In 1957 Texarkana College won the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship in football. Players Eddie Joe Daines and Wade Fowler agree it was the best of times for the Bulldogs.
The two Texarkana businessmen were both Texas High players for legendary coach Watty Myers. Daines started at offensive guard and defensive end for Texarkana College. Fowler was a halfback and kick returner for the Bulldogs.
“We knew going into the season that we had a good football team,” said the 78-year-old owner of Daines Insurance. “Our home games were usually on Saturdays and at Grim Stadium. We had a really good defense, and operated from the T-formation on offense.”
Texarkana College 9-1 in 1957 football championship season
In 1957 Texarkana College finished with a 9-1 record. That included a 56-0 win over Fairbury College (Neb.) in the national championship game. The Bulldogs’ only loss was to the University of Arkansas freshmen.
Texarkana College was not physically intimidating. Daines is a prime example at offensive guard. He stood 6-1 and weighed 190.
“There were no 300-pounders around; our biggest guys were around 240,” Daines said. “John Woodall was a tackle from Shreveport. He was pretty big. Charles Tenbrook was a big guy. We had a lot of players that went to Texas A&M. Then they transferred to Texarkana because of grades.”
Most of the Bulldogs in 1957 went on to play football at 4-year schools. Daines and Fowler, who signed with Tulsa University were on that list. Fowler returned seven kicks for touchdowns during the 1958 season. He was named to the Little All-America Team.
Fowler is now retired from his Pool Supply Company in Texarkana.
“The thing I remember most is going to that national championship game,” said Fowler. “I mostly returned kicks in 1957. We had a really good team for junior college. After my junior college seasons, I didn’t play much because I got married and had to go to work.”
Tight end Durwood Merrill played big role for Texarkana College
Tight end Durwood Merrill probably achieved the most fame after playing football for Texarkana College. He coached for a few years. Merrill went on to umpire in the major leagues for several years before retiring. He died in 2003.
Don “Duck” Burnes was Texarkana College’s starting quarterback in 1957. The Bulldogs were primarily a running team with Tony Mandino and Charles Phillips carrying the load. Mandino, Daines and defensive end Tommy Phillips all went to East Texas A&M after leaving Texarkana.
“Duck could throw the football; he had some good receivers, too,” Fowler said. “Windall McNeeley and Thomas Phillips were good receivers.
“I remember our only loss being to Arkansas’ freshmen. Their quarterback (George McKinney) just killed us with his long throws. I grew up with George and we played together at Texas High. I told Coach (Duncan) Thompson about George, but he wouldn’t listen.”
Today it’s a good bet that a lot of Texarkana’s citizens didn’t know Texarkana College had a football team.
“We had a darn good football team,” Daines said. “Playing in junior college really helped me. A lot of us are not mature enough leaving high school and home. That national championship definitely helped.”
1957 NATIONAL JUNIOR COLLEGE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION CHAMPIONS
TEXARKANA COLLEGE BULLDOGS
Regular Season Games
Texarkana College 27, Paris Junior College 6
Texarkana College 13, Tyler Junior College 7
Texarkana College 12, Mississippi Gulf Coast CC 7
Texarkana College 64, Tarleton State 6
Texarkana College 46, Henderson State 0
Texarkana College 31, Navarro Junior College 7
Texarkana College 27, Blinn Junior College 0
University of Arkansas (Freshmen) 21, Texarkana College 6
Texarkana College 39, East Mississippi Junior College 6
National Championship Game
Texarkana College 56, Fairbury College (Neb.) 0
Head Coach: Duncan Thompson; Assistant: Kenneth Braden; Team Manager: Norman Kinney.
Rex Staes, center; Phil Santia, guard; George Jackson, halfback; Alvie Hitchcock, halfback; Gerald “Nub” Smith, guard; Wimberly Eason, fullback; J.L. Fitts, end; George Wallaver, tackle; Tony Mandino, halfback; Charles “Buster” Rushing, center; Don Burnes, quarterback; Carl Bush, halfback; Windall McNeeley, end; Richard McCasland, guard; Benard Smith, quarterback; Wade Fowler, halfback; Boyce Wells, halfback; Hal Feasel, guard; Durwood Merrill, end; Charles Phillips, halfback; Eddie Joe Daines, guard; John Woodall, tackle; Happy Wright, tackle; Thomas Phillips, end; Charles Tenbrook, tackle; Harold McMickle, fullback; Danny Lee, halfback; Billy Powell.