Ex-Marble Falls football players formed lifelong bond because of ‘The Streak’

Willis ‘Pennybill’ Lewis, a member of ‘The Streak’ football teams during the 1950s, tells current Marble Falls High School football player Cooper Wilson why the Mustangs were so successful during that era. The two attended the Marble Falls High School Ex-Students Reunion on Oct. 15. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Willis ‘Pennybill’ Lewis, a member of ‘The Streak’ football teams during the 1950s, tells current Marble Falls High School football player Cooper Wilson why the Mustangs were so successful during that era. The two attended the Marble Falls High School Ex-Students Reunion on Oct. 15. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

MARBLE FALLS —They gathered together again, a day after watching someone else wear their uniforms and enjoy the glory that comes with playing under the Friday night lights.

Most can’t believe 60 years have passed since they were the kings of Marble Falls High School, leading the community on an incredible journey known by many as “The Streak.”

From the last game played in 1954 — a 52-14 victory over Cherokee — to the first win of the 1957 season — a 46-6 thumping of Leander — the Mustangs football team had 26 consecutive wins.

By the end, Marble Falls had outscored opponents 1,094 to 95. The defense had seven shutouts in 1955 and seven more in 1956. But since Marble Falls was considered a “B” team, the Mustangs were only allowed to play in two postseason games during those years. Back then, there was only one state champion, and the schools with the smallest enrollment weren’t allowed to play in more than two postseason games. The bigger schools were considered “A” teams and could advance all the way to the championship game.

But in those four playoff games for the Mustangs, they beat Early 48-0 and Waco Midway 19-7 in 1955 and Early 46-12 and Crawford 26-6 in 1956.

The Streak ended in 1957 in a 19-13 loss to Florence on a touchdown pass from tailback Redge Priest to Troy Futrell, the father of retired Marble Falls High School coach Kyle Futrell.

Many of the players from those seasons attended the Marble Falls High School Ex-Students Homecoming Reunion on Oct. 15. Most continue to stay in touch with one another.

The reason behind their success?

According to players, it was because of:

• coach Fritz Lehnhoff, who knew how to get a team ready to play;

• players who all shared a common desire to win;

• and each player doing his job.

“We didn’t worry about losing,” former player Sam Debo said. “Most of the time, it was 69 to something. That was a favorite score.”

The Mustangs were so dominant that Lehnhoff often pulled his starters with plenty of time left in the game. At the end of each contest, he made the starters run laps to stay in game shape.

“We trained well,” said former player Larry “Pepper” Lewis. “At the end of the game, we were never tired. Training got us the win.”

For ex-Mustang David Birch, the time was a perfect combination of great coaching and tremendous talent.

“Everyone liked Lehnoff,” he said.

Lewis noted that the team was equally good on both sides of the ball and even had a kicker, Allen Edge, who could send the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs.

Marble Falls players built up stamina from tough practices. Back then, there were no portable water coolers. In fact, because people didn’t know any better, players weren’t given water during practices.

But water was available if you knew where to look. At the end of the old football field, which was next to what is now Marble Falls Elementary School, was a tiny granite pool.

“We’d slip over there during practices to get water,” Lewis said as he dropped his voice to make sure others couldn’t hear.

The players still laugh when they recalled a game against Evant in 1956. By then, The Streak had stretched to 17 consecutive wins. The Mustangs had beaten Evant 27-12 a year earlier.

So when Marble Falls took the field for warmups, they encountered a foreign element on the field.

“They hauled sand from Mexico to put on the field,” Lewis said. “It was two inches deep.”

Did it make a difference?

“Nah,” he said. “We won 13-nothing. But I can still remember that 60 years later.”

“It might have helped them,” Birch said, “but we still beat them.”

But the best thing about playing during that era, according to Debo, wasn’t the wins or the toughness it took to play.

“We made a lot of good friends,” he said as he acknowledged another teammate who said “hello.” “Most of us are still around.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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