25 Days of Champions -- 1972 O'Brien

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25 Days of Champions -- 1972 O'Brien

Postby granger » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:10 pm


As we count down to December 20th and the State Championship games for Class 1A, I’ve decided to launch in conjunction a topic called “25 Days of Champions” highlighting one previous state championship team every day from now until the title games in Arlington.

The obvious choice for the first installment is the first ever state championship team…the 1972 O’Brien Bulldogs.

O’Brien fielded solid teams in 1970 and ’71, going undefeated in the regular season both years, yet lost in Bi-District each time. Before 1972 the furthest a team could advance in the six-man playoffs were two rounds, as the playoffs ended in what was then called the Regional Championship round.

O’Brien head coach C. H. Underwood’s main offensive attack was the Veer offense, a timing-based offense with the threat of a triple option on every play. That, combined with their excellent onside kicking, made it difficult for opponents to game-plan for the Bulldogs.

Remember, this was a time when game film (on 16 or 8mm) was almost non-existent for study by opposing coaches.

The Bulldogs rolled through the regular season and entered the playoffs with a 9-0 record, having only played two full games; a 56-25 win over McCaulley and a 48-12 win over Trent. In the playoffs, they knocked off Ira in the first round (quarter-finals), 76-30. In the Semi-Final game they faced a very tough Marathon team that had won 51 of their last 52 games. The Bulldogs defeated them via the mercy rule in the third quarter by a final score of 78-28.

The first ever six-man state championship game was played in Coleman on Friday December 8th, with a kickoff time of 7:30 pm. An estimated 2,000 fans were in attendance for the inaugural title match. O’Brien faced off with Jarrell which was a much larger team top to bottom than O’Brien was.

To quote Coach Underwood, when asked about the drastic and obvious size difference, “they were so big and we were so small, it made us look like an advertisement for world hunger.”

However, Jarrell could not match the Bulldogs speed and had no answer for their Veer offensive attack. O’Brien quarterback Danny Del Hierro rushed for 403 yards and six touchdowns, while running back Louis Conn added two more scores, including the final touchdown, as coach Underwood and the Bulldogs claimed the first ever six-man state championship, 60-14, with 3:48 left in the third quarter.

For more information on the Veer offense you can pick up the book “Six-Man Football”, authored by Mr. Underwood himself. The book was first published in 1974 and has been updated and reprinted with great historical info and coaching philosophies. (Editor’s Note: I was looking for this book online for someone last week and the cheapest I saw was over $100. If any knows of a secret stash, please post here)

You can find film of the 1972 State game on YouTube
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaPqgC8Njvw&index=54&list=LLkqyrzsyiHH--jODWaklpjA&t=11s
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Sf-JlgpwA

-Six-Man football had 61 schools listed in 8 districts in 1972. Eight-Man football had 30 schools listed in 4 districts in 1972.
-Onside kicks only had to travel 10 yards before the kicking team could attempt to recover it instead of the 15 yards now. The rule change was brought about in part because a few teams like O’Brien, Cherokee and Marathon (who copied O’Brien’s style by-and-large) were so good at it the association implemented the rule change.
-The Abilene Reporter News reported the attendance cited.
-The stats used were supplied by Coach Underwood.

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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1972 O'Brien

Postby CHANTftbl » Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:55 pm

Bought the book about 10 months ago at a half priced books, was $7.99. Great book but if someone wants to pay $100+ for it mine is for sale :)
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Re: 25 Days of Champions -- 1972 O'Brien

Postby High Drifter » Sun Nov 26, 2017 7:57 pm

I went to that game.
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