Posted on 15 November 2014.
After a 26-20 loss in the second round of the playoffs in 2003, Ian Ritchey and his Boyd teammates watched the Bangs team that ended their season reach the state title game before eventually falling to Garrison.
ROLLING OVER OPPONENTS – The 2004 Boyd Yellowjackets steamrolled its non-district opponents 224 points to 74 and outscored district oppoenents by at least 45 points per game. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty
“They rolled through the rest of the playoffs until the state championship,” Ritchey recalled. “Their closest game was against us. We looked at what we had coming back and knew we had the talent to be one of the best teams in the state.”
PUCKER UP – 2004 Boyd Yellowjacket quarterback Garrett Tidwell kisses the state championship trophy. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty
With those seeds planted, the next fall the Boyd Yellowjackets grew into champions. The Yellowjackets dominated the regular season and rolled through the first four rounds of the playoffs before ending the year with a dramatic win for the school’s second state title and first since 1983.
“It was 21 years between the two. You begin to wonder if it was going to happen again,” said Boyd’s head coach for both titles, J.G. Cartwright.
“On that ’04 team, all the players were really intense. They were a close-knit team.” he said. “They played so confident. They felt all along they were going to win the state and did.”
That was evident from the first whistle of the season as the Yellowjackets won the opener 57-33, piling up 500 yards.
The Yellowjackets outscored their five non-district opponents – Bowie, Venus, Fort Worth Christian, Henrietta and Breckenridge – 224 to 74.
“We thought we had a tough predistrict schedule,” Ritchey said. “Henrietta was a good team, and we beat them. Breckenridge was an undefeated 3A team and we beat them bad. That was one of the other signs that this was a special group.”
The Yellowjackets’ foes in District 9-2A also had little success in slowing down the Boyd train. Boyd scored 45 points or more in every district game and allowed just 27 points in their league with two shutouts.
The Yellowjackets avenged a loss the year before to Jacksboro in the regular season finale with a 47-14 win. Boyd led the game 40-7 at halftime.
Behind quarterback Garrett Tidwell and their strong offensive line, the Yellowjackets continued to roll up big numbers offensively in the playoffs, beating Eastland 51-23, Troy 35-21 and Argyle 55-21.
“When we played Argyle in the third round, we played probably our best game all year,” Ritchey said.
Next up was a rematch with Henrietta, who the Yellowjackets beat 46-7 earlier in the season. After seeing Decatur upset by an Abilene Wylie team it had beat handily earlier in the season, Boyd wasn’t about to take the Bearcats lightly.
But through three quarters, Boyd’s dream season appeared to be coming to an end in the semifinals as Henrietta took a 22-17 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We beat the heck out of them in the preseason and as much as weren’t looking past them, we didn’t play as well as we needed,” Cartwright said. “They played great. We were behind at half and then stepped up a notch.”
Tidwell scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 4:37 to lift Boyd to the 32-22 victory. The first came after Adam Guevara’s interception.
The win put Boyd back into the title game for a second time in five years.
The Yellowjackets had lost to Mart and future University of Texas star Quan Cosby in 1999 in a driving rain.
Going into the state championship against Newton, the Yellowjackets knew they had their work cut out for them.
Boyd was also dealing with mounting injuries. Running back Chase Hall had missed the Henrietta game with a sprained ankle. Ritchey was playing with an injured knee that kept him from practice.
Cartwright admitted they were the walking wounded.
The week of the title game was also filled with strange happenings.
“It had rained quite a bit, and we practiced at Northwest through the playoffs but the week of the title game they had to have their field,” Cartwright said. “Our field was wet and all mud. There wasn’t any place to get any footing.
“There was one play we wanted to run out of the spread with Garrett and Chase. Our last workout, we found a spot where we could go over the play and spent five minutes on it. We then ran that play five or six times for big yardage in the game.”
It was the Boyd defense that faced the big test of slowing down Newton’s potent rushing attack that had more than 4,300 yards.
“We made a few adjustments and went out for our first defensive workout,” Cartwright said. “The plan didn’t look as good as we hoped. We then went back and redid things, and it paid off.”
The two teams fought to a scoreless tie at halftime.
In the second half, Tidwell tossed a 76-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Ponder and later a 27-yarder to Hall. Newton responded to both scores and tied the game at 14 with 8:39 left.
