Written by Bill Wood (MHS #10)
The way I recall it, the fall seasons in both 1962 and 1963 were not only times that indelibly imprinted unforgettable memories on boys headed for manhood, they were near brushes with greatness. In ’62, with senior leadership of Joe, Hurley, Bill Cumbie, Robert Stanford, Joe Berneathy, Bob Stanley, Harry Miller and a few others, the highlight of the year may have been a 21-20 victory over the San Angelo Bobcats at Midland Memorial Stadium. A two point conversion pass to Sophomore sensation Ross Montgomery was the winning score late in the game. That was the first brush with greatness and although it was followed by a few tough losses, the season ending 43-14 victory over the cross town rivals and long time friends Lee Rebels was a game the bulldogs put together a great effort in. Had as many teams been allowed into the playoffs as is common these days, that was a team primed and ready for a deep run.
The following year, by all rights and expectations, should have been the time when the stars aligned for MHS. We lost star running back Bill Sallee to NMMI (followed by Texas A and M and the Denver Broncos) before the season started and star receiver Quentin Remy had already departed to Norman, Oklahoma where he became a record setting running back. Then, in the very first game after rushing for 200 yards or more, scat back star Cubby Rice was lost for the season to a knee injury. We still had seniors Cliff Hoffman, Bill Murray, and Ronnie Anderson in the backfield with senior QB Bill Wood together with junior fullback Ross Montgomery, who, at 6’3″ and 215 lbs. sporting a 9.6 hundred yard dash time, was pretty special. Other seniors included Dick kimbrough, Eldon Shirey, and Bruce Garrett, who along with junior center Solon Young, guard/linebacker Jimmy Neuman and great all around athlete Mack Lawrence made for some pretty good star power. Though the first five games of the season, this team was ranked number one in the state by both the AP and UPI polls. Heartbreaking losses at San Angelo, Abilene Cooper (on a kickoff return with a minute left in the game) and Big Spring were the low points highlighting dashed expectations. Locker room tears were not hard to find! Those were tough times for all of us as we had been riding high on the “we believe” train.
The final game was played the night of November 22, 1963, after President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed earlier that day. Many schools across the country called off games that night but we played. The Bulldogs beat the Rebels 14-0 and Coach Harold King declared after the game that Lee would never beat Midland! Of course, that statement wasn’t built to stand the test of time but it sounded good in the locker room to a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds. Junior Mack Lawrence had a great game that night! I found him deep after he adjusted his route for a 70 yard touchdown pass. Jackie Hanks had scouted us personally, and knew that we liked to hit Mack on a drag route across the field on a roll out pass. So, when Mack came across and Jackie jumped in front of him I saw Mack stick his left hand up to signal me to throw it deep. I did and he scored. The next thing that happened not many know about. Mack and I took turns holding for each other and kicking extra points. Neither of us could beat the other out in practices during the week so the coaches let us take turns. That was the second touchdown of only two for the night. Mack had kicked the first one and I held for him. It was my turn to kick. Mack had just run 70 yards and he gave me his very best dramatic “near heart attack” look and said “I’m too tired to hold.” I was dumfounded. I argued with him until I was afraid we were going to get penalized. He wouldn’t give in. I did. So, I held and he kicked. I still tease him about it but clearly I have forgotten about it, right? There were some great players for Lee on the field that night including Scott Rogers and many others. I think nine or ten players from our team played college football and I know that several from Lee did also. Lots of us have remained in touch over the years. I wish I had been better at keeping up with people that meant so much to me in those early years. Maybe its not to late to improve on those skills.