Wise As It Was: Etching place in history; ’83 team brings home county’s first title

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, August 25, 2018
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Reaching the Top

REACHING THE TOP – Aaron Liverman shows off the Class 2A state football championship plaque the Boyd Yellowjackets won Saturday by defeating the Groveton Indians 16-8 at Waco. At right, Boyd fan Terry Dennis hugs ‘Jackets quarterback Billy Tolliver following the victory, causing him to drop the pen being used to autograph miniature footballs. The football championship was the first ever won by a Wise County team. Messenger photo by Ken Roselle

Rodney  McCune admits he’s been knocked silly a few times in his life, especially in college, playing football at Kansas Wesleyan.

But each time he came to, he found himself in the same week in December 1983.

“Every time I’d lose my memory, I’d go back to the state championship week and I’ve got to play against Groveton,” McCune said.

“I’m quite proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

McCune and his Boyd Yellowjacket teammates reached the pinnacle for Friday night warriors in the fall of ’83, capturing the 2A state championship. It was the first of two state crowns for Boyd, the only two in Wise County.

State Champs

STATE CHAMPS – The 1983 Boyd Yellowjackets went 15-0-1 and won the state championship. Wise County Messenger Archive

Thirty-five years after Boyd captured the title to cap off the 15-0-1 campaign, the team will be honored during a pregame ceremony Friday where the new monument with all the players’ names will be unveiled. There are also monuments for the 1958 region champions and 2004 state champions.

Many players from the ’83 team have committed to returning for the reception.

“It’s good to see all those people come back,” said Boyd coach J.G. Cartwright, who led the Yellowjackets to both titles.

At the start of the 1983 season, a state title was not on Cartwright’s mind with a 5-3 team coming back. Though his players were talking about it.

“They were a bunch of kids that made up their mind they could do it. Before the season, they were saying they were going to win state,” Cartwright said. “I thought it was a bit of a stretch. But they proved me wrong.”

Pollsters didn’t see Boyd as a threat to even get out of a tough 11-2A. They were picked behind Olney and Jacksboro.

The Yellowjackets wasted no time showing their potential, scoring a historic 25-18 victory over the highly-ranked Decatur Eagles in the season opener.

“After we beat Decatur, that’s when we thought we’ve got something special here,” said junior Marc Lyons.

Led by future NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, the Yellowjackets started stacking up the victories. Boyd crushed Chico 41-0 and then edged Holliday 21-12 and Archer City 21-13. The Yellowjackets stung Nocona 39-6, Trinity Valley 48-0 and Henrietta 54-8 to set up a showdown with Olney for the 11-2A crown.

Alan Fite ran for 90 of the Yellowjackets’ 355 yards in a 23-7 victory that put Boyd in the driver’s seat for the league title. Boyd beat Jacksboro 31-19 and closed out a perfect 10-0 regular season with a 27-7 win over Petrolia.

Boyd started the playoffs with similar dominance, shutting out DeLeon 29-0 and Winters 30-0 to reach the third round. Awaiting the Yellowjackets was the 1980 and ’81 state champions from Pilot Point on Thanksgiving Day.

“It was a big game. We didn’t play on Thursdays often,” Cartwright recalled.

McCune remembered sitting in the stands his freshman year when Pilot Point crushed Boyd and knew it was going to be a challenge, which it was.

“It was the toughest game I’ve ever played,” he said.

Boyd fought back from a pair of deficits to score on turnovers. Fite’s 5-yard run in the fourth quarter tied the game at 13.

Without overtime, the game came down to penetrations. Boyd held a 3-2 edge in the final two minutes when a fumble gave Pilot Point the ball. The Yellowjackets defense kept the Bearcats at bay and gave Boyd a chance to move on.

Boyd beat Cisco in the quarterfinal, 25-14, and McCamey in the semifinal, 22-3, to reach the state final.

The Yellowjackets entered the state title game a decided underdog against No. 1 Groveton and 1,900-yard rusher Michael Horace at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.

Lyon recalls the team arriving in Waco on a worn out chartered bus.

“Groveton came in a pair of red Trailways, and they were laughing at us when we got off our charter,” he said. “They took one look at our team and thought ‘we are going to kill them.'”

Boyd quickly proved otherwise, going up 13-0 on Lyons’ 44-yard pick-six just before halftime.

“Groveton had been averaging 40 to 50 points. To shut them out and have a two-score lead, we knew if we could keep it up, we had them,” Lyons said.

Boyd allowed just one touchdown, holding on for the 16-8 victory to etch the team’s place in history.

“The whole community got behind us. To this day, they remember,” Lyons said.

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