|Nesbitt Memorial Library
November 30, 2009
History of the Columbus
High School Football Program
by Bill Stein
|Statistics and General Information|
All-time record, through 2008: 503 wins, 316 losses, 26 ties (.611 winning
Number of seasons played: 83
Playoff records: 18 district titles (fifteen outright, three ties); 27 appearances; 53 games; 28 wins, 23 loses, 2 ties
Coaching records: Jim Thompson (6-1-0, .857); Dewey Brown (39-8-0, .830); Tommy Bludau (77-32-3, .701); Marley Giddens (36-15-2, .698); Bob Gillis (29-14-0, .674); Lee Mitchell (45-22-6, .658); Carl Andress (114-58-8, .656); Bill Hartley (57-39-1, .639); J. H. Harry (13-9-1, .587); Frank Riney (43-31-1, .580); H. L. B. Skinner (1-1-0, .500); Brent Mascheck (18-22, .450); Monte Althaus (18-24, .429); A. L. Ahrens (2-4-1, .357); Otis Coffey (2-7-0, .222); Ben Gustine (3-25-3, .145); James H. Wooten (0-4-0, .000)
Number of opponents: 89
Most frequent opponents and record against: La Grange 66 (37-27-2); Sealy 66 (41-24-1); Bellville 58 (25-31-2); Hallettsville 36 (23-12-1); Schulenburg 35 (18-15-2); Giddings 34 (23-11); Rice 34 (21-13); Smithville 27 (17-10); Bastrop 24 (15-9); Hempstead 24 (20-4); Eagle Lake 23 (12-9-2); Weimar 23 (16-6-1); Yoakum 22 (16-4-2); Needville 21 (15-6); Flatonia 20 (15-3-2); Gonzales 20 (10-8-2); Cuero 19 (5-14); Brookshire Royal 18 (12-6); Luling 18 (16-2); Wharton 14 (8-6); Brenham 13 (5-7-1); Caldwell 13 (9-4); Katy 13 (6-7); Sweeny 13 (2-9-2); East Bernard 10 (3-7); Edna 10 (6-4); Elgin 10 (3-6-1); Lexington 9 (9-0); Waller 9 (5-3-1); El Campo 7 (1-6); A & M Consolidated 6 (4-1-1); Navasota 6 (3-3); Richmond 6 (4-2); Stafford 6 (6-0); Boling 5 (5-0)
Other opponents: Bandera (1-0); Bay City (0-1); Bloomington (1-0); Boling-Newgate (1-0); Brazos (3-1); Cameron (1-1); Cleveland (1-0); Coldspring (3-1); Columbia (1-1); Crockett (1-0); Crosby (1-0); Dayton (0-1); Edgewood (1-0); Elmore (2-0); Fairfield (0-1); Ganado (2-1); Georgetown (1-1); Hampshire Fannett (1-1); Harlandale (1-0); Hearne (2-0); Humble (2-0); Hitchcock (1-1); Lamar Consolidated (0-1-1); Liberty (3-0); Livingston (1-0); Lockhart (2-1-1); Lufkin Dunbar (0-1); Madisonville (3-1); Magnolia (3-1); Manor (0-1); Medina Valley (0-1); Newton (2-1); Orchard (1-0); Palacios (3-1); Pearland (1-0); Pflugerville (1-1); Port Arthur Austin (1-0); Rockdale (2-2); Rosenburg (1-3); Round Rock (1-1); Smiley (1-0); Somerville (1-2); Taylor (0-1); Texas School for the Deaf (0-1-1); Thrall (1-0); Tomball (2-1); Troup (1-0); Vanderbilt Industrial (1-1); Van Vleck (1-0); Waco La Vega (1-0); Waco Robinson (1-0); Wallis (1-0); Wimberley (0-2); Yorktown (1-0)
|Season by Season Results|
Though Columbus High School did not begin its organized football program until 1926, two ambitious collections of young men did stage games earlier; both apparently with the sanction of school officials. Information on the contests appeared in the Colorado Citizen of December 13, 1912 and the Colorado County Citizen of October 6, 1960. The first game was played in 1911, the second in 1912. Little is known of the 1911 contest. According to Lester Hastedt, who played in the game, Columbus beat Wharton, 7-6. Among the others he credited with playing for Columbus in the game were Sam K. Seymour, Clyde Glithero, Harcourt Wooten, Whit Harrison, Elmo Sronce, Willie Miekow, Caleb Best, Walter Dick, Louis Waldvogel, John Holden, Willie Gillespie, Russell Stein, Simon Burttschell, Creston Gay, and Whit Stafford. The 1912 game was played on Friday, December 6, in Columbus, and resulted in a 13-6 victory over a team from Flatonia. The Columbus team featured many of the same players, including Hastedt, Seymour, Miekow, Dick, Waldvogel, Stein, Burttschell, and Gay, plus Ernest Schulenburg, C. P. Hopkins, Howard Mayes, John Holden, and a fellow named Sallee, who scored both Columbus touchdowns. These games, however, were informal, and reportedly featured players who no longer attended school. The Columbus team was coached by William Allen Holland, the local school superintendent. The coach of the Flatonia team, and the referee at the game, was Columbus native James Harbert Wooten. It would be Wooten who would start the regular and enduring football program at Columbus High School. Holland, who reportedly refused to sanction the school's participation in the sport, died on September 24, 1924. Some two years earlier, Wooten had returned to his home town to teach. Two days after Holland died, the school board named Wooten to succeed him. By 1926, he was ready to initiate the football program.
Coach: James H. Wooten; Record: 0-4 (lost to Weimar 6-0, lost to Flatonia 26-0, lost to Rosenburg 36-0, lost to Weimar 13-0)
Totally unschooled in the game and with no field on which to play or practice, the first official Columbus High School football team failed to score a point all season. The team was scheduled to open its inaugural season in Eagle Lake on September 25, but cancelled the game because it did not have enough players. Two weeks later, they traveled to Weimar for the first of their four known games. Their first three games were played on the road within the space of ten days. The fourth and final game was played in Eagle Lake, as an attraction at the Colorado County Fair.
Coach: A. L. Ahrens and H. L. B. Skinner; Record: 3-5-1 (tied Weimar 0-0, lost to Hallettsville 6-0, lost to Eagle Lake 33-0, lost to Wharton 43-0, lost to Weimar 7-0, beat Richmond 13-6, beat Flatonia 33-13, beat Sealy 37-13, lost to Somerville 26-7)
The Columbus High School team, now referred to in the
press for the first time as the "Cardinals," opened their second season with a
home game, the first official high school game played in Columbus. Their field
was at West End Park, on the south side of the river just west of the north
bridge. The game, against Weimar, was reportedly rather dull. Both teams simply
ran up the middle, with very few substantial gains by either team. There were
numerous punts and neither team scored.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals kept their scoreless streak through the first five games. The team finally scored, and got the first victory in the school's history, against the Richmond Wildcats. Richmond jumped out to a 6-0 lead, scoring a quick touchdown after an interception. But the Cards battled back and drove the ball deep into Wildcat territory. They were set up with a first and goal at the two yard line when the half ended. The Cards finally broke their scoring drought in the third quarter. Earl Brune got both Columbus touchdowns. The first was set up by Ernest Lawrence's recovery of a fumbled punt.
The locals started to get the hang of the game against Flatonia and Sealy. For the first time they ran fakes and regularly completed passes. In fact, they threw their first two touchdown passes against Sealy, one a fifty-yarder from Brune to John Huebel. Perhaps significantly, the Cardinals played Sealy under a new coach, Herman Lowrey Bills Skinner. Coach A. L. Ahrens resigned the day after the Flatonia game, and Skinner took over the team for the last two games.
Coach: Otis Coffey; Record: 2-7 (lost to Somerville 2-0, lost to Bastrop 13-0, lost to Eagle Lake 19-0, beat Weimar by forfeit, lost to Smithville 44-0, lost to Weimar 13-0, lost to Hallettsville 6-0, lost to Rosenburg 32-6, beat Richmond 20-2)
The 1928 Cardinals were held scoreless for their first seven games, but were nonetheless credited with a victory. On October 12, the Weimar Wildcats beat the Cards 9-0, but then forfeited the game because they had used an ineligible player. The following week, the scheduled game with Hallettsville was postponed because several Cardinal players were ill. The team scored its first points of the year in its penultimate game. Charlie Schultz hit Raymond Guyon, then Billie Richardson, to put the Cards deep in Rosenburg territory, and Richardson carried the ball over. Columbus' lone legitimate victory of the year came the following week. Red Rose, Schultz, and Richardson all scored. But the victory was somewhat tainted. Their opponent, Richmond High School, had no athletic coach on its staff.
Coach: J. H. Harry; Record: 9-3 (beat Richmond 32-0, lost to Bastrop 12-6, beat Rosenburg 7-0, beat Flatonia 16-12, beat La Grange 19-0, beat Giddings 19-0, beat Eagle Lake 12-6, beat Weimar 25-0, lost to Smithville 3-0, lost to Hallettsville 7-0, beat Flatonia 27-6, beat a town team 19-6)
In 1929, under new coach J. H. Harry, the school's fifth
in the four years it had fielded a team, the Cardinals enjoyed their first
winning season. In a big early season victory, they upset Rosenburg on Red
Rose's 73 yard interception return for a touchdown. The team then tallied six
straight victories to challenge for the district title. The biggest game in the
stretch was that with the Eagle Lake Eagles. The 1928 coach, Otis Coffey, had
left Columbus to take over the coaching job in Eagle Lake, where he had a future
college star, Bill Wallace, to work with. But Wallace missed the Columbus game
with an illness, and the Cardinals won in an upset. The Eagles jumped off to a
6-0 lead, and were in control of the game until the fourth period. Then, Rose
and Justin Stein each scored touchdowns to give the Cards the win. The game
winning TD was set up by a remarkable 35 yard pass from Rose to Stein.
The victory put the Cards into the thick of a district race for the first time. They stood at 4-1, just a half game behind the Schulenburg Shorthorns, who were 4-0, and just ahead of Bastrop and Smithville, who were 3-1. But the loss to Smithville knocked the Cardinals out of the race. The game stirred up the first traces of controversy in the team's history. In the third quarter, Rose had carried the ball into Smithville's end zone for an apparent touchdown. But the officials did not blow the play dead until Rose had been pushed back out of the end zone by the defense. The touchdown would have won the game for Columbus, but was not counted by the officials.
Coach: J. H. Harry; Record: 4-6-1 (lost to Lockhart 7-0, lost to Richmond 19-13, lost to La Grange 13-0, tied Flatonia 7-7, beat Wharton 20-0, beat Bellville 38-6, lost to Bastrop 31-0, beat Weimar 52-0, beat Wallis 52-7, lost to Eagle Lake 88-0 or 89-0, lost to Hallettsville 51-0)
The Cardinals 1930 season was characterized by apparent
discontent with the coaching staff and lopsided defeats on the field. Though
team star Red Rose was back, the Cardinals opened the year with three
consecutive defeats and a tie. They rebounded to post impressive victories over
Wharton and Bellville. Bastrop, though, delivered what Coach J. H. Harry
characterized as the "worst pasting" any team of his had ever endured, and
ripped his team for a lack of effort. He also berated the fans. The Colorado
County Citizen quoted him as saying "Anyone would think I didn't know what I
was doing. Some of these fellows make me tired the way they nag at me after
pulling men out or sending them in. The spectators would do better if they
nagged the fellows I sent or pulled out about their playing."
Perhaps motivated by their coach's strong remarks, the Cardinals rebounded to dominate two weak opponents and bring their record to 4-4-1. Then they met Otis Coffey's Eagle Lake Eagles. With Bill Wallace and J. K. Davidson each scoring six touchdowns, the Eagles handed the Cardinals their worst defeat in history, 88-0. The Cardinals tried to beat the Eagles by going to the forward pass, then a rare strategy in high school football. The Cards threw eighteen passes, but completed only one. Fourteen went incomplete and three were intercepted. The Eagles ran up 36 first downs, the Cardinals only three. The following week, Hallettsville blistered the Cardinals to end their season. By then, Harry's days in Columbus were numbered. In April, he announced that he was leaving the school after only two seasons to accept an associate professorship at Columbia University in New York.
Coach: Ben Gustine; Record: 0-8 (lost to Flatonia 20-0, lost to Weimar 6-0, lost to Schulenburg 23-0, lost to La Grange 46-0, lost to Smithville 25-0, lost to Bellville 25-0, lost to Bastrop 31-0, lost to Eagle Lake 61-0)
Coach Ben Gustine began a miserable four seasons at the helm in 1931 with what may have been the worst team in Columbus High School history. The team not only lost all eight games it played, but failed to score a point all season. Only once, in the second week of the season against Weimar, did they hold an opponent below twenty points. The season ending slaughter by Eagle Lake was one of the worst in the school's history, but was mitigated by the fact that it was considerably less severe than the Eagle's victory a year earlier, and by the fact that the 1931 Cardinals would play no more games.
Coach: Ben Gustine; Record: 3-4 (beat Yoakum 19-0, lost to Eagle Lake 51-6, lost to La Grange 7-0, beat Flatonia 14-13, lost to Schulenburg 12-0, beat Sealy 6-0, lost to Bellville 14-0)
A good defensive team, the 1932 Cardinals allowed more than 14 points only once. That occasion, though, was another lopsided loss to the Eagle Lake Eagles. The Cards beat Flatonia on the strength of Clyde Rau's blocked extra point.
Coach: Ben Gustine; Record: 0-8 (lost to La Grange 25-0; lost to Schulenburg 40-6, lost to Flatonia 26-0; lost to Hallettsville 21-0; lost to Eagle Lake 20-0; lost to Schulenburg 6-0, lost to Sealy 12-7, lost to Bellville 45-0)
Though the 1933 team, at 0-8, tied with the 1931 team for the worst record in the school's history, the 1933 Cardinals at least managed to score in two of their games. The team played its games on a new field, which, like the old one, was simply a vacant lot in Columbus. They played their best game of the year at San Felipe, against Sealy as part of an Armistice Day celebration. Sealy threw the rather high total of seventeen passes, and completed the equally high total of five. Sealy scored first. Columbus retaliated on Oscar Braden's fumble recovery and Norbert Zatopek's touchdown, and led at halftime. Sealy scored again in the third period to take the game.
Coach: Ben Gustine; Record: 0-5-3 (tied La Grange 6-6, lost to Hallettsville 26-9, lost to Giddings 19-7, lost to Schulenburg 13-6, tied Sealy 6-6, lost to Smithville 45-0, tied Flatonia 6-6, lost to Bellville 31-6)
Though the Cardinals again went winless in 1934, they did
manage to post three ties. One of the ties, against Flatonia, was achieved by a
remarkable and exciting 55 yard touchdown pass from Harvey Zatopek to Robert
Schiller. Perhaps the best game of the season was against the powerful
Schulenburg Shorthorns. The Cardinals, in the person of Schiller, scored first,
and led at the half. However, Schulenburg posted two second half touchdowns, the
second on a long pass, to take the victory. The 1934 Cardinals were marked by
tragedy. On May 18, 1935, as the school year was winding down, Zatopek, the team
captain, died in the hospital in La Grange of complications after an
Two weeks before Zatopek died, the school relieved Gustine of his duties as football coach (but kept him on the teaching staff) and hired Lee H. Mitchell to replace him. Mitchell had coached the Thrall Tigers for the previous four seasons, turning the team into a winner. He was destined to do the same for the Cardinals.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 8-0-3, two playoff games (beat Harlandale 13-6, tied Texas School for the Deaf 0-0, beat Wharton 45-0, beat Hallettsville 33-0, beat Schulenburg 14-0, beat La Grange 16-6, beat Flatonia 39-2, beat Giddings 44-7, tied Eagle Lake 0-0, beat Caldwell 6-0, tied Lockhart 7-7)
A landmark season, everything went right for the Cardinals
in 1935. New coach Lee Mitchell simplified the team's offense and stressed
execution. To increase attendance, he persuaded the school board to install
lights at the field and scheduled the Texas School for the Deaf, a powerful team
with novelty value, for the first home game. But most importantly, he beefed up
his roster by scouring the country schools for likely football players and
persuading them to continue their education at least through high school. His
team, led by Junior Huebel, Robert Schiller, Leon Schindler, and Willis Youens,
opened its season with the first Columbus High School football victory since
1932. The win over much bigger Harlandale of San Antonio created a good deal of
excitement in town. More than 1000 people turned out for the Cards home opener,
the first nighttime sporting event in Columbus' history. The Deaf School usually
played teams from colleges and large high schools, and few fans expected a close
game. But the Cards surprised everybody, playing to a tie. The school board,
excited by the size of the crowd, ordered the construction of a grandstand. The
seats were in place before the next home game, the following Friday against
Wharton. Another large crowd saw Schiller score six touchdowns to lead the
Cardinals to a lopsided win.
Two weeks later, the Cards took control of the district race, knocking off the preseason favorite, the Schulenburg Shorthorns. Huebel passed for one TD, ran for the other, and shut off a Schulenburg drive with an interception. The Cards won their final three district games and captured their first league title. With a three week gap between their final game and their playoff opener, the Cards scheduled a game with Eagle Lake. They took the game lightly, and the Eagles outplayed them. Worse, Huebel broke his leg and was lost to the team. Schiller moved to quarterback and led the team to a playoff victory over Caldwell. The game was played in an unrelenting rain and there was not much offense. The turning point came in the third quarter, when Tillman Meisell recovered a Caldwell fumble. Schiller took the ball over for the TD.
The victory put the Cards into the regional championship game. At the time, there was no higher level of competition. All the stores in Columbus closed on the day of the game and practically everybody in town went. Schindler, who had never even seen a football game when he joined the squad at the start of the season, was now a veteran and the star of the team. He scored the Columbus touchdown. Lockhart tied the game in the second half, and threatened to win late in the fourth quarter. They had driven the ball to the one yard line when time ran out. Lockhart scored the tying touchdown when one of their ball carriers, J. W. Fulps, who was about to be tackled far short of the end zone, fumbled the ball toward the goal line and his teammate, James Moore, picked it up and scored. The play fired tempers, and fights broke out among the fans. Caldwell County Sheriff Walter Ellison pistol-whipped and arrested several Columbus fans, prompting Austin sportswriter Weldon Hart to compare him to "the Mussolini boys in Ethiopia." Columbus would not play Lockhart again for twenty-five years.
For the first time, the post season All District game was played in Columbus. Mitchell coached the District 30 team, which won 16-0.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 2-6-1 (tied Schulenburg 0-0, lost to Texas School for the Deaf 20-0, beat Weimar 47-0, beat Wharton 38-0, lost to Rosenburg 13-7, lost to Bay City 46-0, lost to Richmond 24-12, lost to El Campo 19-0, lost to Eagle Lake 24-12)
The Cardinals came apart in 1936, losing five straight
district games. The final game of the streak, against Eagle Lake, was the
hardest to take. Like Columbus, the Eagles had beaten only Wharton in district
play. They rushed out to a quick lead, with two touchdowns in the first quarter.
But the Cardinals came back to tie the game. Cully Culpepper raced around end
for 40 yards and the first TD. The game tying TD came on a blocked punt. But the
Cards were not up to stopping the Eagles in the second half. The Eagles scored
two touchdowns to win the game and finish the season just ahead of Columbus in
the district race.
The season was marked by a more serious tragedy. Viry Fontenot, a former Columbus student, suffered fatal injuries in a football game on October 24. Fontenot, who was in his first year at Crosby High School after moving with his family from Alleyton, caught a thirty yard pass, was tackled by two players from Liberty, returned to the huddle, and collapsed. He died the following morning.
Coach: Dewey Brown; Record: 7-2 (beat Thrall 33-0, beat Giddings 76-0, beat La Grange 18-0, lost to Brenham 19-0, beat Weimar 26-0, beat Yoakum 13-12, beat Flatonia 13-6, lost to Schulenburg 21-6, beat Hallettsville 46-0)
In early June 1937, Lee Mitchell asked the school board to
accept his resignation so that he could take the coaching job at Elgin. The
school board accepted, and at the same meeting, offered the Columbus job to a
coach from Mississippi, W. C. Denson. Mitchell then declined the Elgin job and
signed on as the head coach at Yoakum. Denson visited Columbus, but refused the
job. Finally, in July, the school board hired Dewey Brown, a native of
Groesbeck, Texas, as the new coach. A month later, they named W. W. "Goat"
Hewitt, a former quarterback at Texas A & M, assistant coach. In August, Brown
and Hewitt took their team to Palacios for a two week training camp.
In 1937, the district was divided into two halves or conferences. The conference winners played a single game at the end of the season to determine the district champion. The Cards landed in the same conference with two tough opponents, the Flatonia Bulldogs and Schulenburg Shorthorns. Flatonia was 4-1 entering the Columbus game, and looking to challenge Schulenburg for the conference crown. But the Cardinals jumped out in front with two first quarter touchdowns and held on to win. The Bulldogs did not go down easy. The colorfully-written Colorado County Citizen account of the game said, "Throwing caution to the winds in the second half the Bulldogs tried pass after pass in whatever part of the field they happened to be . . . Through a series of passes the Bulldogs ran the ball into the last 10 yards of the Cards' goal and started bucking the line to put the ball on the one foot line on the third down. In the fourth down the Cards were offside giving the visitors half their distance to the goal, but in the last try the Cards held the line and the ball went over to the Cards on the six inch line. A punt sent it back to a safe distance from where the Dogs began another campaign of passing which wound up with an interception."
The win put the Cards in position to win the conference, if they could upset the Shorthorns. But Schulenburg, with running back Fritz Lobpries, was too powerful. Lobpries, who had gone to elementary school in Columbus, returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. The Shorthorns went on to post another first period touchdown, and the Cards never got close. Columbus' only score came after a Schulenburg fumble, on a run by Richard Schmidt.
The most thrilling game of the season was that with the Yoakum Bulldogs. The Cardinals trailed 12-7 late in the fourth quarter when Marvin Tyler blocked a punt deep in Bulldog territory. Tyler's big play set up the game winning touchdown, scored by quarterback Red Northrup.
Coach: Dewey Brown; Record: 7-2 (lost to Cuero 12-7, beat Sealy 31-6, beat Flatonia 19-0, beat Brenham 6-0, beat Bastrop 25-7, beat Palacios 40-0, beat Richmond 18-0, lost to Schulenburg 25-0, beat Weimar 57-7)
Dewey Brown's second season, marked by scheduling
anomalies, was exactly as successful as his first. The Weimar Wildcats were
originally scheduled to play the Cardinals on October 21. But the Wildcats, who
would play six-man football the next year, could not get enough players together
and cancelled. Columbus quickly arranged a game with the Palacios Sharks. The
Sharks proved to be little competition. The Cardinals amassed forty points
without throwing a pass. Palacios had so many injuries that they had to finish
the game with ten players. Weimar finally got a team together, and played
Columbus at the end of the season. Not surprisingly, they too were unable to
hold their own with Brown's team.
The most exciting game of the year was that with the Brenham Cubs. The Cubs were undefeated and favored to win their district. They thoroughly outplayed the Cardinals, but the Cardinals won anyway. Columbus scored the only touchdown of the game after two costly Brenham penalties. The first forced the Cubs to punt from their own one yard line. Richard Schmidt returned the ball to the ten, where Brenham was flagged for unnecessary roughness. The penalty moved the ball back to the one yard line. Schmidt took it over from there. The Cubs threatened early and late, but could not erase the Columbus lead. In the first quarter, they drove to the five yard line before surrendering the ball on downs. Late in the fourth period, Brenham completed a pass to the Columbus one yard line. But time ran out before they could get off another play.
In the last regularly scheduled game of the season, the Cards again took on Fritz Lobpries and the Schulenburg Shorthorns for the conference title. The Shorthorns, who were 6-0 and who had allowed only 14 points all year, had no trouble with Columbus. Lobpries made 182 yards on 27 carries and scored all four Schulenburg touchdowns. The Cardinals managed just 114 yards of total offense.
Coach: Dewey Brown; Record: 7-3 (beat Flatonia 12-7, lost to Edna 39-0, beat Sealy 7-0, beat Giddings 19-0, lost to Schulenburg 20-12, beat Bastrop 26-0, beat La Grange 6-0, beat Lexington 20-6, beat Somerville 21-6, lost to Schulenburg 7-2)
As they had been in 1938, the Cardinals postseason
ambitions were again stymied by the Schulenburg Shorthorns in 1939. The race for
the conference title came down to three teams: Columbus, Schulenburg, and
Bastrop. The Cardinals gave Schulenburg little enough trouble on October 20, but
blistered Bastrop the following week. When the Shorthorns subsequently lost to
Bastrop, the conference was thrown into a three-way tie. Bastrop voluntarily
relinquished their right to represent the district in the playoffs, which
cleared the way for Schulenburg and Columbus to decide the matter in a one-game
playoff. The Cardinals then cancelled a game with Richmond that had been
scheduled for November 24, and played Schulenburg, in Columbus, the following
In the game, the Shorthorns kicked off, held the Cardinals, then scored on a 70 yard drive. The Cardinals mounted their most serious threat to tie the contest in the fourth quarter, when, after a short drive, they had a first and goal at the nine yard line. But, Schulenburg intercepted a Columbus pass, and though the Cardinals scored a safety on the play, it effectively ended their chances to win.
The most exciting game of the year was a non-conference contest against La Grange. With both teams still scoreless, the Cardinals had the ball on the Leopard 15 yard line with three seconds left in the game. Boldly, they gave the ball to team star Jerry Barak, and, following a clearing block by quarterback J. D. Nelson, he rambled around the right end for a game-winning touchdown.
Coach: Dewey Brown; Record: 8-1 (beat Smiley 6-0, beat Sealy 14-6, beat Ganado 26-6, beat Boling-Newgate 7-6, beat Flatonia 21-0, beat La Grange 7-0, beat Lexington 26-9, lost to Bastrop 13-6, beat Schulenburg 20-0)
With successful coach Dewey Brown returning for his fourth season, the arrival of an excellent runner in Billy Gunn on the scene, and the presence of players like Riley Ashorn, Stanley Brooks, Leroy Brune, and Reuben Miller, the 1940 Cardinals had every reason to expect great things. Still, their preseason reputation was comparatively low. But after the Cardinals upset two teams who were favored to win, Sealy and Boling-Newgate, their reputation was secure. Brown was so confident that, after it became known that Gunn and lineman Sambo Seymour would miss the Flatonia game, he candidly remarked, "the loss of these two players even things up." He turned out to be wrong, though, as Leland Miller picked up where Gunn had left off and the Cardinals easily beat Flatonia. The Cardinals did finally lose, to Bastrop on November 15, in a game they dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard. The loss, their only one of the season, cost them the district title.
Coach: Dewey Brown; Record: 10-0, one playoff game (beat Ganado 13-0, beat Palacios 34-0, beat Sealy 7-0, beat Gonzales 72-0, beat Flatonia 80-0, beat La Grange 49-0, beat Lexington 26-7, beat Bastrop 41-0, beat Schulenburg 9-0, beat Bloomington 20-0)
The 1941 team may have been the best in Columbus High
School history. With Billy Gunn, Leroy Brune, and Charlie Criswell in the
backfield, Robert Koenig, and Jack and Mack Allen in the line, and Sambo Seymour
doing the kicking, the Cards romped to a perfect season, outscoring their
opponents 351-7. Gunn was an especially prolific scorer. He scored 44 points
(seven touchdowns and two extra points) against Gonzales and the amazing total
of 59 points (nine TDs, 5 extra points) against Flatonia. He added six
touchdowns against La Grange to run his season total to 182 points. However, an
injury limited his playing time toward the end of the season, and he was able to
score just 36 points in the last four games. Still, he finished the year with
218 points, or an average of nearly 22 per game.
