The Warbirds of Abilene, by Tony Thomas

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The year was 1954. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House. A gallon of gas cost .23 cents. Bread cost .18 cents. A postage stamp cost .03 cents. You could buy a home for $22,000. The average income was $4,137. If you wanted a new Ford sedan, you ponied up less than $3,000. Milk cost you .92 cents. A dozen eggs cost .61 cents.

Ladies, you could buy a pair of nylons for $1. “Rock Around the Clock” was on the radio. “I Love Lucy” was on T.V. Theatre-goers went to the silver screen to watch “White Christmas” and “On the Waterfront.”

And fans of high school football in West Texas could watch a local football team that would become so dominant, they would be named the “Team of the Century” in Texas in 1999 by The Dallas Morning News. That team was the Abilene Eagles. They were known as the “Warbirds.”

 

Coach Moser

Chuck Moser took over as head football coach at Abilene in 1953, replacing coaching legend P.E. “Pete” Shotwell. Prior to that, after serving in the Army in WWII, Moser coached at McAllen and compiled a 55-20 record. Moser established discipline early and often. He demanded the players keep their hair cut neat. He did not tolerate misbehaving.

Moser instituted 10 pm curfews. Alcohol and tobacco use was forbidden. Good grades and good study habits were the rule.

He created “eligibility slips.” Moser would give them to the teachers to fill out regarding his players academic performance and conduct in the classroom.

The Eagles were way ahead of their time with regards to game preparation. The coaching staff produced very detailed scouting reports on every team they played. Players were required to study these reports and were tested on the information. If any players did not pass the test, they did not play. Moser also promoted off-seasoning conditioning to keep his players in shape.

Abilene did more to improve their football I.Q. than any other high school and most colleges of that era.

Moser compiled a 78-7-2 record at Abilene.

49 Straight Victories

The Abilene Eagles were the Oklahoma Sooners of high school football in the mid-1950s. After losing to Breckenridge 35-13 in the fourth game of the ’54 season, the Eagles did not lose again until 1957. Abilene recorded 49 straight victories.

 

The Wins: 1954

Among the wins in 1954 were four shutouts by a combined score of 134-0, including three consecutive shutouts to finish out the regular season.

  1. Borger 34-7
  2. Odessa 21-7
  3. Pampa 41-7
  4. Amarillo 47-0
  5. Lubbock 35-7
  6. Midland 28-14
  7. San Angelo 27-0
  8. El Paso Austin 61-0
  9. Fort Worth Poly 46-0
  10. Houston S.F. Austin 14-7 (State Championship)

 

 

The Wins: 1955

The Eagles defense was dominant again, pitching four shutouts by a combined score of 155-0. They allowed just 6 points per game scored against them.

  1. Highland Park 34-0
  2. Sweetwater 45-20
  3. Breckenridge 13-0
  4. Borger 35-6
  5. Odessa 47-0
  6. Pampa 40-12
  7. Amarillo 35-13
  8. Lubbock 62-7
  9. Midland 28-7
  10. San Angelo 35-6
  11. El Paso 61-0
  12. Dallas Sunset 33-6
  13. Tyler 33-13 (State Championship)

 

Wins: 1956

The Eagle defense was stifling once again, recording 5 shutouts-two were back-to-back against Lubbock Monterey and Breckenridge by a margin of 82-0. Abilene allowed just 64 points scored against them in 14 games.

  1. San Antonio Edison 41-6
  2. Sweetwater 39-7
  3. Lubbock Monterey 41-0
  4. Breckenridge 41-0
  5. Lubbock 49-7
  6. Waco 45-14
  7. Big Spring 42-6
  8. Odessa 47-6
  9. Midland 41-6
  10. San Angelo 20-0
  11. El Paso Ysleta 42-6
  12. Fort Worth Paschal 14-0
  13. Wichita Falls 20-6
  14. Corpus Christi Ray 14-0 (State Championship)

 

Wins: 1957

Abilene recorded six shutouts with a combined score of 249-0 and allowed just six points per game scored against them.

  1. San Antonio Jefferson 26-13
  2. Sweetwater 34-13
  3. Lubbock Monterey 58-0
  4. Breckenridge 41-20
  5. Lubbock 39-0
  6. Waco 27-7
  7. Big Spring 32-0
  8. Odessa 19-0
  9. Midland 41-0
  10. San Angelo 12-6
  11. El Paso Austin 60-0
  12. Amarillo 33-14

 

 

The Players

RB Jim Millerman                    Baylor

OL Stuart Peake                      Univ. of Texas

QB H.P. Hawkins

WR Twyman Ash                     Rice

NG John Thomas                     Houston

OL Elmo Cure                          SMU

QB/DB David Bourland           Texas Tech

FB/DB Jim Welch                    SMU/Baltimore Colts

RB Jimmy Carpenter               Oklahoma

OL Sam Caudle                        SMU

DE Fred Green                        Houston

OL Jim Rose                             Univ. of Texas

RB Henry Colwell                    Abilene Christian

OL Rufus King                          Rice

OL Boyd King                           Rice

RB Glen Gregory                     SMU/Dallas Cowboys

E Bob Swafford                       Texas Tech

TE Jim Perry                            West Texas State/Minnesota Vikings

OL John Young                        UTEP

OL Mike Bryant                       SMU

QB Harold Stephens              Hardin-Simmons/N.Y. Titans-AFL      

Ironically, the winning streak did not end with a loss but with a 20-20 tie vs. Highland Park in the state semifinals. Things would never be the same after that.

Economic growth from the nearby oil fields and the new Dyess Air Force Base brought a population boom to Abilene. With that influx of people came the need for another high school, resulting in the fan base becoming divided.

Abilene would not win another state championship for another 53 years, winning it in 2009. But for the players and coaches who were a part of history, it would be an achievement they would remember for the rest of their lives.

The 49 consecutive victories set a national high school record. The Abilene Eagles, the “Team of the Century.”  Indeed.

 

Thanks for reading.

Material for this article sourced from www.chuckmoser.org, www.ahseagles61.com,

story “West Texas Storm” by Gary West, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 12, 2007,

www.thepeoplehistory.com/1954, https://dmn-dallas-news-prod.cdn.arcpublishing.com

 

 

sponsored by: 

www.JaMarRoofing.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TexasHSFootball.com


Featured image credit: Photo Credit: www.dallas-news.com

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