25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

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25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby granger » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:55 pm

BY LEMAN SAUNDERS

In 1992, Fort Hancock was the anointed team and everyone’s pick to win their fifth-straight state championship. Panther Creek, a school in just their seventh year of existence, had other plans. The 1992 State Champion Panther Creek Panthers pulled off a couple of upsets en route to their huge upset win over Fort Hancock in the state game. Here is a look back at their Cinderella season.

Head Coach Alan Luker had 29 kids out for football, including 10 of 12 starters, who were back from a team that narrowly was defeated by Zephyr, 20-16, in bi-district in 1991. Spreadback Chad Humphries and runningbacks Monty Bouldin and Clayton Hinds were key players for the Panthers.

Panther Creek was ranked outside the Associated Press Top-10 when the season began and in their first game of the season suffered a 26-14 loss to Cherokee. However, the Panthers rebounded well. They defeated Zephyr, Rochelle and Brookesmith easily, then had a tough game with a solid May team, winning 44-20.

District play started out with two mercy rule wins over Paint Rock and Blackwell, but their next game was a big one against district rival Christoval. While Panther Creek had made the playoffs for five straight seasons, Christoval had been a thorn in their paw, besting the Panthers each year. The Cougars were state runner-up the year before and had eight of twelve starters back for 1992, and were also the #2-ranked team in the state. In one of the best games of the season, Panther Creek managed to pull off their first huge upset, edging Christoval, 56-50. The Panthers easily won their last two district games 45-ing Novice and Lohn, to claim the District 11 title.

In the playoffs, the Panthers beat that tough May team once again, this time for the bi-district championship, 59-39. Next was Rochester, who went down, 52-20, in the second round of the playoffs. This set up another rematch game for Panther Creek, this time a quarterfinal matchup against the only team who had beat them, Cherokee.

Cherokee jumped out early on the Panthers, holding a comfortable 50-24 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Panther Creek runningbacks Bouldin and Hinds led the offensive attack, both scoring touchdowns. In the fourth quarter Chad Humphries added two quick touchdown passes to Bouldin and Dustin Beard, pushing the score to 56-54, Cherokee, with 8:28 left to play.

The Indians added another score, extending their lead to 62-54. The Panthers responded as Humphries threw a 42-yard touchdown to Todd Harris and Bouldin added a 3-yard touchdown run, giving Panther Creek their first lead, 70-62.

However, Cherokee was not to be denied, scoring with just 22 seconds left on the clock. The score was now 70-68, with the PAT kick pending. Bouldin, rushing from the outside, laid out perfectly and managed to block the kick and Panther Creek held on for the epic 70-68 comeback victory.

In the semifinals, Panther Creek faced yet another foe they had played earlier in the season. This time it was district rival Christoval who stood in the way of the title game. But with the huge six-point win to claim the district title gave the Panthers so much confidence, they rolled over the Cougars, beating them by the mercy rule, 58-12, and advancing to their first-ever state championship game against the mighty Fort Hancock Mustangs.

Fort Hancock entered the contests 13-0 on the season and riding a state-record 70-game win streak, including having won four-straight championships. They seemed unstoppable. Coach Danny Medina had excellent size and speed in his spread offense. Spreadback Vicente “Cheetah” Ramirez had rushed for 2,890 yards and 38 touchdowns, while also passing for 1,018 yards and 36 touchdowns on the season. Back Brent Henderson was a 6 feet tall, weighed 200 pounds and was fast. He was a key blocker, rusher and receiver for the Ramirez-led Mustangs. Their offensive and defensive lines were one of the biggest and tallest in six-man, adding to their intimidation factor. However, Panther Creek would not be intimidated and Chad Humphries was a superb passer who could scramble for good gains running as well. Humphires entered the state game with 2,599 yards and 45 touchdowns passing.

The final was stacking up to be a battle between two of the state’s best spreadbacks.

State Champions Game – Saturday Dec. 11th 3:00pm in Monahans
Fort Hancock received the opening kickoff. In their usual spread offense, with a slot man in motion, the Fort tried to move the ball on the ground with speedy spread back Vicente Ramirez to no avail, as the Panthers bottled him up. However, Ramirez completed a long pass, gaining their first first down, then a few plays later, hit Gerardo Rivera for a 19-yard touchdown. The PAT missed and The Fort was up 6-0, with 7:36 left in the first quarter.

On their first possession, Panther Creek moved the ball with the run game, but turned the ball over fumbling a muffed handoff. With the Panthers keying heavily on Ramirez, the Mustangs switched things up a bit on this drive, and had Brent Henderson tack over at spread back. They drove the ball downfield with a steady dose of run plays. A short pass put the ball at the one-yard line and on the next play, Henderson ran in for the touchdown. A second PAT failed and The Fort led 12-0, still early in the first.

