25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn

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25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn

Postby Leman Saunders » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:43 pm

BY LEMAN SAUNDERS

Coach Dewaine Lee took over as the Greyhounds’ head coach in 2003. He had some returning players, two offensive and four defensive, from a 2002 squad that went 9-3 and defeated Guthrie 51-50 in bi-district, before falling in the second round of the playoffs to Panther Creek.

Strawn fared well in their first seven games of the season and rolled into their big district rivalry game with Gordon 7-0, and just coming off a dominating 82-0 win over Moran. Gordon was not intimidated one bit with the Greyhounds and proceeded to hand them a big wakeup call and their first (and only) defeat on the season, as the Longhorns won, 47-34 and would win the district title, putting Strawn in the runner-up position with their 9-1 record.

Strawn had little trouble in bi-district or in the second round of the playoffs, defeating Newcastle and Lohn 52-6 and 62-12, respectively.

In the quarterfinals Strawn, met up with Zephyr in DeLeon for a big showdown of top-ranked teams. The Greyhounds trailed in this game 24-16 at halftime. In the second half, the Strawn defense didn’t allow a single point, while scoring 30, cruising to a final score of 46-24.

The semifinal game against top- ranked Richland Springs would go down as one of the greatest six-man games of all time. Honestly you could write 2,500 words on this game alone. However, to make a long story short, this game came down to who had the final possession, and that would be Strawn.

Richland Springs had scored with 4:48 left in the game to take a 54-50 lead, but the PAT kick was blocked. To that point, their kicker, Alvaro Avilo, had made 27 straight PATs prior to that blocked kick.

Strawn drove down the field and had first-and-goal at the one-yard line, with 39 seconds left to play and zero timeouts. Two straight dive plays were stuffed by the Coyotes’ defense and the Greyhounds lost yardage. On third down Strawn spiked the ball.

Only two seconds remained and it all came down to this one last play.

Strawn, out of a tight-balanced line T formation ran straight dive to fullback Jonny Parsons who was hit in the back field for what looked like a game-clinching loss, but he shed two tackles and with a Richland Springs defender wrapped around his ankle, hopped and powered his way forward for the game-winning touchdown as time expired, upsetting Richland Springs, 56-54.

The Greyhounds would go on to face Fort Davis in the state championship game.

The Fort Davis Indians were in their second season of six-man after having back-to-back seasons going 0-10, in 2000 and 2001, playing eleven-man. They beat Balmorhea in the final game of the regular season, 48-38, to win their first district title since 1985.

The battled Grady in bi-district, winning 64-33, then beat Ira, 78-40, in the second round. In the quarterfinals, they battled with Valley, having to score four touchdowns in the fourth quarter just to tie the game with 19 seconds left, but missed their PAT and would needed overtime to get past the Patriots, 60-54. The Indians avenged a non-district loss to Whitharral, 56-34, in the semifinals, winning 50-42.

State Championship Game – Saturday Dec. 13th 6:00pm in Ratliff Stadium, Odessa

A large crowd of 6,000 fans turned out to watch the game being played in Odessa for the first time. This year’s state title game would be a tale of two halves. The first half being a defensive struggle and the second half being an offensive shootout.

Strawn would strike first for the only score of the first quarter, on a 32-yard pass from Derek Hinkson to Orin Mallory. With a converted PAT kick, the Greyhounds led 8-0. They would extend that lead when Clifton Baker scored in the second quarter on a six-yard run. Jonny (Jonathan) Parsons’ kick was once again good and Strawn held a 16-0 lead.

Fort Davis mounted a comeback, scoring the next fourteen points of the game with their aerial attack passing game. Trini Granado scored the first Indian touchdown on a 19-yard pass and catch from John Liddell, then Granado was on the receiving end of a 69-yard David Lara pass. The two teams went into the locker room at halftime with Strawn up 16-14.

The Greyhounds received the ball to start the second half and the Indians came very close to recovering the onside kick. On Strawn’s very first play from scrimmage, Clifton Baker broke loose on a sweep for a 50-yard touchdown run and Strawn led 22-14.

Fort Davis answered quickly, moving the ball downfield with a long pass on their first play of the possession, followed by a run, taking them to the one-yard line. From there, Liddell punched it in on the third play of the drive. The added PAT tied the score 22-22 with only 56 seconds gone from the clock.

Strawn started the next possession at their own 23-yard line, and not to be outdone, scored on their second play of the drive, when superb blocking opened up a huge hole for Jeremy Parsons, who coasted 53 yards for the touchdown. The PAT failed and Strawn regained the slim 28-22 lead.

The Greyhound defense then forced Fort Davis to a quick three-and-out. Strawn moved the ball easily, running sweeps out of a tight formation, then switching to a more spread-out offensive set once in the red zone. From there, Jeremy Parsons, playing the spreadback, ran it in from 18-yards out for the score and the Greyhounds led 36-22, with 4:27 left in the third.

On their first play after a short kick by Strawn, Lara found Fort Davis center Tim Salcido wide open on his pass route for a 50-yard touchdown. The point after failed and the score was now 36-28 Strawn, with 4:11 left in the third quarter.

The Greyhounds responded, moving the ball downfield with big runs by Jeremy Parsons and Baker, setting up a 2-yard scoring run by Justin Cormack, extending the lead to 44-28, with 1:16 left in the third. The third quarter would come to an end soon after, with Fort Davis driving and with 42 points already being scored in the quarter.

