In a program rich in tradition, there haven’t been many seasons as dominant as that of the 1967 Alice Coyotes. Loaded with size, talent, and versatility the Coyotes were not only among the best in South Texas that season, they gradually worked their way into the top ten in the State of Texas by the end of the regular season.
It's the main reason the team is being inducted into the Alice Coyote Athletic Hall of Honor during Friday's football game.
Under the direction of head coach John Linville, the 1967 Coyotes started their remarkable journey by beating Beeville 19-0. The low scoring game provided an initial introduction to an offense and defense that fed of one another’s potential. And Alice fans became familiar with the names of the Coyotes that played key roles in that season’s success.
George Draper, the reporter covering the game for the Alice Echo, noted that Coach John Linville “must be proud of the effort of his offense. In Addition to Ronnie Cauley’s great average, Bill Burton posted 69 yards in 12 carries…and Henry Villarreal with just 23 yards in 6 carries was short but his punt returns were fantastic and quarterback Freddy Myer scored two touchdowns and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.” And the offensive line of Milton Rennert, Duane Drake, Bobby Slinkard, Ronnie Blount, Billy Keliehor, Ronnnie McCandless, Jeff Terrell and Joey Korenek deserved “a big hand.”
Draper credited “the defense with the terrible quartet of Aaron Bonds, John Bedgood, Al Woods and Kenneth O’Neill along with Kenny Owens, Teo Gomez, Omar Gaza, and Pete Weakley—stopping everything, forced Beeville to punt 5 times in the first half.”
The following week the Coyotes completely dominated the Kingsville Brahmas and beat them 28-0. And then just as the Coyotes were beginning to generate confidence, feeling positive about their capabilities, an act of nature, Hurricane Beulah, blasted into the Coastal Bend and consequently cancelled a scheduled game with Austin Lanier.
Several weeks after beating Kingsville the Coyotes finally hit the turf. Cliff Brown, Echo Sports Editor, wrote “Alice’s lean and hungry Coyotes played perfection football Friday night, as they annihilated previously unbeaten Edinburg, 47-12 on a soggy field….Leader of the Pack was Quarterback Fred Meyer, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another..”
The victory against Edinburg illustrated the developing juggernaut of the Coyote offense. Henry Villarreal scored on a two yard run; Korenek scored on a six yard pass from Meyer; Korenek scored again on a nine yard pass from Meyer; Billy Burton scored on a six yard pass from Meyer; Villarreal scored on a 91 yard pass interception; Meyer scored on a sixty-five yard punt return; and finally Bobby Pope scored on a 41 yard pass from backup quarterback Ronnie Moore.
The offense was impressive as it rolled off 366 yards rushing and the Coyote defense held the Edinburg Bobcats to 81 yards.
In the following weeks the ’67 Coyotes honed their offensive and defensive skills and chalked up six more victories. They beat San Benito, Brownsville, Waco Richfield, Harlingen, McAllen, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo. They outscored their opponents 166-29, averaging approximately 27 points a game to less than one touchdown for their opponents.
In beating Phar-San Juan-Alamo, the Alice Coyotes won the South Zone District Title and their next opponent is the Stingarees of Victoria who are rated number 2 in state and favored to beat the Coyotes “by a margin of three to four touchdowns,” according to a Dallas newspaper.
On the morning of Friday, November 17th Clief Brown, Echo Sports Editor asked Coach Linville if the Coyotes were ready for Victoria, the number two rated team in class 4A. Coach Linville responded, “We’re as ready physical and mentally as we are ever going to be….they have really been hitting out there this week, and we’ve had perhaps our best practice sessions all year.”
The sports page of the Sunday edition of the Alice Echo-News read,
“PACK RIPS STINGAREES, 34-0”
The media hype prior to the game between the number two state ranked Victoria Singarees and the number eight ranked Alice Coyote failed to pan out. The Echo’s Clief Brown wrote “Alice beat the visitors every way but sideways, as the offense never clicked more smoothly, while the defense, regarded by some as the best in the state, stopped the Stingarees dead in their tracks….the game had all the ear-marks of a gridiron classic, but it took only half of the first quarter for the Coyotes to take control of the game.”
The final statistics told the story. The Coyotes had 21 first downs to Victoria’s 11. Alice “rolled up some 435 yards in total offense, while allowing Victoria but 137 yards on the ground and another 40 in the air.”
The Echo stated “outstanding stars for the ‘Yotes were as numerous as a bushel basket of apples.”
The stunning victory over Victoria set the stage for a showdown between Alice and Austin Reagan, two versatile teams, offensively as well as defensively. Prior to the game the Echo’s Cliff Brown wrote “through 10 games, the Raiders have rolled up 345 while allowing the opposition only 70. Alice, on the other hand, has gathered 294 points in as many outings, but the defense, considered one of the strongest in the state, has given up only 41 points..”
The game lived up to its expectations. Alice fans were on the edge of their seats as they watched the Coyotes drive into Raider territory time after time, only to be frustrated by a fumble or an interception.
Austin Reagan’s offense was experiencing the same challenges. The Coyote defense kept obstructing their efforts. And for nearly three quarters both teams kept turning the ball over.
And then “with about two minutes left in the third period, halfback Donald Ealey took the pitch from quarterback Dale Rebold, cut inside right end, and out again, and was on his way to paydirt…75 yards downfield.” That’s the way the Echo’s Clief Brown described the game winning play.
Austin Reagan advanced and finished their season with a State Champion Trophy.
The Alice Coyotes ended their season with achievements that are the subject of Coyote lore to this day. An unprecedented number of Coyotes were offered athletic scholarships: John Bedgood ( Tyler Jr. College ) Aaron Bonds (North Texas State University), Larry Burnett (Texas Tech), Ronnie Cauley (South West Texas State), Billy Keliehor (University of Houston), Joey Korenek (Baylor), Fred Meyer (University of Southern Mississippi), Kenneth O’Neill (North Texas State University), Bobby Pope (North Texas State University), Milton Rennert (Texas), Henry Villarreal (New Mexico Highlands), and Pete Weakley (SMU).
(Pete Garcia of the Alice Echo-News Journal contributed to this story)