Of course the average football fan is looking forward to Thursday and the FBS college football kickoff. However, those of us who have been wandering through the offseason like Moses in the desert, this last weekend offered our first true oasis. There was an excellent game from the FCS level as Montana knocked off four-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State in a fourth quarter comeback (looking for a Texas connection? Montana’s new head coach, Bob Stitt, was the Assistant Head Coach at Austin in Sherman, Texas from 1994-1998). However, for Texas football fans, the big relief was the return of Texas high school football.
If you haven’t heard yet, the biggest story of the high school football weekend was Euless Trinity’s upset of the nation’s #1 team De La Salle out of Concord, California. The private Roman Catholic prep-school is most known for its 151 game winning streak which lasted from 1992-2004. De La Salle was selected as the number one team in the country by USA Today’s Super 25 poll to start this season. That ranking was to be put to the test early as the Spartans elected to make the trip (bravely, we might add) to Mansfield to play Trinity.
While Trinity is a traditional Texas power, they were unranked in the USA Today poll. Furthermore, they were breaking a brand new head coach. Following a 90-minute weather delay due to lightning strikes, the game finally kicked (for those of us watching on TV the interlude was painful to say the least). With the De La Salle Spartans holding a 14-6 second half lead, Trinity made a momentum changing play as they forced a fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Trinity would go on to win 26-21.
While this victory has been more than adequately covered, it offers the perfect opportunity to celebrate some of Texas high school football’s other major victories over out of state teams. Just last year another Texas power, Highland Park, faced an impressive out of state foe in Arkansas’ Pulaski Academy. You may have heard of Pulaski as home to the head coach who never punts and rarely kicks off. This year he has even started implementing a rugby style where players constantly lateral.
Read more on Pulaski head coach Kevin Kelley and watch their onside kick formations here:
Despite the unusual tactics, Pulaski finished last season as Arkansas’ 5A state champion. In fact, they went undefeated except for one game – the season opener against Highland Park. Pulaski looked good early in the game converting five of their eight fourth down attempts building an early two-touchdown lead. As you might imagine, the Texas team was unfazed. Highland Park would score 34 unanswered points and go on to win 48-42. After the early fourth down success, Pulaski didn’t convert another fourth down try for the rest of the game. Oh, curious about Pulaski’s onside kick success against Highland Park? Pulaski attempted seven onside kicks and recovered exactly zero. Fortunately for all high school football fans, this game will have a rematch this year as Pulaski and Highland Park will clash on Friday, September 4th at 7:30.
Another recent favorite occurred in 2010. Featuring Euless Trinity again, this game wasn’t an upset per se but it was an eye-opener. This time Trinity was ranked as the nation’s number one team by many of the services that offer such rankings, but they would be facing a tough opponent in national number 22 Shiloh Christian out of Springdale, Arkansas. Shiloh made the trip to “Jerry World” (AT&T Stadium) to face Trinity in the nationally televised game.
It turned out to be an utter decimation. Trinity racked up 706 yards of offense while averaging 14 yards per play. In a typical move during a blowout, the Trinity coaching staff inserted backups as soon as the game was out of hand – it didn’t matter, Shiloh couldn’t even stop them. Trinity would have three running backs rush for more than 100 yards and six different running backs would score at least one touchdown. Five of Trinity’s 11 touchdowns came on runs of 30 yards or more. The final score? Trinity 80 Shiloh 26.
While those recent games are some of my favorite, the state of Texas has played competition from out of state many times over the years. Easily the longest running competition was the Oil Bowl, a high school all-star game between Texas and Oklahoma players. The game was played almost annually from 1945 to 2012. Texas would win the first 15 matchups, not losing until 1960 when they fell 14-13. Famous players from the Texas side included personalities, such as, Bobby Layne, Hayden Fry, Ronnie Bull, Bill Bradley, James Street, Mike Renfro, Art Briles and many more. The coaching alumni were equally impressive with names, such as, Homer Norton, Matty Bell, Bobby Dodd, Grant Teaff and others finding their way to the sideline. The overall record of the series reflects the Texas talent that has played in the game – Texas leads 46-19-1.
While you could select dozens of options that highlight the superiority and success of Texas football when compared to other states, this selection of high school football memories should offer a great foundation. Feel free to share any Texas high school football moments from games against out of state competition that you think should be included on our social media at:
Written by Ryan Sprayberry, Collections and Exhibits Manager at the Texas Sports Hall of Fame