When we last encountered the Rangers we found our team had established a name for themselves and proved to be a force worth reckoning with. As time progressed, players started to know one another and started to develop stronger bonds between each other. Leaders arose willing to take their teammates farther by pushing them harder. The coaching staff also developed a number of new ideas, plays, and formations to further the growth of the program and enable greater success.
The Rangers began the 1944 season slowly and traditionally as they had in the past, with a loss in the season opener. A 32-6 loss at the hands of Lancaster High effectively ended the possibility of a perfect season; nonetheless, the Rangers quickly rallied their troops and fought back diligently and ultimately ousted Laneria 32-19 in triumphant fashion. Despite defeating their opponent, the Rangers had allowed the unthinkable to occur. Since its inaugural season, no team ever scored on the Rangers’ field. Even with this loss, the win ultimately proved more worthwhile than this record.
The season continued when the Rangers hosted Texas Country Day. A game which began slowly and steadily picked up pace as the battle progressed. A 65 yard touchdown run by the famed Joe Canty quickly livened the spirit of the battered and fatigued Rangers. Jesuit managed to finish this game strong, culminating in another touchdown thanks to superb blocking by Ralph Buckley allowing for a draw up the middle.
The Rangers finished this game with relative ease, but as the future would soon reveal, the rest of the season would be a roller coaster, resulting in both huge wins for the Rangers and embarrassing losses at a deficit of 19 or more points. The Rangers eventually finished their season with a 4-3 record, managing to scrape out crucial wins to remain above the dreaded .500 average.
As 1945 rolled around and as the cool fall air began to sooth the soil from summer’s raging inferno, the Rangers found themselves in a battle of honor and pride as they attempted to redeem themselves from several embarrassing defeats. Despite their valiant efforts, the Rangers found themselves plagued with injuries and misfortune, ranging from broken collar bones and allergies, to a number of bad sprains and dislocations.
A tough and dangerous sport, the game of football quickly enveloped and captured a number of victims it would not relinquish until the next season. Despite these setbacks, the Rangers fought valiantly and managed to scrape together a hit and miss season. The last game of the season would ultimately decide whether the Rangers, by some form of divine intervention, would maintain their record of never falling below the .500 average.
Prior to this epoch, the Rangers managed to acquire wins against Wills Point (24-12) and TCD (27-0). The Rangers ultimately lost against every other opponent they played with the exception of Ferris with whom they managed to maintain a tie till the final whistle. Going into the biggest game of the season with a 3-3-1 record, the Rangers desperately needed a win to maintain what little dignity and honor they still possessed. Each player vowed to play his hardest, and when the time came to perform, it appeared that Jesuit finally found the rhythm and success it had sought all season.
The Rangers quickly scored within the first minutes of the half and managed to dominate, preventing their opponent, Wilmer Hutchins from taking the lead. As the game progressed, the Rangers soon realized their rival had not thrown in the towel yet, and for a time, it seemed the Rangers might be ousted yet again by fate’s cruel hand. The Rangers managed to score yet again, but Wilmer Hutchins fired back by driving to the Jesuit two yard line. The score 13-6, was quickly changed to 13-12 as Hutchins forced its way through the Rangers’ goal line defense, setting the game at 13-12. They would eventually tack on the PAT, tying and ending the game at 13-13.
Although they were unable to salvage a victory over their fierce and tenacious opponent, the Rangers had accomplished what many had deemed impossible the previous week. They remained above the .500 average, a small victory to some, but a tremendous accomplishment considering the countless humiliations and misfortunes they encountered upon their journey.
As the fall of 1946 began, the Rangers found themselves back in the halls of Jesuit High yet again. Many began to wonder what the fate of their illustrious football team would look like this year. Some felt it would be a repeat of embarrassing losses and humiliating defeats at the hands of their opponents, but the Rangers knew this year would be slightly different.
As football as a game evolved, so too did the Rangers. By incorporating more passes and diversifying their play selection, the Rangers quickly added to their arsenal a plethora of possibilities, no longer restricted by a solely run-oriented offense. In its first four games, Jesuit attempted 46 passes, completing 9 for a total of 145 yards passing and rushing for over 650. Changes and adjustments take time to adapt to and the Rangers were no different, but this foundation would soon allow for prosperity in later seasons, based around a strong passing game.
The football team also required time to adjust to its newest member, Coach Paul Tyson, the first nationally known coach Jesuit attained. Under his guidance and leadership, the Rangers would face a number of difficulties and struggles, but they always understood the importance of learning from mistakes made and improving their team with each new week. The Rangers finished their season 3-5-1, falling for the first time in history under the .500 average.
Photos courtesy of the Jesuit Archives