SAN ANTONIO — Smithson Valley's Larry Hill, Alamo Height's Ron Rittimann and O'Connor's David Malesky are legendary south Texas high school football coaches. They've done it all, from winning regular-season games to advancing the future of the game.
But that one big thing has still evaded each of them: A state championship.
"We've been in the state championship game three times, and we've been in the state semifinals six times," Hill said.
"There is nothing more I would like, and not necessarily for me, but for the kids," Malesky added.
For Hill, a life of high school coaching isn't complete without a state ring.
"To say it doesn't bother me, or to say there are pangs of regret because you haven't reached that yet? That would be a lie," he said.
"I think that is how most coaches are wired is that you keep trying to do something most people think you can't attain," Rittimann continued. "It's probably not what gets me up every morning, but it something that I would love to say that we got that accomplished."
In visiting the three coaches, it doesn't take long to realize what they want—and want more than most.
At the same time, there's never any rhyme or reason for why the sports gods smile on any one coach, player or team. It seemingly never plays favorites.
"This is a hard game, and it is a cruel game," Rittimann added. "I think that is just what athletics is: You have to be good. You have to know that you have to work hard in February, March and April to have that chance to be good in November and December."
As Hill puts it: "No one cares why you do, and no one cares why you don't."
"There are just so many things that are uncontrollable along the way," Rittimann added. "And that is what makes it such a great experience to be out on that 50-yard line on Friday nights."
"I can tell you and anybody watching this that we are gonna such everyday and keep working until we get there."
Though being the last team standing at the end of any season is important for every coach around the county, it's not something most will let define their career and legacy.
"To say that I'm disappointed that we haven't played for or won a state championship, not at all. Is that still a goal? You bet it is, and it will always be as long as I continue to coach," said Malesky.
"At the end of my career, and I set it down and we've achieved it, then that's great. And if we haven't, I'm OK with that," said Hill. "I think of this wonderful school that has allowed me to be around as long as it has. All the players, coaches, community and culture we've built, and I have hard time saying that Larry Hill has somehow been shortchanged."
We're fast approaching a brand new season on the gridiron, and even if a victory at state doesn't happen this year, these men already have full coaching hearts. O'Connor's Coach Malesky can speak for all three.
"There have been way too many good things that have happened for me just to be disappointed if we don't win a state championship."