The Lobo Nation stretches far beyond the boundaries of one school district.
“Oh, yeah. I’ve got this hat; I’ve got three shirts. And I’ve got a hoodie,” Longview football superfan Bill Clough said Wednesday, shortly before the 1977 Hallsville Bobcat and a packed downtown Longview saluted the state champion Lobos with a victory parade. “I’ve got a couple of Lobo flags that I fly on my vehicles.”
Clough, a retired offshore oil field global field supervisor who keeps busy as an Allied Security Services officer at the Walmart nearest to Longview High School, watched as easily 1,600 or more lined the downtown streets.
“The city’s on a big-time high right now,” he said, in the green Adidas Lobo shirt gifted to him by head coach John King. “Everywhere you go, it’s Lobos, Lobos, Lobos. To go 16-0, undefeated — that’s an achievement. Those teams were tough.”
And even though the parade was taking place one block from the railroad tracks, the sound of a train horn at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday meant one thing to Lobos in the know.
“No, that’s not a train horn,” Emily Darmer, class of 2012, said as she and her mother, Kathy Darmer, stood along the Methvin Street barricade. “That’s a great way to start a parade.”
Thirty-nine floats, led by the ROTC posting the colors, made the short loop through downtown to cheers from grateful fans. The Class of 1979 and other classes packed floats, along with Interact Club and other student organizations.
Fans on the streets waved News-Journal pages handed out at the championship game with the one-word, banner headline: “PERFECT!”
Freshman cheerleader Ella Blue Nolte was somewhere in the passing parade. Before the event, she reflected on the thrill of cheering alongside the varsity cheerleaders at the state title game.
“Looking up from the field seeing the huge crowd in the stands all cheering with such excitement for our players who had worked so hard and sacrificed everything for this moment showed me this is what it’s all about,” she said in a text sent by her mother, Alicia. “It was the BEST — good friends and family, neighbors, almost the whole town coming together believing we could win this state championship.”
Audrey White found an open corner at the Gregg County Courthouse next to Chris and Cyndi Summy. The trio got to talking as Cyndi Summy declared herself a 1971 Longview alumna.
“And I’m ’72,” White replied. “What was your maiden name? I used to drive a ’70 Chevy Malibu.”
“Yeah!” Summy said as a high school reunion broke out.
The Lobos won the Class 6A, Division II title Dec. 22 over Beaumont West Brook with a score of 35-34 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. A fumble recovery by Micheal Martin, as West Brook was driving in the final three minutes, sealed the go-ahead score running back Jessie Anderson had given Longview with 4:42 to play.
Clough was there to see it, just like he attended every game this season except the one in Louisiana.
“I knew all year long that the defense has made so many plays when they needed to, and we’d get a turnover,” he said. “But that hadn’t happened, so in the fourth quarter, I realized the defense was going to rise to the occasion and get that turnover and the stop. And they did.”
Clough, who played varsity ball at Hallsville, said it’s natural that he and much of Northeast Texas embrace the green and white.
“That’s a good question,” he said, pondering his Lobo loyalty. “Well, I’ve always liked the Lobos. Longview being the closest, biggest town where everybody would hang out, the Lobos were always there. ... It’s just our local, big team. And to do that (state title), I think, is every football player’s dream.”
He has come to know the team in green and their parents well through chats at Walmart and in the stands.
“They’d get behind; they never worried,” he said. “These guys did what they had to do. They stepped up; they never quit. ... I can’t wait till next year. They’ve got a good group coming up.”