To the 2001 State Champions,
I apologize for not being able to attend, but as Coach Emerson and I are at Medina Valley we are playing our district opponent, McCollum Friday night. Though we have been gone for 10 years from Blanco, my family and I will always cherish those three years at Blanco. Those were three of my most memorable years as a coach and a teacher. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a special group of young men that achieved the ultimate goal in Texas high school football, winning a state championship in football. I was not only surrounded by great student athletes, but also worked with a great staff and the support of the community. My family and I still talk about that year and how much fun it was to be a part of it. My son, Matthew, is here today with you to help celebrate the reunion. Matthew was in the 5th grade at the time, but he still remembers the road trips to Waco. I can still remember picking up the bus so we could load all the football players as we headed to Waco. We stopped in Marble Falls to eat pizza and enjoy the fellowship. All the players were relaxed about the game and we as a staff knew that something special was going to happen that night. As we made our way to Waco, we heard that it was raining quite a bit in Waco, so we knew that we had the type of offense that was made for this weather. Our defense had been dominant and had made big plays throughout the playoffs. Again, we knew as a staff that we could stop any team, especially in the state championship. As we arrived at Waco ISD stadium, we knew this was our second home. Our kids had played there the last two years, so we were very comfortable with our surroundings. As we walked into the locker room each locker had a nameplate on it with the athlete’s name. Our fans were there waiting even as the rain came down, it didn’t affect their spirits, especially Llano Baumgartner! We had one goal, to finish what we had just missed out on in 2000. I remember after each practice the team would break it out: State Champs! They believed that this was their year. As the game went along the rain was to our advantage. We executed our offense with precision, tough running by our backs and short passes out of our bootleg. Our O line, Houston, Ernie, Wyatt, Curtis and Jason, made big holes for Mohammed, Daniel, and A.J. to run through. Our wingback Fowler, split ends, Bibb and Robert Flores blocked on 82 down and downfield. Joseph Mann guided our offense down the field as would any great field general. We still love you Joseph, even though you coach at Comfort. Our defense was lead by Brandon Colton, Laird Franzen, AJ, Josh and Joseph Mann. And who can forget “BEEF” returning the fumble to cap off a shutout. Our secondary, Bibb, Josh, Daniel, Mohammed and Jason Lee kept Van Alstyne’s passing game in check. I can still remember 10 years later looking at the clock from the press box as it was winding down to zero. The feeling was unimaginable. We had won STATE! I hurried down the press box to celebrate with our team and staff in the rain. I remember Chris Bibb throwing his helmet high up in the air in jubilation and JD Uballe waving the Panther flag with all his might to the Blanco fans. My wife, Esmie and my younger sons Mario and Manny were soaking wet, but they didn’t care. We wanted to celebrate. You could sense the pride and the tears of joy were falling everywhere as the championship trophy and medals were presented to the team. This is the pinnacle of any coach’s dream to play in December and win a state championship. As we boarded the bus to head home, we were all talking about the “ring”. The ring I still wear today, to remind me that the 2001 Blanco Panthers were and still are something special. I wish that I could have attended tonight’s reunion, but I hope that each and every player from that team has gone on to be successful in their endeavors. I will always be and still am a Panther.
Medina Valley High School