The low point of the season was the game against the Lexington Eagles. The Eagles posted the only score against the Cardinals all year, and, after he had sprained his ankle, held Gunn to just one touchdown. The following week, the Cards wrapped up the district crown with a lopsided victory over the Bastrop Bears. Bastrop came into the game undefeated, but was no match for the Cardinals.
In the final game of the season, the Cards beat the Bloomington Bobcats for the bi-district championship. Gunn scored all three Columbus TDs. The Bobcats, desperate to come from behind, tried to go to the air, but Robert Koenig's two interceptions stymied them. It was not until after the season that the Cardinals suffered any kind of defeat. Lexington offered the Columbus coach, Dewey Brown, the post of superintendent and coach, and he accepted. He left town as the most successful coach in the team's history.
Coach: Marley Giddens; Record: 4-1-1 (lost to Ganado 25-0, beat Sealy 6-0, tied Gonzales 0-0, beat Schulenburg 13-0, beat Lexington 18-6, beat Bastrop 13-6)
The United States' involvement in World War II forced the
Cardinals to play an abbreviated schedule in 1942. A scheduled game with
Flatonia had to be cancelled when that school announced that it had dropped
sports for the duration of the war. After the Cards won the district title by
defeating Bastrop, they cancelled their scheduled bi-district game with Round
Rock because of the distances between the two towns. In November, the government
had instituted a gas rationing program and nobody wanted to travel
But the season still held plenty of interest for Cardinal fans. There were new twists to two old rivalries. On October 30, the Cards, headed by Bennett Buescher, David Gunn, Richard Koenig, David Rau, J. D. Reitz, and Brookie Ward, were matched up with the Schulenburg Shorthorns. Columbus had hired long time Schulenburg coach Marley Giddens, and his old players were determined to beat him. But the Cards prevailed, scoring touchdowns in the last minute of each half. The first came on a pass from Reitz to Gunn, the second on a six yard run by Koenig. Next up for the Cardinals were the Lexington Eagles, who were coached by Dewey Brown. But, unlike Giddens, Brown did not beat his old team. After a scoreless half, the Cards broke the ice with two quick TDs on runs of 35 yards by Koenig and 65 yards by Gunn.
Coach: Marley Giddens; Record: 5-3 (beat Lexington 21-7, beat Sealy 48-6, lost to Bastrop 12-6, lost to Schulenburg 6-0, lost to Brenham 20-7, beat Bastrop 7-0, beat Lexington 12-6, beat Schulenburg 18-6)
With many schools not fielding football teams and gas
rationing still making travel impractical, Columbus was placed in a four team
district and scheduled to play each team twice. The Cards were scheduled to open
with a game in Wharton, but because of the threat of a hurricane, the game was
cancelled. So the following week, the Cardinals opened the season with their
first district game. The game was dedicated to Paul Perry Hastedt, Clarence
Cone, and Albert Hahn, the three Columbus men who, it was announced, had been
killed to that date in the war. Ironically, Hahn, who had played on the
Cardinals 1935 team, had not been killed, but interned in the Soviet Union after
his bomber crash-landed in that country on September 11, 1943, a few days before
the game. The Cardinals boldly opened the game with an onside kick, recovered
it, and staged a touchdown drive. It was David Gunn who went over for the score.
Later Gunn passed 25 yards to Koenig for the team's second TD, and Koenig ran 75
yards for the third.
But after demolishing Sealy, the Cards lost three straight games. They got back in the district race with an upset victory over the Bastrop Bears. Bastrop came into the game unbeaten, but could not mount a scoring drive. Gunn's second quarter TD was the game's only score. The Cards slipped by Lexington, then beat Schulenburg to put them into a three way tie for the district championship. But the Cards were eliminated from further competition by a coin flip.
Coach: Marley Giddens; Record: 6-2 (beat Smithville 35-0, beat Lexington 20-2, beat Sealy 33-0, beat Hallettsville 28-0, lost to Gonzales 20-6, beat Schulenburg 13-0, beat Eagle Lake 33-12, lost to Bastrop 19-6)
Marley Gidden's third season was the first for the prolific passing combination of quarterback Ernest Baumgart and end Johnny Mach. The Cards steamrolled Smithville, which was coached by one of Coach Giddens' former stars at Schulenburg, Fritz Lobpries, then beat Dewey Brown's Lexington Eagles in the district opener nearly as easily. But after two more easy wins, the Cardinals fell to the unbeaten Gonzales Apaches. The Cards did manage to score the first points of the year against the powerful Apaches. The key game of the year was the last game, against Bastrop on a wet and slippery field for the zone title. Star runner Vernon Evans scored the first touchdown, for Columbus, on a 60 yard jaunt. But the Bears tied it before the half, then scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to win. The season was also marked by the return of the Eagle Lake Eagles to the Columbus schedule. The two teams had not played since 1936, apparently because of hostile feelings among the fans.
Coach: Marley Giddens; Record: 7-2 (beat Bellville 25-0, beat Sealy 14-6, beat Hallettsville 44-6, lost to Gonzales 40-6, beat Lexington 31-0, beat Caldwell 26-12, lost to Eagle Lake 13-6, beat Bastrop 28-7, beat Schulenburg 33-14)
The Cardinals home field underwent some renovations in
1945. The rotten bleachers were torn down and replaced, just in time for the
first home game on October 5.
The team had an interim coach on October 26. Dr. Clarence I. Shult took over the team while Coach Marley Giddens scouted the powerful Eagle Lake Eagles. The Eagles had not lost a game, and had allowed only six points all year, when they faced Columbus for the zone championship on November 9. Eagle Lake got an early touchdown, but the Cards quickly struck back. They drove 72 yards on eight passes and two runs to score just before halftime. Ernest Baumgart went over from two yards out for the TD, after hitting Johnny Mach with a fourth down, 17 yard pass to set it up. But the Eagles got a fourth quarter touchdown to win.
Coaches: Jim Thompson and Marley Giddens; Record: 10-1-1, two playoff games (lost to La Grange 6-0, beat Bellville 29-0, beat Sealy 7-0, beat Hallettsville 28-0, beat Gonzales 14-0, beat Cleveland 7-0, beat Eagle Lake 7-0, beat Bastrop 23-21, tied Schulenburg 14-14, beat Lexington 26-7, beat Yorktown 7-6, beat Edgewood 27-6)
For the third straight year, quarterback Ernest Baumgart
and end Johnny Mach were named to the All District team, and, in their final
season, they, along with Harold Untermeyer and stalwart defenders Ervin "Babe"
Reitz, Jim Henry Ilse, and Leroy Lockhart, took the team as far as it could go.
The Cards dropped their opener, then ran off six straight wins, each time
shutting out the opposition. The final game of the series provided the Cardinals
with their revenge against Eagle Lake. After the game, Coach Jim Thompson
resigned, citing differences over "football matters" with the administration.
Marley Giddens again picked up the reins.
The Cards barely squeezed by Bastrop, then just managed to tie Schulenburg in the game which decided the zone title. Baumgart hit Mach with a 19 yard TD pass in the final two minutes, and Mach kicked the extra point, for the tie and the title. Columbus was then matched against the Lexington Eagles to decide the district title. They Cards got their first touchdown on a 70 yard pass from Baumgart to Mach, then picked up three cheap touchdowns after fumble recoveries by Currie Lee Meyer, Harold Untermeyer, and Joe Zatopek.
The bi-district game, against the Yorktown Wildcats, was much more difficult. The first half was scoreless. In the third period, J. W. Golla got behind the defense and Baumgart hit him for a thirty yard gain. Shortly afterward, the Cards scored. Mach kicked the extra point and the defense made it stand up.
The regional title game, against the Edgewood Raiders, was anticlimactic. John Gunn broke loose for a 51 yard touchdown run on the fifth play of the game, and the Cards never trailed thereafter. Later, Baumgart hit Mach and Zatopek with TD passes, and Mach picked up another touchdown on an interception return.
Coach: Marley Giddens; Record: 6-2 (beat Weimar 37-7, beat Sealy 28-7, beat Hallettsville 12-0, lost to Gonzales 26-12, beat Flatonia 24-6, beat Eagle Lake 6-0, beat Bastrop 20-13, lost to Schulenburg 7-0)
With John Gunn, Babe Reitz, Leroy Lockhart, and J. W. Golla back, the Cardinals raced off to four straight district wins. The key victory was over the Eagle Lake Eagles. Gunn's 38 yard touchdown run accounted for the only score. He then sealed the victory by intercepting a pass on the eleven yard line to stop an Eagle Lake threat in the fourth quarter. The win set up the zone title match with Schulenburg. The Cards lost when the Shorthorns scored after recovering a fumbled punt.
Coach: Marley Giddens, Record: 4-5 (lost to East Bernard 18-6, beat Weimar 12-0, beat Sealy 13-6, lost to Hallettsville 33-0, beat Flatonia 20-13, beat Weimar 24-13, lost Eagle Lake 7-6, lost to Bastrop 13-7, lost to Schulenburg 7-6)
The 1948 Cardinals were led by linemen Norman Litzmann, Dan Prause, and Paul Jurica, and a backfield featuring quarterback Earl Henry Meyer and three "Walters," Walter Lee Chapman, Walter Henry Evans, and Walter Schnaubelt. Their record, however, was thoroughly undistinguished. Due to a quirk, the Cardinals played Weimar twice. The first game against Weimar was a district matchup, and many observers thought Weimar should have won, as they compiled better statistics. When Sealy cancelled their game scheduled for October 29 with Weimar, the Cardinals, who had an open date, stepped in to play the Wildcats again, defeating them a second time.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 7-2 (lost to East Bernard 19-12, beat Weimar 20-13, beat Sealy 12-6, beat Hallettsville 25-0, beat Flatonia 26-6, beat Orchard 26-6, beat Eagle Lake 26-6, beat Bastrop 12-7, lost to Schulenburg 20-6)
After a loss in his first game, new head coach Bill Hartley engineered a seven game winning streak. Remarkably, at one point during the streak, the Cards won by the same score three weeks in a row. The Cards thus went into the final week with a chance to win the south half of the district title, but the Schulenburg Shorthorns were again too much. The Cards scored first, on Walter Henry Evans' 17 yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But the Shorthorns came right back with a TD and an extra point to take the lead, then scored two more TDs. The Shorthorn defense completely shut down the Cards in the second half, forcing Columbus quarterback Walter Schnaubelt to pass. Schulenburg's stacked defense intercepted five of Schnaubelt's offerings.
Coach: Bill Hartley, Record: 11-0, two playoff games (beat East Bernard 32-0, beat Crosby 27-7, beat Sealy 25-14, beat Bastrop 20-0, beat Hallettsville 54-0, beat Flatonia 46-13, beat Weimar 61-0, beat Eagle Lake 45-6, beat Schulenburg 18-0, beat Bastrop 64-6, beat Pearland 21-13)
With standout play from Arthur Becker, Lee Brown, E. C.
Gundelach, Bobby Hastedt, Aubrey Langston, and Walter Schnaubelt, the Cardinals
romped over all opposition in 1950, finishing with a perfect record and winning
the regional title (which was as far as teams were allowed to go at the time).
They shut out Schulenburg, which came into the game at 7-1 and undefeated in
district play, to win the district title. Schnaubelt gained 140 yards on 27
carries, ran for one TD and passed to Hastedt for another. Gundelach picked up a
blocked punt and scored the other touchdown. They then demolished the Bastrop
Bears, who came into the game with four losses, including one to Columbus, in
the bi-district game. Schnaubelt scored five touchdowns, passed for three
others, and intercepted three passes. Edward Willrodt, Garland Hayes, Gundelach,
Harvey Warren, and Charles Moeller all scored. When the score reached 52-0 in
the third quarter, the Cards put in their second string, and they outscored
Bastrop, 12-6. In all, the Cards had 352 yards of total offense to Bastrop's
The Pearland Oilers, in the regional game, were better competition. The game was tied at seven in the fourth quarter when Langston intercepted a pass and took it back to the Pearland five. Two plays later, Schnaubelt scored his second touchdown of the game to put the Cardinals ahead to stay. The Cards scored again on their next possession. Schnaubelt passed to Vernon "Chick" Hohensee for 36 yards, then took the ball over on a 21 yard run. The Oilers got a late TD after a Columbus fumble to make the score close.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 7-3 (lost to East Bernard 12-6, beat Sealy 19-0, lost to Giddings 40-0, beat Bastrop 31-0, beat La Grange 7-6, beat Weimar 19-0, lost to Smithville 20-14, beat Eagle Lake 35-13, beat Luling 7-0, beat Schulenburg 28-14)
The 1951 Cardinals posted a more than respectable record despite a number of injuries. The injuries began in the first game, a loss to East Bernard. Starting quarterback Deryl Sapp and star runner Joe Hluchanek were both lost. Dwight Smith moved in at quarterback, and Vernon "Chick" Hohensee, Charles Moeller, and Simon Petrosky picked up the slack left by Hluchanek's absence, and the Cardinals trounced Sealy. Not even the full squad, however, could have done anything about the Giddings Buffaloes. The Buffaloes, en route to a state championship, demolished the Cardinals behind Jackie Placke and Herbert Carleston. The Cardinals continued to struggle with injuries, including another to Sapp, but managed to win six of their final seven games.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 7-2 (beat Weimar 21-0, beat East Bernard 26-0, beat Sealy 26-7, lost to La Grange 6-0, beat Giddings 15-0, beat Eagle Lake 27-0, lost to Smithville 13-7, beat Luling 26-14, beat Schulenburg 40-0)
A superb defensive team, the 1952 Cardinals allowed just 40 points all year and held five opponents scoreless. The biggest game of the season was the October 17 matchup with the Giddings Buffaloes. The heavily favored Buffaloes had won the state championship in 1951 and were riding a twenty-two game winning streak. Giddings took the opening kickoff, but could return it only to the nine yard line. On the first play from scrimmage they fumbled and Melvin Schnaubelt recovered for Columbus. Three plays later, Alfred Meyer scored for the Cardinals and Dwight Smith followed with the extra point. Giddings mounted a strong second quarter drive but fumbled again. Harvey Warren recovered at the Columbus two yard line. The Buffaloes never seriously threatened again. Columbus scored again after a short punt gave them possession on the Giddings 34. Chick Hohensee passed to Meyer for the TD. The Cards got their final two points on a late safety, when Edward "Butch" Meduna trapped Buffalo quarterback Jackie Placke in the end zone. With about two minutes left to play, Columbus announcer Sam K. Seymour broadcast, "Now state champs, how does it feel to lose?" Since there was no clock visible to the fans, they thought the game was over and swarmed the field. The field was cleared, the game finished, and the celebration resumed.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 6-3-1 (beat Schulenburg 14-6, beat East Bernard 26-7, beat Flatonia 13-0, lost to Sealy 34-6, beat La Grange 20-18, lost to Giddings 42-7, tied Eagle Lake 0-0, beat Smithville 13-12, lost to Luling 47-20, beat Weimar 18-14)
A down year for the Cardinals despite a respectable
record, the Giddings Buffaloes got their revenge for the previous season's
defeat with a rout of the Cards in the district opener. Luling also whipped the
Cardinals soundly in district play and, with the Cardinals missing three players
due to injury, the Eagle Lake Eagles tied them in a lackluster game. The Cards
struggled with their line-up all season, changing quarterbacks three times.
