25 Days of Champions -- 1984 Jayton

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25 Days of Champions -- 1984 Jayton

Postby granger » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:36 pm

BY LEMAN SAUNDERS

Most familiar with six-man football here in Texas know about the back-to-back state championships won by the Jayton Jaybirds in 1984 and 1985. If not, they at least are familiar with what type of offense those teams ran, as the formation now is typically called a “J-Bird”, after that team, even though it was May and Coach Grayham Hart who popularized it (read my write-up on the 1977 May championship team for details).

In my opinion, Jayton in the 1981-1985 timeframe, should be studied by every school thinking about making the move to six-man from 11-man because the Jaybirds provided a blue print on how to make the transition.

Around 1981, Jayton knew their numbers were falling and a move back to six-man was looming. Principal and coach John Richey began making moves that would help them ease into six-man football. They made it known they would be more than willing to act as a neutral site and host six-man football playoff games, and in 1982, the eventual state champion Highland Hornets played two of their playoff games in Jayton, giving the locals a taste of what high-quality six-man football was like.

Another move Jayton made in 1981 was they hired an ex six-man football player from May named Phil Mitchell, who began working with their junior high, playing six-man in preparation for the future. That readied the players and town for 1984, the Jaybirds first season back in the six-man ranks.

When asked about it years late Phil Mitchell said, “We had the choice. We could have stayed in 11-man football and competed probably for another two years. But the numbers were way down in elementary grades.”

The end result of all this foresight and planning was back-to-back state championships in their first two season in six-man football, winning their first 40 games and 82 out of their first 100.

Before we dive into the 1984 season, let’s look at the 1983 season for Jayton in 11-man.

That season the Jaybirds were in a district with Knox City, with KC winning win the district title, defeating Jayton, 21-0. Jayton advanced to the playoffs as the district runner-up and lost a close game in bi-district that by all rights they should have won, falling to Paradise 28-12. Knox City, who O’Brien, the first six-man state championship school had consolidated with, went on to win the 1A state championship that season.

They Jaybirds had a very talented team out for football in 1984. Their two running backs, senior Mike Morales and junior Trey Richey were the proverbial duel threat out of the backfield, with junior Ricky Martinez calling the plays at quarterback. Martinez was also known as an excellent lead blocker in their run game. However, the key to the Jaybirds’ success running the ball had a lot to do with their offensive line. Junior center Pat Hamilton and junior end Mike Moorhead would go on to gain 1st team all-state recognition for their superb blocking during the season.

The Jaybird ran an aggressive 2-3 defense that was hard get around. Richey was arguably more valuable as a safety on defense, earning 2nd team all-state honors at the position, and linebacker Ricky Martinez (1st team all-state) and senior defensive lineman Timmy Chunn (2nd team all-state) were also a major part of the Jaybird’s defensive success.

They won their first three games, all non-district contests, defeating a solid Whitharral 47-14, Trent 52-32, and Woodson 55-0. Then played Grady in a non-district game, even thought they were in the same district but in separate zones, winning 65-22.

The Jaybirds would then go 5-0 in District 4 North Zone play and face Grady, the district 4 South Zone runner-up, in a Zone Playoff game and defeat them once again, this time by a score of 60-14.

In the playoffs, the Jaybirds drew Tornillo for bi-district and beat them via the mercy rule, 68-12. In the quarterfinals, a highly ranked Higgins, who had allowed only 33 points for the entire season, was next in the Jaybirds’ path. Jayton’s offense exploded, beating them 60-0 at halftime. Next up was a salty Marathon team that took Jayton the distance, but Jaybirds still won comfortably 66-30, thanks largely to three interceptions by Trey Richey. This set up a state championship game against May, scheduled to be played at McMurry University in Abliene.

May was the preseason Dave Campbell’s #1 team in six-man football, having five starters returning on both sides of the ball and they had held the Associated Press number one spot all season long. The Tigers’ head coach this time around was Ronnie Watkins, but former head coach Grayum Hart was still a part of the coaching staff as an assistant.

