Reliving McCallum football
The McCallum Knights (14–1) finished a historic season with a state semi-final loss to College Station. The Knights secured the best season by an AISD school since the early ’70s. Students and alumni rallied around the team and traveled in droves to see the squad play in San Antonio and Houston. For one alumnus, Ken Capps, the team’s record run brought back great memories.
I covered the Knights football team for the Shield for the first time in the Fall of 1974.
At House Park.
Do not remember who we played. But we lost.
There was a lot of that in 1974.
The Austin Independent School District had just gutted A.N. McCallum High School in 1972. The shiny new Anderson High School had just opened its doors on Mesa Drive.
Hundreds of students in the McCallum ‘feeder pattern’ were given the option of either sticking with attending Mac, or switching hallways and allegiances to go be a Trojan.
Many past classmates and my fellow freshman, we felt, had made the ultimate betrayal. That included most of our ‘star athletes,’ who were drawn to freshly-painted lockers and new uniforms like a miner is drawn to freshly-found gold.
Really, who could blame them?
So, if you want to know where the bitter rivalry was born fellow Mac Backers, the football season of 1974 is a good place to start.
Mac football was at an all-time low. A season for the ages — the dark ages.
The Knights endured a 2–8 season, the worst the program had EVER endured since the school opened.
Anderson beat Mac that year 12–0.
It would have been much worse if the Trojans had not lost six fumbles and thrown two interceptions.
The last game of that dreadful season, the Reagan Raiders also dealt the Knights their worst loss in 22 years, a 53–6 defeat at Nelson Field.
Welcome to covering the Knights for the Shield and also The Knight yearbook!
Fast forward 43 years to August 2017.
The Knights open the season by thrashing Anderson 48–28 in the Taco Shack Bowl, in a game that was really not that close.
I was there again in House Park, this time as a spectator.
The old press box still brings back fond memories, despite covering some blow-out games of my beloved alma mater.
And from the stands this year, it was obvious there is something special about this Knight squad.
Speed. Uncanny execution. Ball-hawking defense. A true spirit of TEAM. And yes, being on the right side of luck.
No team on any level goes 14–0 and advances to the state semifinals without most, if not all, of those ingredients.
I once wrote in The Shield in a later season that Mac Football is a ‘game of inches’ — thinking I was very prophetic.
As if nobody had ever written that before.
But it was true that season, and it was true this season as the Knights made it all the way to the State 5A Semi-Finals at NRG Stadium in Houston.
This bunch has brought so much pride and happiness to thousands of alumni, former players, Blue Brigaders, band members, and yes, a few of us proud former staffers of macjournalism before it was known as macjournalism.
What a magical season. Keep enjoying every memory.
And remember, Once a Knight is NEVER enough.
Ken Capps, Class of 1978
Article by Ken Capps, Shield Staff Writer, Sports Editor (1974-78), photos by MacJournalism, Jason Smith