BEEVILLE – On July 7 five years ago, I sat down in the sports office at the Bee-Picayune for the first time as the sports editor here.
It was the start of a big change in my life, but I wasn’t the only one whose life changed that day.
My start in Beeville meant the end of a long tenure for my predecessor, Bruce Harper.
Harper’s career at the Bee-Picayune spanned two different stints and more than a decade in the sports editor’s chair.
He helped me transition in for the first week and has been a trusted colleague ever since.
When I looked at the calendar and realized that I would be celebrating my five-year anniversary this year, it made me reflect on all the memories I’ve already made here in Beeville.
And then I realized that it would be only fitting to call on Harper again to have him reflect on his favorite moments as the head of the sports department.
So, on (or at least close to) the five-year anniversary of the end of his long run as the resident “sports guy,” I present to you, Bruce Harper’s five most memorable moments:
No. 1 – Beeville’s run to the regional semifinals in 2001
In 2001, Wayne Coleman led the Beeville football team to its first district championship in nearly 20 years, securing the Trojans a spot in the 4A Division II playoffs.
The Trojans, behind Spencer Chaisson, won bi-district and area championships to set up a regional semifinal showdown with Bastrop at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
“Bastrop scouted really well, and bunched up the defensive front and limited Chaisson to less than a hundred yards,” Harper said, recalling the showdown in the dome, which Bastrop won 28-14. “Beeville made no adjustments and kept trying to bust Chaisson up the middle.
“Chaisson was one of the best high school runners I’ve seen. He had size and speed.”
That year, Chaisson broke every Beeville rushing record in the book, racking up 2,160 yards and 34 touchdowns on his way to winning the District 30-4A MVP award.
In the team’s bi-district victory over San Antonio Sam Houston, Chaisson rushed for 341 yards and five touchdowns.
The Trojans went 11-2 that season. The 11 wins is tied for the most in a season in Beeville history with the team that helped form Harper’s second favorite memory, the 2007 squad.
No. 2 – Showdown with Lake Travis in the Alamodome
In 2007, Trojan head coach Chris Soza, with his son, Eric, at quarterback, led Beeville to the fourth round of the 4A Division II playoffs.
The Trojans faced off with future Mr. Texas Football award winner Garrett Gilbert and the Lake Travis Cavaliers at the Alamodome.
Beeville jumped in front 14-0, scoring twice in just three offensive plays, including a Soza-to-Ricky Maldonado passing TD on the second play from scrimmage.
“Lake Travis was a big squad and outnumbered Beeville two to one in players,” Harper said. “Beeville stayed with them.
“But, the guys going both ways wore down in the second half and Gilbert picked the secondary apart with rollouts. He was very accurate.”
Gilbert, who went on to play at both Texas and SMU during his college career and is currently a member of the Cleveland Browns roster, threw for seven touchdowns to lead the Cavaliers past Beeville 57-43.
Lake Travis won the state championship two weeks later, beating Highland Park 36-34.
No. 3 – Cowboys training camp in San Antonio
He couldn’t recall the year, but Harper listed his visit to a Cowboys training camp session at the Alamodome as his third favorite memory in his time as the sports guy here.
He said he got a field pass for the session and spent most of his time on the field snapping photos of America’s Team, including then-QB Tony Romo and team owner Jerry Jones.
“l saw Romo and Jerry Jones, but I was most in awe of size of the offensive and defensive linemen,” he said.
“They were huge and extremely athletic.”
No. 4 – Lady Trojan soccer team makes history
The fourth installment on Harper’s list spanned two years and included back-to-back historic runs by the Beeville Lady Trojan soccer team.
In both 2012 and 2013, Beeville’s girls soccer team won three playoff games on its way to reaching the 4A Region IV semifinals in Corpus Christi.
In 2012, Beeville downed Victoria East 4-2, San Antonio McCollum 1-0 and Roma 2-0 to reach the regional tournament.
Then, in 2013, the Lady Trojans bested Gregory-Portland 2-1 in overtime, Corpus Christi Ray 1-0 and Mission 1-0 to return to the regional tournament.
“It was two straight years of playing at Cabiness,” Harper said. “We lost both games to Cedar Park, but it was the first time the girls made it that far.”
Cedar Park won the 2012 contest 4-0 and the 2013 contest 3-0. The Lady Wolves won the region title each year before falling in the state semifinals in a pair of one-goal contests.
No. 5 – A remarkable JV contest
The fifth entry in Harper’s list featured a junior varsity football contest early in his tenure here in Beeville.
It happened in one of his first two years here in town, during the Wayne Coleman era of Trojan football, which ran from 1997 to 2001.
“I got to the stadium a little late because I was covering a varsity volleyball game,” Harper said. “Coleman was leaving the stadium as I was going in and I asked him how things were going with respect to the JV game.
“‘You missed part of the Gabriel Green show,’ he said. I stated, ‘He’s going to be pretty good on varsity.’
“Coleman replied, ‘You think?’”
“Green rushed for around 250-plus yards in that game and several touchdowns.”