There was no turf. A few posts with strings were used to hold back the crowd.
Spectators stood and cheered on their favorite teams and, in 1926, the Slaton Tigers were well on their way to winning a District Championship title.
Leading the Tigers that season was the 155 lbs captain of the team, Bill “Huck” Huckabay. “Bill’s steady hand on the ball and great tackling has saved many a game for the Tigers,” is what is written in the 1926-27 edition of the Tigers Lair.
Huck was the son of William Lane Huckabay and Nettie Leota Huckabay. According to Slaton’s Story, the family arrived in Slaton in 1922 and Huck’s father practiced medicine above a bank. “Dr. Huckabay was the old horse-and-buggy type doctor,” it is written in Slaton’s Story. “Although he had a car, as early as 1910, roads were often so bad he had to make calls on horseback or in a buggy.”
It was this type of work ethic that Dr. Huckabay instilled in his children that helped Huck take charge of his team in the first challenge of the season.
On October 7, 1926, the Slaton Tigers defeated Spur 20-2. The game was played on a field in Lubbock and many of the fans traveled by train to watch their hometown boys open, what came to be, a very exciting season.
The next week, in their home opener, the Brownfield Cubs came to town.
“What was Slaton like in those days?” Walter McAtee, Right Tackle for the 1926-27 Slaton Tigers, wrote in Slaton’s Story. “It was a small rural community. The Santa Fe Railway supplied the payroll. Agriculture, particularly cotton, supplied the wherewithal, giving employment and wealth to the community. The lawyer of the day was R.A Baldwin, whose life was giving [dedicated to] inspiring young men and women of the community to hitch their wagons to the star,” he wrote.
It was the sheer determination and the inspiration of the people of the town that helped the fifteen member team defeat Brownfield 72-0 on the home field made of dirt, rocks and gravel.
In late autumn, as young boys in Slaton dreamed of hitting the grid iron themselves someday, the Tigers continued winning.
On October 23, the team defeated Littlefield in Littlefield. The next week, on the day before Halloween, Lamesa got a taste of Slaton with a 41-0 loss to the Tigers on Slaton’s dirt turf.
Then, on November 6, in a game entitled, “The Battle Royal,” many citizens of Slaton boarded a train due-south, to watch their hometown boys take on the Post Antelopes.
“High school athletics, supplied by the Slaton Tigers, gave the citizenry of Slaton something to support from year to year,” McAtee wrote.
In Post, the Slaton Tigers gave the crowd quite a show by defeating the Antelopes 14-12.
“My activities in Slaton generally involved the school system,” McAtee wrote. “At an early age I learned to work, and work hard. In high school I lettered in football and track.”
On November 11, on what was then called Armistice Day, the Tigers were met on their home field by a large crowd of fans. They had been undefeated in their district and that day’s game would announce the District Champion of the season.
The team faced one more challenge – Floydada.
The Floydada Whirlwinds came into Slaton to be defeated by the Tigers 20-13.
The Tigers Lair of 1926 stated, the Tigers “Celebrate holiday by winning District Championship.”
However, the Slaton Tigers celebration was quickly halted when the team traveled to Memphis, Texas to face their toughest opponents that season.
On November 20, the Tigers lost their first and only game that year to Memphis.
An angry Slaton Tiger team would come back, however, and face the Lubbock Westerners for the final game of the year against their biggest Rival.
On November 27th, after winning the District Championship, but falling to Memphis, an angry Slaton Tiger team took to their home field in the most important game of the year, Slaton vs. Lubbock.
But of course, Slaton won.
Slaton 7 Lubbock 0