Opening day quarterback and standout defensive player John Parks broke his arm
in practice after the Sealy game, and Jimmie Green, who had been out with an
injury since the East Bernard game, moved in at quarterback. Coach Hartley
finally inserted John Hollis Massey at quarterback against Smithville, moving
Green into the backfield.
After the season, Superintendent Marley Giddens sent letters asking the twenty holders of the bonds which had financed construction of the field to cancel the remaining balances due of $50 because he wanted to use the money to make improvements. The bondholders agreed, and shortly afterward, new seats were added.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 8-2 (beat El Campo 10-7, beat Weimar 27-12, beat Sealy 26-25, beat Eagle Lake 38-6, beat Navasota 19-7, lost to Caldwell 12-6, beat Bellville 12-0, lost to Brenham 39-0, beat Schulenburg 20-0, beat La Grange 33-6)
In 1954, the Cardinals moved up in one level in
classification, and did very well in a tight district race. Columbus lost one
district game to Caldwell, who went 8 of 10 passing and held the Cards to 0 of
8, and one to Brenham. Going into the final week of the season, the Cards were
tied with Caldwell at 3-2. Navasota lead the district at 4-1, having lost only
to Columbus. Brenham was at 3-2-1, having tied Bellville. Navasota whipped
Caldwell to take the district crown and hand the runner up slot to the
But it was a non-district game against the Sealy Tigers, which was the most memorable of the season. Sealy took a 19-7 lead into the fourth quarter when the Cards suddenly exploded. On the first play of the period, Jimmie Justice swept the right side for a 20 yard touchdown. The Tigers came back with a four-play, 62 yard TD drive. But, after recovering a fumble, the Cards scored again on a 56 yard drive. An onside kick failed, but the defense forced a punt after three plays, and the Cards drove for the game winner. Leonard Petrosky scored the final TD, from four yards out, in the last minute of the game. The big play on the drive was a 20 yard pass from Charles Roberts to Russell Leyendecker. The Cards were led on offense by Petrosky and George King, and on defense by Lawrence Mensik and Joe Untermeyer.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 4-6 (lost to El Campo 30-0, lost to Weimar 25-7, lost to Sealy 27-25, beat Eagle Lake 46-6, beat Navasota 14-6, beat Caldwell 7-6, beat Bellville 20-6, lost to Brenham 6-0, lost to Schulenburg 47-0, lost to La Grange 21-19)
For the first time ever, the Columbus football field was made free of grass burrs in 1955. But it did not do the team much good. Led by returning stars Lawrence Mensik and Russell Leyendecker, the Cards started off their district season with a bang, beating the defending champion Navasota Rattlers in the opener with two fourth quarter TDs, the Caldwell Hornets on a TD pass from John Parks to Edwin Vaclavik in the last two minutes of the second game, and the Bellville Brahmas rather easily in their third district game. But the Brenham Cubs, behind a TD and a key interception from Jack Ireland, and the Schulenburg Shorthorns, on Billy Bucek's three touchdowns and four extra points, beat the Cards on successive weeks and eliminated them from the district race.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 2-7 (lost to Gonzales 40-6, lost to El Campo 41-0, lost to Sealy 7-6, beat Weimar 33-0, beat Schulenburg 20-12, lost to La Grange 20-6, lost to Giddings 14-0, lost to Smithville 7-6, lost to Elgin 7-6)
The Cards suffered through a dismal season in 1956. The
low point came when the Smithville Tigers, who came into the game without a win,
slipped by the Cards in penultimate game. The Tigers returned the opening
kickoff for a touchdown, kicked the extra point, and though they never scored
again, held on for the win.
The highlight of the season was the installation of the new electronic scoreboard. In January 1956, the student council raised the money needed to purchase and install it, and it was erected before the start of the season. Reflecting the team's poor season, only one Columbus player, August "Pete" Rabel, was named to the all district team in 1956.
Coach: Bill Hartley, Record: 4-5 (lost to Gonzales 46-20, lost to El Campo 34-0, beat Sealy 13-6, beat Sweeny 33-6, beat Boling 20-6, lost to La Grange 19-13, lost to Giddings 29-0, beat Smithville 34-12, lost to Elgin 34-0)
To help turn the team around, the coaches set up a
football camp in the high school gymnasium in 1957. From August 26 through
August 31, the coaches and team lived in the gym, emerging only to go to the
field and practice twice a day. In between practices, the team went to the
auditorium and studied football. But the Cards again were not competitive in the
district race. They got their only district win against Smithville in a penalty
filled game before the smallest crowd of the year. Lynn Hoffman, Tom Hendrix,
Charles Harris, Ronald Baca, and Harvey Vaclavik all scored for the Cards.
Harris' TD came on a 49 yard pass from J. E. Parker, Baca's on a fumble recovery
in the end zone, and Vaclavik's on a 65 yard interception return on the last
play of the game.
The Cards' scheduled game against Schulenburg on October 4 was cancelled because of rampant illness at Columbus High School.
Coach: Bill Hartley; Record: 1-9 (lost to Gonzales 38-8, lost to Sealy 24-8, lost to Sweeny 20-6, lost to Hallettsville 14-0, lost to Vanderbilt Industrial 30-0, lost to La Grange 16-0, beat Giddings 12-8, lost to Bellville 32-22, lost to Smithville 14-8, lost to Schulenburg 14-6)
Even with stars Charles Harris and Ronald Baca returning from the previous year, in 1958, the Cards had their worst season since Bill Hartley took over as coach. The team had been using the T formation for a few years, but Hartley switched back to single and double wings to simplify the offense. The experiment did not work. After the season, Hartley and his assistant coach, Wilbert O. "Red" Miller, were roundly criticized. The criticism culminated at a school board meeting in March 1959. At the meeting, Hartley was asked to stay on as head coach, but only on condition that Miller resign. Hartley refused the suggestion, and pulled his own letter of resignation from his pocket. It said in part, "It is with regret and a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as football coach. I feel that the change is needed for the betterment of the school and the community. There is nothing better for a school and community that a winning football team." Hartley's resignation caused an outcry among the students. Many members of the community also backed the embattled coach. But the school board silenced its critics by hiring former coach Lee Mitchell to take over the team.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 7-4, one playoff game (lost to Gonzales 30-18, beat Sealy 26-0, lost to Sweeny 20-6, beat Hallettsville 13-6, beat Vanderbilt Industrial 28-8, beat La Grange 14-0, beat Giddings 21-6, lost to Bellville 27-7, beat Smithville 50-19, beat Schulenburg 27-0, lost to Taylor 45-28)
Mitchell debuted by returning the Cardinals to the playoffs for the first time since 1950. His roster was graced by a number of stars: Marvin Buller, Tommy Foster, David Giddens, Vernon Haynes, Richard Heffley, Merritt Nicewander, Kenneth Pate, Doug Potter, Jimmy Simpson, and LeRoy Stavinoha; and by junior Randolph "Muggsy" Tobias, who, at 6'6" and 305 pounds, was probably the biggest player ever to put on a Cardinal uniform to that time. The Cardinals won all four of their district games, taking time out in the middle of their league schedule to get blistered by a Bellville team led by runners Ernie Koy and Joe Ed Lynn. In the playoff game, the Taylor Ducks rolled up 508 yards of total offense, too much for the Cardinals own potent offense to overcome. Foster scored three touchdowns, on runs of 21, 2, and 62 yards, but Taylor's Budgie Ford surpassed him with four for the Ducks.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 6-4 (beat Lockhart 34-6, beat Wharton 39-0, beat Sealy 20-0, beat Schulenburg 60-0, beat Yoakum 48-20, lost to Lamar Consolidated 19-14, lost to Bellville 30-7, beat Humble 15-7, lost to Katy 34-20, lost to La Grange 8-0)
The 1960 Cardinals opened the season with five straight wins, but found the going tough in their district. Their toughest opponent was Bellville. The Brahmas, who again featured Ernie Koy and Joe Ed Lynn, finished their season with a loss in the state final game. The Cardinals had to face them with a diminished roster. In the week before the game, two Cardinal starters, Billy and Bobby Neisner, were injured in an automobile accident and forced out of action. On the first play from scrimmage, a 75 yard touchdown run by Koy, Mike Mitchell was injured. In the second quarter, Dickie Pate also went out with an injury. The Cardinal offense was left to Kenneth "Lefty" Pate. He carried the ball 34 times, gaining 207 yards, completed seven of seventeen passes for 76 yards, punted six times, and returned four Bellville kicks. He accounted for all but fifteen yards of the team's total offense. Koy and Lynn, meanwhile, ran wild. Besides his 75 yard TD, Koy scored on runs of 64 and 39 yards. Lynn made 64 and 82 yard touchdown runs.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 7-4-1, two playoff games (beat Lockhart 28-6, lost to Wharton 15-8, beat Sealy 27-14, beat Schulenburg 41-0, lost to Yoakum 13-7, tied Lamar Consolidated 22-22, lost to Bellville 15-6, beat Humble 28-6, beat Katy 26-24, beat La Grange 7-3, beat Livingston 20-6, lost to Dayton 20-19)
When, after a mediocre 3-2-1 non-district start, the 1961
Cardinals lost their district opener to Bellville, they seemed to be doomed to
another undistinguished season. But the district was well balanced, and the
Cards managed to win it with victories over Humble, Katy, and La Grange. The key
game, and the most exciting of the season, was that with the Katy Tigers, who
were favored to win by fourteen points. But the Cardinals scored, in the person
of Butch Reichle, scored first. Then Katy scored. To open the second half, Mike
Mitchell returned Katy's kickoff for a touchdown, and Columbus went ahead 14-8.
Then Katy scored again. The Cards came back, going in front 20-16 on Jim
Hajovsky's TD. Then Katy scored again. Finally, buoyed by Pat McGill's long
kickoff return, the Cardinals drove to what would be the winning touchdown.
Billy Youens completed two big passes to Jim Hastedt on the drive, and Mitchell
took the ball over the goal line. The victory was not sealed, however, until
McGill intercepted a Katy pass.
The Cards easily defeated the Livingston Lions in their playoff opener, scoring three of the first four times they got the ball. They got off to an even faster start against the Dayton Bronchos, scoring the first three times they had the ball and taking a 19-0 lead. Reichle scored two touchdowns and Mitchell the other. However, for the first time all season, Reichle missed an extra point kick (he had had three blocked, but had made all 25 of his other kicks). Dayton took advantage of the opening to post a one-point victory. The game, and the Cardinals' season, ended in a flurry of turnovers.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 7-2-1 (beat A & M Consolidated 8-6, beat Luling 41-0, beat Boling 27-14, beat Yoakum 15-14, lost to Hallettsville 7-0, beat Sealy 7-0, beat La Grange 34-13, lost to Katy 18-15, tied Bellville 15-15, beat Tomball 14-8)
Again in 1962, the Cardinals faced touch opposition in their district. They slipped past Sealy and La Grange easily enough, but lost to Katy in another tight contest. Tootie Mitchell, who was unable to run the ball because of an injury, instead passed for both touchdowns, one of 32 yards to Royce Riemers the other of 20 to Al Wayne Radke. When, the following week, the Cardinals tied Bellville, the district crown went to Katy. Five Cardinals, Richard Blair, Paul Fox, Jim Hajovsky, Tony Pulido, and Clifton Tyler, were named to the all district team.
Coach: Lee Mitchell; Record: 8-2 (beat A & M Consolidated 21-0, beat Luling 20-0, beat Boling 12-0, beat Yoakum 42-14, beat Hallettsville 27-0, beat Sealy 28-6, beat La Grange 14-6, lost to Katy 15-12, lost to Bellville 2-0, beat Tomball 34-0)
With stalwarts like Pat McGill, Jerry "Hoss" Hajovsky,
Robert Moody, Al Wayne Radke, David Schneider, Glenn Stromquist, and Billy
Sweat, the 1963 Cardinals had an excellent season. However, like their immediate
predecessors, the 1963 Cardinals lost the district title to the Katy Tigers, and
found the going tough, and frustrating, against the Bellville Brahmas. Katy
scored the first two times they had the ball and held on to beat the Cardinals.
The Bellville game was highlighted by two goal line stands. The Brahmas stopped
the Cardinals at the one yard line as time ran out in the second quarter. In the
third quarter, the Cardinals held on downs at their own one yard line. The only
score of the game came on a safety, after Columbus' David Fruge recovered a
blocked punt in the end zone and was swarmed over by Bellville tacklers.
