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Vote to Help Reagan High School Win a $25,000 Grant in Sports Illustrated's "Underdogs" Competition

Fans of Reagan High School's football team typically cheer on the players during Friday night games. For the next two weeks, the players need fans' support online--in a national Sports Illustrated competition that could score the team a $25,000 grant.

The Reagan Raiders are among only 10 teams in the nation and the only one in Texas to be featured in the Sports Illustrated "Underdogs" series, which profiles athletic programs overcoming enormous hardships.
Reagan High School is in third place in the national competition. Fans can vote for their favorite teams through midnight, Nov. 15, at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/specials/underdogs/vote.html.

The "Underdogs" series chronicled the Reagan Raiders' effort to rebuild their football program after a string of unsuccessful seasons. Receiving the grant could help the Raiders mount their comeback. 

"Receiving this grant would add a boost to our program because we could purchase equipment and make some facilities improvements," Keith Carey, Reagan football coach and athletic director, said. "Most of all, I'm so proud of the dedication and hard work demonstrated by this team. To have the community rally behind them during this competition just shows to the team that they have full support."

Students and staff members at the school are using social media and text messages to promote the contest to the public. The school hosted a pep rally last week to kick off voting.

"Sports Illustrated did a magnificent job capturing the story of a team that, despite all odds, has committed to rebuilding a once powerful program," Reagan Principal Anabel Garza said. "We want our athletes not only to excel athletically but to use their talents to excel in the classroom and in the community. We want scholar athletes that will be real-world models and future leaders. I feel honored to know that our community, alumni and supporters all over the country are rallying to support our Raiders."

The Reagan Raiders were a football powerhouse in the 1960s and 70s--winning near consecutive state championships in 1967, 1968 and 1970. But the school's football program has suffered in recent decades. During the past eight seasons the team's record was 9-70. In 2011, it was 0-10.

This year, however, under Carey's direction, the school is mounting a comeback to restore the program. The team has won two of its six games and players are learning to develop character both on and off the football field.

In the Reagan episode of the series, William Covington, a senior and wide receiver on the team, said that when the football team is doing well, the atmosphere at the school is different because everyone wants and expects the players to succeed.  

"It's not even about the football team. It's about changing you as a person. This year, we just flipped the script and changed our whole image," Covington said.

Each team featured in the "Underdogs" series was selected for overcoming obstacles that included dilapidated facilities, crime-ridden communities, severe funding deficits and disasters, both natural and personal. The series was part of one of the largest high school football editorial initiatives in the magazine's history.  

In addition to the $25,000 grant, the winning team will attend the annual Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award event in New York City.  

To vote for the Reagan Raiders, please visit http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/specials/underdogs/episode-3.html.