The origin of this historic Bruceville-Eddy football season began well before equipment was handed out in August and even prior to this crop of seniors starting high school four years ago.
It also can be traced farther than when they began playing football in seventh grade.
The first seeds were sown when the current group of seniors led by Nathan Quattlebaum, Ian Moore and TJ Jarmon were fourth-graders playing in a Central Texas youth football league and were becoming accustom to doing what Bruceville-Eddy teams had done very little of in a long time — winning.
Not only that, they were learning from one of the last Bruceville-Eddy players of another generation who had been part of an Eagles district championship team.
Brent Moore was the slotback for the Eagles as a junior in 1985 and teamed with tailback Scott Williams for a potent tandem that led Bruceville-Eddy to a tri-championship from District 13-A, not unlike the current pairing of Quattlebaum and Jarmon. That was the last flock of Eagles to win a district title until this season’s squad did so and also became the first Bruceville-Eddy team to win nine regular season games.
“The kids got a good base to start playing football,” said Moore, who graduated from Bruceville-Eddy in 1987 and now works in construction. “It’s the best way for them to learn the game. It was a lot of work and commitment to work with a lot of lifetime lessons.”
Williams formed the team and Moore came along and coached most of the nucleus that now makes up one of the most successful teams in Bruceville-Eddy history.
As a senior in 1986, Moore established Bruceville-Eddy’s season rushing record with 1,601 yards, which stood until last month when Quattlebaum, one of his protégés, obliterated the 33-year-old mark. Quattlebaum has 2,201 yards rushing entering the postseason.
“I could care less about (relinquishing the record),” Moore said. “That was just something that happened. Our team was not as good as this year’s team. We couldn’t pass so I would carry the ball on almost every play.”
Though time has passed, Moore still vividly recalls those three years of youth games involving today’s Eagles when they played teams from Belton, Hewitt Midway, McGregor, Lorena, Troy and others. They didn’t just hold their own. They won.
As fourth-graders Bruceville-Eddy went 11-2 followed by an unbeaten 13-0 mark in fifth grade and 11-2 again the final year. The two losses were to Belton and Midway, towns that dwarf Bruceville-Eddy. Nevertheless, the young Eagles came back and beat both Belton and Midway later in the playoffs.
“These kids are dedicated,” said Moore, whose son, Ian, is the Eagles’ defensive end. “They play with confidence.”
Bruceville-Eddy hasn’t basked in much glory since the communities of Bruceville and Eddy consolidated and started playing football in 1926. The overall program record is 317-534-27. This is only the eighth time since then —1944, 1967, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 2017 — that the Eagles have qualified for any kind of postseason and just the fourth winning season since 1985.
The first half of the 1980s is easily the best stretch the Eagles ever enjoyed. A rare district title came in 1980 to break a 13-year playoff drought in an era during which some Class A districts were divided into north and south zones. The winningest Eagles team was the 1983 squad under Bill Hunter that didn’t win district but emerged through the recent expansion of the playoff format and reached the quarterfinals before falling a second time to Bremond to finish 11-3. That team included Brent’s older brother, Tim, which means a Moore has been part of the last four Bruceville-Eddy playoff teams 36 years apart.
In 1985, the Eagles went 6-4 in the regular season and advanced from its 13-A north zone as the lead team from a three-way tie with Meridian and Crawford. Bruceville-Eddy routed Salado in the zone playoffs to advance before falling to Runge in the next round. Another 32 years passed before the Eagles reached the playoffs under J.B. Cheney in 2017 to end one of the state’s longest postseason droughts.
Reasons why Bruceville-Eddy hasn’t won much are varied, but those typically given are centered on the fact that while it’s a stable community it’s not one that sees much new blood. Growth moving south from Waco tends to crest in Lorena and anything northward of Temple stops in Troy. It’s why a senior unit such as the Eagles have now is so vital.
Another often overlooked issue has been that Bruceville-Eddy has long been among the smallest schools in its classification. After the 1985 season, Bruceville-Eddy was bumped up to 2A (the current 3A) and didn’t drop again until 2016. The school turned in an enrollment of 214 to the UIL last month, which should keep the Eagles in 2A for at least two more years.
These Eagles have withstood the tendencies of the past to hopefully begin a culture of winning despite undergoing a coaching change with Kyle Shoppach taking over from Cheney.
“Any time there’s a change it can be good or bad,” Moore said. “Obviously, this was a good change.”
Bruceville-Eddy’s only blemish on the schedule was to Class 3A Rogers in September.
“It’s just taken organization and a lot of time,” Moore said. “We played football every day. My brothers made me. Somebody just needed to teach (the current players) to play and to believe in them.”