Boyd kicker Pete Lugo broke the tie with a 31-yard field. Ritchey then forced a fumble on the next possession.
“Unfortunately, they got it back one last time,” Ritchey said. “We were just trying to tackle them and keep them inbounds. It was a crazy last two minutes. The clock just can’t move fast enough.”
The Yellowjackets would make that final stop and seal the title.
“It was exciting. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Ritchey said. “It’s something I remember the rest of my life.
“I’ll always remember reaching the small goals, going to practice with my friends. They were more than friends – like brothers.”
Ritchey also got a chance to share the title with his father Phillip Ritchey – a Boyd assistant at the time. His younger brother Bradan was also called up for the playoffs.
Ritchey now coaches linebackers and special teams for his father at Big Springs, which is in the playoffs this season.
Tidwell beat out Colt McCoy, a senior at Jim Ned, for the 2A Player of the Year award after the 2004 season. Tidwell rushed for 1,870 yards and 35 touchdowns and added 2,228 yards passing with 28 touchdowns.
He went on to become an All-American at Angelo State as a return specialist.
Cartwright retired in 2012, coaching his final game in 2011. He finished with a record of 274-122-5.
Ten years later, he still fondly remembers the Yellowjackets’ final state title.
“There was radio broadcast of the state title game. I get that tape down every two or three years and listen to it,” Cartwright said. “It’s still exciting.”
- After the crazy ending the night before with the losing team kneeling on the ball to seal a playoff spot, I was treated to another surreal ending Friday in Graham. The Decatur Eagles put aside a rough opening eight minutes and played the best 39 minutes of their season against their best opponents to get into position to win. And as one person typed “engrave the trophy” on our live blog, a 14-point lead evaporated in less than a minute. Graham, with all the momentum, took the game and 4-4A Division I title in overtime. As Decatur coach Mike Fuller pointed out this week, about 10 things had to go perfect for Graham, and they all did. But it made for another entertaining night in this crazy season
- Speaking of crazy years, not many fit the plot of a “Friday Night Lights” drama better than the Eagles’ playoff opponent – Stephenville. The Yellowjackets started the year ranked No. 1, suffered a setback in a thriller and then lost their four-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham and will enter the playoffs relying on their backup quarterback
- Taking a team to the playoffs after an 0-10 season the year before is hard to do once. Amazingly, Bridgeport coach Danny Henson has now done it twice. In 1993, he took over a program that was winless the year before and guided it to the third round of the playoffs. After last year’s injury-filled 0-10 campaign, his Bulls went into the postseason Friday at 7-3
- Joe Randall’s impressive season of 1,808 yards and 26 touchdowns has him within striking distance of rare territory – 5,000 career yards. He enters the playoffs with 4,610
- Much has been made about the expanded playoff field in recent years. But while there are plenty of critics of four teams going into the playoffs, it’s by far no guarantee that programs will be in the postseason. Only Boyd in Wise County has a playoff streak longer than two years. The Yellowjackets are working on a 12-year streak
- Few streaks are as impressive as what David Park’s Lady Eagles cross country team has accomplished in the past decade. The Lady Eagles, who finished second in 4A this year, have finished on the podium the past seven years and recorded a top-three finish in nine of the past 10 years
- Watching the Decatur Lady Eagles volleyball team warm up Tuesday, I had to send out this tweet: “I envision volleyballs having nightmares about being hit by Caroline Lowery.” I imagine opposing teams have the same nightmare. She entered Friday averaging 3.9 kills per set
- A few weeks ago, I put in this space that the Big 12 would be left out of the College Football Playoff. Well, now TCU is ranked fourth and has a chance to solidify its spot. I don’t see how they don’t now end up in a semifinal
- This week’s rankings sparked a heated debate with TCU being ahead of a Baylor team it lost to. I have no problem with TCU being ranked ahead. There is precedent. In 2008, Oklahoma finished ahead of a one-loss Texas team that beat them. What I took from the committee’s rankings this week is the value of non-conference scheduling. TCU gets elevated by its win over a currently ranked Minnesota team. I do wonder what will happen if Minnesota, who ends the year with Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin, loses out
- That’s all for today. On the road to Snyder and Mineral Wells. I will need more coffee.