State champions meet again on their old field decades later


Don Vandell, John Clark, David Founder, Tim Lassiter, Hans Mansion, Kevin Jennings, Richard Randell, Paul Smith, Gary Minton, Sherman Millander, Miko Wheeler, John Cardwell, Steve George, Kieth Sockwell, Travis McIntyre, Freddie McIntyre, Tommy Caroll, Randall Choddick, Donny Peters, Danny Founden, Randy Duncan reminisce their glory days on the field they once played on.

Benjamin Patterson, Sports Editor

    To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 state championship, Plano honored the men from the 1967 team at the football game against Plano West.

    “There were guys there that I hadn’t seen in 50 years,” former Wildcat Mike Wheeler said. “We had a great time, and agreed we’ll do whatever it takes to be back here for our 100th anniversary.”

    The teams brought home two state championships in 1965 and 1967, which were the first out of many in Wildcat history.

    “A huge memory of mine was the amount of success we had from 1965 to 1967,” Wheeler said. “I’ve never been on a more focused team, or a team that bought into the system more.”

     The team brought home the second state championship in school history by blowing out San Antonio-Randolph, 27-8.

    “We weren’t the biggest, fastest or strongest team, but we worked so well together,” alumni James Thomas said.

    All of the young men on these teams were incredibly dedicated to winning, and anything short of that was unacceptable.

    “After we lost a close game in the quarterfinals in ‘66, we had a team meeting once the seniors were gone,” Wheeler said. “We agreed that a state championship was our one and only goal, and anyone who didn’t want to commit the next year to football should go ahead and quit.”

    The game and the system have changed a lot since these men were playing, some of whom think for the better and some not.

    “When we were playing, you had to be district champions to make the playoffs, and I am not a fan of a system where it is possible for a team with two or three wins to make the playoffs,” Wheeler said.

    The style of play at Plano has not changed very much, as the Wildcats are still a very run-heavy offense.

    “When we played we only passed two or three times a game,” Wheeler said.

    Modern technology has made the game much safer, but new diets have made all of the players much bigger and powerful at the same time.

    “The focus is now on safety, but the players are much larger and faster than they were in 1967, and the collisions are much more impactful,” James Thomas said.

    The players thought of each other as family, and they knew the families of every other player on the team.

    “When I was at Plano, I knew every kid on the team and their family, and the coaches were more like dads to all of the players,” Wildcat alumni Pat Thomas said.

    Pat Thomas went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams, and was a two time All Pro selection. He made it to the Super Bowl in 1979, and was interviewed on media day, where all of the players in the Super Bowl are interviewed by the press.

    “This isn’t the biggest game of my life,” Pat Thomas said to the press. “The biggest game of my life was the Texas State Playoffs.”