When I purchased this year's edition of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, the young lady who checked me out asked, "Where are those located? People keep asking me about them."

That's probably a good lesson for Merchandising 101. Put some of the magazines in the magazine aisle, not just on special stands.

But it is definitely a sign that a magazine that was a start-up in 1960 still has lots of staying power. Football fans all over Texas, where football remains king, will continue to ask about it.

Some call the magazine's release the unofficial kickoff of high school football season. It feels that way, and we can keep the term -- at least until the NFL bans kickoffs.

I buy it in the store every year for the information, the stories and the picks. And I also buy it because I've been doing that for most of my life.

I have critiqued the magazine. The way it was laid out at times baffled me. I have picked apart numerous elements that I do not like. But every year, I eagerly await its arrival. None of that online ordering for me. Going to the store to find it is part of the thrill.

Despite my name, I am not related to the founder of the magazine, Dave Campbell, who remains its editor-in-chief. And I have never contributed a single word to it as a writer. My praise and occasional criticism is completely unsolicited.

Texas Football has outlasted the Southwest Conference, the Houston Oilers and the original Texas Sports Hall of Fame. It was around two years before the Houston Colt .45s and five years before they changed their name to the Astros. It debuted 11 years before the San Diego Rockets became the Houston Rockets, 13 years before the Dallas Chaparrals made a move to become the San Antonio Spurs, and 20 years before the Dallas Mavericks became an expansion team in 1980 in quest of the NBA championship they just picked up in 2011.

The first copy of the magazine beat the Rangers -- the baseball team -- to Texas by 12 years. In fact, they weren't even the pre-Rangers, also know as the second coming of the Washington Senators, when it began.

When Texas Football started, the Dallas Cowboys were still in Dallas and just getting going. They played in the Cotton Bowl. Now the Cotton Bowl game is in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium.

While the cover is a good way to identify the era for each year of Texas Football magazine, it is usually just something to turn aside on the way to the meat of the magazine. But I'll give kudos to the publishers this year, who paired Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray with Aledo High School running back Johnathan Gray.

The magazine cover reads "Amazing Grays."

Cyrus was indeed amazing in high school, and played here for DeSoto against the Bryan Vikings. Aggie fans know just how good he is still, with what proved to be a breakout season his junior year. Johnathan Gray put the finishing touches on a state championship his sophomore season with his game-clinching run against Brenham. In retrospect, the Cubs probably did a good job defensively against him. He scored eight touchdowns in the 4A Division II title game against La Marque last December.

The cover was a good choice and a good concept. Oh, and inside, you can see how similar they look from behind, which is the way a lot of defenders have seen them.

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What about the meat of the matter this year, according to Texas Football's high school predictions? While 2010 was unquestionably one of the best overall football seasons ever in the Brazos Valley, 2011 has a chance to be special, also.

Six teams are state-ranked, topped by No. 4 Calvert in six-man, fifth-ranked Lexington in Class 2A Division II and No. 5 Cameron in 2A Division I.

Brenham is picked seventh in 4A and Burton is seventh in Class A Division II. Navasota holds the No. 14 ranking in Class 3A.

All of those teams had playoff squads a year ago and the expectation for success among their Brazos Valley brethren is high.

Eleven other area teams are expected to qualify for postseason -- A&M Consolidated, Bryan, Madisonville, Franklin, Centerville, Milano, Normangee, Bremond, St. Joseph, Brazos Christian and Brenham Christian.

There is one player on the high school Super Team, Brenham defensive lineman Malcolm Brown.

In the college section, the Aggies are picked to finished second in the new 10-team Big 12, and that opener against SMU at Kyle Field looks like it will be a star-studded affair.

According to Texas Football's All-Texas team, the college best running back in the state is Cyrus Gray and the best receiver is his Aggie teammate Jeff Fuller. The best offensive lineman is Kevin Beachum, Jr., from SMU.

On defense, A&M's Coryell Judie is listed as most versatile with SMU's Chris Banjo the top defensive back.

Read the rest yourself. If it's not on the magazine aisle, look around.

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Brazos Valley coaches are encouraged to email schedules for the 2011 fall season in all sports to david.campbell@theeagle.com

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