2014-06-25 / Front Page


ON A HOT SEPTEMBER EVENING IN 1975, a new pack of Raymondville Bearkats came roaring into Burnett Stadium for the season opener. This team was strong, talented and determined. They finished the season 9 and 1 and earned a trip to the bi-district game against Gregory- Portland. The season ended with them bringing home the first district championship for head coach Alex Leal.

On Saturday, June 21th, almost 39 years later, a group of former players from that same team gathered at Raymondville High School to honor Coach Leal as he prepares to retire. Coach Leal gave the former players a short tour of the current athletic facilities and they shared football stories and compared teams past and present. Attendees included: Eloy Bazaldua, Bill Burden, Tom Cantu, Richard Collins, Rey Llanes, Eloy Perez, Rene De La Garza and Mike O’Neal.

The gathering then moved to the Casa Blanca restaurant where everyone reminisced and enjoyed some good food, including chicken fried steaks. Team members expressed affection and gratitude to the man who coached them at football but more importantly, taught them lessons about life. Finally, while wearing their old lettermen’s jackets, the team presented Coach Leal with a signed football commemorating the 1975 district championship.

The event offered a wonderful closure for the players to pay tribute to a great coach and a wonderful man.

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