25 Days of Champions -- 1981 Whitharral

Leman Saunders

Active member

In 1981, the Whitharral Panthers were the number one team from the season opener until the final whistle blew on the 1981 season.

Head coach Pat Mouser had some hosses on his roster that had a powerful combination of size and speed. Runningback Alan Kay was the primer back for the Panthers and his counterpart, Albert Lopez, was nothing to shy away. Quarterback Scott Gage was a great signal caller and Stanley Kristinek was an excellent lineman, with great hands receiving the ball. Linemen Mike Polk and Ramiro Chavez were key players on both the offensive and defensive lines that played vital roles for the Panthers.

The Panther went through their regular season and entered the playoffs, 10-0. Their closest game was a comeback win in the fourth quarter over Wellman, 46-38 in the second district game. They also played a tough Dawson team that season, winning 40-26. Other than those two games, the Panthers had little trouble in the regular season.

For bi-district, they met Highland, who had finished as the state runner-up the previous season. The tough Hornet team prided itself on defense, but could not find an answer for Albert Lopez and Alan Kay, who rushed for 384 yards on 53 carries between the two, with Kay scoring three touchdowns and Lopez one on the ground, as they beat Highland, 56-28.

In the semifinal game, they faced off with Gordon and their great running back Clyde Parham. Whitharral defeated the Longhorns, 54-18, to advance to play Mullin in the state championship.

Mullin had a did not have much size, but their players were very fast. Running the spread offense under head coach Robert Lee, quarterback Jon Mangham had accounted for over 3,000 yards of offense while backs Randy Sims and Randy Perry were very capable of busting loose for large gains, running or catching the ball out of the backfield for the Bulldogs.

Mullin entered the state game with an 11-1 record, with their only blemish a 35-8 loss to Zephyr. The glaring differences between the two teams were their offensive styles, Whitharral’s tight vs Mullin’s spread, and the physical size and nature of Whitharral compared to Mullin. Coach Mouser cited the offensive production of his team as being the key to beating Mullin. Coach Lee said that Mullin needed to be at their very best defensively, in order to try to slow down the Panthers, in order to win.

State Game – Saturday Dec. 5th, 7:00pm in Stephenville

Mullin received the opening kickoff and drove down the field on an eight-play drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Mitch Howe, giving the Bulldogs held a 6-0 lead. That would be their only lead of the game.

Whitharral immediate responded with a long drive of their own, and when Alan Kay scored on an eight-yard run with 2:39 left in the first quarter, and when the Scott Sage PAT was good, the Panthers took an 8-6 lead they would never relinquish.

The Panthers defense was able to stifle the Bulldogs offense and force a punt, but the punt only netted nine yards and Whitharral had great field position to start their second drive of the game. That possession was brief, as Gage threw a touchdown pass to Ramiro Chavez on the second play of the drive for 23 yards and Gage’s kick was once again good, giving his team a 16-6 lead, which would be the score at the end of the first quarter.

But the Bulldogs were driving

Not long into the second quarter, Howe once again scored for the Bulldogs on another one-yard run as they cut the Panther lead to two points, 16-14, and gave Mullin a fresh breath of momentum.

That momentum was short-lived, as on the ensuing kick-off, Whitharral’s Albert Lopez fielded the kick at the one-yard line, ran up the center of the field, cut outside to his left, then broke a tackle on his way to the end zone for a touchdown. The kick failed and the score stood at 22-14.

Mullin was held once again on their next possession and Whitharral capitalized. Kay connected with Stanley Kristinek on a 26-yard touchdown pass and the converted PAT moved the score to 30-14.

Mullin, once again utilizing the running game, scored on another short yardage run by Howe of two-yards, again cutting the score, this time to 30-22.

But Whitharral was not deterred and responded once again this time on a razzle-dazzle play. Lopez took the ball on a run up to the line of scrimmage, only to pitch the ball back to quarterback Scott Gage, who ran down the sideline untouched for a 34-yard touchdown, Gage’s kick was good and the score was 38-22. The first half would come to an end shortly thereafter.

Whitharral received the ball to start the second half and increased their lead to 22 points, after Kay scored from nine yards out, making the score 44-22.

Mullin responded with a one-play drive, as Matt Eilers connected with Jon Mangham, for a long 58-yard touchdown. Sims’ kick was good and the score was now 44-30.

Whitharral’s next score came as they faced a fourth-and-long play. Instead of going for the first down, they decided to line up and attempt a rare field goal. Scott Gage booted the ball 42 yards and split the uprights, for the four-point conversion, and the Panthers led, 48-30.

The Panthers held Mullin scoreless for the remainder of the third quarter, but were able to tack on eight more points on a long 66-yard touchdown pass from Kay to Kristinek. The PAT was good and the third quarter ended with Whitharral holding a comfortable 56-30 lead.

Mullin was able to hold the Panthers scoreless in the final quarter of play, but were only able to scratch out six points themselves, when Sims and Howe hooked up for an eight-yard touchdown pass and catch. The final score would be Whitharral 56, Mullin 36, and the Panthers would claim their first state championship, finishing the season 13-0.

Both teams recorded 19 first downs and Mullin also narrowly out gained Whitharral, 383-380. However, the size difference between the two teams was just too much for Mullin to overcome as the Panthers were bigger and more physical on the line of scrimmage and this wore on Mullin all game.

-In 1981 there were 62 teams in UIL six-man competition divided into 8 districts.
-State Game summary and stats were from Lubbock Avalanche Journal articles on the game.
-The 42-yard Field Goal by Scott Gage is the longest kicked in a six-man state title game.
- The town was named for John Whitfield Harral, a trustee of the Yellow House Land Company, which was tasked with selling the Littlefield ranchlands to farmers. (Wikipedia)