In light of a re­cent ESPN doc­u­men­tary, de­bate around two leg­endary high school foot­ball teams has resur­faced

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - COMMENTARY - JEROME SOLOMON

As a long-re­tired high school sports de­bater, I have bat­tled on many a sub­ject.

So I rec­og­nize the chal­lenge in com­par­ing teams from dif­fer­ent eras.

If you’re talk­ing basketball, for in­stance, the Wheat­ley and Kash­mere squads from the early 1970s, the 1985 Madi­son Mar­lins and the Wil­lowridge teams from the turn of the cen­tury were play­ing the same sport, but a dif­fer­ent game.

It is even more dif­fi­cult in foot­ball, as the sport has changed dras­ti­cally over the years.

I have no doubt that 17-yearold Earl Camp­bell would still run over the best mil­len­nial high school de­fend­ers, but could his John Tyler teams keep up with the spread of­fenses that are so preva­lent to­day? And how would its of­fen­sive line fare against the size and speed now on dis­play at the high­est level of prep foot­ball?

So, in com­par­isons, I like to think in terms of dom­i­nance.

But there is no dif­fi­culty in de­ter­min­ing which team is bet­ter when the teams are from the same era.

Num­bers don’t lie

That is why the 1985 Yates vs. 1988 Dal­las Carter de­bate, re­newed this week by an ESPN “30 for 30” doc­u­men­tary on the lat­ter, isn’t ex­actly a de­bate. It is sim­ply a dis­cus­sion of the best and most dom­i­nant team in Texas high school foot­ball his­tory vs. the most no­to­ri­ous team in the state’s his­tory.

De­scrib­ing Carter as the best makes the story bet­ter, but it is in­ac­cu­rate.

Carter wasn’t even the sec­ond-best team of the 1980s (see: 1989 Odessa Per­mian). And as re­luc­tant as I am to go there, Carter might even rank be­hind some of the best teams of the 2000s.

It is de­bat­able that Carter was the most ta­lented team — it was loaded — but there is lit­tle doubt that Yates was the best team. The num­bers don’t lie. While Yates was the first school to go 16-0, Carter didn’t even win all of its games, fin­ish­ing with a 14-0-1 record, thanks to a tie with Dun­canville. And Carter squeezed out four wins by less than a touch­down.

Yates won 10 games by at least 30 points, in­clud­ing the state fi­nal over Odessa Per­mian, in what was then the most lop­sided 5A ti­tle game ever.

Carter had a dom­i­nant de­fense, post­ing four shutouts and al­low­ing just 7.9 points a game. But Yates was more dom­i­nant.

The Lions posted eight shutouts and held op­po­nents to an av­er­age of 4.8 points a game. No, that isn’t a typo.

West Brook’s 16 points in the sec­ond game were the most scored more against Yates all sea­son.

A leg­endary of­fen­sive out­put

There is ab­so­lutely no ar­gu­ment over which team had the bet­ter of­fense.

Yates set Class 5A records for most points in a full sea­son (659), reg­u­lar sea­son (452) and the play­offs (207), as it be­came the first big school to break the 600-point bar­rier. It did that in Week 15.

Carter scored 376 points in 15 games. Yates had 384 points af­ter Week 9, then scored 68 points in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale and 58 in its play­off opener. And the Lions did this de­spite their top two run­ning backs each miss­ing four games with in­juries.

So yeah, en­joy the film; I hear it’s en­ter­tain­ing.

But when you hear it men­tioned that Carter was the best Texas has ever had, ig­nore that part.

That is the defini­tion of fake news.

Hous­ton Chron­i­cle file

Yates’ 37-0 vic­tory over Odessa Per­mian in the Class 5A state cham­pi­onship game stands as the most dom­i­nant ti­tle game win, ce­ment­ing the Lions’ place as the best team in state his­tory.

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