‘68 team left quite a unique legacy

Ron Howell
Sports Editor

In terms of college level talent, it was among the best in school history.
Yet the 1968 Sweetwater High School football team — which had 11 of its living members recognized last month prior to the Mustangs’ homecoming game with Pecos at the Bowl — not only didn’t win a state championship that season, it didn’t even make the playoffs.
And it was perhaps best known for the one game that it lost.
A unique legacy, indeed.
Under coach Joe Boyd, the ‘68 Mustangs compiled an 8-1-1 record. They outscored their 10 opponents 324-44 — and none of the 10 scored more than seven points against them.
And there were no pre-district games that season. Sweetwater was part of an 11-team district that also included Brownfield, Colorado City, Lamesa, Levelland, Littlefield, San Angelo Lake View, Slaton, Snyder and the two schools that kept the Mustangs from a perfect 10-0 season.
Sweetwater tied Lubbock Dunbar 6-6 and lost 7-0 to Lubbock Estacado, an integrated school started a year earlier that won the Class 3A state title in 1968 — its first season playing a varsity football schedule.
The 7-0 loss ultimately kept Sweetwater out of the playoffs because back then, only the winners of each district advanced. Sweetwater’s 6-6 tie with Dunbar was considered a “win” due to the Mustangs’ advantage in penetrations (number of times inside the other team’s 20-yard line), a tiebreaker used for many years until the UIL began allowing games to be decided in overtime in the 1990s.
Even though Sweetwater lost to Estacado and missed the playoffs, it was arguably the team’s best game. The Mustangs were the only team to come within a touchdown of the Matadors, who went 14-0 and outscored their competition 552-32 that season.
Sweetwater was ranked No. 10 in the state and Estacado No. 4 in Class 3A by The Associated Press entering their game held at Mustang Bowl, which drew an overflow crowd of more than 8,000 people.
The teams were locked in a 0-0 tie until Estacado’s James Mosley scored the game’s only touchdown in the third quarter on a 6-yard run. He fumbled on the play but secured it after reaching the end zone.
Sweetwater’s best chance to score came on its very first series, but the Mustangs had to settle for a field goal attempt that missed.
Years later, Mosley was quick to give credit to the Mustangs. “That was the toughest game we had all year,” he said in Al Pickett’s recent book “Mighty, Mighty Matadors” about Estacado’s historic season.
“It was back and forth in the middle of the field pretty much the whole night,” Mosley continued. “If they would have won, I think they would have won the state championship because they were just that good.”
Twelve Sweetwater players — Aubrey McCain, Larry Chaney, David Redwine, Garry Smith, Benjie Kimp, Larry Smith, Jimmy Teston, Perry Thompson, Robert Monde, Ricky Baker, Bryan Lewis and Kent Boatright — received offers to play college football.
McCain, Redwine, Kemp, Lewis, Boatright, Frank Castro, David Quirino, Waylon Wood, Terry Boley, John Soto and student trainer Wayland Wagner were recognized prior to the Sweetwater vs. Pecos game when members of the 1969 graduating class were in town for their 50th reunion in October. All of the honorees except for McCain, Lewis and Wagner were recognized in person.
While the ‘68 Mustangs had plenty of offensive talent, its defense was second to none, Redwine said. “We had the best defense for a high school team I’ve ever seen. Someone said that if we’d played the ‘85 team (the only one to win a state title) it would have been nothing to nothing. We knew that year that we were going to be good.”
Boley said that season there was “really good” team camaraderie. Boatright said Boyd was a good motivator and had the team fired up for Estacado. “We were probably the most prepared for any team we’d played that year,” he said.
And Sweetwater was Estacado’s toughest game.
“We knew how big it was. But it really hit us when we walked down the ramp (to the Bowl),” said Redwine.
“We thought we played as good as we could,” Boley said. “Nobody could have played better.”
Fifty-one years later, Boatright said the Estacado game has become legendary.
“I’m 69 years old and I’ll still see someone on the street who will talk about that game,” he laughed.