25 Days of Champions -- 2005 Throckmorton


Six-man expert

In 2003, there was almost a civil war in Throckmorton.

The town was split on whether or not to make the move to six-man football from eleven-man. The school had low enough numbers before and could have made the move in the past, but chose not to. This time there was a strong push to make the switch and many town folks didn’t like it. The school board eventually voted to make the move and for the 2004-05 UIL realignment period informed the UIL they would be playing six-man football for the first time in the school’s history.

Football has always been huge in Throckmorton and they take it very seriously. They had been state runner-up in 1986 and had been very competitive for years and this made it hard for some folks around town to accept the switch to six-man. They didn’t think it would be good for the kids or town because it wasn’t “real football”.

2004 was their first season playing six-man and the Greyhounds advanced all the way to the state semifinals before losing a very close game to eventual state champion Richland Springs, 22-14. The 13-1 record and deep playoff run converted some of the naysayers and brought new hope to a program that had only one winning season in their last 11 seasons of eleven-man. Of course, after the 2005 season was over, you couldn’t find a single naysayer who wanted to go back to that stuffy old eleven-man game.

The first two games on their 2005 schedule were against strong area teams that had also recently taken up the six-man game, in Crowell and Paducah. They defeated Crowell, 70-53, and edged Paducah, 38-32, which would be closest game they played all season. The Greyhound defense improved after these first two games and they rolled through the rest of their regular season 45-ing their remaining eight opponents, including back-to-back wins over district foes Megargel and Gold-Burg, who they beat 94-0 and 80-0, respectively.

Throckmorton defeated Aspermont, a team they beat 64-16 in non-district play, 80-30 in bi-district, Santa Anna, 60-14, in the second round, and a very talented Trinidad squad, 78-32, in the quarterfinals.

This set up a semifinal game against the defending state champion Richland Springs Coyotes. The Greyhounds held a nice lead early and never relinquished it, but Richland Springs battled the entire game behind the game play of their sophomore sensation Tyler Ethridge and staged a small come back late. However, in the end, Throckmorton would not cave, as Bryce Hogue had a big game running the ball and they defeated the Coyotes, 72-58, to advance face Valley in the state championship game.
Valley, who had been the state runner-up to Richland Springs in 2004, had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win three of their playoff games, including their semifinal game against Meadow, whom they defeated 38-30. The Patriots defeated Samnorwood, 54-19, in bi-district, came from behind to beat Whitharral, 38-29, in the second round, and came back to edge Grandfalls-Royalty, 48-42, in the quarterfinals and boasted a 14-0 record going into the state game. Their running back, Alex Espinoza, had rushed for over 3,200 yards and 48 touchdowns on the season and their defense was one of the best in the state, thanks to their big tackler Charlie Walden.

State Championship Game – Saturday Dec. 10th 6:00pm in Shotwell Stadium, Abilene
Throckmorton would receive the opening kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, Greyhound quarterback Braxton Oliver, in a balanced line, T-formation, dropped back and hit Cole Riley, who pulled down a great catch in coverage, spun around and dashed down to the Patriot eight, for a big gain of 52-yards. A few plays later Bryce Hogue scored on a two-yard run, diving for the pylon on a sweep. Dillon Rankin’s kick was good and with 8:09 left in the first quarter Throckmorton took an 8-0 lead.

Valley started their first possession on their own 24-yard line. Running a tight unbalanced, I-formation, their first play was a dive, and at the tail end of a short gain, Throckmorton stripped and recovered the ball at the Patriot 29-yard line.

On the ensuing possession and facing a third-and-long, Oliver threw a short route pass to Logan Scarlett, who ran down the sideline for a 21-yard touchdown. The PAT was good again and the score, with six and a half minutes left in the first, was Throckmorton 16, Valley 0.

Valley started their second drive at their own 20-yard line and facing a third-and-15, leading rusher Alex Espinoza, gained some good yardage, but the ball was knocked loose on contact by a Greyhound defender and recovered by another Hound for their second straight turnover, this time at the Patriot 30-yard line.

Hogue looked to extend the lead on the very next play, making some great spin moves to get into the end zone, only to have it called back on a hold, resulting in a loss of seven yards. Two plays later, facing a third-and-16, Oliver took a direct snap in a shotgun formation and hit Rankin downfield in stride for a 31-yard touchdown, making the score, 22-0, barely halfway through the first.

Valley got a good return on the kickoff, adding 15-yards on an unsportsmanlike penalty and would start their third drive in Greyhound territory at the 37-yard line. The Patriots moved the ball down the field with some nice runs, but stalled inside their 15-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-10, they finally scored on a 14-yard pass from Cody Barrett to Kye Fuston that was almost batted down. Fernando Regalado’s kick was good and the lead was cut to 22-8, with 2:59 left in the first.

A failed onside kick gave Throckmorton good field position. Valley’s defense, aided by an illegal forward pass and loss of down, was able to force the Greyhounds to turn the ball over on downs at the Valley six. One play later the first quarter would come to an end with Throckmorton leading, 22-8.

