Photo: Courtesy of J.B. Chaney

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.”

Photo: Courtesy of J.B. Chaney

​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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