SI Vault
 
TEXAS TEENERS STRIKE BACK
John Underwood
August 23, 1965
Riled by Pennsylvania gibes after losing last year in the country's roughest, toughest high school football game, Texans retaliated with the swiftest baby beef west of the Sabine—and got rewarding revenge
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 23, 1965

Texas Teeners Strike Back

Riled by Pennsylvania gibes after losing last year in the country's roughest, toughest high school football game, Texans retaliated with the swiftest baby beef west of the Sabine—and got rewarding revenge

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

The notion that men and boys and high school football players are created equal never crosses a good Texan's mind, but there was a moment last week in Hershey, Pa., in the lobby of the Cocoa Inn on Chocolate Ave., when young Earl Maxfield faced up to this possibility. He quickly squashed it, but first he faced up to it. Maxfield is a tackle, a 245-pound brawny baby boy with a classic football profile. He is thickly muscled. His head rises straight up from his shoulders like the tip end of a cannon shell, all blond and glistening. He was standing in the lobby after lunch with a buddy, an end named Gilbert Ash, debating in which direction to strike out in search of more steak and potatoes, when the subject turned to the game.

"Those Pennsylvania boys are bi-i-i-g," said Maxfield soberly.

"You're 245 and you say that?" said Baylor Scout Pete McCulley, who previously had signed both boys to Baylor scholarships and was there to be neighborly.

"Yessir, I mean to tell you they got some big-uns."

"Their backs look like linemen," said Ash, nodding. Finally Maxfield said, "But I tell you one thing, we're quicker. Some of our boys are really swuft. I do mean swuft."

Maxfield and Ash and 31 other Texas teen-agers were in Hershey to settle an issue that arose there last year. The object at that time was to determine which state, Texas or Pennsylvania, grew the best high school football players. It would never cross the mind of a Texan or a Pennsylvanian that Ohio or California or Alabama might have something to say about that. Anyway, it was to be done by matching all-star teams—Pennsylvania's Big 33 against an equal number of Texans. Texas was aflame with indignation when its team lost 12-6, being held to two field goals. Except for Coach Bobby Layne, who would not be suckered into the snickering polemics, Texans contended that their fastest backs had been tied up in an intrastate high school all-star game and could not make the trip. The contention was mostly ex post facto and therefore pooh-poohed in Pennsylvania.

"I have thought a lot about that excuse," said Lefty James, the professorial ex-Cornell coach who has handled the Pennsylvania team for five years. "It is my opinion that it is a lot of baloney."

So what happened this year? Texas loaded up with every Tom, Dick and Harry Swifty it could find, and every fast lineman, and instructed Bobby Layne to get revenge. Even Layne was amazed by the quality of his youngsters. He said to James Harris, a halfback from Brownwood who will go to the University of Houston, "James, is it really true that you run the hundred in 9.5?" "No sir," answered Harris. "I run it in 9.4." The high school coach of Halfback Jerry Levias of Beaumont said that Jerry's statistics were so unbelievable that he had to tone them down every week to make them credible for the press and the public.

So then what happened? Texas ran away with the game 26-10, that's what happened. The Layne offense—a slick, masterful compound of traps, draws, fakes off draws, shotgun passing and running—accounted for 466 yards in total offense. Concerned that his neglect to put in goal-line plays had cost Texas on five touchdown chances the year before, Layne went big for roll-outs and counters, and Texas scored a touchdown in every quarter. Never before had an out-of-state opponent crossed the goal line of a Pennsylvania Big 33 team. When the Texas backs ran around the Pennsylvania ends (and the Pennsylvania linebackers, halfbacks and deep backs) it looked as if the chasers were wearing Army boots. Quarterback Bill Bradley, who is going to play for Texas U.—he is going to play a lot for Texas—scrambled in and out of pockets and clutching Pennsylvanians and passed for two touchdowns. He was Fred Astaire and he obviously didn't want to dance with any sweaty fat ladies. From the beginning the Texas line got the jump and the impetus, consistently driving the heavier Pennsylvanians back a yard before they could react. The Pennsylvania backs ran like linemen, too. More of them should have run like a Pennsylvania end, Ted Kwalick, who made great leaping catches of hurried passes. It was not uncommon to see the swarming Texas defense get as many as six men into a single pileup.

The game was thus a complete retaliative success for Texas, and as an attraction it now takes on the proportions of a major game, easily exceeding anything else done at a high school level. Al Clark, the game director, has had firm offers—challenges—from Ohio and California, and a suggestion from Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns that the game be played as part of a doubleheader in Cleveland, with the Browns and another pro team on the same bill. There is a possibility of national television. Texas interests talk about putting it in the Houston Astrodome. But for the present, Clark prefers the annual traffic jam in Hershey, with the stands overflowing, because the game's proceeds go to a local scholarship fund and he does not want to risk "getting too big." Texas will be invited again, he says. "We now must have the rubber."

Continue Story
1 2 3