After a good kickoff return, Panther Creek, behind quarterback Chad Humphries, moved the ball down field, utilizing Humphries passing game to set up the running game. As they entered the red zone, Humphries threw an interception and The Fort was back in business at their own six-yard line.

On their first play of the drive, out of a tight formation, Henderson took the handoff and broke loose on a long run, taking the Mustangs all the way down to the Panthers’ 22-yard line. After an incomplete pass and short two-yard gain, the first quarter came to an end with the heavy favorite, Fort Hancock, in complete control, up 12-0 and threating to score again.

To begin the next stanza, the Mustangs threw another incomplete pass and now faced a fourth-and-long. Henderson rushed down the sideline but was forced out just inches short of the first down marker and the Panthers had their first big break of the game, taking over at their own seven-yard line.

Once again, using the pass to set up the run, and alternating tight formations with spread formations, Chad Humphries helped move his team downfield, finding open receivers and getting a big gain running the ball. The Panthers finally scored on a play-action pass on first-and-goal from the one-yard line when Humphries found a wide-open Bouldin in the endzone. Dustin Beard’s kick was good and the score was now 12-8, with 7:21 left in the second quarter.

This score gave Panther Creek a little momentum, and for the second-straight time their defense came up big, as they forced another turnover on downs. Two plays later, Humphries passed to Beard for a 29-yard touchdown strike. The PAT was blocked, but the Panthers had their first lead of the game, 14-12, with six minutes left in the second quarter. They would never relinquish that lead.

Fort Hancock moved Ramirez back to spreadback on their next drive, but the Panther defensive rush put too much pressure on him, hitting him hard on a run and forcing him to fumble out of bounds. On the next play, defensive pressure forced an interception.

After two long run plays by Humphries and two good gains on short passes, Humphries connected with Bouldin for a six-yard touchdown and the Panthers were now up 22-12, with 2:41 left in the first half.

Dispite some good runs by Henderson, a big sack and solid stops on run plays resulted in a Mustang punt. Panther Creek was seemingly now in complete control.

A long run by Humphries and a penalty moved the ball into Mustang territory, but a hail marry fell incomplete and the first half came to an end with the Panthers having scored 22 unanswered points.

Panther Creek received the kickoff to begin the second half and Fort Hancock came out on fire, as you would expect of any four-time defending champ. They corralled Humphries and forced the Panthers to go three-and-out and almost blocked their punt.

With Henderson back at spreadback, the Mustangs ran three straight sweeps. On the third, Henderson tiptoed down the sideline for a 20-yard touchdown. Jesus Cordero’s kick was good and the score was cut to 22-20, less than two minutes into the third quarter.

Panther Creek settled down, putting together their longest drive of the game. Starting at their 18-yard line and nearly losing possession twice to fumbles, the Panthers eventually scored on a 16-yard pass from Humphries to Beard on the 11th play of the drive. Beards kick was good and the score was 30-20. The important part would be the fact the drive ate up almost five minutes of game clock and slowed any possible Mustang momentum.

Fort Hancock was forced to a punt the ball back to the Panthers on their next possession. Chad Bolton had a nice return and a few plays later Humphries hit Bolton in stride for a 42-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left in the third quarter. The kick was good and the score was 38-20.

Henderson continued his rushing attack, with a couple of big gains on the first two plays of the Mustangs drive, but a big sack and a short gain set up another 4th down. This time Henderson’s pass fell incomplete sending the ball back to the Panthers.

On Panther Creek’s next drive, a long run by Jason Copeland for a touchdown was called back. However, on the next play, Humphries ran almost exactly the same path as Copeland for a 36-yard touchdown that many Mustangs simple gave up on, thinking he had stepped out of bounds. The kick was good and the score was now 46-20 with 7:52 left in the game.

Fort Hancock again went three-and-out, punting the ball away and the Panthers could see the finish line. Panther Creek head coach Alan Luker mixed in some of his backups for their next possession, but Henderson striped the ball from Jason Copeland.

However, Henderson returned the favor, turning the ball back over to the Panthers on an interception at the four-yard line. This time it was Humphries turn to return the favor and a few plays later he fumbled the ball. Roland Galindo picked it up and scooted 15 yards for a Mustang touchdown. T he kick was blocked and with only 2:45 left in the game, the score was 46-26.

