1966 Rattlers see similarties in this year's team

Photo from Daily Record Archives

San Marcos Homecoming 2017

A handful of decades have gone by since excitement surrounded a San Marcos program like it has this season. The Rattlers’ newfound success may still be in its infancy, but this isn’t the first time San Marcos has been in a position to leave a lasting legacy.

It has been 51 years since an Owen Goodnight-coached Rattler team displayed dominance on the football field. The 1966 Rattlers went a perfect 10-0 and made their way to the state semifinals before falling to Bridge City. 

A lot about the game has changed since 1966 - styles of play, technology and the districts themselves. But one connection Donny Bagley, safety on the ‘66 team, made between the eras is how dedicated the community is to the program.

“What impresses me the most last year and this year is the fans,” Bagley said. “At Manor (last week), I looked at the Manor side and they had a tenth of the people on their side as we did on our side. And when the defense would come off the field, it was just amazing. It was amazing because everyone would stand and yell and scream as loud as they could. They are just really, really behind this team.”

The population of San Marcos in 1966 was close to 12,000, a significant difference from the 61,000 that reside in the city today. Jack Carson, offensive left halfback, said his most cherished memory of the team was the winning tradition they established - Something that required commitment well beyond the football field. Starting with the coaches, down to the parents and student-athletes.

“Everybody knew everybody,” Carson said. “The town was so supportive of the team. Every time we had an out-of-town game we’d go around the square and there would be people there encouraging us and everything. And I think that was tremendous.”

Along with community support, both programs had a unified goal in mind that drove the San Marcos teams to success. Carson admitted the '66 team was not the biggest or the most talented. But as a whole, they were a tough and disciplined group.

The same thing can be said about this year's hardworking San Marcos team. Offensively, the Rattlers rely on speed and agility, while the strength of the defense leans on its ability to fly to the ball and make plays in the open field.

San Marcos has fought and earned its 7-1 overall record up to this point. But the Rattlers will be the first to admit there is still more work to do be done with two regular season games remaining. 

Although the 1966 season ended in the semifinal game, Ronnie Mendez, center on the '66 team, said he and his teammates left everything on the field. Goodnight told Mendez and the team that night of the loss to be proud of themselves, be proud of their school and be proud of their town.

“What I would like these young men to know is what they do Friday night and the next Friday night and the next Friday night, they will remember,” Bagley said. “When they’re 68 years old, it will be really good for them to say ‘they gave it everything they had’. If it wasn’t good enough then so be it, but they left everything on the field.”

The one and final thought this group of alumni left for the San Marcos program was that they are not alone. 50 years ago, this group was where this talented team is today. And coming together in all aspects will have its part in being successful and leaving a legacy they can forever be proud of.

San Marcos Daily Record

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