In a twist on the old Marine motto, Mart's John Garrett did more in four years than most players did all decade.
Garrett capped off one of the most illustrious careers in Central Texas history by leading the Panthers to the Class 2A Division I state championship this season. Along the way, he won almost every major award a prep player can receive.
He may have to clear some more space in his trophy case because Garrett's career accomplishments have earned him the Tribune-Herald's selection as Super Centex Defensive Player of the Decade.
Garrett is the only player in the decade to earn first team Super Centex honors four times. This season he has been named Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Fox Sports Net and Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine.
"You'd think with all the awards, he would have such a big head he wouldn't be able to get his helmet on," said Mart coach Terry Cron. "That was never the case with John. He works so hard because he is determined to be a great player."
And all the accolades are well-deserved for a player who made more than 500 career tackles. In his four years at Mart, Garrett's teams made four consecutive playoff appearances, compiled a 48-7 record and outscored the opposition, 2,190 to 558. In his career, Garrett lost one district game.
As a 6-2, 220-pound athlete who can run a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and bench press 420 pounds, Garrett has become one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country. And his rise to blue-chip status started four years ago.
He burst onto the scene by accounting for 2,186 yards and 25 touchdowns as a freshman. Garrett was selected to the Centex team as a kick returner after he averaged 42 yards per kickoff return and brought back four kicks for touchdowns.
As a sophomore, Garrett made 115 tackles and hauled in four interceptions to make the first of his three appearances as first-team linebacker. He really began to grab headlines as a junior, when he led Mart to the semifinals, making 164 tackles and earning District MVP honors along the way.
Garrett, however, left his lasting imprint on the Central Texas record books by lifting a good team on his shoulders and making it a great team. The 1999 Mart team, which has been called the best 2A team ever by some observers, went 15-0, scored the fourth most points in state history and allowed just 100 points.
Garrett was in the middle of it all. On defense, he made 184 stops and delivered big hit after big hit. In limited action on offense, Garrett rushed for 1,570 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was named both offensive and defensive MVP of the district.
"When I came here, John was in eighth grade and I said at the time that we would win a state championship before he graduates," Cron said. "He proved me right. His contribution to our ball clubs the past four years is immeasurable."
Rogers quarterback Patrick Hutka was the antithesis of Garrett. He did all his damage in one season.
Hutka moved from receiver to signal-caller his senior year ('97) and promptly set area, state, and national records in the Eagles' "Black Gun" no-huddle offense. Hutka's record-setting binge ended with Rogers compiling a 14-2 mark, scoring 602 points and making a championship game appearance.
Hutka solidified his place in high school lore by shattering Kenneth Hall's 44-year-old national record for total offense. The Rogers quarterback accounted for 5,949 yards. His total of 4,475 yards passing ranks third in the national record books. He set Texas records for attempts (474) and completions (286). Hutka's 52 passing touchdowns were just two shy of state record and that total is third on the Central Texas career list. By the way, of those 474 attempts, only seven were intercepted.
For those accomplishments, Hutka was the Trib's selection for Offensive Player of the Decade.
"With his ability to run and throw, we knew Patrick would be a good quarterback," said Rogers coach Joel Berry in 1997. "I don't think anyone would ever dream he would set all these records."
The Coach of the Decade award was more clear-cut than either of the other two awards. Crawford head coach Robert Murphy compiled a 99-23-2 (an .810 winning percentage) mark in the decade and his teams made nine consecutive playoff appearances. He had 22 more wins than the next closest coach, Waco High's Johnny Tusa (78), who was the only other coach to lead his school to nine postseason trips. Temple's Bob McQueen and Midway's Kent Bachtel also drew consideration for the award, which only considered coaches who spent a majority of the decade in Central Texas.
Under Murphy's leadership, Crawford became one of the consistent powers in Class A, reaching as far as the championship game in 1994. The Pirates moved to Class 2A after realignment in 1996 and didn't miss a beat, as Crawford went 9-3.
Here is the rest of the Trib's Super Centex All-Decade Team:
QB BRANDON JOHNSON, Midway: He is the only player to make the all-decade team that never made first team. Johnson threw for the second-most career yards (5,476) and touchdowns (54) in Central Texas history. As a senior, Johnson led Midway to the state semifinals by throwing for 2,740 yards.
RB LOUIS FITE, Waco High: Fite came out of nowhere to earn Centex and Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year honors along with being named to the Parade All-American team in 1990. The 5-8, 180-pound Fite carried the ball 314 times for 2,532 yards and 26 touchdowns.
RB LADAINIAN TOMLINSON, University: Tomlinson was the Player of the Year in 1996 when he set city records of 2,554 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns. He went on to TCU where he led the nation in rushing this season.
