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The Beast and the underdogs: "Titletown, TX" and the study of identity in high school football

The Aledo (Texas) High School football program can't figure out what it wants to be. As we touched on in the trailer, the Bearcats bill themselves as scrappy, overlooked underdogs -- "not the biggest, not the fastest" -- yet their own results reveal them to be the very thing they rage against. They are the biggest, and they are the fastest.

This is a program that won five of the many, many state championships Texas awards its high schools in a six-year span. It became the first Texas high school team to ever score 1,000 points in the season. It produced the leading rusher in the history of high school football -- anywhere. Aledo was cited for bullying after winning a district game 91-0. Last year's team, generally regarded by those in the program as a failure after an ouster in the state semifinals, won a district game 70-19.

This bedroom community southwest of Fort Worth has exploded of late, and as such the Bearcats' identity is caught up in the transition alongside the rest of the community. No longer is this a cattle-and-railroad town fielding a team of scrappy underdogs every Friday night. No, this is a suburb riding the wave of a population boom into a becoming a bona fide powerhouse.

Aledo has become the type of city and the type of program that attracts attention, attention from as far as California. The Bearcats open their home schedule against Westlake High School from Westlake Village, Calif. But that's not their most important California import this season, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's docu-series "Titletown, TX" showcases in Episode 2.

For more background on Aledo as a whole, check out Episode 1.

Look, Aledo is far from the first team to ensconce its identity in a layer of cognitive dissonance. The "nobody believes in us" mantra is a meme across sports and across levels for a reason. Tim Tebow himself, a 5-star block of etched granite that rampaged his way to a Heisman Trophy and first-round draft selection, once shot a commercial that cast him as an overgrown version of Squints from The Sandlot.

"Titletown, TX" is a series that promises to get closer to a major high school football team than any you've ever seen, and the drama should hit warp speed now that games are starting. But as I watch throughout the fall, Aledo's idea of itself versus its actualized self is the angle I find most interesting.