By the end of 1963, Mitchell's teams, which had been graced with some of the finest athletes in the school's history, were seen as underachievers. Fans and players came around to the view that Mitchell's antiquated formations and plays were responsible. Mitchell's second stint at Columbus High School came to a quick end. On March 10, 1964, the school board elevated Carl Andress, who had been an assistant coach, to the top spot.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 5-5-1, one playoff game (beat Edna 7-6, lost to Sealy 12-0, lost to Katy 18-6, beat Yoakum 27-13, lost to Bellville 16-0, lost to Elgin 13-0, beat Luling 28-21, tied La Grange 6-6, beat Giddings 19-12, beat Hallettsville 6-0, lost to Katy 14-8)
Besides a new coach, the Cardinals got a new slate of district opponents in 1964. The Cardinals lost to both their chief rivals of the time, Katy and Bellville, and to two other teams in non-district play, then went 3-0-1 in their district games to take the title. The toughest game was against the La Grange Leopards, who were strongly favored. The Cardinals got the game's first touchdown, in the third quarter, on a 57 yard pass from Tom Massey to Ruben Castillo. The Leopards tied the score late in the game, but the Cardinals finished with more penetrations. Their penetration advantage gave them the district title when they beat the Hallettsville Brahmas on November 13. The Columbus touchdown came on a one-yard quarterback sneak which was set up by a 41 yard halfback pass from David Hahn to George Hernandez. The Brahmas threatened to score midway through the fourth quarter, but a goal line stand featuring big defensive plays by Larry Sebesta and Jerry "Hoss" Hajovsky stopped them. Unhappily, their district title only afforded the Cardinals the opportunity to again face the Katy Tigers, and Katy won despite six turnovers.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 2-8 (lost to Edna 25-0, lost to Sealy 32-20, lost to Katy 16-13, beat Yoakum 21-0, lost to Bellville 34-8, lost to Elgin 9-2, beat Luling 29-6, lost to La Grange 33-26, lost to Giddings 20-12, lost to Hallettsville 20-6)
Though the 1965 Cardinals again posted a miserable record in non-district games, their win in the district opener against Luling gave them hope that they might again slip into the playoffs. But La Grange was heavily favored, and pulled out to a 27-6 lead. Then the Cardinals staged a furious rally. Tommy Blair started the rally by intercepting a La Grange pass which triggered a touchdown drive. The Cards used a trick play, in which Blair took a handoff from quarterback Tom Massey, then threw a pass back to Massey, to gain fifty yards on the drive. La Grange, however, came back to post another TD, but the Cards refused to die. Fueled by Massey's passes to A. J. Brune, the Cards drove 82 yards for a touchdown. Then, Massey returned a punt 70 yards for another TD, and the Cards found themselves seven points behind. As there were less than two minutes left in the game, the Cardinals tried an onside kick, and recovered it near midfield. Again, they ran their trick play, with Blair passing back to Massey. The play carried to the fifteen yard line. The Cards quickly lined up, and Massey hit Rusty Harry over the middle. As time ran out, La Grange tacklers dragged Harry down three yards short of the goal line.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 1-7-2 (lost to Sealy 42-0, lost to Katy 7-0, lost to La Grange 33-0, tied Bellville 18-18, lost to Hallettsville 14-12, tied Elgin 0-0, lost to Bastrop 30-0, lost to Smithville 34-6, beat Luling 18-8, lost to Round Rock 25-0)
Carl Andress' third season at the helm was completely undistinguished. The Cardinals managed to win only once, slipping by Luling in their penultimate game. The team's most laudable effort was against the Bellville Brahmas, who were highly ranked in some state polls when they faced Columbus on September 30. The Cardinals got a touchdown from John Wagner, then two more from sophomore quarterback John O'Leary in the second half to emerge from the game with a tie. The Cardinals only two all district players were Jerry Stancik and Joe Hajovsky.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 9-2, one playoff game (beat Sealy 7-6, beat Katy 27-0, lost to La Grange 36-14, beat Bellville 25-20, beat Hallettsville 20-12, beat Elgin 26-6, beat Bastrop 27-13, beat Smithville 15-14, beat Luling 43-6, beat Round Rock 12-6, lost to Tomball 15-7)
By 1967, it had been fifteen years since Cardinal fans had
good reason to think of their team as dominant. But with a raft of returning
players, and an infusion of talented players like Ernest Pollard which the
racial integration of the Columbus Independent School District brought, 1967,
and the next few seasons would be great ones.
First, the Cards walloped Katy and beat Bellville in non-district play. Then, in their second district game, they soundly defeated the team favored to take the title, the Bastrop Bears. The Bears actually led the contest, 7-0, at halftime. But a long kickoff return by Wayne Cassell, and interceptions by Larry Litzmann and Cassell, set up two touchdowns by John Wagner and a TD pass from John O'Leary to Jerry Stancik. Finally, Litzmann intercepted another pass and returned it for the clinching touchdown. They won their last three regular season games to take the district title.
The Cards did not fare well in the playoffs, however, losing in the opening round to the Tomball Cougars. The Cards tied the game at seven on a third quarter 55 yard touchdown pass from O'Leary to Stancik, then watched the Cougars move the ball 65 yards in five plays to go back ahead. In the final minute of play, the Cardinals moved the ball to the two yard line, but a five yard penalty and a seven yard quarterback sack set them back, and O'Leary's final pass fell incomplete.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 11-2, three playoff games (beat Sealy 28-6, beat Katy 41-8, beat Bellville 29-3, beat La Grange 6-0, lost to Needville 10-7, beat Eagle Lake 54-13, beat Giddings 9-6, beat Luling 39-6, beat Bastrop 39-0, beat Smithville 44-0, beat Georgetown 6-0, beat Troup 33-0, lost to Lufkin Dunbar 32-14)
Led by three year starters Joe Hajovsky and John O'Leary,
each of whom would make the all state team, and featuring standouts like Paul
Ashton, Joe Herzik, Mike O'Leary, Ernest Pollard, Phillip Priest, Irving
Schneider, and Terrell Windham, the 1968 Cardinals made it all the way to the
state quarterfinals and extended the Columbus football season into December for
the first time since 1950. The biggest early season game was that with the
Bellville Brahmas, who came into the game ranked sixth in the state. The
Cardinals, though, were ranked number one, and upheld the voters' judgement.
Though Brahma quarterback David Kiemsteadt missed the game, it is doubtful he
could have turned the tied. The Cardinals totally dominated the game, racking up
399 yards of total offense, and finishing with 23 first downs to Bellville's
The Giddings Buffaloes, who were unbeaten and untied, stood as Columbus' biggest district challenge. The game was a defensive struggle, but the Cardinals prevailed on the strength of a safety forced when Ashton blocked a punt and a touchdown on Pollard's interception return.
The Cards opened the playoffs against the Georgetown Eagles, beating them 6-0 on a nineteen yard touchdown pass from John O'Leary to Windham early in the fourth quarter. The winning drive started with a Pollard interception, and featured a long pass to Ben Alley, and a fourth-and-one run for a first down by Tommy Divin. The Eagles came back with an eighty yard drive to the Columbus one yard line, but Windham and Kenny Harry made a game saving tackle, the Cardinals took over the ball, and ran out the clock.
Though the Troup game was played in muddy and rainy conditions, the Columbus passing game again clicked, and the Cardinals took an easy victory. The defense only allowed Troup to pass the fifty yard line once, and then only on the next to last play of the game. However, Lufkin Dunbar, led by quarterback D. C. Nobles, proved too much for the Cardinals. Herzik's 45 yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Cards a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, but the defense tired, and Dunbar scored three touchdowns in the fourth period to win.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 10-1, one playoff game (beat Sealy 20-12, beat Katy 48-0, beat Bellville 23-15, beat La Grange 35-7, beat Needville 14-12, beat Eagle Lake 49-0, beat Giddings 20-12, beat Luling 35-18, beat Bastrop 62-0, beat Smithville 30-0, lost to Georgetown 12-9)
The 1969 Cardinals rolled to the school's third
consecutive district title, winning all ten of their regular season games. The
team had plenty of stars: Charles Bryant, Thomas Carter, Kenny Harry, Joe Herzik,
Harold Kuhn, Garland Nelson, Mike O'Leary, David Schroeder, Shannon Thompson,
and Willie Woods. The team passed a tough non-district test, beating undefeated
Needville, then racked up an impressive 602 yards of total offense against Eagle
Lake in their district opener.
For the second year in a row, the Cards opened the playoffs against Georgetown. The Eagles came in undefeated and untied, and with a defense that had posted five shutouts and allowed only thirty points all year. The Cards, however, jumped out to a quick lead. After U. L. Austin's interception, sophomore quarterback Carl Andress, Jr., hit Kenny Launius for a ten yard touchdown. Austin's defense set up the next Columbus points as well, a safety made possible when he downed a punt at the one yard line. But the second half belonged to Georgetown. Todd Walker pulled in two 20 yard touchdown passes to give the Eagles a 12-9 lead. The Cardinals, however, had one last chance. With less than three minutes to go, Thomas Carter jumped on a Georgetown fumble. The Cards took the ball to the one yard line. There, it was third and goal with 58 seconds left to play. With a lead in penetrations that would move the team forward in the playoffs in the event of a tie, the coaching staff sent in instructions to try for a touchdown on third down, and if they failed, to set up for a field goal. Georgetown stopped the third down try for a one yard loss, and with time ticking away, the Cardinals lost their composure. Instead of trying for the field goal, they tried another run, and lost six yards and the game.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 9-1 (beat Gonzales 13-0, beat Rice 25-7, beat Bellville 32-0, beat Needville 26-0, beat Cuero 17-7, lost to Brenham 26-6, beat Hearne 34-20, beat La Grange 21-0, beat A & M Consolidated 35-0, beat Elmore 16-12)
The Cardinals jumped up in class and landed in the same
district as an extremely strong Brenham Cubs team in 1970. Brenham boasted
running back Roosevelt Leaks and lineman Wilson Whitley, each of whom went on to
successful careers in the National Football League. The Cardinals had a number
of fine players, among them Thomas Carter, Kenny Harry, Joe Herzik, Butch Hoppe,
Raymond Moore, Jay Suchadoll, Wayne Vinson, and Willie Woods, but no one to
match the Brenham duo. Both teams came into their October 16 district opener in
Columbus with perfect records. In fact, the Cardinals had won their last twenty
regular season games and had not lost on their home field since 1967. Both
strings were broken by the Cubs. The very first play of the game may have been
the most important. Joe Herzik took the opening kickoff and raced down the left
sideline for an apparent 100 yard touchdown. But the play was called back on a
penalty. Brenham then scored the first 26 points of the game. Leaks rolled up
127 yards in 24 carries and intercepted two Columbus passes. The Cards finally
scored on a one yard plunge that was set up by a pass interference penalty in
the end zone.
The Cards rounded out their season with a victory over the Elmore Tigers, which, because Brenham had managed to lose a game, made them co-district champions. Otherwise, the season was highlighted by the Cardinals' victory over the Cuero Gobblers, a team which eventually lost in the state finals, and by their victory in the first ever game with the new high school in the southern part of Colorado County, Rice Consolidated High School.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 6-3-1 (beat Gonzales 39-6, beat Rice 41-14, beat Bellville 13-6, lost to Needville 20-7, lost to Cuero 13-12, lost to Brenham 37-6, beat Hearne 14-7, beat La Grange 33-27, tied A & M Consolidated 13-13, beat Elmore 35-27)
The team's four year run of great seasons ended in 1971, though the Cardinals, led by three-year starter Carl Andress, Jr., at quarterback, still played well and finished second in their district. Andress passed for more than 200 yards in each of the season's first two games, and had five touchdown passes against Gonzales and four against Rice. But he could do little to arrest a three game losing streak that began on October 1 and wrecked the Columbus season. In the first of the three games, the Needville Bluejays, who came into the contest undefeated and unscored upon, completely shut down the Cardinals in the second half and pulled away to victory. The following week, the Cards narrowly lost to a strong Cuero team led by Arthur Whittington and Alois Blackwell. Then, the undefeated Brenham Cubs, still featuring Wilson Whitley, swamped the Cards.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 1-7-2 (tied Gonzales 0-0, lost to Brenham 40-0, beat Bellville 34-14, lost to A & M Consolidated 30-0, lost to Cuero 21-14, tied Yoakum 7-7, lost to La Grange 14-13, lost to Rice 14-6, lost to Wharton 7-6, lost to Edna 32-0)
The 1972 Cardinals managed to win only one game; however, there was some solace in the fact that their victory was over long-time archrival Bellville. The Cardinals were moved out of Brenham's district, but played them anyway. Their three stars, Wilson Whitley, Matt Murski, and Cleveland Franklin, demolished the Cards. Besides the Bellville victory, the season was highlighted by, and typified by, three consecutive near wins. The La Grange Leopards, who eventually won the district title, dominated their game with Columbus on October 20, but were only able to win by scoring a touchdown with fourteen seconds left in the game. The next week, Rice scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to slip past Columbus. Finally, Wharton played foolishly enough to throw their game away, but the Cardinals could not capitalize. Trying to run out the clock, Wharton miscalculated; and after four runs and two delay of the game penalties, the Cardinals took possession of the ball at the seven yard line with seven seconds to play and behind by only seven points. On the last play of the game, sophomore quarterback Rusty Canik found sophomore receiver Willis Perkins in the end zone for a touchdown, but the Cardinals went for two and were stopped.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 5-5 (beat Gonzales 27-6, beat Brenham 25-7, lost to Bellville 21-8, beat A & M Consolidated 32-7, lost to Cuero 35-0, beat Yoakum 14-9, beat La Grange 28-16, lost to Rice 26-12, lost to Wharton 19-0, lost to Edna 10-0)
In 1973, the Cardinals began a rebound that would firmly establish them as a perennial central Texas power. With a team led by Ben Scott, Leon Thomas, and James Cleveland, the Cards managed to win five of their first seven games; with one of those losses, understandably, coming to the eventual state champion Cuero Gobblers. Then, they fell apart. The Cardinals lost to the Rice Raiders despite compiling 331 yards of total offense to the Raider's meager 131. The Cardinals lost four fumbles, two interceptions, and had two punts blocked. The following week, Wharton won the district title by completely shutting the Cardinals down. Columbus had just 91 total yards and never crossed the fifty yard line.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 9-2-1, two playoff games (lost to Gonzales 6-0, beat Rice 26-0, beat La Grange 13-0, tied Brenham 12-12, beat Needville 14-7, beat Katy 43-6, beat Sealy 31-6, beat Hempstead 23-15, beat Bellville 26-17, beat Waller 38-7, beat Coldspring 27-6, lost to Newton 33-0)
With offensive stars like James Cleveland, Ronnie Divin,
Rudy Hernandez, and Willis Perkins, and defensive standouts like Rusty Canik,
John Glueck, Gary Leopold, and Perkins, the 1974 Cardinals won the schools first
district title since 1969. The Cards established their preeminence in the
district with the first district game, beating the team which was favored to
take the title, the Needville Bluejays. Columbus took the game with a nine-play,
65-yard touchdown drive in the final three minutes of the game. Three weeks
later, the Cardinals sent the Hempstead Bobcats to their first defeat of the
season. Behind 15-7 at the end of the third period, the Cardinals got two fourth
quarter TDs to win. Both touchdowns were triggered by fumble recoveries, one by
Jackie Jensen and one by Mark Faldyn. The Cardinals secured their title by
beating the Bellville Brahmas, who had played Hempstead to a tie. Again,
Columbus scored twice in the fourth period to take the game. Cleveland had 222
yards rushing on 24 carries.
