Abilene High School Class of 1961

November 26, 2007

A West Texas Storm; the AHS Eagles of the 50s b/4 Southlake Carroll

Filed under: Uncategorized — johnodam @ 9:05 pm

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Section: Sports
Edition: Tarrant
Page: D1

West Texas storm
Long before Southlake Carroll, another dynasty blew through the
state. Abilene won 49 consecutive games in the 1950s.
GARY WEST Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The football team was so popular that in a long line people would
wait through the night to buy game tickets. Of course, this
wasn’t an ordinary high school football team. Many of the players
had been together for years, running the same plays in the same
system, season after season. And so regardless of the situation
or the pressure, they operated with uncanny precision, just like
those wrist watches that John Cameron Swayze extolled on television.

And they always won. Overwhelmingly and relentlessly, they won,
and that more than anything distinguished this high school team
from all others — its invincibility, its array of victories, and
its convergence with perfection, 50 years ago, in Abilene.

Yes, 50 years before the Carroll Dragons of Southlake, the
Abilene Fighting War Eagles won three consecutive state titles
and 49 consecutive games, which stood as a national record back
in 1957. In Texas, Abilene was the archetype of the high school
juggernaut, the original team that pushed everybody’s envy button.

 From the fourth game of the 1954 season until a playoff game in
1957 that ended in a tie, Abilene quite simply beat everybody,
outscoring its opponents 1,773-276. Typically, Abilene won with a
comfort zone of about 30 points, even though the starters rarely
played much in the second half.

The storm gathers

Abilene High must have provided high school football with its
perfect storm. In the 1950s, Abilene was booming. Within 75 miles
of the city, hundreds of oil fields were discovered. During the
decade, Abilene nearly doubled in size, with its population
growing from 45,570 in 1950 to 90,638 in 1960. And if thousands
of people came for opportunities and jobs, they must have brought
with them a resolute faith in the power of hard work, they must
have believed in work and determination as virtues, and they must
have passed that belief on to their kids.

Into this confluence of auspicious circumstances came Chuck
Moser, the final barometric component. With a starting salary of
$7,000, he became the Abilene football coach in 1953.

Explaining the Eagles’ 49 consecutive victories, Stuart Peake
said, “The main thing was the coaching.” One of the fastest
Eagles, Peake played guard and defensive end on all three of
Moser’s state championship teams and then went on to play for
Darrell Royal at the University of Texas.

“We had the most incredible coaches at Abilene,” said Peake,
who’s a physician in Dallas. “Not to say anything against Darrell
Royal, but our blocking [at Abilene] surpassed anything we had in
college…. Our scouting was so thorough we knew everything there
was to know about our opponents, except maybe their girlfriends’
names, and our plays were very sophisticated.”

Students of the game

Every year, Peake recalled, Moser told his players that even if
they weren’t the smartest kids at Abilene High they were going to
be the best students. Nearly 30 years before “no-pass, no-play,”
Moser, who was an Army veteran, introduced “eligibility slips.”

Each week during the season, for each player, teachers filled out
an “eligibility slip,” commenting on grades and attitude. If
deficient in either area, former players explained, the student
couldn’t play in the upcoming game.

“If a teacher had a problem, all that teacher had to do was tell
the coach,” said Elmo Cure Jr., of Cure Financial in Plano, the
starting center for Abilene in 1954-55, “and he’d straighten up
the kid the very next day.”

Modernity might label Moser a strict disciplinarian, but neither
teachers nor parents objected to the coach’s standards back in
the 1950s, according to those who played for him. Moser’s rules
banned alcohol and tobacco; he kicked at least one player off the
team for drinking beer. Moser imposed a 10 p.m. curfew (11:30
p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), wouldn’t allow cussing, wouldn’t
tolerate arguing, demanded a respectful “sir” and required
freshly shined shoes for each game, according to Al Pickett’s
Team of the Century: The Greatest High School Football Team in Texas.

And playing for Moser, recalled Ron Luckie of Fort Worth, a
member of the 1957 team, meant “you had to follow the rules

In Moser’s first season, despite having only two returning
starters, Abilene finished with four consecutive victories to win
seven of 10 games. The foundation down, the coach then built on
it by encouraging healthy habits and off-season conditioning.

He even monitored his players during the summer. Jim Millerman,
who had started for two years on both offense and defense, worked
as a counselor that summer at a camp about two hours south of
Abilene. One afternoon, he recalled, just as he lay down for a
brief rest, Moser walked through the front door of the cabin.

Millerman, who went on to play for Baylor and then work as an
insurance executive in Dallas, chuckled at the memory, imagining
a Moser admonishment. Most of all, though, Millerman said he was
left with the impression that Moser was always watching and
guiding his players.

The next year, Abilene shut out Highland Park and Sweetwater
before losing to Breckenridge, 35-13. And the Eagles, as it
turned out, wouldn’t lose again for more than three years.

For disciplinary reasons — an impetuous road trip — two starters
were dropped from the team. But the Eagles, in their perfect
storm, were coming together. Millerman would become all-state,
along with teammates Twyman Ash and John Thomas.

Abilene defeated Midland and the Bulldogs’ great running back,
Wahoo McDaniel, 28-14, to win the title in the 4A district known
as the “Little Southwest Conference.” The Eagles shut out El Paso
Austin and Fort Worth Poly, winning the games by 107 total
points, then traveled to Houston to win the state title,
defeating Stephen F. Austin 14-7.

