Vayan Canguros!

The 1927 TCU Horned Frogs played 5 teams in the month of October.

Texas @ DKR Memorial in Austin.
Texas Tech in Fort Worth.
Austin College in Fort Worth.
Texas A&M in Fort Worth.
Baylor @ The Cotton Palace in Waco.

TCU didn’t lose a single one.

Against AC, the Horned Frogs jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead just before the half. But after that it was all Roos. With offensive lineman Virgil Ballard leading the way, Pete Cawthon’s bunch began to chip away at the Horned Frog lead. By the end of the game, Austin College was down only 20-13. Their final drive came up just short. TCU survived. Virgil Ballard was inducted into the AC Hall of Honor in 1965.

The 13 points by the Roos that day were impressive. The Longhorns, Red Raiders, Aggies, and Bears combined for only 6.

Ballard was a freshman on the 1924 Roo team that upset Baylor at the Cotton Palace in Waco. Baylor would defeat Texas A&M on the same field the following week, and roll to a SWC championship. By 1950, the Bears had outgrown the Cotton Palace and needed a new home. That year was the first for Floyd Casey stadium. The Aggies came calling again in 1950 in the first edition of the Battle of the Brazos at Floyd Casey. It was the largest crowd ever to see a Baylor game, and the Bears won 27-20. The referee for that contest was Virgil Ballard.

Virgil Ballard and I have two things in common. We are both Roos, and we both learned to speak Spanish in Sherman. Ballard was a Spanish major at AC, and after a career as a football coach and official in North Texas (including at Texas Tech with Cawthon), he moved his family south after WW2 to the Valley. There, with his language skills, public service, and love of sport, Ballard became an intimate part of the community on the Texas-Mexico border.

For the better part of two decades, Ballard refereed high school football in the Valley. One of those games was an October 1, 1954 contest between the Yellow Jackets of Edcouch-Elsa and the Rattlers of Rio Grande City. His days as an official and school administrator were put on hold after he was elected Mayor of Mission, TX in the 1960s. After his passing, Ballard Street in Weslaco, TX was named in his honor.

Carlos Longoria was raised in Hidalgo in the 1980s, just a few miles north of the Rio Grande. When it came time to choose a college, he settled on a Texas school 555 miles away just a few miles south of the Red. How far was that Texas drive? An additional 555 miles of driving would have put Carlos in Columbus, Nebraska…. the home town of Frank Tooley.

Carlos was a starter in the secondary of the 1988 TIAA Champion Kangaroos, where he toiled alongside fellow defensive redshirts such Tooley, Bill Didlake, and Chris Medlin. The 1988 squad went 9-1 in conference, and the defense limited the opposition to 2 or fewer TDs in all 9 wins. They won the TIAA Conference title with a dramatic win on the road against Tarleton State, and lost in the playoffs to eventual NAIA D2 national champion Westminster College (PA). 4 members of the 1988 Roo defense are in the AC Hall of Honor.

After graduation, Carlos became Coach Longoria. For over two decades, he has coached football in the Valley. “Los” got his start at Raymondville HS, where he led the Bearkats to a 10-2 record and regional appearance in the 2000 Texas HS playoffs. When that Raymondville season came to an end just after Thanksgiving day, they were the only team south of Corpus still playing. Longoria came in 2nd place in McAllen Monitor voting for Valley coach of the year.

A small group of Roos has headed down to the Valley every year since the 1990s to support Coach Longoria and to cheer his teams. In addition to Tooley, Didlake, and Medlin, folks frequently making the trip have included Wayne Whitmire, John Talley, Sridhar Yaratha, Kevin Pittman, and me. We were there on the sidelines for the Raymondville-Hidalgo game during the playoff season of 2000, and have continued to head south as Carlos has moved to other schools such as Pharr, Rio Grande City, La Joya, and Ballard’s home of Mission, TX.

We were there in 2013, when his playoff bound Rio Grande City Rattlers took on Edcouch-Elsa……the very same matchup refereed by Roo Virgil Ballard over 60 years ago. Coach Longoria’s son Christian was a kick returner, and took it all the way back for a score. He crossed the goal line right in front of the Roo contingent. I think ol’ Virgil would have smiled. See video in the comments.

This weekend a group of us head back again (thanks Dianne!) Carlos is now coaching at Pharr San Juan Alamo (PSJA), just a short drive from Virgil Ballard St. in Weslaco. They’ll be taking on Edinburg-North, and we’ll be on the sidelines as usual, a bunch of Kangaroos en El Valle apoyando nuestro amigo como siempre. Football in Texas knows no linguistic or cultural boundary. Just ask Coach Ballard and Coach Longoria. Vayan Canguros.