Throckmorton only allowed Valley to gain one yard on their following possession and forced punt. Hogue fielded the punt at the Patriot 39-yard line, immediately broke a tackle after catching the ball, swung around to his left, then weaved his way back towards the middle of the field dodging defenders and raced to the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT was good and Throck led 30-8 just 29 seconds into the second quarter.

Throckmorton again forced Valley to turn the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession and had great field position, taking over on the Patriot 31-yard line. Two plays and Oliver drops a deep pass in over the secondary to Rankin for a touchdown and the Throckmorton lead was extended to 30 points, 38-8.

The Patriots put together a long drive, culminating in points on the board, with a one-yard on a play-action pass from Barrett to Fuston. The added PAT kick made it 38-16, with 5:05 left in the second.

Bryce Hogue didn’t take long to answer back, scrambling 33 yards for a touchdown on the third play of next drive and the lead was pushed back up to 30, 46-16, halfway through the second stanza.

Much like their previous possession Valley drove the ball down the field, eating up the clock by utilizing their running game, and with 1:04 left in the half, Alex Espinoza finally found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge. A bad snap and hold on the PAT left the score, 46-22.

A faked onside deep pooch kick forced Hogue to run the ball down and scamper up to his own 24-yard line. The Greyhounds took possession with just 55 seconds left on the clock before halftime. On the next play, out of a shotgun formation, Oliver hit Logan Scarlett, who was running a simple five and out route. However, there were no Patriots on that side of the field and he went untouched for a 56-yard touchdown, with only 10 seconds running off the clock. Rankin converted the PAT and the score stood at 54-22, going into the locker room.

Valley received the kick to start the second half and started their possession at their own 10-yard line. Throck held them to a three-and-out and took over on the Patriots 36-yard line. On their first play of the second half, Oliver again dropped a perfect pass in over a defender to Rankin for a touchdown. Rankin made his seventh PAT kick and moved the score to 62-22, with a minute gone in the third quarter.

Valley faced a fourth-and-one on their first drive of the second half and Throckmorton came up with a big tackle for no gain and took over at the Valley 33-yard line. On the next play, Hogue took the pitch on a sweep to the short side of the field and ran down the sideline for a 33-yard, 45-point mercy rule inflicting touchdown, with 7:06 left on the clock in the third quarter. Final score, 68-22.

Throckmorton’s possessions were short, and all but their first offensive touchdown came on big yardage plays. The Greyhounds out gained the Patriots, 377-219. Bryce Hogue led all rushers with 118 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries. Braxton Oliver had a great night passing, completing 6-of-9 with zero interceptions for 226 yards and five touchdowns. Dillon Rankin caught three passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns and was 7-of-8 kicking PATs. Valley’s Alex Espinoza took some big hits in this game and gained a hard fought 112 yards on the ground, with a touchdown on 16 carries.

Throckmorton would continue their success in six-man football, winning three more state titles and making many deep playoff runs.

- The 2005 season would be the last time all six-man schools competed for one state championship, as it was decided that for the 2006 realignment, the UIL would begin splitting six-man into two divisions, one for larger enrollments and one for smaller enrollments.
-Richland Springs loss in the semifinals was the Coyotes only loss in four years from 2004-2007.
-Roy Oliver was kind enough to send me a copy of the state game on dvd with a radio broadcast with it.
-Hogue’s 39-yard punt return for a touchdown is, I believe, the longest in a six-man state title game.
-Stats for this piece came from the game summary in the 2006 edition of Dave Campbell’s Magazine.

granger":2rgiqexp said:

....The 13-1 record and deep playoff run converted some of the naysayers and brought new hope to a program that had only one winning season in their last 11 seasons of eleven-man.

Their last year in 11-man they finished 3rd in their district behind State Champion Windthorst and in my opinion Top 5 Albany (lost in Region Finals) as Throckmorton went 4-6. Their schedule was no cupcake having played Muenster (district Champion that lost to Albany in 1st round), Roby (lost to Albany in 3rd round), and Anson (2A that probably had 3X the amount of kids and was a 3rd place playoff team) in pre-district. Previous coach did no favors with the schedule for the 2002 and '03 seasons, although they did finish 6-4 in 2002.

They finished as Tri-Champions in 2001 but missed the playoffs on point differential with a 9-1 record. Finished 6-4 in 2000. There were four other seasons in that 11 year run where they went 5-5. They weren't a bad 11 man team. With their success in 6 man they definitely made the right decision.
Thinking about great teams and I out of the ones I personally saw...top to bottom this team was one of the best and would be a problem against any 6man team ever. People dont talk enough about how great a RB Bryce Houge was. I was at the game vs Richland Springs in Breckinridge and i was packed full...great crowd and game.
I think if Throckmorton would have made the move to six-man a few years sooner they would have won state in 2004...they nearly beat RS hatt year in the semis with no 6man experience really.

Thinking about great teams and I out of the ones I personally saw...top to bottom this team was one of the best and would be a problem against any 6man team ever. People dont talk enough about how great a RB Bryce Houge was. I was at the game vs Richland Springs in Breckinridge and i was packed full...great crowd and game.
Totally agree with that statement. THe 84 Jayton team was pretty good too in 1983 they were runner-up to the eventual state champion Knox City in their year of 11-man..