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Enjoy The Ride Of The Knights

The origins of the Taco Shack rivalry revealed

Ken Capps, Shield Staff Writer/ Sports Editor 1974-1978

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The Shield previewed the 1974 game between Mac and Reagan in its Nov. 14. issue. At Nelson Field that evening, the Raiders dealt McCallum a 53-6 loss, its worst in 22 years. Shield alum Ken Capps blames the loss on the opening of Anderson High School the year before, which divided the McCallum school zone and and its football roster. Photo from 1974-1975 Shield archive.

I covered the Knights football team for the Shield for the first time in the fall of 1974.

Ken Capps

At House Park.

Do not remember who we played. But we lost.

There was a lot of that in 1974.

The Austin Independent School District had just gutted A.N. McCallum High School in 1972. The shiny new Anderson High School had just opened its doors on Mesa Drive.

Hundreds of students in the McCallum “feeder pattern” were given the option of either sticking with attending Mac, or switching hallways and allegiances to go be a Trojan.

Many past classmates and my fellow freshmen, we felt, had made the ultimate betrayal. That included most of our “star athletes,” who were drawn to freshly painted lockers and new uniforms like a miner is drawn to freshly found gold.

Really, who could blame them?

So, if you want to know where the bitter rivalry was born fellow Mac Backers, the football season of 1974 is a good place to start.

Mac football was at an all-time low. A season for the ages – the dark ages.

Capps’ senior yearbook                  portrait in 1978

The Knights endured a 2-8 season, the worst the program had EVER endured since the school opened.

Anderson beat Mac that year, 12-0.

It would have been much worse if the Trojans had not lost six fumbles and thrown two interceptions.

The last game of that dreadful season, the Reagan Raiders also dealt the Knights their worst loss in 22 years, a 53-6 defeat at Nelson Field.

Welcome to covering the Knights for the Shield and also the Knight yearbook!

Fast forward 43 years to August 2017.

The Knights open the season by thrashing Anderson 48-28 in the Taco Shack Bowl, in a game that was really not that close.

I was there again in House Park, this time as a spectator.

The old press box still brings back fond memories, despite covering some blowout games of my beloved alma mater.

And from the stands this year, it was obvious there is something special about this Knight squad.

Speed. Uncanny execution. Ball-hawking defense. A true spirit of TEAM. And yes, being on the right side of luck.

No team on any level goes 13-0 without most, if not all, of those ingredients.

The 1976 Knight theme was a memorable one.

I once wrote in The Shield in a later season that Mac Football is a “game of inches”…thinking I was very prophetic.

As if nobody had ever written THAT before.

BUT it was true that season, and it is true this season and it will be true this Saturday vs. Corpus Christi Calallen in the Alamodome.

Thirteen games of blood, sweat and tears will come down to a fourth down, a field-goal attempt, a possible pick-six, that will either mean the Knights keep this magical season going – or not.

However  it turns out, this bunch has brought so much pride and happiness to thousands of alumni, former players, Blue Brigaders, band members, and yes, a few of us proud former staffers of macjournalism before it was known as macjournalism.

What a magical season. Keep enjoying every minute this week and this Saturday.

And remember, Once a Knight is NEVER enough.

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