RB ISAAC SHAW, Dawson: The area's all-time leading rusher led the Bulldogs to an 11-win season despite moving to quarterback for his senior season. Shaw rushed for 2,185 yards and 29 touchdowns while passing for over 1,000 yards. His 6,511 career yards shattered the previous mark of 5,898 which had stood for 16 years.
WR JASON TUCKER, Robinson: A two-time Centex and all-state performer, Tucker accounted for 23 touchdowns as a wideout, kick returner and defensive back. He was an all-district performer in basketball and state finalist in the high jump. He played collegiately at TCU and is currently starting for the Dallas Cowboys.
WR DEREK STANFORD, Temple: Stanford was a high-wire playmaker for the Wildcats. He finished his career third on the area's all-time receiving yardage list (2,231) and second in receptions (128). His senior year, Stanford caught 62 balls for 1,051 yards and 10 touchdowns.
OL KYLE EATON, Rogers: At 6-8, 270 pounds, Eaton was the foundation of the success endured by the "Black Gun" offense, which averaged 458 yards and 40 points per game.
OL RODNEY GOBER, Waco High: A three-year starter, Tusa called Gober the program's best lineman of the decade. Gober opened up most of the holes in Fite's record season.
OL RUSSELL DOLGENER, Temple: Coach Bob McQueen switched to a one-back offense in the Wildcats' state title season in 1992 and Dolgener (6-6, 290) was a dominating run and pass blocker.
OL JASON STEPHENSON, Ellison: Stephenson was the best center of the decade. With him in the middle, the Eagles averaged 267 yards rushing per game and advanced to the state semifinals. Stephenson opened holes for current Kansas running back David Winbush.
OL JOHN GLUD, Robinson: At 6-7, 310 pounds, Glud was a large figure in the Rocket offense as a three -year starter. Glud didn't allow a sack his final two seasons. He is currently playing at TCU.
KR QUAN COSBY, Mart: Cosby is the only active player to make the team. He earned Newcomer honors in 1997 as a freshman after returning kickoffs, punts, and interceptions for touchdowns. Cosby was second-team quarterback as a sophomore and earned Player of the Year honors this season. He brought back seven punts and two kickoffs for scores in the Panthers' state championship season.
PK CHRIS BIRKHOLZ, Temple: Birkholz was one of a decade-long trend of soccer players converting to placekickers. He played only one year for the Wildcats, but hit 41 of 42 extra-point attempts and 11 of 13 field goals. He is currently kicking at Texas Tech.
DL DARRELL CATLIN, Waco High: Catlin was the ringleader of one of the most dominant defenses in area history. With a combination of size and speed seldom seen at the defensive end spot, Catlin recorded 79 tackles and 12 sacks to earn the final Player of the Year honor of the decade. His three sack, three forced-fumble performance against No. 4 Copperas Cove this season will go down as one of the best on record.
DL LEONARD DAVIS, Wortham: Davis may be remembered as the most dominant, physical specimen in Class A history. At 6-6, 350 pounds, Davis combined size and athleticism to earn Player of the Year honors in 1996 by recording 113 tackles and five sacks. He also returned an interception 82 yards for touchdown. He is currently playing offensive line at the University of Texas.
DL TONY BRACKENS, Fairfield: Brackens made the first of his three Centex appearances as a sophomore. He dominated both sides of the ball as a nose tackle and fullback. Brackens went on to earn All-American honors at Texas and All-Pro recognition for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
DL SHANE MCDANIEL, Crawford: McDaniel was Crawford's best defensive player in a decade of good defensive teams. He was a three-time Centex pick and Player of the Year in 1994. McDaniel started 54 consecutive games and made 498 tackles over his career. The Pirate defense shut out nine opponents on the way to the 1994 title game.
LB LARANCE SHAW, Waco High: Shaw was one of a decade-long crop of outstanding linebackers to come through Waco High. Shaw was voted both Centex and 5A Player of the Year after making 201 tackles on a Lion squad that made it to the semifinals.
LB WAYNE ROGERS, University: Rogers burst onto the scene as the Newcomer in 1994, the first of three selections. He was a three-time defensive district MVP. When the Trojans went to the quarterfinals his senior year, Rogers made 185 tackles and recorded 13 sacks on a defense that didn't allow a touchdown until sixth game of the year.
LB DAVID MAXWELL, Midway: Maxwell was an unblockable force for the Panthers. He had almost 200 tackles his junior and senior seasons. Midway allowed just 11 points a game with Maxwell in the middle of the defense.
LB LAMARCUS MCDONALD, Waco High: McDonald was Centex Player of the Year in 1998 after making 160 tackles, nine sacks, and two interceptions. He is Waco High's all-time leading tackler. He is currently playing at LSU.
DB LENOY JONES, Groesbeck: Jones was the Player of Year in 1991 when he led the Goats to the 3A state title. A two-time Centex pick, he made 102 tackles and had nine interceptions his senior season. He also led Groesbeck to the state title game in basketball his senior year. An all-Southwest Conference pick at TCU, Jones is currently playing for the Cleveland Browns.
