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Lone Star Dual Threats: Why Texas Football Champions Are Taking to the Mat

The start of one of the most popular sports in Texas is underway: football.

Thousands will pack football stadiums across high school campuses that most Division II programs would envy to have. 

When the whistle blows there will be some players on the field that are also talented wrestlers and that correlation is one that wrestling coaches in the Lone Star State recognize can help both programs.

Look no further than at Lucas Lovejoy and linebacker Payton Pierce. One of the top recruits in the country and a future Ohio State player, he was also a standout wrestler for the Leopards.

“I mean, look, he’s the best tackler on the team and he’s the best player on the team, obviously,” former wrestling coach Mike Eaton said. “But he’s the best tackler. Why is that? You know, maybe that’s years and years of wrestling.”

Eaton, who stepped down following the 2022-23 school year, pinpoints the success of Pierce and teammate Sam Reynolds on both the gridiron and the mat.

He says it is hard to be a top-tier football recruit and wrestle — which can be a humbling sport. Eaton did it himself in high school, playing baseball, football and wrestling. He knows how tough it is…

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Written by Cody Thorn

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