Class of 1984
1984 Yellow Jacket 4A Champions
Think back to fall of 1984. It started as an average sports season at Denison High School. It had been years since the Yellow Jackets had excelled on the playing field and graduation had taken its toll on the team in 1983 after they finished the season with a 3-8 record.
Some players had given up football and only a handful of seniors were left. These young men who "stuck" loved the game so much that they dared to dream what they called "The Impossible Dream."
Some thought that just maybe 1985 would be a good year, but the coaches could see promise that juniors and seniors together might make up a pretty good team.
Never in their wildest dream, however did team members or coaches foresee what was to evolve as the season progressed. Never in their wildest dreams did they dare to think about becoming district champions. A state championship was REALLY "an impossible dream". But thatís just what happened.
First came promise of the district championship after defeating Rockwall. Then the final game of the regular season was in Gainesville and the perfect 10-0 season was cemented. The team and coaches dared to begin dreaming for real, keeping in the back of their minds that "no matter what happened, it had been a great season." Denison had not been ranked in the state all year.
Game after game was on the win side for the next month. Christmas was practically put on hold until after the final game with Tom Ball was played in Waco a few days before the holiday.
Now everyone believed. That "impossible" dream was within the grasp of these young men and their confident and calm coaches. As the game drew to a close, the scoreboard didnít lie. It proclaimed a score of 27 to 13. The Yellow Jackets defeated Tom Ball for a perfect 16-0 season and the 1984 Class 4A State Championship.
Standing in the stadium that Saturday night Dec. 22 and seeing the excitement expressed by those young men and their coaches as they held the championship trophy over their heads while they celebrated with family and friends on the field, was a sight many Denisonian had only dreamed of happening.
Because of that state championship, students walked a little taller and citizens were very proud of their Yellow Jackets. The team was welcomed home by a huge crowd. Sherman police provided an escort from their city to the Denison city limits. Denison police with lights flashing and sirens wailing brought the champions on home.
Almost 500 people gathered on Jan. 5 at the Silver Wings Club to honor the team at the football banquet which has been postponed several times as the team kept advancing in state standings.
That banquet was the last time the team was assembled until last fall when the Denison Alumni Association hosted a reunion of the team. Graduation scattered the seniors and the following year the team lost its first member, Raymond Wilson, in an auto accident while he was on his way to class at Southeastern State University in Durant.
Most of the seniors hung up their helmets after the season, but Fred Washington was an exception. Fred went on to TCU and was drafted by the Chicago Bears. But tragically, he too was killed in a car accident during his rookie season. He had been named Defensive Player of the Year that championship season for the Yellow Jackets.
It might have been different for Tony Brown who went to SMU, then finished his playing career at Western Kentucky. Tony came back to live in McKinney, where he was working until he, too was killed in a truck accident. Tony was named the Most Valuable Player of the game.
Ray Taylor, Offensive Player of the Year, played for Tulsa and now is living in Denison.
Gary Don Wright, Kyle Perkins and Reggie Brooks shared Most Improved Players honors. Gary Don works for Ford Motor Company in Marketing and Sales; Kyle is a PC Technician for Texoma Medical Center; and Reggie is disabled from a chronic illness.
Scott Skelton received the Scholastic Award for the highest grade point average on the team. Scott now is a partner in Zelsesky, Cornelious, Roper and Hicks Law Firm in Lufkin and is married to 1984 cheerleader Sheila Todd. They have two daughters, Lauren, 9 and Allison, 4.
Tony Brown, Fred Washington and John Wolf were announced as permanent team captains at the end of the year. John Wolf served a number of years in the military and now is working in Austin.
Almost half the team is living and working in Denison. Rich Hollensed is Human Resource Director for the city. Brian Means is a Denison firefighter. David Roach, Rich Patterson, Kevin Krueger, Arthur Taylor and Mike Wright own businesses in Denison. Anthony Byers works for Alcoa. Darin Comstock is an area representative for Coors Distributing and Victor Blanton works for TAPS.
Other teammates are scattered throughout Texas and in Florida and California. Bart Stevenson is Executive Director of Community Services for Flower Mound. Dean Lindsay is an author and speaker. James Cobb is in pathology sales, Carey Cockrell works for Microelectronics. Aaron Jackson is in California working as an Account Manager for Versign. Donald Parker is a manager for Sherwin-Williams in Allen. Phillip Pryor manages a traumatic brain injury long-term care facility.
Leslie DeHorney has been working in Frisco. Jim Chapman (now Tilson) works in Florida as an IT recruiter for a consulting firm. Rich Stein is a firefighter in Denver, CO. Quarterback Erick Harper is on the staff of the University of Arizona, Donny Borah is career military and recently returned from Iraq. Elmar Perry coaches in Ardmore, OK. Lee Neal is career military stationed in California and just received a promotion.
Several have gone into law enforcement, including Joe Ross who is a deputy sheriff in Grayson County and Tony Plauche, a police officer in San Antonio.
Coaches, too, are scattered. Head Coach Marty Criswell is retired and doing motivational seminars. Jimmy Brooks is now head coach at Greenville and Warren Trimble is an assistant there; Marvin Sedberry is head coach at Bryan and C.M. Pier is an assistant there. Larry Pettit is an assistant at Denison after being at Southeastern. Mark Howeth is defensive coordinator at Duncanville. Ty Comstock is retired from Denison schools. Trainer Scott Hess died two years ago of a heart attack. Ė Donna Hunt
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