25 Days of Champions -- 1986 Fort Hancock


Six-man expert

1986 Fort Hancock -- The beginning of a legend

Fort Hancock was not on the six-man radar as the 1986 began, however, after the season they would not leave the six-man title conversation until 1993.

Fort Hancock had recent success in 11-man, winning district titles in 1982 and 1983, so there were high expectations as the Mustangs moved into six-man.

Placed in a UIL district in 1984, Fort Hancock did not have enough players to field a team that season, so the Mustangs didn’t actually restart their six-man football program until 1985, going 5-.5 Fort Hancock was not a complete stranger to six-man, having played back in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s.

Between 1984-86, many of the far west Texas schools we are now familiar with, made the move into the streamlined version of the game. Fort Hancock, Balmorhea, Sierra Blanca and Buena Vista all joined the six-man ranks (as did Tornillo). This finally gave Marathon, a six-man staple, who in 1983 was in a district with Blackwell, Paint Rock, Christoval, Talpa-Centennial, Divide and Novice, a much closer district to join.

These teams 6 teams all made up District 3 and for district competition they would play each other twice, meaning every game in the regular season was a district battle. The Mustangs started the season off losing to Tornillo, the preseason favorite to win the district title, 27-6. They rebounded to win their next two games, but then suffered a second defeat, when Buena Vista beat them 20-18 giving The Fort, as they would come to be called, a 2-2 record and a tough shot at the playoffs. However, the Mustangs reeled off six-straight district wins, including avenging their prior defeats in the process, and claimed the district title with an 8-2 record heading into the playoffs.

For Bi-district, Fort Hancock defeated Trent 60-25, and then faced off with Three Way in the quarterfinal round. Three Way and The Fort battled all night, both teams featuring passing attack style offenses. The final scored ended in a tie, 46-all. The rules at the time had the first tie-breaker as penetrations, where Fort Hancock held a narrow 8-7 advantage and the Mustangs advanced to the semifinals.

They would face-off with defending state champion Jayton in the semis, but the Jaybird defense had trouble containing spreadback Armando Aguilar, nicknamed Mando. The Mustangs won 51-22 and moved to their first state title appearance where they would face the Christoval Cougars.

The State Championship Game – December 13, 7:00pm kickoff in Fort Stockton
Christoval marched their way back to the state championship (after a crushing defeat by Jayton in 1985), determined to win the title and the favorite to win it all. Additionally, both head coach Buddy Luce and assistant coach Billy Barnett both claimed Fort Stockton as their hometown, having graduated from there in 1963 and 1977, respectfully.

This title match was one of the sloppiest, with a total of seven turnovers, four by Christoval and three by Fort Hancock, but it was the incredible play of Fort Hancock’s junior spreadback Mando Aguilar that people would be talking about for years to come.

Mando kicked off the scoring by throwing for the first two scores in the game, both to Harvey Vargas. The first for six yards and the second for 33 yards, giving The Fort a 14-0 lead, early in the first quarter.

Christoval answered with back-to-back scores of their own. First was a 39-yard pass from Homer Galindo to Jason Ussery, with 1:11 left in the first quarter, followed by a 16-yard pass from Galindo to Philip Montalvo just 32 seconds into the second quarter. Montalvo handled the kicking duties for the Cougars and hammered both home, and Christoval had a 16-14 lead early in the second quarter.

On their next possession, Aguilar connected with Breck Bean on a 17-yard strike as they took the lead back 22-16. With just over two minutes left in the first half, Christoval tied the game when Montalvo rushed for an 8-yard touchdown. The Mustangs failed to score before the half and the game was all tied at 22 at the intermission.

The 3rd quarter proved costly to Christoval. The Cougars received the kickoff, but were quickly forced to go four-and-out by the Mustang defense. Their next two possessions didn’t fare any better, as they turned the ball over on downs and threw an interception. Those three possessions were all the Cougars had in the third quarter and resulted in zero points.

The Mustangs, however, managed to find the end zone twice in the quarter, once on four-yard run by Breck Bean and the other, as time expired in the quarter, on a 10-yard pass and catch from Aguilar to Shawn Henderson, giving The Fort a 36-22 lead heading into the final quarter.

Both squads scored twice in the 4th quarter. Christoval struck first and breathed new life into their offense, scoring on a long 67-yard pass from Homer Galindo to Paul Martinez. The PAT was good and the lead was cut to six, 36-30. The Fort answered on their next possession, when Aguilar found Kelly Legarretta in the end zone for a 6-yard score, the PAT was blocked and the lead was extended to 42-30, with 7:37 left in the game.

The Cougars continued to claw their way back into the game, responding just 84 seconds later, thanks to two long passes before Philip Montalvo scored on an 8-yard run. The PAT was blocked and the lead was once again cut to six 42-36, now with 6:13 left in the game. But Fort Hancock answered with a 32-yard strike from Aguilar to Gus Soto. The PAT was good and the Mustangs had extended their lead to 50-36, with 3:49 left to play.

Down the stretch, Christoval’s defense forced The Fort to turn the ball over on downs on their final two possessions, but the Cougars’ offense just could not capitalize, and ended their season as runner-up for a second-straight time.

Fort Hancock finished the season 11-2-1. They were the first six-man team to win a title with at least two loses on their record and one of two to have a tie.

Running mainly a spread formation for most of the game Mando Aguilar, controlling the Mustang offense, racked up 310 yards passing, 45 yards on the ground and caught a 6-yard pass for good measure, accounting for 361 yards of total offense. He threw for six of his team’s seven total touchdowns, converted 4-of-7 PAT kicks, and recorded three interceptions, that proved to be just as important as his offensive stats.

In regard to Aguilar’s performance, San Angelo Standard-Times reporter Joe Don McGaughey wrote, “He (Aguilar) did everything but drive the team bus to Fort Stockton, although it was rumored the 132-pound junior was handing out coffee in the concession stand at halftime.”

In a prelude of things to come, after the game Mustang head coach Fred Carter gave full credit for the Mustangs potent passing offense to then assistant coach Danny Medina saying, “He does an outstanding job, I’ve been going with what he says all year…I can’t commend him enough.” Danny Medina would take over the head coaching duties in 1987 and lead Fort Hancock to four straight titles from 1988-91 and a state-record 70 straight wins (1988-92) and created a Texas high school football dynasty in the process.

-In 1986 there were 80 teams playing UIL 6-man football placed within 8 districts.
-Buena Vista would be the district 3 runner-up
-I do not have a box score of the Three Way game, but would love to see one if someone out there has it, or any other Fort Hancock box scores from 1986.
-The only teams to have a tied game on their record and won a state title was this 1986 Fort Hancock team and the 1994 Amherst Bulldogs. Both were in the second round of the playoffs and advanced on penetrations.
-Many sources wrongly list Danny Medina as the head coach of the 1986 team, he was in fact an assistant, mainly in charge of the offense. Fred Carter was the head coach in 1986. Coach Carter thus was the first African-American head coach of a six-man state champion team, leading the way for Coach Coylin Grimes, who led Calvert in 2002.
-For my state game summary, I used the San Angelo Standard-Times game article in conjunction with watching the game film, courtesy of Christoval’s former coach Buddy Luce.