Celebrating a winning team from yesteryear
By Charles Kimbrough
Special to the LPR
Editor’s Note: Mr. Kimbrough was a member of the 1971 Lockhart Lions varsity football team.
In the fall of 1971, the Lockhart High School varsity football team won District and Bi-Championships for the first time since 1954. This year is the 50th anniversary of that team and championship season.
It’s said that a football season can create magic – the kind of magic that embraces a team, a school, and a town with the thrill of winning and high accomplishment — and with friendships and memories that last a lifetime.
That magic surely happened at Old Lions Field, and at away games all across Texas, during the 1971 Lockhart Lion football season.
In the fall of 1971, the Lions played their home football games before standing-room-only crowds at historic, unique Old Lions Field – located in north Lockhart adjacent to the then Lockhart Junior High School and Adams Gym. Today, the football games are played at Lions Stadium — on General Gary Bunch Field — the field having been named for US Army General Gary Bunch, a member of the 1971 Lockhart Lion football team.
The Lions finished the 1971 season with a record of 9 wins and 3 losses — including the most famous comeback in Lion football history: a 30-26 win over the Taylor Ducks (at their homecoming game) in which the Lions scored 21 points in the last 3 minutes to claim the victory.
The Lions won the District 13-AAA championship in November 1971. The day after Thanksgiving, the Lions played the Uvalde Coyotes for the Bi-District Championship at the San Antonio Northside ISD Stadium before 8,500 screaming fans.
Uvalde was undefeated, ranked No. 1 in Texas, and had no points scored against its defense in district play. The newspapers in the San Antonio/Austin area boldly predicted a rout of the Lions – and the Cuero newspaper said the Lions “didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell” of beating Uvalde.
The final score was quite a shock to those newspaper wisemen: Lockhart 21, Uvalde 6, and Lockhart claimed its first Bi-District Championship since 1954.
The Lions lost their final game of the season the next week in Victoria, Texas in the Quarterfinal Championship game to the Gregory-Portland Wildcats by a score of 38-22. That game marked the end of the last championship football season for the Lions until the present.
Players on the 1971 team were Marty Bozarth and Paul Alexander (as team captains), Gene Pfeiffer, Ronnie Branch, Rob Reeb, Dyral Thomas, Charles Kimbrough, Richard “Cotton” Homann, Doria Hill, Jett Franks, Fla Strawn, Charles Branch, Howard Thompson, Troy Wright, Robert Hood, Louis Cisneros, Tom Owen, Charles Franks, Robert McMillan, Tom Kemp, Terry Black, Gary Bunch, Raymond Sanchez, Frank Aguilar, and Ray “Bear” Villalobos.
Trainers and Managers were Scott Stephens, Brad Westmoreland, John Robertson, and Donald Engleke.
The coaches were Roy Dollar (as head coach), Bob Waldman, Lowe Galle, Bobby Smith, and Howard Gandy.
Nine players on the team were awarded postseason recognition by being named to the 1971 All-District, All-Centex, or Super-Centex teams by area coaches and newspapers. 6 players on the team earned college athletic scholarships.
For more than 50 years, the players of the 1971 championship team have remained steadfast in their great affection and friendship for each other and their coaches. Without question, the magic of that 1971 season continues to exist in their long and enduring friendships.
The team is very honored to be remembered tonight; however, they believe the magic of that 1971 championship season was not solely the result of the team’s efforts.
The magic happened because of the hard work and perseverance of many people – including the Lion football team, the Lion cheerleaders, the Lion Band and twirlers, the Lionettes, the Lion Maroon Jackets — and all of the students, parents, and school staff who attended the games and helped put things together at home and on the road to make such a great, hometown experience for everyone.
So, on a night when we remember and celebrate that magical 1971 season, the football team was joined on the field by their dear friends.
● the 1971 Lion cheerleading squad (represented by former Senior Cheerleaders Veronica Darner and retired LISD Deputy Superintendent Janie Wright);
● the 1971 Lion Band and Twirlers;
● the 1971 Lionettes Precision Dance Team;
● the 1971 Lion Maroon Jackets; and
● the 1971 Lockhart High School student body who followed and supported the team that season.
Together, we say thanks for remembering us tonight.
We also remember some special people associated with that 1971 championship season:
● Mr. Robert Nauert, the public address announcer for many years at Old Lions Field;
● Mr. Louis Mohle, Jr., the former editor of the Lockhart Post-Register newspaper, who wrote all those great Lion sports stories for so many years; and
● Mr. Dan Heath, the owner of station KCLT, Lockhart’s old radio station, who broadcast the Lion games on the radio.