Several accomplished juniors and senior students of Atascocita High School were ‘burned’ when the board announced the wrong team as grand champions at the recent state tournament prior to everyone leaving the event.
This resulted with the incorrect team taking home the trophy. Soon, the event board realized the calculation and tabulation error and as a result, they agreed to make it right for the undisputed grand champions, The Smoking Eagles.
There are two teams, the senior team, referred to as the Smoking Eagles, and the junior team, called the Little Smoking Eagles. Both teams got started in 2019. Their first competition was at the neighborhood level at the Eagle Springs Cookoff in November 2019.
Daryl Maune, Ag Education instructor at AHS, said, “The reason we started the team(s) was because we built a lot of BBQ pits and ugly drum smokers for sale. During the past four years, our BBQ pits have been named grand champions at the Humble BBQ cook-off pit challenge. Therefore, I thought it would be great if we started cooking teams along with the pit building. Last year we qualified for state, but due to COVID-19, the events were canceled. This year, we competed against 61 other teams from across Texas at Llano for the state championship.”
This past school year there were 11 regional competitions across the state sponsored by the Texas HS BBQ Inc., beginning in November and ending up with the state championship in Llano April 23-24, 2021.
There are five categories: dessert, pinto beans, chicken, ribs and brisket. The whole cook-off weekend is fast-paced and begins with Friday morning. Typically, the team leaves school in a suburban and trailer provided by the school.
Upon arrival at the motel, they check-in and head to the cook-off site and set everything up for the next day. Each team member is checked for COVID-19 and symptoms on-site. After all members are analyzed, they head to dinner and then get back to the hotel for much needed rest before their long day of competition on Saturday or next day.
While still at the awards ceremony, Maune kept tabs on the teams’ ranking in all categories. However, once the final standings were announced, the senior team had not been called. After personal tabulation, he counted two 1st place finishes in dessert and ribs, one 10th place finish in chicken, and all in all, the numbers did not add up. Therefore, he went to the judges’ stand to inquire and inform.
After a meeting with the event board, it was apparent that the wrong team, Burnet High School, had been named grand champion; however, AHS The Smoking Eagles were the undeniable finishers. Therefore, on May 10, at a separate and final awards ceremony, the senior team was presented their grand championship win, complete with a trophy, belt buckle and individual scholarships on behalf of the HS BBQ, Inc.
While the senior team will lose several senior members due to graduation, they are gaining several new members too. Maune added, “We now have a bunch of interest from students, so we will have tryouts for the junior team next year.”
In the end, the grand championship trophy and prizes were duplicated so both teams were well-recognized. “It was a bittersweet victory; everyone was gone, including the team that left with our trophies! We had approximately 35 of the students’ family members that had followed us to Llano. I know it was a huge mistake that could happen to anyone. I am just glad they made it right,” Maune continued.
The teams are already making plans for next year and coming up with new recipes and ideas. They will be distributing sponsor sheets and students will be out and about Humble canvassing businesses and individuals for sponsorships next year.