DB RODNEY SMITH, University: Rodney Smith has been a familiar face on the Central Texas landscape for an entire decade. Smith was a two-time Centex pick and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1993. He went on to letter at Baylor four years in football and twice in basketball.
DB DONNIE SADLER, Valley Mills: Sadler made 17 interceptions as a freshman to earn Newcomer honors, then made two more first-team appearances. As one of the most versatile athletes in Centex history, Sadler won state titles in baseball and track. He is currently playing second base for the Boston Red Sox.
DB RICKY THOMPSON, Hubbard: Thompson was a pick on offense in 1994 and defense in 1993. The Jaguars won 23 games in his final two seasons. Thompson went on to letter two seasons at Oklahoma State.
P RUSSELL URBANTKE, Riesel: Urbantke was the only two-time Centex punter. He averaged 40.1 yards and 40.6 yards-per-kick in his two seasons. He was also a three-year starter at quarterback for the Indians who went 27-6-1 with him at the helm.
The best team of each classification this decade:
Class 5A — Temple, 1992: Temple gets the nod over the 1991 Killeen state championship that finished third in the district. The Wildcats, led by an explosive offense that averaged 45 points per game in the playoffs, went 15-1 and won the state title.
Class 4A — Midway, 1997: This Midway team was the school's best ever. The Panthers rode an unbelievable passing game to a 12-2 record and a semifinal appearance.
Class 3A — Groesbeck, 1991: With a great group of athletes that later went to the title game in basketball, the Goats went 14-2 and won the state championship. The Groesbeck defense posted seven shutouts and allowed just 10 points per game for the season.
Class 2A — Mart, 1999: The Panthers went 15-0 and won the 2A title, 40-7, over Boyd. Mart outscored its opponents, 789-100.
Class A — Crawford, 1994: The Pirates allowed just 37 points and scored 547 points in winning their first 14 games. Crawford's only hiccup was a 36-13 loss to Thorndale in the title game.
Six-Man — Milford, 1994: The Bulldogs won their first 13 games before losing to two-time champ Amherst, 30-20, in the championship game.
TAPPS — Parkview, 1991: The Pacers went 12-0 and won the Class A state championship, 43-6, over Lexington Academy. Parkview outscored their opponents, 452-124. That total included four shutouts.
TAPPS Player of the Decade: Bear Saucedo, Parkview. Played for his father, Eli, and led the Pacers to a state championship in 1991. Only TAPPS player this decade to earn first-team Super Centex honors.
Six-Man Player of the Decade: Norman Singleton, Milford. He was Player of the Year during Milford's runner-up season in 1994. At 6-3, 205 he dominated with his size in the six-man game, finishing with 2,603 total yards and 33 touchdowns. Singleton also made 109 tackles on defense.
Six-Man Coach of the Decade: Larry Pruitt, Jonesboro. Coach Pruitt has led the Eagles to the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons. In the 90s, Jonesboro went 86-27-3 (76%) under Pruitt's leadership. The Eagles lost just one district game and won all 10 league titles.
Best Nickname: Former Marlin defensive tackle/running back Larry Massington (6-1, 276 pounds) a.k.a. "Big Freaky," who once rumbled 96 yards for a touchdown.
Luke Gilliam can be reached at email@example.com or at 757-5714.
SUPER CENTEX ALL-DECADE TEAM
Pos Player Last Yr School
QB Brandon Johnson 1997 Midway
RB Louis Fite 1990 Waco High
RB LaDainian Tomlinson 1996 University
RB Isaac Shaw 1999 Dawson
WR Jason Tucker 1993 Robinson
WR Derek Stanford 1996 Temple
OL Kyle Eaton 1997 Rogers
OL Rodney Gober 1990 Waco High
OL Russell Dolgener 1992 Temple
OL Jason Stephenson 1996 Ellison
OL John Glud 1998 Robinson
KR Quan Cosby Active Mart
PK Chris Birkholz 1995 Temple
Pos Player Last Yr School
DL Darrell Catlin 1999 Waco High
DL Leonard Davis 1996 Wortham
DL Tony Brackens 1992 Fairfield
DL Shane McDaniel 1994 Crawford
LB Larance Shaw 1991 Waco High
LB Wayne Rogers 1996 University
LB David Maxwell 1992 Midway
LB LaMarcus McDonald 1998 Waco High
DB Lenoy Jones 1991 Groesbeck
DB Rodney Smith 1993 University
DB Donnie Sadler 1998 Valley Mills
DB Ricky Thompson 1994 Hubbard
P Russell Urbantke 1994 Riesel
Offensive Player of the Decade: Patrick Hutka, Rogers, 1997
Defensive Player of the Decade: John Garrett, Mart, 1996-99
Coach of the Decade: Robert Murphy, Crawford