LUBBOCK, TX - Although the first day of school may be just less than a week away now, Estacado High School opened its gym doors Tuesday morning to alumni and the community to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary.
It was just the first day of what is planned to be a year-long celebration, in which the community, alumni, current students and players of the 1968 championship football team were all invited to attend.
The reunion was held in the Spectator Gymnasium, featuring a number of guest speakers from Lubbock I.S.D., city officials and Al Picket, who wrote a book on the legendary team, "Mighty Mighty Matadors."
Estacado became a high school in fall of 1967, but the Matadors were not able to compete in a U.I.L varsity competition until the following fall semester. In 1968, not only did the Matadors go undefeated, but they also won state, becoming the first Texas high school football team to do so in its first year as a varsity U.I.L team.
Coach Jimmie Keeling was also able to make it back to the celebration. He and his coaching staff helped lead the Matadors to the legendary season, and continued to coach there through 1969. He became a decorated high school and collegiate football coach. He shared that there's an immense pride in belonging to the legacy that is Texas high school football.
"Right here you have all that magic of those Friday nights, it was super special to me and I loved working with the players. I loved the campus, high school, all the students and then just the atmosphere they build in the whole community," said Keeling on his time at Estacado High.
Keeling shared that more than just the wins, he's proud of the team because of the mark on the school's history that they were able to leave behind.
"We were the first integrated school in Lubbock, so we had kids from all parts of town, but they blended together so well and they always talked about how they were Estacado blue, they weren't anything but Estacado blue, and that made it be very special but they were extremely coachable and they had a lot of talent," said Keeling. "They played with excitement and enjoyed the game and played with great enthusiasm. So, they're still great friends today after 50 years, and they've done great things with their lives which is the big thing for me."
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