By: Tony Thomas
In 1983, sports fans in Texas rejoiced when Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett set an NFL record for the longest touchdown run from scrimmage with a 99-yard score against the Minnesota Vikings. At Texas A&M, Head Coach Jackie Sherrill reinstituted the 12th Man kickoff team, consisting of entirely walk-ons, at Aggie home games. And in east Texas, a high school football team was so dominant on defense they are still talked about 38 years later as the best high school team ever to grace the gridiron in the State of Texas-the 1983 Daingerfield Tigers.
The Tigers, led by Head Coach Dennis Alexander, were a just as dominant on offense. They scored 631 points, for an average of 39 points per game. They had three 1000-yard rushers.
The Defense was Unforgiving
Comprised of ten seniors and a junior, the defense was an impenetrable wall of granite, allowing just eight points scored against them. That’s right, EIGHT-a safety vs Kilgore in a 35-2 rout and a touchdown vs Carthage in a 10-6 win. The Tigers allowed less than 70 yards per game in total offense. They forced 63 turnovers and recorded 43 sacks.
The Tigers were “sprinter-speed” fast in the secondary, and the linebackers and defensive linemen were tough as nails and fearless. They were hard-working and they had tremendous pride in their defensive performance each and every week.
The Tigers potent offense going up against their dominant defense every day in practice simply made them unbeatable on Friday nights.
Vic Edmond (All-State selection)
Guy Searcy (All-State selection)
Eric Everett (All-State selection)
Johnny Hendrix (All-State selection)
Ladd Freeman (All-State selection)
14 Shutouts, including 13-straight
The Tigers posted 14 shutouts, including 13-straight. After the Kilgore game, the rest of the Tigers schedule was littered with goose eggs next to the names of their opponents:
Def. Linden-Kildare 27-0
Def. Queen City 76-0
Def. DeKalb 48-0
Def. New Boston 56-0
Def. Paul Pewitt 42-0
Def. Hughes Springs 32-0
Def. Hooks 45-0
Def. Clarksville 43-0
Def. Robinson 22-0
Def. Kaufman 46-0
Def. Gladewater 51-0
Def. Post 42-0
Def. Sweeny 42-0 (State Championship Game)
The defense also got into the scoring act themselves, scoring 76 points as a unit, on their way to an undefeated 16-0 season and a class 3A state championship. They outscored their playoff opponents 246-0 and allowed just 56 yards in the win over Sweeny in the title game. Coach Alexander was named Texas Coach of the Year.
Any heated debate (or argument) among Texas high school football fans regarding who is the best team of all-time always includes the 1983 Daingerfield Tigers.
Material for this article sourced from:
“Daingerfield’s 1983 team was Perhaps the Best All-Time in Texas; Tigers still plenty strong”, by Marcus Hood, tdtnews.com, December 18, 2010.
“Best HS Defense of All-time? Daingerfield’s ’83 Team Could Be”, by Mark Wright, star-telegram.com, December 21, 2017.