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"And then as we kept advancing in the playoffs I think we all realized that we were a part of something unique. Once people start putting up their Christmas lights and you're still playing football well, that doesn't happen in many towns."
"There was no way for Dad to send in plays, so he just turned it over to me. We got in the shotgun Skechers Boat Shoes Womens
Now an assistant football coach at Mansfield's Timberview High, he recalls that his team had no timeouts.
On that long ago Thanksgiving night, Eastland trailed by seven points with less than two minutes remaining. The coach's son, quarterback Jay Hess, a 6 1, 185 pound youngster who would ultimately establish a state record for single season passing yardage (3,135), be cited as the Texas High School Player of the Year and earn a place on Parade magazine's schoolboy All American team before playing college ball first at Texas A then the University of Iowa, still remembers it well.
Few, however, could have understood what he knew then: just how hard it is to win a state title.
and drove it down the field as quickly as we could."
"That year," says their coach, Rod Hess, "we thought we had a good chance to win it all. And when we did, everyone enjoyed the thrill of having accomplished our goal."
There was also tragedy along the way. It was just hours after the Holliday game when two former players and their girlfriends, en route home, were killed in a highway collision. For the following week, the playoff celebration was muted by a succession of funerals. The team dedicated whatever remained of the season to their lost friends.
"It takes a talented and dedicated group of kids, a tremendous amount of hard work and some luck," he says.
Kael Joiner, personnel manager for the local EBAA Iron Company, slips a gold ring from his finger and passes it over to local construction company CEO and Eastland ISD school board president Jim Moylan.
in the state championship game. It was a year of blowout victories, close calls, miracle comebacks, even tragedy, as 25 teenagers 18 seniors, six Vans Authentic Lo Pro juniors and a lone sophomore combined efforts to reign as the best of the best in their classification.
And another thing: Twenty four of the 25 players on his team that year were on the school's A B Honor Roll.
"Justin turned and came back across the back of the end zone and I was able to get the ball to him."
The following weekend, in the regional playoffs in Arlington, the Mavericks were the underdog to a powerhouse Pilot Point team that was not only the back to back defending state champion (having defeated Eastland in the playoffs the previous season) but had not suffered defeat in 42 consecutive games.
left. Pilot Point had been so good for so long, I wasn't sure we could pull it out. I can remember sitting on the bench, thinking about all the hard work we'd put in.
"I played mostly defense, was really just a small part on the team," remembers Shem Culpepper, now CEO of the First Basin Bank Credit Union in Odessa, "and I have to honestly admit that I had my doubts in that last minute or so. Jay was moving the ball, getting us closer, but I just didn't know if we had enough time Skechers Flex Appeal
Final score: Eastland 21, Pilot Point 20.
"It's funny," says former All State lineman Moylan, "the things that you find yourself remembering. Not just the games or the scores or the big plays. Sometimes, when I see one of our yellow school buses pass, I find myself thinking back on our trip to Waco for the championship game. We could have gone down there in a fancy charter bus but for some superstitious reason the team voted to go in the school bus.
It was a season of lopsided wins (69 6 over Clyde, 54 0 over Baird, 62 0 over Cisco, etc.) and skin of the teeth playoff victories (in the area round, the Mavericks advanced only after having produced more penetrations than opponent Holliday in a 7 7 tie) and one monumental upset.
The receiver, however, was covered and Hess' route to the goal was blocked.
EASTLAND Time was when they would have been sitting on the tailgate of someone's pickup in the parking lot of the local Thrifty Mart, carefree teenagers talking of the future. Now, however, they are at the recently opened Starbucks, successful businessmen a quarter of a century older, sipping gourmet coffee and reflecting on the past.
In that season that began with high expectations, the Mavericks fashioned an unbeaten record culminated with a 28 6 victory over East Bernard Skechers Light Up Shoes For Women
"I sprinted out, planning to either throw to Justin in the back corner of the end zone again or run it in myself," Hess recalls.
Even after Hess connected with receiver Justin Owen in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown, a two point conversion was necessary to keep Eastland's season alive.
Hess is now retired after 37 years of coaching (six of them in Eastland), and the '82 state title is the only one any of his teams won.
"We were under a lot of pressure that year. We'd done well the season before and the talk all over town was that we were expected to win state. That we were able to beat Pilot Point and go on to become state champions is an experience I wouldn't trade for."
"You know," adds former end Kevin Wright, now an agricultural consultant still living in Eastland, "it was a great time. When we played, the whole town shut down. Everyone seemed to know who you were and respected the fact you were a member of the football team.
Neither before nor since has this West Texas community celebrated such athletic glory. And, to those who made it happen, the memory of that magical fall only grows sweeter with age. Yellowed scrapbooks and old school annuals have become treasured heirlooms, chronicles of the time.
"It was one of those seasons that started out as a dream, then became a reality," Jay Hess says. "One of the things that helped to make it happen was the fact that offensively we were far ahead of the times. Back in the early '80s, Texas high school teams weren't throwing the ball that much, weren't running the spread. We confused a lot of defenses."
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