In the opening round of the playoffs, the Cardinals had a far easier time than could reasonably be expected. They totally dominated the Coldspring Trojans, posting 331 yards of total offense and limiting Coldspring to 19. But the following week, the Newton Eagles ended the Columbus season. In cold, windy, and rainy conditions, the Cardinals had four first half turnovers. The Eagles built a 19-0 lead at before the half, and added to it in the second half. They went on to win the state championship.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 10-2, two playoff games (beat Gonzales 19-12, beat Rice 18-7, lost to La Grange 21-7, beat Brenham 12-7, beat Needville 21-6, beat Katy 42-0, beat Sealy 20-7, beat Hempstead 15-0, beat Bellville 20-10, beat Waller 45-7, beat Coldspring 27-0, lost to Hamshire-Fannett 16-7)
In 1975, the Cardinals experienced a mild deja vu. They
rambled to their second consecutive district championship, lost again to an
eventual state champion (the La Grange Leopards), and smothered the Coldspring
Trojans in the first round of the playoffs. The stifling Columbus defense, led
by Ronnie Divin, Mark Faldyn, and Jeffrey Rhodes, and which allowed just under
eight points a game, was the key to the season. The Katy Tigers, who came into
their game with Columbus undefeated, loomed as the Cards' principal obstacle to
the district title. But Columbus got a 65 yard touchdown run from Rhodes, a
touchdown on a blocked punt, two touchdowns from Joe Carter, one on a 73 yard
punt return the other on a 43 yard interception return, and two other touchdowns
to demolish the Tigers. They rolled through their remaining district opponents
undefeated, and unchallenged, and found their first-round playoff opponent,
Coldspring, no more threatening. The Trojans played better than they had the
previous season, amassing 82 total yards and five first downs, but failed to
score. The Cardinals were hampered only by three turnovers. Jackie Jenkins, who
had been injured for much of the year, and Rhodes each gained more than 100
yards rushing for Columbus.
The Cards then fell to the undefeated Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns, who came into the game ranked second in the state. The Cardinals dominated the first half, holding the Longhorns to one first down and 26 yards of total offense, and putting up what would be their only score, a 35 yard touchdown pass from Bill Bankston to Divin. But the second half was a nightmare for the offense. Five turnovers kept the ball in the Longhorns' hands, and wore out the Columbus defense. The Longhorns capitalized on two of the turnovers to put up a touchdown and a field goal, then put the game out of reach with a long drive that culminated in a touchdown with 42 seconds left to play.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 9-1 (beat Rice 55-12, beat Boling 32-0, beat La Grange 14-7, beat Brenham 27-8, beat Schulenburg 21-6, lost to Bellville 13-7, beat Sealy 43-14, beat Magnolia 28-0, beat Waller 37-6, beat Hempstead 6-0)
The Cardinals entered the 1976 season ranked eighth in the state, and they lived up to their ranking. They lost only one game. Unfortunately, that defeat kept them from the district title and dropped them out of the playoffs. The team was led by quarterback Bill Bankston, two way star Tracy White, and standouts Mark Faldyn, Bernard Glover, Mike Leopold, Kenneth Renick, and Stanley Scott. After an undefeated and comparatively easy non-conference schedule, the Cards faced their perennial nemesis, the Bellville Brahmas, in the district opener, on October 15, in a driving rain. The Brahmas posted two touchdowns in the first half, digging a hole from which the Cardinals could not escape. The following week, the Cardinals smothered Sealy, running up 421 yards rushing. They finished their season with three more wins, posting two shutouts and holding their other opponent to only six points.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 9-1 (beat Rice 55-0, beat Boling 26-12, beat La Grange 7-6, beat Brenham 18-6, beat Schulenburg 44-8, lost to Bellville 28-14, beat Sealy 19-0, beat Magnolia 28-0, beat Waller 43-0, beat Hempstead 39-0)
The 1977 Cardinals were regarded even more highly than
their immediate predecessors, boasting the number two ranking in the state at
the start of the season. But again, the Columbus season was spoiled by a defeat
in the first district game, and again the Bellville Brahmas were the culprits.
Bellville, like Columbus, came into the game with a perfect record. The Brahmas
had allowed one touchdown to La Grange in their opener, then shut out four
straight opponents. The Cardinals fell behind, 7-0, before breaking Bellville's
shutout string. The Columbus TD, which came on a one yard plunge by quarterback
Bill Bankston, was set up by two big penalties on the Brahmas. Ahead 8-7 at the
half, the Cardinals posted another touchdown in the third period on Robin
Mitchell's interception return. Then, the Brahmas erupted for three TDs, one in
the final minute of the third quarter and two in the fourth period, on runs of
71, 39, and 21 yards, to win.
Otherwise, the Cardinals' defense, which was anchored by LaRay Perkins, Roy Wilson, and Sherman Green, was again stout. They shut out their last four district opponents, and held Sealy's highly touted running back Eric Dickerson to 54 yards on 17 carries. Besides Bankston, the team's offensive stars included Perkins, Michael Coleman, Don Jenkins, Willie Toliver, Lynn Braden, and Scott Goleman.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 7-3 (lost to Rockdale 10-6, beat La Grange 33-6, beat Yoakum 15-14, beat Bellville 14-10, lost to Magnolia 13-6, beat Brookshire Royal 34-7, lost to Sealy 48-19, beat Waller 7-0, beat Rice 42-6, beat Hempstead 42-8)
For the third straight year in 1978, the Cardinals started
the season ranked high in the state polls (fifteenth), but finished second in
their district and narrowly missed the playoffs. This time the district
champion, the Sealy Tigers, advanced all the way to the state championship.
The Cardinals had reason to hope for better than a second place finish when they beat the Bellville Brahmas in the district opener, 14-10, on the strength of a third quarter touchdown pass to Stanley Mitchell from Matt Underwood, who was in at quarterback for the injured Robin Mitchell. But turnovers cost them their second district game, against Magnolia, and made it imperative that the Cardinals win the rest of their games. Sealy, however, stood in their way. The Tigers were again led by Eric Dickerson, who would go on to a record-setting career in the National Football League. Unlike the 1977 Cardinals, the 1978 team could not contain him. The Cardinals played the Tigers to a 7-7 tie at halftime, but the Tigers pulled away with 41 points in the second half. Dickerson piled up 217 yards on 30 carries and scored three of his team's touchdowns.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 8-1-1 (beat Rockdale 21-14, beat La Grange 26-14, tied Yoakum 14-14, beat Bellville 21-0, beat Magnolia 31-13, beat Brookshire Royal 20-6, beat Sealy 19-12, lost to Waller 24-6, beat Rice 40-7, beat Hempstead 40-0)
The Cardinals were a bridesmaid for the fourth year in a
row in 1979. Though nominally they were co-champions of their district, they
were again left behind when the playoffs started. For the four seasons beginning
in 1976, the Cardinals compiled a remarkable record of 33-6-1, but never played
a playoff game.
Paced by 1000 yard rusher Ricky Jones, and with offensive and defensive stars like Clifton Glover, Wesley Jasek, Matt Underwood, and Robert Waddle, the Cardinals again won all their district games, save one. That one, against Waller, forced them into a three-way tie with Waller and Magnolia for the title. By virtue of a complicated tie-breaking system, Waller was allowed to represent the district in the playoffs.
Coach: Carl Andress; Record: 3-7 (lost to Rockdale 32-20, beat La Grange 21-7, lost to Yoakum 16-0, lost to East Bernard 12-8, lost to Bellville 21-7, beat Brazos 62-7, beat Hempstead 40-25, lost to Rice 33-14, lost to Sealy 26-15)
Before the season, the Cardinals got a new field house. That was perhaps the happiest development in Columbus' troubled 1980 season. The Cardinals did manage to capitalize on five fumbles and beat the La Grange Leopards in their second game, but before they could take the field against Yoakum, the player who was expected to be their star running back had been kicked off the team for "disciplinary reasons." Before the East Bernard game, the team changed quarterbacks. For Bellville, the Cardinals experimented with the wishbone offense. A hapless Brazos team seemed to be the tonic the Cardinals needed, as they scored on nine of their eleven possessions and amassed 440 rushing yards. They held together long enough to slip past Hempstead, overcoming a 25-7 deficit. But Rice held them to 32 yards rushing and mounted a furious rush on Cardinal passer Tom Ostert, and Sealy sent them reeling to their seventh defeat of the year. Only one Columbus player, Tony Boone, made the all district team.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 7-2-1 (beat Rockdale 7-6, beat La Grange 45-28, beat Yoakum 27-18, lost to East Bernard 21-14, beat Bellville 9-6, tied Waller 21-21, beat Brazos 43-0, beat Hempstead 22-0, lost to Rice 17-6, beat Sealy 61-14)
On March 10, 1981, the school board voted, 4-1, not to
renew the contract of longtime Columbus coach Carl Andress. The preceding year,
Andress' contract had been discussed in executive session. Most of the
discussion then seems to have centered around the fact that Andress was being
signed to two-year contracts while teachers and others were being signed to only
one-year contracts. Andress, learning of the discussion, refused to sign the
two-year contract he was offered, preferring instead to continue his employment
under the terms of the two-year contract he had signed the preceding year. When
that contract expired, at the end of 1981, he was not offered another. Instead,
on March 17, the school board met again and promoted Frank Riney, who had been
on Andress' staff, to head coach. In June, Andress accepted a coaching position
at Henderson County Junior College. Three months later, he filed suit against
the superintendent and school board of the Columbus Independent School District
for improper dismissal, asking to be restored to his position and for damages.
On the field, Riney, having installed a veer offense and sophomore Ricky Noska to run it, and getting a 1218 yard season from runner Douglas Stovall, turned the Cardinals back into a winner. The week after East Bernard had beaten the Cards with a last minute touchdown, the Cardinals did the same thing to Bellville. The Cardinals' winning score came as time ran out in the fourth quarter. Noska, from thirty yards out, flung the ball toward Tony Boone near the goal line. A Brahma defender deflected it, but Boone hauled it in and stepped into the end zone for the win. The most memorable moment of the season, however, came in the Waller game. With the Cardinals leading 21-7 in the third quarter, Noska turned and handed the ball to Stovall. Stovall broke free and was running for the end zone when the officials blew the play dead. Neither they nor the Waller players had seen the handoff, and when the Bulldogs gang tackled Noska, the officials thought the play was over.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 5-5 (beat Giddings 15-7, lost to Elgin 24-14, lost to East Bernard 21-6, beat Brookshire Royal 13-6, beat Sealy 10-8, lost to Bellville 27-14, lost to Hempstead 10-8, beat La Grange 42-31, beat Rice 20-19, lost to Waller 50-20)
For the first time, the second place team in each district
was allowed to go the playoffs. The new rule, however, which would have been of
great benefit to the Cardinals a few years earlier, did the 1982 Cardinals no
good. Burdened by injuries and a tough schedule, the Cards struggled through a
mediocre season. The injuries forced the squad to play Hempstead with only
seventeen players. Things got little better. At the end of the year, there were
fewer than twenty players in uniform. As for the schedule, two of the Cardinals'
losses were to teams which finished the regular season 10-0 (Elgin and East
Bernard) and two were to teams which finished 9-1 (Bellville and Waller).
