There was something in the water in Vernon, Texas in the 1970s.

Well, that or the fact that the late Coach Leo Brittain built a fantastic football culture in that little old hometown of mine. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Whatever the case may be, we had some great football teams two decades later. Starting with my classmates who went undefeated and won state in 1990, those teams during the 90s were some of the best to ever take the field in the Lone Star State.

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And I missed it all.

I went into the Navy shortly after graduating in 1991 and was deployed to the Mediterranean when one of the most epic playoff games in the history of Texas high school football was played at Pennington Field in Bedford 30 years ago. But many of my friends were there and I heard the stories.

WFAA did an outstanding piece on the anniversary of the game, speaking to several players from both teams, including Vernon’s Dexter Butler and Willie and Benny Cherry. It’s a hard pill to swallow for those of us from Vernon who believed that team would deliver our second state title, but it’s worth reflecting back on just how great both of those teams were.

And as great as the teams were, the atmosphere was electric. I remember hearing the stories about guys lifting people over the wall to get into the game because there was no more room in the seats. People had come from all over the state to see what was considered to be the true 3-A state championship.

That turned out to be the case. After defeating the Lions 39-35, Southlake Carroll rolled their next three opponents in the playoffs, outscoring them by a combined 172-7 on their way to the state championship.

No, Vernon didn’t win state that year, but those players should hold their heads high knowing they were part of one of the greatest teams in the history of our state.

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