When Roy Elms’ contract was not renewed in 1933 Doyle Coe took over as the Ganders head coach, assisted by H.A. “Hap” Malone. Coe had been assistant coach under Elms for two years and although the team didn’t exactly burn down the barn in 1933 they did beat Barbers Hill 39-0 and tied Humble 0-0.
In 1934 a new field house was built at Elms Field. Previously the visiting team used the girls’ locker and shower room. The season that year came out a little better with a 5-3-0 record, but after the 31-0 loss to South Park, the Greenies coach said that the reason for the Gander defeat was not coaching but inexperience. He went on to say that a junior high football program is absolutely necessary if a school wanted to play football at all. The school board had previously nixed the junior program but this comment really gave them something to ponder. Lack of experience also contributed to the 100-0 drubbing the Port Arthur Yellow Jackets gave the Ganders. 1934 was also the beginning of football at a future powerhouse school in the Tri-Cities. Don’t fret; there’s an upcoming whole article dedicated to the Carver Panthers, later renamed the Buccaneers.
At the beginning of 1935 Doyle Coe was promoted to head football coach for the entire Goose Creek ISD, tasked with starting football programs at Baytown and Horace Mann junior high schools. He hired H.S. “Happy” Malone as his assistant coach and recommended hiring full time coaches for the two schools but the school board shelved that for the time being. A few months later the board reconsidered and named M.C. Rushing for Baytown and Frank Wortham for Horace Mann. The first year strictly a building year; the junior high boys were bussed to the high school and trained together but played no games. It’s hard to imagine today, but the games were probably pretty quiet until 1935 when a public address system was installed for play-by-play at Elms Field. School board president John Hill McKinney, who was instrumental in getting lighting installed, was the main driver for the PA system. Before the season started they had a competition at an intersquad scrimmage to see who would be the announcer. Everybody who wanted had a chance to call the plays and the public elected Fred Lintleman for the job, assisted by Emory Means. They even had a live gander named Gandi as a mascot. The season started off strong for Lee with wins in the first four games, the point totals being 89-0. Then they tied two out of the next three games before the wheels came off in the last half of the season. Port Arthur beat them 66-0.
When the Lee College basketball team was created in 1936, Doyle Coe became head coach of the Blue Devils and H.S. “Happy” Malone was promoted to Ganders head coach. Red Bale, fresh out of college with a degree in Physical Education, was hired as his assistant. Bale was an All-Southwest Conference guard at Rice for two years. After a year of junior high football practice, Goose Creek ISD superintendent, Dr Harmon Lowman said “Get those kids some games and stop bringing them to Lee each afternoon. Let them practice in their own backyards.” So after a couple of weeks of workouts the stage was set for the junior high showdown. The 1936 season was the first year where football games really felt like they do today. The very first junior high football game in Goose Creek was played between Horace Mann and Baytown before the Lee-Milby game on October 2, 1936. The quarters were shortened to ensure the contest ended before the Gander game started and resulted in a 6-0 win for Horace Mann. This night was also the first public appearance for the Lee band which had been formed under band director A.A. Davis the year before. He had directed the U.S. Army band and came to the area several years earlier to become a member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra but found his real calling teaching music in the public schools. A glee club had existed since at least 1927 but the “Maroon Brigadiers,” later shorted to the Brigadiers or just the Brig, was formed in 1936, sponsored by Hazel Evans. The name was going to be the “Lee Lassies” but the girls quickly voted that down. After the first junior high game, the coaches didn’t like the intra city warfare so they merged the two squads for games with other schools. Since the high school mascot was the Gander, the junior high boys would be known as the Goslings. Over the next four weeks, the Goslings won all four games and only the Cedar Bayou High School “B” squad was able to score on them. Like they say, you dance with the one that brought
you, and as the junior high experience was working its way through the pipeline, the Ganders had a 3-6-1 season and lost to Port Arthur 6-52. The Interscholastic rules said that a player had only eight semesters of eligibility but Port Arthur had instituted twelfth grade and started playing their seniors which had already been in football four years. Schools started cancelling games with them and Lee would follow suit the following year. They would not play them again until 1940.
1938 was a 5-4-1 season with a win over a team from Mexico City which was touring the area playing games with other local high schools.
1939 marked the Ganders’ first year in the newly restructured District 14-AA. The season was a disappointment with only two wins to show for it but the Ball High game was notable because Lee’s new school song, “Alma Mater,” was featured at halftime. The words were written by Audrey Nell Smith and the music was by Tommy Seale. It was also the last year as head football coach for Hap Malone who would be named Athletic Director for the 1940 season.
But junior high football was in full swing with both Baytown and Horace Mann having had good seasons. Dan Stallworth had been the head coach at Horace Mann for the 1939 season and there was a kid at Baytown Junior High named George Walmsley who was really putting the school on the map.
Baytown native and former Navy pilot Chuck Chandler is retired from the Exxon refinery and serves on the Harris County Historical Commission. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org