The passing of quarterback Ricky Noska, who finished the season with 1230 yards, and the receiving of Wayne Thomas provided most of the team's offense. The season was highlighted by two last-second game-winning field goals by Shane Barten. Barten hit a 33 yarder with six seconds left to beat Sealy and a 21 yarder with four seconds left to beat Rice.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 6-4 (beat Giddings 27-13, beat Elgin 27-20, lost to East Bernard 14-6, lost to Brookshire Royal 30-12, beat Sealy 33-7, beat Bellville 27-11, beat Hempstead 7-6, lost to La Grange 14-6, beat Rice 34-20, lost to Waller 49-20)
Quarterback Ricky Noska hit his favorite receiver, Wayne Thomas, for three touchdowns in the opener against Giddings, and followed with 257 yards passing against Elgin, but the lack of a reliable ground game kept the 1983 Cardinals from contending for a playoff spot. And again, injuries hurt the Cardinals, as Thomas missed several games and Noska missed one. The fans though were treated to their first sight of sophomore Percy Waddle, who became a varsity star and finished the year with 932 yards receiving.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 11-3, four playoff games (beat Giddings 29-14, beat Brookshire Royal 33-6, beat La Grange 20-0, beat Sealy 40-6, lost to Bellville 20-0, beat Gonzales 20-0, lost to Rice 26-9, beat Yoakum 40-6, beat Hallettsville 27-0, beat Pflugerville 14-13, beat Bandera 21-14, beat Cuero 35-7, lost to Medina Valley 28-13)
The 1984 Cardinals won more playoff games (three) than any
previous team, winning the regional championship before falling to the Medina
Valley Panthers in a quarterfinal game. Percy Waddle amassed more receiving
yards, (1471) than any player in state history. He caught 67 passes and had 19
touchdowns. Quarterback Reagan Anderson, naturally, had a huge season as well,
going 113 for 223 with 1874 yards and 23 touchdown passes, this despite missing
the Gonzales and Rice games with an injury.
The Cardinals reached the playoffs by virtue of a second place finish in their district to the Rice Raiders. The Cardinals squeezed by the first playoff game when Pflugerville, ahead on penetrations, missed what would have been a game-tying extra point. Anderson threw for both touchdowns, one to Percy Waddle of 80 yards and one to sophomore Greg Waddle of 16 yards. The victories over Bandera and Cuero were also highlighted by long bombs for touchdowns from Anderson to Percy Waddle, for 77 yards against Bandera and 62 against Cuero. The Cardinals were finally bounced from the playoffs by the eventual state champion, Medina Valley.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 8-3, one playoff game (beat Giddings 27-18, beat Brookshire Royal 41-15, beat La Grange 34-0, beat Sealy 41-9, lost to Bellville 17-0, beat Gonzales 41-21, lost to Rice 14-6, beat Yoakum 26-14, beat Edna 21-14, beat Hallettsville 48-0, lost to Pflugerville 20-19)
As they had in 1984, the 1985 Cardinals cruised through
their regular season opponents with eight wins and two losses. As they had in
1984, the 1985 Cardinals lost to Bellville and Rice. As they had in 1984, the
1985 Cardinals advanced to the playoffs as their district's second place team.
As they had in 1984, the 1985 Cardinals opened their playoff run with
Pflugerville. Unfortunately, there the pattern stopped. In 1985, Pflugerville
beat the Cardinals by one point, ending any hopes of surpassing the previous
season's achievement. The Cardinals were their own worst enemy in the
Pflugerville game, turning the ball over on six of the ten possessions they had
in the game.
Still, there were plenty of thrills for Cardinal fans in 1985. Percy Waddle, in his senior season, was limited by an injury for much of the year but still became the first Texas high school receiver to surpass 3000 yards receiving in a career. He finished with 828 yards and 46 catches, 12 of them for touchdowns, and a state record career total of 3224 yards. He set the record in the Edna game, fittingly on a 65 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dodd Naiser. Naiser, in fewer games, slightly surpassed Anderson's remarkable 1984 passing statistics, completing 117 of 204 passes for 1878 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 2-8 (beat Giddings 27-20, lost to El Campo 21-7, lost to La Grange 7-6, beat Gonzales 20-12, lost to Cuero 40-0, lost to Rice 23-0, lost to Hempstead 21-6, lost to Brookshire Royal 18-7, lost to Bellville 35-18, lost to Sealy 26-14)
Injuries severely hurt the Cardinals in 1986, and the team suffered through its first losing season since 1980. Not even the imposing presence of senior Greg Waddle could arrest the team's slide. The Cards lost their last six games, including all five of their district contests. By the end of the year, sophomore Craig Pflughaupt had advanced from the junior varsity to play quarterback for the varsity, and Tyrone Whitehead had jumped from the freshman team to the varsity backfield. Whitehead generated promise for the future with his first varsity carry, a 58 yard run against Bellville.
Coach: Frank Riney; Record: 4-6 (beat Giddings 22-14, lost to El Campo 37-13, lost to La Grange 34-7, beat Gonzales 12-7, lost to Cuero 42-14, beat Rice 21-13, beat Hempstead 26-15, lost to Brookshire Royal 28-13, lost to Bellville 28-6, lost to Sealy 40-13)
The Cardinals logged their second straight undistinguished
season in 1987, though they had an effective quarterback in Craig Pflughaupt, a
fine runner in Brian Chavis, and a two way all district lineman in Chris
Archuletta. The October 2 game against the Cuero Gobblers was the most
interesting of the year. The Gobblers, en route to a state championship,
featured powerful and fast running back Robert Strait, who devastated the
Cardinals with four touchdown runs. Though the Gobblers overcame early problems
to handily beat the Cardinals, the game ended in controversy. With 33 seconds
left in the contest, and the Gobblers leading by 28 points, the Cardinals faced
a fourth and six at their own 40. Rather than letting the time expire, the
Gobblers called time out. The move apparently signaled their intention to build
on their already insurmountable lead, evidently with their ranking in the state
polls in mind. Coach Riney used the time-out to tell his players to forsake the
customary postgame handshakes with the Gobblers, and to bolt to the locker room
as soon as time expired. They did so, even though the Gobblers made no attempt
to score. Riney later justified the action by citing pregame friction between
Cuero's players and his own coaches and players, saying that he feared postgame
contact would escalate into a fight.
For most of the season, Riney was under fire from the local newspaper for the declining participation in his program. Indeed, for the first time in years, Columbus had no junior varsity team in 1987. In March 1988, Riney abruptly and unexpectedly resigned to become the head coach at Mineral Wells. Later the same month, Robert A. Gillis was hired to take his place in Columbus.
Coach: Bob Gillis; Record: 4-6 (beat Giddings 15-8, beat Caldwell 14-8, lost to La Grange 27-0, lost to Bellville 21-20, lost to Sealy 31-0, lost to Palacios 21-0, beat Rice 21-0, lost to Sweeny 24-0, beat Needville 40-34, lost to Hitchcock 39-32)
New coach Bob Gillis brought a renewed enthusiasm to the program, but the Cardinals posted their third straight losing season in 1988. The Needville game was easily the most exciting of the season. Ahead 34-32, the Bluejays were attempting to run out the clock when, with 1:03 left, Chad Hahn forced and recovered a fumble. Columbus quarterback Ronnie Ashton immediately drove his team down the field with passes to Cedric Williams and Craig Pflughaupt. However, the drive stalled. Facing a fourth and four, Gillis sent Pflughaupt in to attempt a game-winning 38 yard field goal. Needville called time out in an attempt to unnerve the kicker. During the time out, Pflughaupt expressed doubt that he could make the kick, so Gillis sent his offense back into the game. Ashton quickly hit Williams for the first down, then, with nine seconds left, hit him again for the winning touchdown.
Coach: Bob Gillis; Record: 5-5 (beat Giddings 21-6, lost to Caldwell 21-12, beat La Grange 30-19, lost to Bellville 28-20, lost to Sealy 35-7, beat Palacios 14-0, beat Rice 20-13, lost to Sweeny 28-27, lost to Needville 42-12, lost to Hitchcock 34-0)
With a superb runner in Tyrone Whitehead, and Ronnie
Ashton returning at quarterback, and a defense led by Whitehead, Chad Hahn, and
Tim Fitzgerald, the Cardinals had just enough firepower to reach the .500 level
in 1989. Whitehead finished the season with 1565 yards rushing on 232 carries,
and 27 pass receptions for 358 years. Ashton passed for 1015 yards.
Whitehead almost single-handedly defeated the Palacios Sharks, who came into the game with a 5-0 record. Whitehead got both Cardinal touchdowns, on runs of 97 and 80 yards, the first probably the longest in the school's history. He finished that game with 279 rushing yards. Against Sweeny, it appeared he would smash every school record. He ran for 200 yards in the first half alone, getting 91 on one touchdown run and 66 on another. But the Bulldogs limited Whitehead to only 27 second half yards. Down 21-7 at the half, Sweeny posted three unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-21 lead. Struggling for offense, Ashton turned to the air and found Matt Torregrossa running behind everybody. He hit him for a 64 yard touchdown with 7:22 left to play. The Cardinals, however, tried for a two point conversion and failed.
Coach: Bob Gillis; Record: 9-2, one playoff game (beat Needville 35-6, beat Caldwell 28-7, beat Stafford 48-13, beat Wharton 42-12, beat Yoakum 22-0, beat Brookshire Royal 21-7, lost to Sealy 27-21, beat La Grange 34-14, beat Rice 28-6, beat Bellville 32-7, lost to Elgin 32-28)
Bob Gillis' rebuilding program finally began to pay
dividends in 1990. The Cardinals rolled to six straight victories to start the
season, as their three principal runners, Jermaine Jones, Jason Reichle, and
Chad Hahn, ran wild behind the strong, tough offensive line. The team's third
victory, over the highly-touted Stafford Spartans, confirmed that the Cardinals
were indeed a solid team. But the Cards were not quite good enough to win their
district. They lost their second district game to the Sealy Tigers, on a last
minute touchdown, and the Cardinals had to settle for second place.
Still, they made the playoffs for the first time since 1985; and their playoff opener, against the Elgin Wildcats, was a classic. Elgin took a 13-0 lead with two touchdowns in the first period. Just as things began to look desperate, the Cardinals erupted. First, Gregory Pitchford hit Jason Geisler for a 62 yard touchdown. Then, Pitchford hit Jones for a 31 yard TD. Finally, just before halftime, Jones scored the Cardinals third touchdown from eight yards out. Then the momentum again shifted. Elgin roared out of the locker room and scored on their first two possessions of the second half to take a 25-21 lead. The Cards, however, drove the ball to the eight yard line, and Pitchford hit Heath Moore for the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The jubilant Cardinals lined up for the kickoff, confident of victory. Just 23 seconds later, they were dead. After a good kickoff return and a short completion, Elgin quarterback Ray Gonzales found a receiver behind the Columbus defense and hit him for a 52 yard touchdown. With a shocking suddenness, the season was over.
Coach: Bob Gillis; Record: 11-1, two playoff games (beat Needville 33-0, beat Caldwell 54-0, beat Stafford 56-7, beat Wharton 14-7, beat Yoakum 30-6, beat Brookshire Royal 49-7, beat Sealy 35-13, beat La Grange 28-6, beat Rice 52-0, beat Bellville 14-10, beat Cameron 37-6, lost to Fairfield 28-7)
With offensive stars including quarterback Ryan Schobel,
runners Sean Sutton and Jason Reichle, and blockers Devin Kulhanek and Robert
Waddle, and a defense anchored by stout linemen Deshon Hargrove, Clement Belota,
and Melvin Jones, and linebackers Mike Dancy and Simon Herrera, the 1991
Cardinals steamrolled through their regular season opposition. Needville got
only 49 yards of total offense; Caldwell was able to generate only nine. As the
victories piled up, the Cardinals rose in the state rankings. They had risen to
number four when they played the Bellville Brahmas for the district championship
on November 7. The Brahmas nearly rode a solid passing attack to victory. Their
last drive was stopped at the two yard line with 57 seconds remaining in the
The Cardinals easily defeated the Cameron Yoemen in their playoff opener, amassing 410 yards of rushing offense. Reichle got 270 of the yards, most of them on touchdown runs of 65, 65, and 42 yards. Schobel piled up 114 yards and had two long touchdown runs, one of 42 and one of 44 yards. But the Fairfield Eagles proved to be too much for the Cardinals. Reichle was held to 21 yards rushing, and neither Schobel nor Sutton could make up the slack. Columbus got the first seven points of the game, but Fairfield answered with 28 points, 22 of them in the second half, to take the game. The following March, the Cardinals suffered another wrenching loss, when their coach, Bob Gillis, resigned to take the coaching job in El Campo.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 11-2, three playoff games (beat Cuero 26-22, beat Caldwell 47-35, beat Edna 14-12, beat Hallettsville 34-21, beat Sealy 41-9, beat Hempstead 14-6, beat La Grange 28-3, beat Smithville 35-0, lost to Bellville 42-21, beat Rice 56-20, beat Elgin 35-28, beat Port Arthur Austin 14-7, lost to Coldspring 31-14)
On May 11, 1992, the school board hired Tommy Bludau, the
successful coach of Yorktown's football team, to replace Gillis. Bludau's first
game was auspicious, as his Cardinals, led by returning stars Ryan Schobel and
Sean Sutton, beat the perennially powerful Cuero Gobblers. The season featured
many memorable performances. Behind a solid offensive line featuring Mike
Gonzales, Devin Kulhanek, Jeff Reck, and Robert Waddle, the team piled up 465
yards rushing against Hallettsville, 282 of them by Schobel. Schobel threw for
two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the team over La Grange. Eddie
Russell intercepted three passes to help the Cardinals shut out Smithville. But
the Cardinals could not stop Bellville's Sammie Cloud, who ran through and around
them for 180 yards and four touchdowns to propel his team past the Cards for the
Still, Columbus slipped into the playoffs as the district's second place team, and made a fine showing. They beat Elgin behind 455 rushing yards. Their margin of victory was provided by an eighteen yard touchdown run by emerging star Reshawn Brown with about one minute left to play. They beat the Port Arthur Austin Eagles by forcing six turnovers, two of which were interceptions by Russell, on a wet and slippery field. It was left to the Coldspring Trojans to finally end the Cardinals season.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 12-2-1, five playoff games (beat Cuero 14-13, beat Caldwell 27-12, beat Edna 14-0, tied Hallettsville 6-6, beat Sealy 26-16, beat Hempstead 46-0, beat La Grange 28-0, beat Smithville 33-14, lost to Bellville 9-6, beat Rice 32-25, beat Giddings 19-6, beat Liberty 20-7, beat Coldspring 27-12, beat Waco Robinson 18-12, lost to Cuero 32-0)
In 1993, the Cardinals made their longest playoff run yet,
but it was nearly stopped before it started. When the season ended, Sealy was
atop the district and Columbus had secured the runners-up playoff spot. However,
Bellville, which narrowly missed the playoffs, claimed that Sealy had used an
ineligible player. Had the claim held up, Sealy would have been forced to
forfeit all its games, making Bellville the district champion, elevating
Hallettsville into a second place tie with Columbus, and, because Hallettsville
had had more penetrations in the game they played and tied with Columbus,
dropping the Cardinals out of the playoffs. However, the district ruled
Bellville's claim invalid, and both Sealy and Columbus went into the playoffs.
