BEST IN TEXAS? IT’S OBVIOUS
In light of a recent ESPN documentary, debate around two legendary high school football teams has resurfaced
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.
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.