There was a small orange gift basket awaiting the Alice Coyotes in the Pirates Stadium visitors locker room before Friday night’s game.

It contained bottled water and snacks, as well as disposable razors and a tube of shaving gel. Taped on the side was a note addressed to Alice coaches which simply read: Welcome to Rockport-Fulton and to tonight’s game. We wish you nothing but the best of luck. Please enjoy these snacks and other items.

In case the message wasn’t clear enough, it was boldly stated on a giant paper banner taped on the home side fence of the stadium which declared: SHAVE THE STASH.

Welcome to Alice’s Mustache Mania. Head coach Kyle Atwood and the rest of the Alice football coaching staff are all wearing full and healthy well-groomed mustaches, which can best be described as Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck-isque, and they’re keeping the facial hair as long as the Coyotes remain unbeaten.

Coaches began growing the mustaches on the first day of August football drills, but the craze seemingly exploded Friday night with Alice’s impressive 23-15 victory over Rockport-Fulton. Afterward, coaches’ wives and others sported fake mustaches as they celebrated the win. Players posed for photos with the thick black mustache cutouts, and even the TV guys on KIII’s Sports Blitz wore fake mustaches as they talked about Alice’s win on their show Friday night.

Atwood acknowledges the craze. He likes the momentum it’s created, too, but he admits the mustaches weren’t grown for wins, but rather as a way to encourage the football program’s boys to follow the team rule of being clean-shaven. As an incentive, coaches agreed that they would grow the facial hair for the team and would keep it until its first loss.

“It wasn’t about (winning),” Atwood said. “Some people have made it into what it’s not, but it’s a football game. It’s a football game where we’ve got 43 players who have prepared to play a game on a Friday night. We did it strictly for our team. It’s a cool thing for our kids, but we did it for the reason being that (our players) have to be clean shaved. (Coaches) don’t. We did it for that reason.

“I guess it has taken off in outside sources as far as our fans and the community as well.”

Saving the mustaches quickly grew into a rallying cry, especially when the season began. A dominating 41-23 win against Laredo Alexander to begin the season and then a 46-13 home victory against longtime rival H.M. King only fueled the craze.

At this point, and regardless of why the mustaches were grown, no one wants to see them gone. Atwood said he wouldn’t mind keeping the mustache clear into December.

“Obviously, we don’t (want to see them gone) because that means the Coyotes have lost,” Atwood said after the Rockport-Fulton game. “We just want to see our kids play good football every Friday night. Tonight was another opportunity for them to step on the field and show what they’ve done throughout the offseason, throughout spring ball, throughout summer and throughout two-a-days.”

The Coyotes have an open date this week, but will begin District 29-5A against Tuloso-Midway in Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.