HAWLEY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s hard to imagine the people of Hawley showing any more spirit for their state-bound football team than they already have, but that’s the goal of what was perhaps the largest pep rally the town has ever seen.

Hawley Head Cheer Coach Candace Riddle says she and her cheer squad, along with some community help, filled more than 1,000 balloons for the celebration. Even so, she hopes she’s sending the boys off with as big a show as she can.

Hawley cheerleader poses with Bearcat mascot

“I don’t think I’m doing enough still, I feel like we should be doing more,” Riddle says. “The boys are making history. They made history by getting this far.”

The 2021 Bearcats are the first football team in town history to make it to the state level. In honor of that, the town’s first ever team, the 1967 Bearcats, showed up in support.

“It gladdens your heart to see what’s going on here. You can tell how proud this community is of these boys. Look at the turnout, look at the numbers in this gym,” says Hawley 1967 quarterback Doug Schmitt.

While the ceremony and celebration are fun after such a hard-fought season, Hawley Head Football Coach Mitch Ables says he hopes his team will feel relaxed and ready to play when they get to AT&T Stadium.

“The main thing is just reaping the harvest that you’ve gone through all year. Our kids have worked hard since August the 2nd and we’re still playing,” says Coach Ables.

The Bearcats leave for AT&T stadium Wednesday at 9 a.m. from the Hawley Field House. The public is invited to line the road in front of the Administration building and Mulebarn Coffee.