Ysleta High 50th Reunion Recalls Upset of Permian
One of the greatest memories of my journalism career is that of covering high
school sports here. Most sports writers start out covering that beat. I was lucky there were only five public high schools plus one private one when I started in 1950. Today
there are more than 30. The El Paso Times needs a host of sports writers to
cover them, and it’s amazing it does as well as it does. There were two local daily newspapers when I was on the beat, The El Paso Herald-Post and the El Paso Times, and only one sports writer from each paper was necessary to cover high school sports. The five public high schools were El Paso High, Austin, Bowie, Ysleta and Jefferson. The private high school was Cathedral.
YOU CAN imagine how hot the rivalries were. Every game was a do-or-die affair.
For some reason, maybe because I was almost the age of the players or because I
had attended El Paso High School and was open to criticism of bias, I was a
special target of the teams.
Nearly all of the public high school teams threw me
in the shower fully clothed at one time or another, never after a loss but after a big win. It was all in fun. I was never hurt. The players, no doubt urged on by the coaches, would go to the press box, pick me up and carry me to the shower room. Frankly, I got a big kick out of the fact they followed my writing so closely.
WHY DO I bring this up now? It’s because Ysleta High School is celebrating its
50th reunion this weekend. And oh, what great football teams the school had just
prior, during and after 1960. But 1960 was extra special because that’s the year
Ysleta pulled the biggest upset ever in high school football here.
Odessa Permian was the overwhelming power in Texas then. Much of the book,
“Friday Night Lights,” was based on the Permian team of that era.
Permian was an overwhelming favorite over Ysleta in the first round of the
playoffs. The Indians beat them at Ysleta, 31-21. It was such a shocker that all
the Odessa Permian coaches were angrily fired right after the game.
NATURALLY, the Ysleta players came after me after the game and hauled me off to
the showers to celebrate. I loved it. No, the accompanying photo of me in the showers with Ysleta players was not of that game. It was taken after a victory a couple of years earlier but it shows what it was like. Coach Red Coats was the mastermind of the Permian upset but John Folmer was the star. Now chairman of the Sun Bowl football selection committee, Folmer is regarded as one of the greatest linemen ever to come out of El Paso. The
following is from an article I once wrote:
“FOLMER’S PLAY at linebacker still rates as one of the greatest defensive
performances ever seen here. He made tackles all over the field and made two
fumble recoveries that saved the game. The next year Folmer was an absolute
terror in leading the Indians to an undefeated 10-0 regular season. Ysleta shut
out its first six opponents. Folmer, 6-feet-1 and 208 pounds, intercepted seven
passes, five of which he returned for touchdowns.
“He was recruited by every school in the Southwest Conference, several teams in
the Big 8, Arizona and Arizona State .He chose Arizona State where he helped the
Sun Devils win a WAC championship and was named All-WAC. In his senior year, he
recorded an unbelievable 14 tackles against arch-rival Arizona.”
COVERING high schools was a great time in my career and I’ll never forget the
Indians of that era. Even if I was all wet much of the time.
Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at email@example.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com