The 1964 Fred Douglass Panthers: 50 Years Later

SHERMAN, Texas -- Only one high school football team from Sherman has ever won a state championship. It wasn't the Sherman Bearcats, but the Fred Douglass Panthers, 50 years ago.

"We had great expectations at the beginning of the season, and after we scrimmaged Ennis in our season opener and went out and practiced with them, we knew we were going to be pretty good," said linebacker Robert Lowell.

The 1964 Fred Douglass Panthers team is a ball club that will be forever etched in Sherman's history. The all-black school was the first and only team to win a state title, when they beat Conroe in the Prairie View Interscholastic League 2A state championship game.

"I don't think the magnitude of what we had done at the particular moment had set in. It a while for us to, you know, get on the bus and head home. And the we realized all of a sudden that you know, we've done something," said defensive back Fred Savage.

The Panthers fielded a senior laden team, lead by coach Ed hunt and consisting of standouts Walter Whitfield, Richard Fuller and Don Campbell, along with many others.

"Campbell, I mean my god, that kid, in ANY generation in any era, was just outstanding. Whitfield, probably one of the best receivers I've seen, even today. And Fuller, well they don't make them like that anymore," said Savage.

Even with segregation forcing Panthers fans to sit on what is now the visitors side of Bearcat Stadium, People of all ethnicities continued to pack the house, week after week.

"you know we started seeing the games fill up. You know the stadium was full, I mean, Every game. And it was a crossover of races, and that was not the norm," said Savage.

The title was more than just a source of pride, It helped bring the town together, and has a legacy that still lives on, even 50 years later.

"I know it meant a lot to the black community, but I think it meant just a much to the white community. And I think as far as unifying this town, I think that really put the finishing touches on unifying this city," said Lowell.

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