Who's No. 1?
Who has been the best high school football program in Texas over the last 30 years?
Texas high school football is a vast, vast topic. This season, 1,205 schools will participate in UIL-sanctioned football in the Lone Star State. That’s…a lot.
That’s favorable for us here at Dave Campbell’s Texas Football – we’re never at a shortage of topics to explore – but it also makes it hard to find any sort of appropriate perspective. It’s hard enough to rank teams from all across the state…but when you add a time element and try to adjust for history? It’s nigh impossible.
And yet here we are, staring at what we recognize is an insurmountable mountain, daring to ask the question:
Over the last 30 (or so) years, who has been the best high school football program in Texas?
See what we mean?
We’re talking about figuring out which of the roughly 1,200 high school football programs scattered across the Lone Star State has had the best 25-year span – well, roughly speaking. We’ve got complete data that stretches all the way back to 1986, courtesy the great Jerry Forrest at PigskinPrep.com, and we plan to use it.
The tough part of this: where do you make your judgments? Total wins? Winning percentage? Championships? Title game appearances? The best analysis, we hope you’ll agree, will include a little bit of all of them.
Now, obviously, we’re not going to come to a consensus today. In fact, we want to hear what you think on our Facebook page. But allow DCTF to submit a few candidates – 10 of them, exactly – for the Best Texas High School Football Program of the Last 30 (or so) Years.
(Remember: all numbers are since 1986.)
The numbers: 288 wins, .783 winning percentage, 1 state title, 7 title game appearances
The case for the Chaps: If you want a team that’s seemingly always in the hunt, it’s Westlake. True, they’ve got just one title to their name – 1996 – but getting to the championship game seven times has to count for something.
The numbers: 315 wins, .854 winning percentage, 7 state titles, 9 title game appearances
The case for the Bobcats: Well, there’s the whole G.A. Moore thing. The winningest coach in Texas high school football history put his mark on the past quarter-century, capped by the Bobcats’ four-straight titles from 1998 to 2001, then four more title game appearances from 2005-08, winning two more titles.
The numbers: 294 wins, .800 winning percentage, 4 state titles, 10 title game appearances
The case for the Rockets: Between D.W. Rutledge and Jim Rackley, Converse Judson ruled the 90s in San Antonio, taking home titles in 1988 (via forfeit), 1993, 1995 and 2002. Count in another six title game appearances, and that 80% winning clip looks even more impressive.
The numbers: 262 wins, .759 winning percentage, 3 state titles, 5 title game appearances
The case for the Trojans: Well, if three titles in five years (2005, 2007 and 2009) doesn’t interest you, consider that the Trojans racked up 262 wins despite consistently playing some of the toughest schedules in the state.
The numbers: 328 wins, .851 winning percentage, 6 state titles, 11 title game appearances
The case for the Tigers: Simply put, no team has been to more title games in the last 28 seasons than Katy. Its run of dominance has included six championships since 1997, and the last time the Tigers went more than two years without making a title game, Bill Clinton was in his first term.
The numbers: 298 wins, .799 winning percentage, 5 state titles, 10 title game appearances
The case for the Cougars: 1993-1998, plain and simple. Yes, LM won titles in 2003 and 2005, and played for another title in 2010, but their run of six-straight title game berths from 1993-1998 – including three wins – is legendary.
The numbers: 272 wins, .746 winning percentage, 3 state titles, 7 title game appearances
The case for the Panthers: No small-school team has been as dominant in the last 28 years, racking up an astonishing 272-92-1 record over that span despite taking on all comers – including teams much bigger than them in non-district play. But once the playoffs rolled around, no teams are consistently more dangerous.
The numbers: 318 wins, .844 winning percentage, 1 state title, 3 title game appearances
The case for the Bobcats: No team is more dominant in the regular season. 318 wins is remarkable enough, but when you consider that it constitutes nearly 85% winning percentage, it’s ridiculous. That dominance was rewarded in 2011 when they earned their first title since 1982.
The numbers: 333 wins, .855 winning percentage, 8 state titles, 9 title game appearances
The case for the Dragons: All the numbers are in their favor. They have the most wins (333) over this span, the highest winning percentage, and the most titles. Oh, and they’re a ridiculous 8-of-9 in title games.
The numbers: 284 wins, .785 winning percentage, 5 state titles, 5 title game appearances
The case for the Yellow Jackets: While the win totals may not be as gaudy, they’re money once they get to the title game, bringing home five titles in five tries. And they’re spread out, too: 1993-1994, 1998-1999 and then 2012. That’s consistent excellence across the years.
The numbers: 276 wins, .820 winning percentage, 2 state titles, 4 title game appearances
The case for the Mustangs: It’s easy to just say that they were great from 1986-1988, when they went to three straight title games and won two championships, but the Mustangs have been consistently excellent the entire time, winning at a silly 82% clip.
Other teams worth considering: Aledo, Alto, Canadian, Corpus Christi Calallen, Crawford, Cuero, Daingerfield, Highland Park, Houston Lamar, Newton, Shiner, Stratford, Tatum.
What do you think? Who has been the best Texas high school football program over the last 30 years? Sound off on our Facebook page!
Greg Tepper is the managing editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.
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