The Indians scored on a 20-yard play-action pass from Lara to Granado. The kick by Salcido made the score 44-36. Again the Indians attempted a tricky onside kick, but this one managed makes its way down the middle of the field a little too hard, rolling into the end zone for a touchback. Strawn didn’t hesitate and on their first play ran a play-action pass that took them all the way down to the Indian 14-yard line. Four plays later, Zach Mallory hit Derek Hinkson on a play action pass in the end zone for a touchdown. Now, with 6:21 left in the game, Strawn led 52-36.

Fort Davis began their next drive at their own 17-yard line. Facing fourth-and-14, with the ball at their own 35 and out of a traditional spread offensive set, Lara found Aufdengarten all alone behind the Greyhound defenders for a 55-yard TD. The kick was blocked, but the lead was once again cut to 52-42, with 3:22 left to play.

Strawn fielded the onside kick with no problem and on next play from scrimmage in a balanced line T formation Justin Cormack took the pitch on a sweep left and dashed 54 yards for a Greyhound touchdown. Strawn ran a ‘Charlie Brown’ fake PAT kick and passed for the 1-point PAT (Hinkson scoring the point) to take a 59-42 lead with 3:09 left to play.

The Indians moved the ball down the field out of their typical spread formation. Center Salcido caught a pass and took the ball down inside the 20 and appeared to fumble, only for the refs to rule him down at the 15-yard line. Two plays later, Lara once again hit Granado, who broke a few tackles and ran into for a 13-yard touchdown for the Indians. The kick was blocked and the score was now 59-48. After another failed onside kick from Fort Davis, Strawn scored on their first play from scrimmage, when Cormack found a running lane on a dive play and ran untouched 42 yards for a touchdown. Johnny Parsons’ PAT kick was good and Strawn led 67-48 win 1:58 left to play.

Fort Davis tried some trickery on the ensuing kickoff return with a lateral, but Strawn wasn’t fooled. Starting at their own 29 the Indians were looking to make an epic comeback.

It took eight plays, but Fort Davis scored again on a 1-yard run by Cody Stewart. The kick failed and the score stood at 67-54. The Indians then recovered an onside kick and began their next drive at the Greyhound 34-yard line. After an incompletion and a fake reverse run that gained good yardage, Granado scored his fifth receiving touchdown of the game on a 16-yard pass from Lara. Salcido’s kick was good and the score was now only 67-60, with 11 seconds left in the game.

Another onside kick attempt was almost successful, but Strawn fell on the ball and kneeled out the clock to secure the win and their first state championship.

Strawn amassed 662 yards of total offense (398 rushing, 264 passing), while Fort Davis gained 456 (383 passing, 73 rushing) for a combined 1,118 yards of offense. Strawn recorded 20 first downs to Fort Davis’ 17, but Fort Davis won the turnover battle, with Strawn losing only two fumbles, while Fort Davis’ only turnover was a single interception. There were 57 total points scored in the fourth quarter alone. At the time, this game was the highest-scoring six-man state championship game with 129 total points scored, 91 in the second half alone. However, the 129 combined points scored would only stand for three years, as Richland Springs and Rule combined for 136 points in the DI 2006 state title game.

*Notes*
-Before this game the highest combined score for a six-man state championship game was 120 set by Amherst and Milford in 1995.

-Dewaine Lee is still the head coach at Strawn in his 15th season.

-I took some of my college buddies from McMurry over to watch the Strawn v Richland Springs game at Brownwood’s Gordon Wood stadium for their first six-man football game. It was a big success they loved every minute of it.

-Speaking of Gordon Wood, he passed away that week. He had been in the press box for the Strawn-Richland Springs game. It was the last game he ever saw in person.

-I used the Abilene Reporter News and 2004 Dave Campbell’s Magazine for state game scoring summary as well as the game film courtesy of Dewaine Lee.

-Jere Longman covered the state championship game for The New York Times. His articles can be found here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/14/sports/football-not-everything-is-bigger-in-texas.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/15/sports/football-fort-davis-falls-short-in-texas-final.html
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn Greyhounds

Postby 51eleven » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:00 am

Best game ever. Won on last play of the game, with second effort and a miraculous drive to get there. Thank you all Hounds ever that got them that far.
Fourth down, Parsons stopped, stutter stepped right and dove.
Tip of nose of ball pierces goal line.
I've watched the dvd many times.
Time stopped.
Let's Go!
Jr Hi daughter cheerleader, Where?
On the field!
She and wife followed, others were already doing so.
Brownwood PD stopped us until RS could leave the field.
I'll never forget Coach Lee and Jonathan standing there together and congratulating them.
Strawn was going to state for the first time.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn Greyhounds

Postby Leman Saunders » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:09 am

-Speaking of Gordon Wood, he passed away that week. He had been in the press box for the Strawn-Richland Springs game. It was the last game he ever saw in person.


Excellent add Granger!
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn Greyhounds

Postby Leman Saunders » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:12 am

PS: If anyone has a good photo of the 2003 Strawn team please send it my way...I cant seem to find my good one
leman.saunders@gmail.com

Honestly Im not sure which game was better...and I was at both of these...the 2003 Semi-Final game Strawn v RS or the 2001 Semi-Final game RS vs Woodson! That's a different topic for a different day!
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 2003 Strawn Greyhounds

Postby granger » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:06 pm

Leman Saunders wrote:PS: If anyone has a good photo of the 2003 Strawn team please send it my way...I cant seem to find my good one
leman.saunders@gmail.com

Honestly Im not sure which game was better...and I was at both of these...the 2003 Semi-Final game Strawn v RS or the 2001 Semi-Final game RS vs Woodson! That's a different topic for a different day!


I was at both as well... the RS play against Woodson reminds me of the USC play before the half against Texas this year... but more stunning
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