Panther Creek moved the ball out of their usual spread formation, but with Humphries simply tucking and running, he scored breaking free on a 29-yard run and the Panthers were ahead 54-26 with less than a minute to go.

Henderson almost ran the kickoff back for a touchdown, but was tackled at the 16-yard line. Henderson ran twice and caught a swing pass on the final play of the game, but fell short of the end zone, and was taken down at the one-yard line as time expired.

Panther Creek had upset Fort Hancock 54-26.

Panther Creek out-gained Fort Hancock, 483-297, mainly thanks to their passing offense and defense. Panther Creek threw for 242 yards, while the Mustangs were held to just 72 yards through the air. Chad Humphries accounted for all of Panther Creek’s passing yards and 468 of their total yardage, and had a hand in all seven of the touchdowns, running for two and throwing for five. Star spreadback Vicente Ramirez for Fort Hancock was shut down, as he was held to -12 yards rushing and threw for just 57 yards. Brent Henderson had a career game, leading all rushers with 237 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

*Notes*
-I used San Angelo Standard-Times Newspaper articles for this piece, in conjunction with game film supplied by Shay Avants.
-Brent Henderson went on to play college football at UTEP as an Inside Backer.
- There is no minimizing the effect of Panther Creek's win and what transpired over the next two years. Now only would the Panthers repeat, but it was the ushering in of a new era in six-man. Many classic teams, such as Christoval and Fort Hancock, would be gone from the scene after 1993. A new modern era of six-man was dawning and we would begin to see new champions and new dynasties, as well as a push to the East in the coming years.

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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby bootleg33 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:52 pm

I was fortunate enough to be coached by Alan Luker at Stephenville Junior High in the late 90's. His son, Kelan, was a star quarterback who led the yellow jackets to a 4A state title in 1998. When I found out my family would be moving to a sixman town, I asked Coach Luker for his advise and he told me something I'll never forget. He said "Sixman is a helluva game. It doesn't matter what position you play, you're gonna have a lot of fun."
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby Coach A » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:08 pm

Great memories playing that season. We had planned a run for a state title since playing together in Jr. High. Three six man head coaches in that picture.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby granger » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:48 pm

The next season was my first state championship game. I went a cousin on my mom's side, who I've known forever, Daisy. She was boarding at St. Stephen's, but grew up out on the ranch in Leaday. We drove from Austin out to the ranch for the night before driving to Big Spring. We had a blast on the field at the game and she took my camera and took some great shots of the PC boys. They posed for her and everything since they all knew her.

Being of the Maverick clan, we were a little mischievous that night and I still have something hanging on a wall that she procured from the roadside as a memento.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby Hinds22 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:30 am

I remember "The Fort" foregoing warm-up in the pre game and just walking to their sideline as if the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion. These guys called a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage in Spanish I remember, feeling no need to huddle. Funny stuff.
Kudos to Coach Doyle Clawson for a defensive strategy that kept Henderson and the "Cheetah" in a cage, could have been a long day otherwise.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby TheAmericanDream » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:00 pm

This is a great. Wonder what could have been if "The Cheetah" was healthy. Injuries are part of the game, and all dynasties come to an end. Hard to believe no player from that 70-0 win streak is in the six-man hall of fame.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby markf » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:34 pm

granger wrote:The next season was my first state championship game. I went a cousin on my mom's side, who I've known forever, Daisy. She was boarding at St. Stephen's, but grew up out on the ranch in Leaday. We drove from Austin out to the ranch for the night before driving to Big Spring. We had a blast on the field at the game and she took my camera and took some great shots of the PC boys. They posed for her and everything since they all knew her.

Being of the Maverick clan, we were a little mischievous that night and I still have something hanging on a wall that she procured from the roadside as a memento.

Guessing a skunk skin hat hanging on the wall?
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby granger » Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:25 pm

nah. It involved buying pliers in Bronte and breaking the law.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby oldfat&bald » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:47 pm

granger wrote:nah. It involved buying pliers in Bronte and breaking the law.


Any faith I had left in humanity is now gone.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby 51eleven » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:11 pm

oldfat&bald wrote:
granger wrote:nah. It involved buying pliers in Bronte and breaking the law.


Any faith I had left in humanity is now gone.


And it's been gone for 25 years but you never knew it until today.
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby 51eleven » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:46 pm

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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1992 Panther Creek

Postby granger » Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:26 pm

51eleven wrote:https://www.google.com/maps/@31.8368872,-100.1959723,3a,15y,99.88h,86.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sglmep51-DdbEQzB9oSqDkw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656


I can neither confirm nor deny that the sign in the link may or may not be the same one that was there 24 years ago...
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