“I’ve been around a lot of coaches in my career,” said Wally
Bullington about Moser, “and I’ve never known a better coach.”
Bullington worked as an Abilene assistant and succeeded Moser as
head coach. Bullington later coached at Abilene Christian
University, where he won two NAIA national titles.

Other homework

Abilene, Bullington said, was many years ahead of what other high
schools, and most colleges, were doing at the time. Assistants
would put together detailed scouting reports on each opponent;
players had to pass tests on the scouting report, and there was
only one passing grade, perfection.

Players met in groups every day before school, Moser met with the
quarterbacks every day at lunch. And for each opponent, the coach
would design special plays that he called “junk.”

“He taught us how to recognize defenses in a second,” said David
Bourland, who played defensive back and quarterback at Abilene
and later played baseball at Texas Tech. Moser would use flash
cards, Bourland said, to quiz the quarterbacks daily on defensive

“We had to know the name and size of every player on the other
defense,” Bourland said, “and we had to know if a player was
better going right or left. He [Moser] expected a lot.”

But he got a lot. Abilene blew through the state like a West
Texas storm in 1955, winning its 13 games by a combined score of
501-90. Only one team, Breckenridge, got within two touchdowns of
Abilene. And several players said that the championship game was
the Eagles’ finest moment.

For the state title, Abilene played Tyler at Amon G. Carter
Stadium. A chartered train brought Eagles fans to Fort Worth at a
cost $4 for a roundtrip, including a bus ride from the station to
the stadium. On the second play of the game, a “junk” play called
the “Tyler Special,” all-state back Glynn Gregory ran more than
40 yards, and that, as they say, set the tone. Abilene won
easily, 33-13.

And it was more of the same the next year, 14 wins by a combined
score of 496-64. Only Waco, with 14, scored more than seven
points against Abilene.

A stunning ‘loss’

Mike Bryant of Fort Worth was an all-state tackle for Abilene in
1957. The Eagles, he said, were just faster than other teams.
When they weren’t playing football, they worked on agility
drills; in the summer, they worked outside to stay fit. Even the
Eagles’ linemen were fast.

And so it was “devastating,” he said, when the streak ended in
1957, in a 20-20 tie with Highland Park in the state semifinals
at the Cotton Bowl. The Star-Telegram of the next day, Dec. 15,
called it a “stunning ‘victory'” for Highland Park.

In retrospect, not much went right that week for Abilene, Bryant
said. One player even forgot his lucky shirt. At least one player
and probably more couldn’t play because of their “eligibility slips.”

But, most of all, Bryant said, the streak ended because of the
Highland Park fullback, Johnny Florer, who scored the Scotties’
first touchdown and was relentless all afternoon. Although the
score was tied, Highland Park, which had more penetrations inside
the 20, advanced to the state finals.

The Eagles were 78-7-2 during Moser’s seven seasons as their
coach. He became athletic director of Abilene public schools and
then coached briefly as an assistant to Emory Bellard at Texas
A&M. Moser died in 1995.

He often told his players, Peake recalled, that if they worked
diligently and determinedly they would surely succeed, and then
they would win for themselves something they could remember for
many years. And 50 years later, his players still remember.


Loss before streak:

Breckenridge 35-13 in

nondistrict on Oct. 1, 1954


Opponent, Result

Borger, 34-7

Odessa, 21-7

Pampa, 41-7

Amarillo, 47-0

Lubbock, 35-7

Midland, 28-14

San Angelo, 27-0

El Paso Austin, 61-0

FW Polytechnic, 46-0

Houston Austin, 14-7


Opponent, Result

Highland Park, 34-0

Sweetwater, 45-20

Breckenridge, 13-0

Borger, 35-6

Odessa, 47-0

Pampa, 40-12

Amarillo, 35-13

Lubbock, 62-7

Midland, 28-7

San Angelo, 35-6

El Paso, 61-0

Dallas Sunset, 33-6

Tyler, 33-13


Opponent, Result

San Antonio Edison, 41-6

Sweetwater, 39-7

Lubbock Monterey, 41-0

Breckenridge, 41-0

Lubbock, 49-7

Waco, 45-14

Big Spring, 42-6

Odessa, 47-6

Midland, 41-6

San Angelo, 20-0

El Paso Ysleta, 42-6

FW Paschal, 14-0

Wichita Falls, 20-6

Corpus Christi Ray, 14-0


Opponent, Result

San Antonio Jefferson, 26-13

Sweetwater, 34-13

Lubbock Monterey, 58-0

Breckenridge, 41-20

Lubbock, 39-0

Waco, 27-7

Big Spring, 32-0

Odessa, 19-0

Midland, 41-0

San Angelo, 12-6

El Paso Austin, 60-0

Amarillo, 33-14


12252 Lake Vista Drive
Willis, TX 77318
206-920-3716 cell


1 Comment »

  1. A young boy and his dad went out fishing one nice morning. After a few quiet hours out in the boat, the boy became curious about the world around him. He looked up at his father and asked “How do fish breath under water?” The father thought about it for a moment, then replied “I really don’t know, son.” The boy sat quietly from another moment, then asked his dad again, “How does our boat float on the water?” Once again his father replied, “Don’t know, son.” Reflecting his thoughts again, a little while later, the boy asks “Why is the sky blue?” Again, his father replied, “Don’t know, son.” The curious boy, worried he was disturbing his dad, asks this time “Dad, do you mind that I’m asking you all of these questions?” “Of course not son”, replied his dad, “How else are you ever going to learn anything?”
    I sometimes think that some articles and even whole blogs are much alike this story…

    Comment by Raketa — April 7, 2011 @ 3:11 am | Reply

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