Championship Chronicles Part 3: 1935 East Texas State Lions.

bobberry

Before becoming head Football Coach at East Texas State, Bob Berry was a fierce Quarterback for the Texas A&M Aggies.

Prior to the start of the 1935 season, J.W. Rollins resigned as head coach and left Commerce to pursue other coaching and teaching opportunities, but he had left the cupboard full of talent from a team that had gone undefeated and barely untouched.

Robert “Bob” Berry took the head job and came with a fine resume. He would be known as the “mighty mite” of Texas A&M Aggie Football as he had played quarterback for the Aggies and the legendary Coach Dana X. Bible, and took the head job at ET barely 32 years old. He was also given an assistant coach, Dennis Vinzant, a jack of all trades coach who had also helped with the fledgling Basketball program. Berry like to run the ball, and it showed in the Lions grind it out, tough as a nails approach to the 1935 season.

The Lions started by hosting a fellow North Texas Team, the Austin College Kangaroos in Commerce. Tough defense and just one score was needed to down the Roos in Commerce 7-0. The next week the Lions met up with old foe McMurry in Coleman, TX as the Indians were having trouble with their field. That did not deter the Lions who used a powerful running game to take the second straight from McMurry 12-6. The next week the scenery changed from the Big Country to the Piney Woods as the Lions went to Stephen F. Austin and downed the Lumberjacks 18-6 to start Lone Star Conference play. Returning to Commerce, ET faced Texas Wesleyan, and the visitors from Fort Worth did not play nice as the Lions offense was held to under 100 yards offense and the Wesleyan offense had their way with ET as the Rams held the Lions a tough and embarrassing defeat.

Conference play was now in full swing and The Lions shrugged off the tough loss and promptly took another trip to Deep East Texas to shut out Sam Houston State 26-0. Then, the Trinity Tigers came to Commerce to force a tie with the Lions. There were murmurs that perhaps this young Aggie might not be able to get the job done, but Berry proved he was worth the hire. The Lions pitched another shutout in non-conference play by hosting Northwestern Louisiana State 7-0. The season came down to two final games, North Texas and Southwest Texas.

The Lions took the trip to Denton and were routed by the Eagles 30-6. It appeared that any hope for a Lone Star conference title was gone. However, North Texas has been beaten by Stephen F. Austin State a week prior, meaning that the Lions would clinch a share of the title so long as they did not lose to Southwest Texas. Once again, the Lion defense strangled the Bobcats and put up just enough offense to score and take the third straight Lone Star Conference title.

Berry’s first season finished with a 6-2-1 record. Four Lions nabbed first team all conference honors, Halfbacks Bill Defee and Guy Stevens, and offensive linemen Clovis Etheridge and Woodrow Keahey.

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