The Tigers rolled through the season, easily defeating their non-district and district opponents, en route to a district championship. In bi-district they easily defeated Paint Rock 54-8 and then in the quarter-finals faced off with their toughest opponent to that point in Cherokee. The Tigers held on to win, 40-29, then defeated a dangerous Newcastle squad, 52-6, in the semifinals, to advance on to the school’s third state championship game appearance.

One of the big story lines for this game was the fact that Jayton’s head coach Phil Mitchell was a May graduate, having been an integral part of their 1976 state runner-up team under coach Hart, who just also happened to be his father-in-law.

It would also be no surprise that both teams ran very similar offenses and were excellent on the defensive side of the ball. While Jayton had their duel back threat of Morales and Richey, May had what many thought a more superior duo in Glenn Pittman, a 1st team all-state running back, and Bobby Blankenship, a 2nd team all-state running back, who had combined to rush for 3,315 yards and 65 touchdowns on the season heading into the state game. For Jayton, Morales and Richey had combined for 3,416 yards and 74 touchdowns rushing.

By this time Jayton had risen to #2 in the AP state rankings and many were thinking this might be the most even and competitive six-man football championship to date.

The State Championship Game – Saturday Dec. 15th 7:30pm at McMurry Indian Stadium, Abilene
Conditions were bad for this game. It was freezing cold, with a mixture rain and sleet. To make matters worse, McMurry had hosted a football game the previous night, and the field wasn’t in the best shape.

While Jayton went out and did pregame warmups on the field, May opted to stay inside, warming up in the gym outside their locker room. This moved proved costly for the Tigers, as they were shivering cold for the first part of the game, while Jayton seemed acclimated to the condition. The Jaybirds outscored May 30-20 in that opening quarter.

May received to start the game and were forced to punt, thanks in part to a late hit penalty on the Tigers, putting them into a deep hole. On their first possession of the game, Jayton’s Trey Richey scored on 45-yard run and the PAT by Randy Waggoner was good, giving Jayton an 8-0 lead.

May came close to running the ensuing kickoff back, returning the ball deep in Jaybird territory. It didn’t matter, however, as Glenn Pittman took the pitch on a sweep left and cut back across the field for an 18-yard touchdown run on the next play. Steven Cloer’s kick tied the game at 8-8.

Jayton, not to be outdone, scored on their first play of the next drive, on a long play-action pass from Ricky Martinez, that hit a wide-open Pat Hamilton perfectly in stride, and he costed 62 yards for the touchdown. Now Jayton’s lead was 14-8, with 6:48 left in the first quarter.

This time the Jaybirds kick coverage pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory. May fumbled and Jayton was back in business at the Tiger 16-yard line. It took only three plays for Richey to find his way to paydirt on a six-yard run, and with 5:35 in the first quarter, Jayton lead 22-8.

May was again pinned deep, but this time managed to move the ball quickly, thanks in large part to a short dump pass to Andy Herbert, who zig-zagged his way downfield. A few plays later, Pittman scored on a five-yard run, cutting the score to 22-14.

With long gains running the ball with Morales and Richey, Jayton marched down the field and end Mike Moorhead scored from one-yard out, on a dive play making the score 30-14.

May answered this score, right before the first quarter ended, on a spectacular run by Pittman after catching a short pass from quarterback Dale Cloer, resulting in a 39-yard touchdown. Their PAT failed and Jayton led 30-20 with 48 seconds remaining in the quarter.

May came up with a turnover when Blankenship intercepted a Martinez pass. The Tigers drove down into Jaybird territory, but Jayton’s defense came up with a big stop, forcing the ball back over on downs.

May’s defense, with the aid of a few holding penalties, forced Jayton into a third-and-21 at the Jaybird 18-yard line. Trey Richey took the pitch and looked to pass the ball, only to dodge two Tiger defenders and sprint his way down the sideline for a crushing 62-yard touchdown. The PAT was good and with 3:04 left in the first half, Jayton led, 38-20.

Kick coverage for the Jaybirds once again pinned May deep in their own territory, forcing the Tigers to start their next drive at their own 6-yard line. After gaining a hard-fought first down with short run plays, May looked to score with a deep pass downfield, only to have Trey Richey intercept the ball.
Jayton drove down the field with long runs and scored one more time before the half, as Mike Morales scored from three yards out. The point after was blocked and Jayton would take a 44-20 lead into halftime.

Both teams made some defensive adjustments at halftime and the second half was a defensive battle. May was fired up on defense and managed to corral Richey a little better. The Tigers held Jayton to just 64 yards rushing, four first downs and zero points in the second half.

However, May’s offense couldn’t get things going either, as Jayton stepped up their defensive game as well. The Tigers finally found the end zone, as the only score in the second half came with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter, when May Herbert hit Cloer for a 16-yard touchdown strike. The PAT by Cloer narrowed the Jaybird lead to 16 points at 44-28.

Jayton was pinned back at their own 15-yard line to start their next possession but then proceeded to milk over five minutes off the clock, systematically moving the ball downfield. The Jaybirds took the ball inside the May 10-yard line. On fourth down, they attempted a field goal, but the snap was bad and May took possession with about two minutes left in the game.

However, Jayton forced and recovered a fumble at the Tigers 20-yard line on a near sack, on a third down passing play. Morales then ran the ball to the 1-yard line and Martinez kneeled it out, sealing the Jaybirds 44-28 state championship victory.

Offensively coach Phil Mitchell used his leading rusher, Mike Morales, primarily as upback for this game, to act more as a blocking back for Richey, who was moved to deepback, for a bulk of the team’s carries. This turned out to be a crucial move because going into the game May had been more concerned with stopping Morales and keyed mainly off him. As a result, Richey had a big night running the ball and his long 62-yard run in the second quarter was a big turning point in the game, as it gave Jayton a comfortable lead. Richey rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Jayton out-gained May, 460-333, with the big difference in the rushing department (340-123).

*Notes*
-In 1984 there were 73 teams in UIL six-man competition divided up into 8 districts.
-Highland was the district 4 South Zone Champion and faced Weinert, the North zone runner-up in a playoff game which Weinert won, snapping Highland’s 36-game win streak. Weinert then lost in Bi-District to Marathon, 58-49.
-1984 was the first year Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine featured a six-man football section. They also did a top-10 preseason poll for the first time, but abandoned it for a few years until they brought it back for good in 1987. Jayton came in at #6 in their 1984 preseason poll.
-Newcastle in the second round of the playoffs had one of the greatest comebacks ever! Against Abbott, Newcastle was down 46-14 early in the third quarter, only to fight back and win 63-61.
-The Texas Six-Man Coaches’ Association had a newsletter during this time and was an amazing source of information. I used their box score for the final yardage totals.
-A great article was written in 1998 about Jayton’s transition from 11-man to 6-man by Ray Glass for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Here is a link to that article.
http://lubbockonline.com/stories/98/081798/015-3576.shtml#.WiqdY9-nE2x
-Leman wrote this from of a game film he got courtesy of Bobby Blankenship
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1984 Jayton

Postby Rcblank85 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:02 pm

Them boys from Jayton hit almost as hard as Cherokee boys did. in that cold of weather it hurts more.lol. We definitely should have come out to warm up before the game.DEFINITELY...not sure the out come would have been much different but at least maybe we could hear the play calls and not teeth chattering. They played great, well coached. We tried the switching backs thing too. But it was just to awkward for us never felt comfortable so we jumped out of that pretty quick. They made it look easy. Lol
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1984 Jayton

Postby Rcblank85 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:46 pm

It's been established that this is not the 84 Jayton team. Some one said it was the 86 team. If anyone has a pic of the 84 team if you can let Leman know.
Great story of how they made the transition...I knew the success of 84 and 85 but had no idea Phil was able to win 82 of the first 100 games in 6man. Wow. Great success for him and Jayton players.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1984 Jayton

Postby Leman Saunders » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:14 am

Yes I was given this pic and was told it was 1984 and it turns out it is not...thanks to everyone who let us know!
Anyone out there with the correct 1984 team photo you can email me a scan at leman.saunders@gmail.com
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