Special to the Daily Light

In Texas, football is king, and so is the Ford F-Series pickup truck - the state and the country’s best-selling vehicle.

So Ford Motor Company and its dealers are joining with the Dallas Cowboys and Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director magazine for the 2nd Annual “Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Week” award to recognize the on- and off-field accomplishments of the Lone State’s gridiron heroes.

Ford presented a $20,000 donation to the Texas High School Coaches Association during halftime of this week’s THSCA all-star football game at Amon Carter Field on the TCU campus.

Former Texas High School coach and current Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Wade Phillips, is bringing Texas High School football and the Dallas Cowboys together as the 2007 spokesperson for the "Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Week."

"The awards are a really neat deal because high school football is so big," Phillips said Tuesday.

“Texans have made the Ford F-Series the most successful vehicle in the entire auto industry,” said David Mondragon, Ford General Manager for the Southwest Region.

“Nearly one out of every five F-Series trucks we build is sold in Texas, so it’s important for us to keep giving back to the community, as we have for more than 100 years.”

As part of the All Star Game, Ford made a $20,000 contribution to salute and support the efforts of the THSCA and its 16,000 member coaches in the development of student-athletes as outstanding members of the community.

“No other state in the nation can compare to the passion Texas has for football, especially at the high school level,” Mondragon said. “On any given Friday night, as many as one in fifteen Texas residents are attending, playing, coaching or participating in activities at a high school football game. Recognizing the top student athletes each week is just another example of how Ford and the 266 Texas Ford dealers connect with communities and customers at the local level.

“Last year's inaugural program was a terrific success. This year, we have the privilege of partnering with the Dallas Cowboys, and we're tremendously honored to have Coach Wade Phillips act as a spokesperson for the program.”

"We are very excited about extending our relationship with the Dallas Cowboys", Ford Southwest Market General manger David Mondragon said. "Without a doubt, they are the most important sports sponsorship in the nation."

The 2nd Annual “Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Week” program will honor six athletes each week during the Texas high-school football season for their individual performance on the field, their contribution to the team and their success in the classroom.

Honoring elite Texas

student-athletes

The “Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Player of the Week” program will recognize one high school student-athlete in six of the state’s athletic classifications every week of the regular season of the 2007 Texas high school football schedule.

Throughout the 2007 football season, Texas high school football will be watched by tens of thousands of fans across the state.

Each player taking the field will have the opportunity to be nominated for the Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Week, simply by excelling in three categories:

* Individual performance on the field, including significant statistics from that week’s game

* Contribution to the team’s success through their individual leadership abilities

* Performance off the field of play, including academic success and good community citizenship

“The ‘Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Week’ will be a person who shows the qualities of toughness, dependability and quality on the field, and who makes their communities stronger,” said Mike Crowley, the Ford Truck/SUV Group Marketing Plans Manager.

The Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player program is administered by Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director magazine.

Texas high school football coaches, athletic directors and fans will be invited to nominate players each week.

Collectively, these nominations, as well as those submitted by the Built Ford Tough Texas Football Advisory Board, will be evaluated by a panel from Ford and Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director, who will vote on and decide the weekly honorees.

At the conclusion of the 10-week regular season, Ford and its advisory board will select one student-athlete from the 10 weekly winners to be the Built Ford Tough / Dallas Cowboys Texas High School Football Player of the Year in each classification.

Following the championship games, honorees will once again be recognized at a statewide banquet event.

During the 2006 season, 60 outstanding student-athletes were named Built Ford Tough Texas High School Football Players of the Week.

Over the 10 weeks of the regular season, Ford identified one player in each of six classifications, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, and Private Schools each week.