25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

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25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

Postby granger » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:35 pm

BY LEMAN SAUNDERS

In 1977 the May Tigers were coming off the programs best season, having fallen to the legendary Marathon Mustangs in the 1976 state championship game. The Tigers had lost a few players to graduation and chief among them was all-state running back Phil Mitchell. However, May found the perfect kid to replace him with transfer student Brian Holmes. The senior Holmes would have a stellar season in 1977, rushing for 3,793 yards on the season, which stood the six-man record until Bryan Griffin of Mozelle broke it in 1983. Joining Holmes in the backfield was Bo Allen, a very tough runner and lead blocker, who would rush for over 1,200 yards that season as well. This one-two punch gave head coach Grayum Hart what he needed to challenge for a state title berth.

May battled the injury bug throughout most of the season, as players missed time to a variety of ailments including hurt knees, shoulders, ankles, a broken leg and even kidney problems. However, the Tigers weathered the storm and finished the regular season 10-0.

The toughest win for the Tigers came during the regular season, 16-point victory over Gordon in week 3 district opener, 44-28. In that game, May trailed by three scores, only to rally back and win. May head coach Grayum Hart cited this win as a major turning point for the Tigers.

Head Coach Hart’s preferred offensive set was the tight unbalanced line set, with the backs either in a T formation or an I formation. Many teams now days run this as their primary tight formation and call it a “J-Bird” set, named after the Jayton teams of the 1980s that ran it so well. The fact is Coach Hart was the primary reason for this sets’ popularity. Two of his former players went into coaching and had great success running that offense: Phil Mitchell and Mitch Lee. So, in reality the name J-Bird is a misnomer… and now you know the rest of the story.

In the first round of the playoffs, May battled Cherokee and walked away a 46-24 victor. In the semifinals the Tigers defeated Cranfills Gap via the mercy rule, 67-20, to advance to the championship game for a second-straight season.

For the championship game, May would have to face the Marathon Mustangs for the second-straight year. This was the fifth-straight year Marathon played for a state championship. The Mustangs, as they did the previous year, were in a district all by themselves and were forced to play almost all their non-district games as an 11-man team against 11-man schools.

The game was played in Sonora on Friday Dec. 2nd at 7:30pm. May jumped out early, as Holmes rushed for two scores in the first quarter, including a 73-yard run, to give May a 14-0 lead going into the second quarter.

Marathon quarterback Lonnie Salmon, playing in his fourth state title game, led the Mustang charge, answering with back-to-back scores, to tie the game at 14-all. With three seconds left before the half, May’s Bo Allen scored on a three-yard run to give the Tigers a 22-14 lead going into intermission. On that last drive before the half, Holmes suffered an ankle injury and was questionable for the second half.

Holmes had his ankle wrapped and came out for the second half with a noticeable limp, but played none the less. Marathon outscored May 15-6 in the third quarter, taking a 29-28 lead going into the final stanza.

For the first four minutes of the fourth quarter was a stalemate, then with six minutes left in the game and Marathon facing a 4th and goal at the 10-yard line, May’s defense came up with a huge stop, giving the Tigers possession on their own six-yard line.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, Holmes broke free and hit an outside lane, galloping 74 yards for a touchdown. Electing to go for one point, Bo Allen ran in the conversion giving May a 35-29 lead.

The Tigers then recovered an onside kick, seemingly taking the wind out of the Mustangs’ sails. Two plays later, Holmes, hurt ankle and all, refused to go down, dragging a Marathon defender once more to pay dirt, scoring on a 34-yard run. Adding another 1-point conversion, May took a 42-29 lead with about two minutes left to play.

Lonnie Salmon rallied the Mustangs, scoring on a 25-yard pass and catch to Alonzo Garcia with 1:05 left in the game. Their PAT failed and the onside kick was recovered by May, sealing the 42-35 victory.

May out-rushed Marathon 504 to 192 and out gained the Mustangs 523 to 312. Besides the obvious large rushing difference between the two teams, May won the turnover battle 5-1, recovering four Marathon fumbles and intercepting one pass. The game also featured a total of eight punts (four by each team). Brain Holmes had one of the best performances in a state title game, rushing for 365 yards and six touchdowns on 36 carries. His 174 yards in the second half were all on his bad ankle.

*Notes*
-There were 56 teams making up 8 district in six-man football in 1977.
-Greg Jaklewicz covered the game for the Abilene Reporter News and he is still at the paper as Editor and News Director.
-Bryan Griffin of Mozelle rushed for 3,798 yards in 1983 and is still the most rushing yards in a single season by a six-man player; Brian Holmes’ 3,793 yards is second most. (based on the best information available)

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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

Postby Leman Saunders » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:04 pm

stats via the Abilene Reporter News article
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

Postby Rcblank85 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:18 pm

Hey I know them boys. Lol
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

Postby Bo Allen » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:50 pm

If you click on link the write up says we graduated a few players. UNDERSTATEMENT. 4 on the Offense and 5 on the defense. Not to mention Phil Mitchell who broke the touchdown record for a single season 76 that Holmes broke again in 77. Preseason picks had us 4th in the District and but ready to fight for our lives. We couldn't have done it if it weren't for the leadership that was established even from 2 years prior with 75 and 76 teams. They set the bar and we were just crazy enough to not know we couldn't.. At the end of the 77 game Holmes finished the game on a broken ankle, Jackson finished the game with a broken wrist tapped up along with other injuries myself included with a bone fragments floating around in my hip. We looked like the Johnny Cash Version of a WINNER!!!!
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1977 May

Postby Rcblank85 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:03 am

And Coach Hart was almost blind...lol. Super coach though. He had a death grip on my elbow more than a time or two.
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