The Cardinals had two fine runners in Reshawn Brown and Sean Sutton, and four outstanding defensive players in Tony Andrew, Curt Hahn, Eddie Russell, and Andrel Waddle. Led by these stars, the Cards opened their playoff run with a methodical victory over the Giddings Buffaloes. The game was highlighted by long touchdown runs by each Sutton and Brown, Sutton's on the first play from scrimmage. A week later, they used the same formula to defeat the Liberty Panthers. Brown ran for 194 yards and Sutton for 117. Brown did the lions share of the work in the Cardinals' third playoff victory, running for 180 yards and all four of his team's touchdowns. Hopes that the Cardinals might win their first-ever state title rose higher when the team beat the Waco Robinson Rockets in their fourth playoff game. The game ended with a seldom seen strategy that is peculiar to high school football. Robinson tied the game at 12 with nearly six minutes to play in the fourth period. If the game had ended at that point, the Cardinals would have advanced by virtue of one more penetration. The Rockets best hope was to stop the Cardinals, then make a penetration, for they would then advance by virtue of a lead in first downs. The Cardinals, however, drove the ball down the field, finally making yet another penetration with less than two minutes to play, and forcing Robinson to score again if they hoped to continue playing. To score, the Rockets needed the ball back, so they simply refused to tackle Brown, and he scored from 17 yards out. The strategy did not work, however, when the Cardinals held on downs near midfield.
By then, the Cardinals were one of only four teams in their classification still playing. And one of the other four, the team they were to play next, was the Cuero Gobblers, a team which the Cardinals had already beaten. But the Gobblers were better, much better, than they had been at the start of the season. The principal improvement was in their quarterback, Clint Finley, a sophomore who had been playing his first varsity game when the Cardinals narrowly slipped by the Gobblers in the season's first week. Now, Finley ran wild. He rushed for 149 yards and threw for 41 more in leading the Gobblers' rout of the Cardinals.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 10-3-1, four playoff games (lost to Cuero 26-0, beat Smithville 29-3, beat Luling 26-13, beat Rice 47-0, beat Edna 25-0, beat Hallettsville 35-7, beat La Grange 39-20, lost to Sealy 35-14, beat Bellville 20-14, beat Brookshire Royal 45-0, tied Sweeny 7-7, beat Newton 35-12, beat Waco La Vega 49-14, lost to Sealy 12-6)
The Cardinals were great again in 1994. With returning big
men like Tony Andrew, Shawn Hiatt, Kenneth Jones, Alton Pope, Aaron Schobel, and
Andrel Waddle, the Cardinals were extremely well stocked with linemen. But their
backfield was a concern. The Cardinals fielded sophomore Matt Schobel as their
quarterback and untested John Morris as their main running back. Before the
season was over, both would prove up to the task. Schobel would finish the year
with over 1300 yards rushing and over 1200 passing.
The Cards lost five fumbles and were soundly beaten by the number one ranked Cuero Gobblers to open the season. The Cards then rolled through six straight opponents, with Schobel and Morris piling up yardage. Then, the Cardinals met the Sealy Tigers in the first of the three games which would decide the district title. Both teams, and the Bellville Brahmas, were undefeated in their first four district contests. Though Morris had a huge game running, and Schobel a good one passing, the Tigers handed the Cardinals their first district loss. The following week, the Cardinals beat the Brahmas, and when Sealy subsequently did the same, the Cardinals slipped into the playoffs as the district runners up.
In the first round, the Cardinals thoroughly outplayed the Sweeny Bulldogs, but had to rally to tie the game and advance on penetrations. Sweeny scored midway through the fourth quarter on an 83 yard interception return. But the Cardinals answered with just three plays, one of them a 58 yard run by Schobel to the Sweeny seven yard line. Steven Condon kicked the crucial extra point that allowed the Cards to advance. Morris and Schobel each gained more than 100 yards to lead the Cardinals past the Newton Eagles, then, with help from sophomore Colin Evans, amassed 403 yards rushing and soundly trounced the Waco La Vega Pirates. Then the Cards met the Sealy Tigers again; and though the teams played a statistically even game, Sealy emerged with the win. The Tigers would go on to win the state championship, and would do so again in each of the next three years.
Coach: Tommy Bludau, Record: 8-3, one playoff game (lost to Cuero 33-13, beat Smithville 19-0, beat Luling 21-14, beat Rice 42-20, beat Edna 42-18, beat Hallettsville 35-0, beat La Grange 42-14, lost to Sealy 49-19, beat Bellville 41-20, beat Brookshire Royal 48-6, lost to Sweeny 40-12)
Even with returning stars Matt and Aaron Schobel, with a
fine back in Colin Evans, and with proven linemen like Kenneth Jones, Drew Grobe,
Eric Brown, Kyle Poenitzsch, and 310 pound Ryan McDow, with the state champion
Sealy Tigers in their district, the 1995 Cardinals found it impossible to win
the title. They, like their predecessors of the previous three seasons, had to
settle for entering the playoffs as their district's second place team. But, in
1995, the Cardinals lost in the first round to the Sweeny Bulldogs.
Evans ran for four long touchdowns and piled up 284 yards on sixteen carries against Edna and 121 yards on only nine carries against Brookshire Royal. Matt Schobel racked up 160 yards on only twelve carries against Luling, 186 yards on only eight carries against Rice, 126 yards on only eight carries against Hallettsville, 142 yards on eleven carries against Bellville, and 132 yards on only six carries against Brookshire Royal. But even those outstanding performances paled in comparison with Schobel's game against the La Grange Leopards, in what was perhaps the best individual game in Columbus history, and one of the best in Texas high school history. Schobel was almost literally unstoppable. He carried the ball eight times and scored five touchdowns. His TDs came on runs of 47, 23, 41, 96, and 84 yards. He finished the game with 328 yards, averaging 41 yards per carry. He was tackled only three times.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 10-1-1, three playoff games (tied Sweeny 20-20, beat Cuero 26-14, beat Needville 27-20, beat Liberty 48-13, beat Hempstead 42-7, beat Hallettsville 58-6, beat Rice 52-6, beat Bellville 39-17, beat La Grange 34-28, beat Madisonville 34-12, beat Hamshire-Fannett 42-28, lost to Cameron 14-3)
With both Matt Schobel and Colin Evans returning for their
senior seasons, the Cardinals expected to challenge Sealy for the state
championship in 1996. And after tying tough Sweeny in their opener, and beating
perennially tough Cuero and Needville in their next two contests, the Columbus
fans had every reason to hope for the best. The Cardinals sailed through their
district opponents, finding a challenge only in their last game against an
improving La Grange Leopards team. The Cardinals rallied from behind to beat the
Leopards and take the district championship.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Madisonville Mustangs bottled up Schobel's running, but could not contain Evans. He ran for 137 yards and one touchdown. Schobel, meanwhile, threw two touchdown passes, one to Evans and one to Nick Youens. The Cardinals had everything going against the Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns. Evans ran for 150 yards, and Schobel ran for 190, scoring three touchdowns, and passed for 88 and two touchdowns. But the Cameron Yoeman managed to keep the Cardinals out of the end zone, and put up two touchdowns in the second half to end the Columbus season.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 11-4, four playoff games (lost to Sweeny 29-14, lost to Cuero 18-13, beat Caldwell 28-12, beat Needville 22-21, beat Liberty 35-0, beat Hempstead 27-0, beat Hallettsville 41-7, beat Rice 49-7, beat Bellville 35-0, lost to La Grange 29-20, beat Madisonville 27-8, beat Newton 29-12, beat Crockett 30-21, lost to La Grange 48-20)
The 1997 Cardinals were led by outstanding two-way player
John Connor, plus offensive standouts Michael Brown, Freddie Johnson, and Kirk
Lowe, and defensive stars Jeff Glueck, Bo Schobel, and Phillip Williams. After
losing their first two games to powerful opponents, the Cardinals reeled off
seven straight wins, including a narrow, last minute victory over Needville. The
last four wins in the streak were district games, and assured the team of a
playoff spot for the eighth year in a row. The Cardinals lost the district
championship to the La Grange Leopards in the year's last regularly scheduled
Uncowed, the Cards readily dispatched Madisonville, Newton, and Crockett in their first three playoff games. Only Crockett, which scored on two long passes and a long punt return, posed any serious threat. However, except for their three big plays, they showed little ability to move the ball against the Cardinals' stiff defense.
Meanwhile, La Grange was also rolling through three playoff opponents, setting up a rematch of the two schools on Saturday, December 6 at the Astrodome in Houston. The Cardinals received the ball to start the game and drove to a touchdown. But things quickly went downhill. Led by freshman quarterback Tye Gunn (who was the great-nephew of the Cardinals' star player of the early 1940s, Billy Gunn), the Leopards posted two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 14-7 halftime lead. The third quarter was an unmitigated disaster for Columbus. La Grange, who received the ball to start the quarter, scored on its first possession, and Columbus quarterback John Connor was injured playing defense. Without Connor, the Cardinals went three and out on their first possession of the half, and the Leopards marched to a second touchdown. The Cardinals then fumbled the ball, and La Grange scored again. Finally, the Cardinals fumbled the ensuing kickoff. La Grange, confident of victory, inserted their second string quarterback and promptly made their fourth touchdown of the quarter. Down 42-7, the Cards had little hope of victory. Gunn finished the game with 254 yards and four touchdowns on only twelve carries.
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 7-4, one playoff game (lost to Sweeny 36-6, lost to Cuero 21-8, lost to Caldwell 21-8, beat Needville 27-6, beat Madisonville 18-15, beat Hempstead 34-7, beat Smithville 34-15, beat La Grange 14-10, beat Giddings 14-7, beat Bellville 21-7, lost to Manor 21-13)
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 4-6 (lost to Sweeny 23-7, lost to Cuero 28-6, beat Caldwell 35-21, beat Needville 38-20, lost to Madisonville 35-27, beat Hempstead 12-6, lost to Smithville 7-0, lost to La Grange 28-21, beat Giddings 17-14, lost to Bellville 17-14)
Coach: Tommy Bludau; Record: 4-7, one playoff game (beat Needville 14-13, lost to Cuero 22-7, lost to Giddings 39-14, lost to Rice 42-12, lost to Brookshire Royal 49-21, beat Bellville 14-9, beat Smithville 40-0, lost to Hempstead 26-0, lost to La Grange 39-7, beat Hallettsville 32-16, lost to Wimberley 24-7)
Coach: Monte Althaus; Record: 5-6, one playoff game (beat Needville 10-0, lost to Cuero 21-7, lost to Giddings 37-0, lost to Rice Consolidated 19-0, beat Brookshire Royal 34-19, lost to Bellville 19-0, beat Smithville 20-6, beat Hempstead 32-0, lost to La Grange 32-0, beat Hallettsville 37-13, lost to Wimberley 35-0)
Coach: Monte Althaus; Record: 7-4, one playoff game (beat Wharton 14-0, beat Luling 21-19, beat Giddings 20-10, lost to Rice 22-8, beat Brookshire Royal 18-0, lost to Bellville 20-6, beat Stafford 9-0, beat Hempstead 20-0, lost to Sealy 28-7, beat Navasota 34-17, lost to La Grange 10-0)
Coach: Monte Althaus; Record: 4-6 (lost to Wharton 44-0, beat Luling 20-3, lost to Giddings 20-15, lost to Rice 14-0, beat Brookshire Royal 16-13, lost to Bellville 23-6, beat Stafford 27-8, beat Hempstead 28-6, lost to Sealy 22-0, lost to Navasota 27-11)
Coach: Monte Althaus; Record: 2-8 (lost to Needville 7-6, beat Luling 14-7, lost to Giddings 31-3, lost to Brazos 14-3, lost to Hallettsville 19-14, lost to Bellville 49-20, lost to Rice 43-3, lost to Sealy 42-0, lost to Navasota 35-7, beat Hempstead 34-22)
Coach: Brent Mascheck; Record: 1-9 (lost to Needville 33-13, lost to Luling 21-7, lost to Giddings 42-0, beat Brazos 21-18, lost to Yoakum 30-0, lost to Bellville 49-6, lost to Rice 37-20, lost to Sealy 37-14, lost to Navasota 21-14, lost to Hempstead 28-6)
Coach: Brent Mascheck; Record: 3-7 (beat Smithville 44-20, lost to Yoakum 7-0, beat Hallettsville 24-6, lost to Needville 20-13, lost to Sealy 42-7, lost to Brookshire Royal 49-12, lost to Columbia 33-0, beat Stafford 34-21, lost to Wharton 56-28, lost to Sweeny 28-7)
Coach: Brent Mascheck; Record: 9-2, one playoff game (beat Yoakum, 39-0, beat Smithville 51-32, beat Hallettsville 35-32, beat Needville 24-21, beat Sealy 20-17, lost to Brookshire Royal 41-13, beat Columbia 21-14, beat Stafford 29-4, beat Wharton 41-7, beat Sweeny 33-22, lost to Caldwell 42-31)
Coach: Brent Mascheck; Record: 5-4 (beat Yoakum 28-16, beat Van Vleck 38-20, beat Needville 21-0, beat Luling 48-27, beat Smithville 24-17, lost to Sealy 38-7, lost to Bellville 20-14, lost to La Grange 28-21, lost to Giddings 54-27)