Special to the Bulletin
Part of building a tradition, is remembering the past, and the Early Longhorn Booster Club made a run in that direction on Friday when the club honored players and coaches from Early from more than 50 years ago during half-time of the Grape Creek game.
Seventeen former Longhorns from the pre-1957 era attended the game, and were introduced at half-time. One, Jerry Coppic, who was in the hospital, got a special verbal recognition.
In the “Early” days, the Longhorns were a team to be reckoned with. For instance, from 1944-’47, Early set a state record for playing the most games without a loss — 33 games straight, though two of the 33 were ties. According to Nelson Wheat, the record stood nine years until 1956 when Abilene High went 37 games without a loss.
According to Wheat, who former Bulletin sports writer dubbed “Longhorn speed-merchant” in his ’44-’47 high school playing days, Early captured District 11-B championships in every major sport — football, basketball and track. Wheat’s clippings show that Early’s winning streak started in the second game of the first season Otis Walls coached at Early.
The Longhorns lost to Bangs that opening game, but the next week’s win started a streak that lasted until Oct. 29, 1947. It earned Early the reputation as being among the best Class B football programs in the state.
Back then, Wheat said, Class B Texas schools were not allowed the opportunity to compete for state football championships. The top competition stopped at regional. But in playing for the regional title in 1946, the Longhorns’ “brilliant offensive play” edged Eden out of the championship. The Longhorns won 26-25, to keep their streak, and title in tact.
The football winning streak included one special landmark game, played Sept. 25, 1947, the Longhorns’ premiere game at McDonald Field. The 60-cent adult (30 cents for children) admission price got Longhorn fans into the newly built stadium, that included lights so the Longhorns could play at night.