Early Refugio football coaches, All “of late”. . .

Spot-ons re Refugio coaches—namely Germer, Gips, Lucky and Gray

By Longhorn Putt, aka Andy Pate, Jr.

When I sat down to write this, I wanted to begin by saying point-blank, "I am the chosen One," to justify my credentials for writing about Refugio coaches of half-century and more ago.

But the president preempted me on that one.  So, let me just say, "I wanta put some steam in the boiler room," to introduce a few of my personal comments about four  Refugio coaches from the past.  Excepting Bill Lucky, I knew each one personally, quite well in fact.

First, the one who—shall we say?— started it all, the grand Refugio Bobcat football tradition, known throughout the great state of Texas and in some parts beyond.

Walter F. "Sandy" Germer.  Prior to 1946, Refugio football was really nothing to write home about, or for that matter, to write anyone anywhere about.  And the 1945 season was a disaster under one-year coach L.N. Dyer, which ended before it began, when Dyer in preseason asserted his authority by booting key athletes off the team.  Result:  no wins, several bitter humiliations.

Sandy was hired as the new coach (actually he had been the Bobcat coach before). He promptly reinstated the key athletes who'd been banned by Dyer and built a team around Charles Newton Williams at quarterback and running backs Jack Sportsman, Wendell Duhon and Elton Earl Euton supported ably by several tough, agile linemen, like Winton Milliff, Wayne Gumm, Dailey Brown and Darrell Mahan.

The 1946 Bobcats were the first RHS regional champions, which was as far as they could advance playing in Class B.  The 1947 team repeated the championship run, with M.C. Love, Dudley Skeen and Murray Ferguson also playing key roles.  That same year, 1947-48, the basketball Bobcats were also regional champions.

The fastest player on the 1947 team was not a major contributor on the gridiron.  He was J.P. Neely who went on to win national sprint titles at Victoria College and North Texas State University.

Sandy Germer was himself a superb athlete.  As coach he was well organized, truly "a leader of men."  In addition, he was funny and loved to kid, never took himself too seriously.  The players loved him.

Paul Gips succeeded Sandy  just as the 1949 season was beginning, a last minute hire to replace the long-forgotten guy who had initially been brought on board to replace Sandy.

Gips coached some fine athletes; Teddy Gray (UofH), Bobby McBride (Texas State, Little All American) and Bill Anderson (Baylor), to name three who advanced into collegiate competition.  But they and their teammates were small even by 1950s standards and failed to win a district title until 1953, when, for the first time, the Bobcats advanced deep into the playoffs, losing to Huntsville in the state AA semi-final.  Gips' 1955 team, with All -American (Refugio's first) lineman Gale Oliver  and running back James Thomas Lott leading the way, went undefeated through bi-district to be eliminated in Area by Bum Phillipps coached Nederland (Refugio defeated Bum and Nederland 13-12 in 1953).

The 1955 team was the first to be integrated and the first to play in what is now Jack Sportsman stadium

Gips was a really handsome guy, former U.S. Navy pilot from Yorktown with collegiate experience (Texas Lutheran, Southwestern U),  who always demanded respect from his players.  But he also knew his limits, like the rather obvious one: he was not a good defensive or line coach.  So, for the 1952 season he hired Dave McCoy as his line coach and the move so strengthened the Cats they were able to make their 1953 run, keying off the offensive and defensive brilliance of one Serafin Vela.

Refugio floundered for a few years after Gips left in 1956 for El Campo, and eventually Clear Creek.  And it was not until Bill Lucky became the head coach in 1965 or 1966?  that the foundation for the future of Refugio football was firmly established.

T Gray & sidekick, 1951

Lucky took his Bobcats all the way to the state final in 1968, losing to Lubbock Estacado, 14-0,  but was abruptly let go the next spring due to some alleged UIL "practice" rules  violations.  His OC Teddy Gray took over and it was Gray who coached the Bobcats to their  first state title, a co-championship with Iowa Park in 1970.

As is well known, Gray was a super all-round athlete.  He loved the game of football especially—"the contact" he told me—and more than anything wanted to win a state crown for himself, the school and his hometown.

Gray took full advantage of having learned how to build a program from Bill Lucky.  But he also had that intangible thing we often call "charisma."  His genius was his intuition.

Gray had a "feel" for the game of football that I believe  you can't coach or learn.  You either have it or you don't.  Gray had it.

A lot has happened since.  Down the road, I hope to be able to share here some of my reflections on these past 50 years.  Right now, 2019 and Tidehaven are uppermost.

Go, Cats!  Go!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *