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A football game to remember

By Myra Lee Adams Goff

Believe me, I’m not a sports writer, but there is one high school football game that stands out like no other. Actually, it was in the fall of 1948. In a year’s time, the New Braunfels High School Unicorns had racked up the highest number of points in Texas Class A football. Undefeated, they were the first team of Unicorns to go to the State finals.

On a very bleak and frigid day, they disappointedly lost the state championship game. The game with Monahans was played in Odessa on December 25, 1948. Although Monahans was also undefeated, the general consensus was that the Unicorns would easily beat the Monahans Lobos. The Unicorns had sailed through their District, Regional, Quarterfinals, and Semifinals games. In District, the only team that gave the Unicorns any competition was their old nemesis, Seguin, with a one-point win.

Unicorn coach, “Weeping” Weldon Bynum, lost the coin toss as to where the state playoff game would be held. It would be in Odessa. This was something to weep about, considering the difference in weather between south Texas and Far West Texas.

The Unicorn team left by bus on December 24th, Christmas Eve, for San Angelo where the balmy weather allowed the team to work out in shorts and t-shirts. The next day, arriving in Odessa, the weather turned into a blue norther. In Far West Texas, when the norther comes down from Canada, there are no mountain ranges to stop it. Often this area of Far West Texas is the coldest spot in the United States.

Most of the boys were away from home for the first time in their lives and had a most unusual Christmas Eve in their small hotel room, while their opponents were celebrating as usual with their family and friends at home amidst a normal, friendly atmosphere.

Confidence was not lacking in the Unicorns. They had won 14 games, for a total point scored at 568 to opponent’s scored at 83. The Unicorns were the highest scoring football team in the entire state of Texas.

The road to the state championship went like this:

  • Unicorns 26, Alamo Heights 0
  • Unicorns 38, Fredericksburg 0
  • Unicorns 53, Brackenridge B 0
  • Unicorns 69, Jefferson B 0
  • Unicorns 69, Yoakum 0
  • Unicorns 56, Luling 0
  • Unicorns 40, Lockhart 0
  • Unicorns 34, Gonzales 13
  • Unicorns 66, San Marcos 6
  • Unicorns 7, Seguin 6

They were the District champions.

  • In Bi-District: Unicorns 27, Navasota 7
  • In Regional: Unicorns 19, Cameron 13
  • In Quarterfinals: Unicorns 23, Van 18
  • In Semi-Finals: Unicorns 41, Falfurrias 6
  • In State Finals: Unicorns 0, Monahans 14

With their point-scoring ability of 568, is it any wonder that the Unicorns were favored by almost all of the sports writers? And is it any wonder that the Unicorns became the nemesis of every team they played for years thereafter?

But the Monahans game was different. Being totally unprepared for this kind of weather, the Unicorns were clad in thin uniforms, no undershirts and one of the biggest handicaps was how this rain, snow and sleet affected hands and arms. The team members immediately complained of frozen hands and arms numb from the cold. It became impossible to throw, to pass and to catch the ball. One really wonders what the game would have been like had it not been for the weather.

An estimated 500 Unicorn fans plus the Unicorn Band traveled to the Bronco Stadium in Odessa, altitude 2,000, to hopefully see the Unicorns beat the Monahans Lobos who brought 9,000 fans. Radio announcer Herb Skoog told the story of fans who had traveled a long way suffering in the stands as they found their clothes frozen to the bleachers. The Unicorn band left by chartered busses on the night of Christmas Eve, December 24, and arrived in Odessa the next morning.

The final score in the agonizing game was Monahans 14, Unicorns 0, a first for the Unicorns. Statistics actually looked better for the Unicorns. “Fancy” Bindseil and running mate “Wild” Allen Pittman each had better yardage per carry than Monahans Lobo’s backs, Waldo Young and Roy Cathey.

When all was lost, Coach Bynum called out the entire team, and replaced them with the second string, a thoughtful play, to run the final two plays facing the second string against the champions.

Bynum’s coaching record in the 10 years he was in New Braunfels, compiled 86 wins, 18 losses and 4 ties, for a victory percentage of 80 percent. Unicorn coach, Jim Streety in 17 years as the New Braunfels coach from 1974 to 1990, had the greatest number of wins 149-45-2.

Unicorn fans numbered at 2,500 gave a rousing welcome home at the Plaza for their team and the Unicorn Banquet was the best ever. The Honors Banquet was at the Oasis Dinner Club. Honors for individuals were plentiful. Receiving All State honors were Jerome “Fancy” Bindseil and Harry “Rock” Pantermuehl, first team;”Red” Wersterfer, second team; and James Froelich and Stanley Reinshagen, honorable mention.

On the All Central Texas team were Rock Pantermuehl, Red Wersterfer, (also outstanding player of the year, and captain), Jerome Bindseil and Jack Elbel, as best blocking back. Coach Weldon Bynum was named outstanding Class A Coach of the Year in Central Texas.

All District 24 A named by the Austin American Statesman were Roger Reininger, Stanley Reinshagen, Rock Pantermuehl and Jerome Bindseil, first team; Oscar Cantu, C.C. Ford, James Schmid, second team; and Elwyn Stobaugh, Jack Elbel, honorable mention.

All District, All Star team selected by coaches were Roger Reininger, Stanley Reinshagen, Rock Pantermuehl, Red Wersterfer, Oscar Cantu, Jerome Bindseil, James Schmid, first team; James Froelich and CC Ford, second team; and Archie Heimer, Curley Villela, Gilbert Katt, Jack Elbel, Elwyn Stobaugh, honorable mention.

All South Texas Class A Iron Men were Red Wersterfer, Harry Pantermuehl, Stanley Reinshagen, Roger Reininger, and coach of the year Weldon Bynum.

Finally, the Class A-All Star, All State Team by sports writers were Rock Pantermuehl and Jerome Bindseil, first team; Red Wersterfer, second team; and Roger Reininger and Stanley Reinshagen, honorable mention.

This team was a tough act to follow; however, many of the underclassmen players on the 1948 team went on to be on the winning Unicorn team. The next year 1949 season went as far as quarter-finals before they were defeated by Mexia 26 and Unicorns 6.

Here is the list of the Unicorns of 1948: Richard Gregory, back; Clarence Schmid, back; James Schmid, back; Allen Pittman, back; Jerome Bindseil, back; Merlyn Murphy, back; Jack Elbel, back; Elwyn Stobaugh, back; Tom McCoy, guard; Gilbert Katt, guard; Harry Pantermuehl, guard; C.C. Ford, tackle; Wilford Ott, tackle; Charles Schriewer, end; Roger Reininger, end; Manuel Wilkinson, back; Oscar Cantu, guard; Curley Villela, tackle; Stanley Reinshagen, tackle; Herman Hitzfelder, guard; Louis Jonas, center; Arlon Jonas, back; Weldon Wersterfer, center; Harvey Pape, back; William Kneuper, back; Archie Heimer, end; James Willis, end; James Froelich, end; and John Jerome, end.

The 1948 New Braunfels Unicorn football team.

The 1948 New Braunfels Unicorn football team.