INK IN THE BLOOD
Recently, we invited some new acquaintances to our house for dinner. After- dinner adjournment to the den brought the inevitable separation-of-the sexes discussions and, of course, the macho segment of the soft-furniture gathering moved to more, ahem, manly topics.
While, the account about to be detailed here wasn’t part of the evening’s after-meal discourse, some male brief discussion of sports thrust it into my consciousness.
Dear old Teague High alma mater, as our school song begins, was in those days a “ borderline school” with regard to size classification for interscholastic competition.
Texas had Class B, A, AA, AAA and AAAA. The B classification was dropped and an AAAAA added. There is talk of a-youhave to-count-‘em number of A’s super class.
For my senior year, we moved from Class A to AA. Our enrollment was 210 and the cut-off for A was 200, so our “good growth fortune” of 10 students catapulted us into a Class AA district that had these schools: Mexia (290), Hillsboro (340), Ennis (380) and Waxahachie (410). Those numbers are educated guesses from decades-old memory, but the numbers and difference in size of the schools are pretty accurately reflected.
Neighboring Mexia was a natural archrival, and while the two schools hadn’t played in a number of years, the match-up renewal was greatly anticipated by fans in both cities.
Hillsboro was just a place that rang a “one of those bigger towns” registration in Teague residents’ minds.
But (gasp!), Ennis and Waxahachie weren’t towns, they were by-gawd CITIES!
Our pre- district schedule in that fall of 1954 was pretty typical of a Class A school, but not of one competing in Class AA.
Prior to the four district games, we played five A teams and one AA school.
Teague’s Orange and White Lions began promisingly enough by going to Madisonville and beating the Mustangs 20-0. Then a hyped match against another longtime arch-rival from the immediate past Class A district— county seat Fairfield, on the Eagles home field on the BIG ROAD, U. S. Highway 75 (pre- IH-45).
A penalty-filled (mostly against Teague) game was really not much of a contest as the Lions prevailed 19-0.
Confidence began to grow, but the next foe was again from the old district and that year’s pre-season favorite, the Groesbeck Goats.
Fortunately,itwasplayedin Teague, and the Lions eked out a 7-6 win. Another former Class A district opponent, Mart, fell next 21-12. Then came the first AA opponent, Rusk, which ended in a kiss-your-sister 6-6 tie.
Grapeland, favored to win (and did) its A district, was nudged by my Lions 20-14.
Then, ta-da!, the first district game.
Teague visited Hillsboro for that debut, a decided underdog, but edged the Eagles in a 13- 6 struggle. Hillsboro threw three passes, all of which were intercepted by the Lion safeties (Ahem, er, uh, yes, I got two of ‘em).
That kept the Lions undefeated and once-tied, 6-0-1. Teague fans were going crazy. It was the first real winning season in years.
The stage was set. It was homecoming in Teague where the stadium capacity was about 3,000, give or take a few seats, and the foe was district favorite, Waxahachie, 7-0-1.
More than 5,000 fans crammed into the stadium, forcing folding chair-seating on the sidelines. Runs and tackles on the sideline were dangerous, not only for players, but fans as well as we went crashing into the sidelines several times.
Teague received the kickoff and marched the length of the field and scored but missed the extra point. Back came the Indians with a score and point after for a 7-6 lead.
Then three Lion fumbles broke the dam and loosed a torrent, producing a 47-6 Waxahachie win as they bulled to a state quarterfinals playoff spot before losing. Teague couldn’t recover from that landslide loss and dropped a controversial 7-0 game to “despised” Mexia, then lost the season finale to Ennis 26-0.
However, several very unproduct ive prior seasons were reversed with the Lions’ respectable 6-3-1 mark and Teague began a steady progression through years to competitiveness and respectability.
And, it created bittersweet memories for young men bent on being winners.