receivers, the great tight ends, whatever you want to say.”
The most recent Super Bowl-winning quarterback from Texas is Matthew Stafford, who played in the Dallas enclave of Highland Park before going to Georgia and getting drafted No. 1 overall by Detroit in 2009. His prolific career with the Lions mostly went nowhere before a trade to the Rams immediately led to a title last season. His high school coach, four-time state title winner Randy Allen, has a quarterback training program he believes he started after seeing Dodge conduct a coaching clinic.
Once Texas became fertile ground for quarterbacks, it was only natural for growth in the college game, and subsequently the pros. “College coaches want to win, number one,” said Allen, the winningest active coach in Texas. “And number two, they know if they’ve got a Texas high school quarterback, that he’s probably played in front of big crowds. He’s probably played against great competition. He’s probably had great high school coaching and he’s probably ready to play as a freshman.”
One of Allen’s Highland Park teams was a round away from facing Mahomes in the Texas playoffs a decade ago, but Mahomes’ team lost. Mahomes never made a deep playoff run before thriving at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury, a prolific Texas high school QB himself in the 1990s. Allen, Dodge and Mahomes all mentioned the expansion of offseason 7-on-7 football as a significant part of the development of Texas quarterbacks. Dozens of tournaments around the state culminate in a state championship event every summer in College Station, home of Texas A&M.
Dodge also believes it helped when pass-happy teams started winning state championships. In one five-year stretch at Southlake Carroll, where son Riley is now coach, the elder Dodge had a 79-1 record with four state titles in the state’s largest classification. The other three titles for Dodge came at Austin Westlake. Before his arrival, that school produced the first two Super Bowl-winning QBs from Texas in Drew Brees (New Orleans, 2009 season) and Nick Foles (Philadelphia, 2017).
Hurts says the high school highlights might have something to do with how the mindset about the position. A regional cable network for Texas carries a live scoreboard show every Friday night, well into a six-week postseason that’s capped by championship-game crowds approaching 50,000 at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. “Texas is so big,” Hurts said. “I’d turn on the TV and see, you had the Texas high school football late night show. It runs throughout the whole state. You see what (Mahomes is) doing.”
Western Pennsylvania is famous for quarterbacks, too, with Hall of Famers Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Jim Kelly and Johnny Unitas among the products. Mahomes is aware of this — because he has teammates from a state that also takes its high school football just as seriously. “I brag to all my PA guys because they brag they have the best state for football because of the history,” Mahomes said. “But I’m like, we’re talking about the present, and Texas is pretty good right now.”
Mahomes has a point. Texas is already guaranteed to be the high school home of four of the past six Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
AP Sports Writers Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Missouri, and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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