Another fall afternoon, and the Houston Hawks find themselves on the practice field. There's no place Reed Graham would rather be on this day.

"These are my best friends, know what I mean? Real close to these guys, and get to hit each other every day," said the senior offensive/defensive lineman.

The week of practice will be the last for Graham and other seniors, after the Hawks failed to make the playoffs. It's not the way Graham -- a four-year starter who led the Hawks in tackles twice including this season, helping the team take numerous conference and state awards -- wanted to end his career.

What really stands out is that Graham never missed a snap, especially since he tore his ACL back in January during the first week of basketball practice. He tried to play through the pain.

"It wasn't until halfway through the second week of basketball, my coaches are like, 'You definitely need to get that checked out," Graham said.

He had surgery, returning in time for the start of the new season and making his coaches grateful.

"He helps mentor the younger kids; he's like a coach on the field," said Hawks head football coach Glenn Nelson. "Sometimes we call him Coach Reed, sometimes the other kids call him Coach Reed." 

You can also call Graham a scholar-athlete, thanks to his 4.0 grade point average -- an achievement for which he has plenty of motivation.

"If you don't got good grades, you don't play," Graham said.