Aycock athletic architect Johnson led Purple Tigers to great success
Ralph Johnson’s 1955-56 season at Aycock High School was one for all time.
Coaches who lead their teams to state football and basketball titles in the same school year may not be in a class by themselves but it sure doesn’t take long to call the roll.
That’s what Johnson did and his Aycock Tigers threw in a state runner-up title in track and field at the end of that remarkable year for good measure.
From fall 1951 through spring 1956, Johnson coached all male sports at Aycock High. “Impressive” doesn’t even begin to describe his record.
His football teams were 38-13-2. In addition to the 1955 state championship, Aycock won a regional crown in 1951.
Johnson’s basketball teams were 128-25. In addition to the 1956 state title the Tigers won district titles in 1952 and 1954.
After leaving Rockdale he moved to Odessa, retiring after a long coaching career at Odessa High School as one of that West Texas city’s most respected citizens.
The 1993 West Texas Relays was named in his honor.
In Rockdale, his name will always be linked with that oncein a-lifetime 1955-56 season.
Aycock fans knew they had something special when the Tigers blanked 1954 state finalist College Station 27-0 in the season’s fifth week.
Three weeks later came the district showdown against Taylor, a team AHS hadn’t beaten in three years. Aycock came from behind to win 21-12 and roared into the playoffs.
The biggest game of the year was the state quarterfinal against Texas City on the Texas City home field. Johnson’s Tigers had 245 penalty yards, 2 TDs called back and staged three goal line stands after Texas City drove to first-andgoals inside the 5. Aycock won 13-7. Two weeks later Aycock won state, 21-7 over West.
Four basketball practices later the Tigers were rolling. Aycock recovered from an upset loss to Rosebud, won district then knocked off the Waco Paul Quinn college freshman team in an overtime tuneup thriller.
The state tourney was wild. Aycock routed Tyler Stanton, came from behind in the fourth period to edge Fairfield, breezed by Center and edged Daingerfield 54-51 in the final.
“I learned so much from Ralph Johnson,” Leroy Wright said. “He was way before his time.”
“We were just playing to win” he said. “We had a bunch of little guys. Our tackles were 150 lbs. We were playing for Coach Johnson. It was just meant to be.”
Johnson was philosophical. “I didn’t expect to win state in football,” he smiled. “But I sure did in basketball.”
Johnson became a member of the Rockdale Hall of Honor in the inaugural class of 2007.