Refugio catches Big Sandy's state scoring record; Chicago Bears head coach shares memories
By Will Brown
Dec. 14, 2011 at 6:14 a.m.
As it became apparent Refugio had a chance to set the state scoring record, it led to a simple question: just how good was the 1975 Big Sandy team that had the record?
Recently, the Victoria Advocate caught up with Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, a defensive end and linebacker on that Big Sandy team, to answer that question and others about his Wildcats.
When told that Refugio wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne is a Baylor-commitment, Smith noted that his Big Sandy team beat Art Briles' alma mater on the way to the Wildcats 1973 state championship, as well as the fact he and Briles are close.
You all set a state record with 824 points, but no one seems to mention that you all only allowed 15 points that year. Why is the defense overlooked?
"Most of the general public is not interested in the defensive side of the ball. That's not enough. It's about scoring points, offensive points. We are pretty proud of what we did defensively. That year, whether you are talking offense, or defense, everything went our way."
Considering you all only allowed 15 points, how did Hawkins and Mildred score those two touchdowns?
Without prompting, Smith said the Mildred game was in the bi-district round. He added that both touchdowns were passing plays, and more than likely flukes.
"Maybe one of the DBs fell down one time. We were pretty solid. We had a special group of guys."
What do you recall about your varsity days, and how close were you to your teammates?
"We were all pretty close on that football team," Smith said about his 34-person graduating class. "Frank Davis lives in Houston. Gary Chalk lives in the Golden Triangle."
"When you are a Class B school and you have a first round choice in the NFL you are going to win a few games."
How much does the success of those teams keep the memory of David Overstreet alive?
(Overstreet reportedly scored more than 50 touchdowns for the Wildcats in 1975. He went on to Oklahoma, before being drafted by the Miami Dolphins. He died in a 1984 car accident.)
"Even when you go through times like this and you have teams getting close to the record, you think about that Big Sandy team. And when you think of Big Sandy you think of David Overstreet. I think his legacy will remain intact. He was just a great football player and a great athlete in general."
Just how athletic was that team? I hear you all had two linemen who went on to win titles at the state track meet the next spring?
"We didn't have a whole lot of size back then. You had 11 athletes on the football field back then. You had some special guys like David. If you had that ability you might have played running back somewhere else, but played offensive line or defensive line. In order to play football you had to run track the year before. Just about everyone on the football team was on the track team. From football to basketball to track, everyone played all three sports."
There was not nearly as much media when you were playing. Did you all realize that you were breaking records?
"By the time the '75 team came around, most of us had been playing for a while so we knew we had a special group. If you talk to people in Big Sandy, we kept the clock running or didn't go out of bounds to stop the clock. That record could have been put way out of reach. We knew at the time something special was happening?
You coached in two Super Bowls and played in a bowl game with Tulsa, how does playing for a state championship, especially in a state like Texas, compare to those experiences?
"I think they are comparable because it's all relative to where you are at the time. As a guy who was a football fan, and was a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan growing up, having an opportunity to win a championship - it doesn't matter what level you are on - it is special.
Smith said winning three straight state championships was the best thing that ever happened to him in sports at that point in his life. However, regardless of the level, he added there is something special about winning.
"I have coached at Ohio State and Tennessee and they were all special. But if you are in sports the top place you can go is the NFL and the ultimate game is the Super Bowl. Nothing really compares to the Super Bowl, but it was relative at the time. There is nothing like reliving them."
How frequently do you talk about that 1975 team with people?
Smith said when another special team starts to threaten their records then he starts to think about his team. "Just like all records they are made to be broken. It's good for the team that is able to do it, especially in today's games."
"I am sure that the memories will last. It's 2011 and we're still talking about those teams. That's what's good about sports. You are connected for life and have something to reminisce on."
To have a record as prestigious as the scoring record in a state like Texas where football means everything and there have been so many great athletes and great teams, what does that mean to you?
It's just a part of the culture from an early age. I know it was from my experience. I was a football guy. You have the Texans, the Cowboys and all the different colleges. The emphasis that is placed on sports at an early age is one of the reasons why.
Plus, you have great coaches. My seventh grade basketball and football coach messages me to this day. The emphasis that you have on sports carries you through."
You have 10 Texans on your roster, including current quarterback Caleb Hanie and Roberto Garza, who is from the Valley. What is it about Texas football players, and is there a reason you have so many on your roster?
Smith said Texas football players are those "who have been through it, loves ball, shoes up every day trying to get his team to win."
He added that the fundamentals he learned at Big Sandy are things he has tried to incorporate into his coaching career.
"There was just so much. What I got at Big Sandy, every game you go into you were expecting to do well. There is a standard that you expected from the team each week. That's what I want from our football teams. That standard is about doing your best and finding a way to get the job done."
You all had scored more points than anyone else in the long history of Texas prep football, when you hear that what does it mean to you?
"In a state where football means so much, for you to score more points than any team in the history of Texas high school football. That statement in itself tells you why that record is so special and why we take so much pride in being a part of that team."