The year was 1985, Ronald Reagan was President, gas was $1.19 a gallon and the Chicago Bears were doing The Super Bowl Shuffle. The Bruceville-Eddy Eagles were also preparing for a playoff game against the Runge Yellowjackets that year. The Eagles would end up falling to Runge 28-14 in the bi-district game, and Runge would go on to the state championship, where they would lose to Goldthwaite 24-7.
The Eagles have missed the playoffs every season since 1985, but thanks to a 35-19 Marlin victory over New Waverly on November 2, Bruceville-Eddy is back in the playoffs for the first time in 32 years. The playoff drought was the longest in Class 3A and the sixth longest in the state of Texas.
“We’re preaching that this is the norm,” said head coach J.B. Chaney, “This is the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not a once every thirty year thing, this is how it’s supposed to be every year.”
Three seasons is all it took Head Coach J.B. Chaney to get the Eagles back in the playoff hunt. Chaney is from Lorena, so he was familiar with the neighboring community of Bruceville-Eddy and their up and coming talent.
“This position got me almost back home, which was a big plus for family reasons,” Chaney explained, “I knew a little bit about the kids and I knew there was a chance to be successful here.”
The Eagles finished 5-5 on the season, which including a season opening victory over rival Moody 28-21 and a win over aforementioned Marlin in the regular season finale. The three other district teams that Bruceville-Eddy has defeated this season are-: Leon 41-29, Anderson-Shiro 34-0, and New Waverly 35-34.
The Eagles found themselves down by 21 points to New Waverly and the hopes of making the playoffs were once again fading away.
“They were coming off a bye week and were giving us some looks we hadn’t seen before,” Chaney said of that game, “So I told our guys we had to find the adjustments.”
Chaney emphasized how his senior leadership helped guide the team into making the necessary adjustments to solidify the victory.
“I attribute that to the seniors, we have a really good group and they’re going to work their tails off no matter what and they still believed that they had a chance and kept working and we got there finally.”
Football is important throughout Texas and it can be a lifeline in a lot of small towns, like Bruceville-Eddy. When a coach is able to come in and completely change the culture of a program in two to three seasons, that is special. Chaney knew coming in that in order to change the culture he had to physically get his players up to speed with their competition.
“We came in and laid out where we thought we were most efficient and where we wanted to get and what we needed to do there,” he said, “Strength was our number one priority, that was the big one, we felt like physically we were behind the rest of the state.”
Expect to see the entire town in the stands wearing black and gold attire, when the Eagles step on the field for bi-district action. “Everybody’s super excited and the community has been super supportive,” he said “Everyone wants to know what they can do to help, they want pep rally’s, shirts, and banners, so it’s been really nice.”
The Eagles will take on Rice Thursday night at Waco Midway’s Panther Stadium.
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