The community came together Monday evening to celebrate the Aledo High School Bearcat football team after their record-breaking ninth state championship win.
The event featured performances by the Bearcat Regiment, the AHS cheerleaders and dance team, followed by speeches from local officials and school district personnel at The Shops at Willow Park.
“We are so fortunate to be here with all of you today in this very special community recognizing the extraordinary experiences that our children — and we might call some of them young adults — have had in making history with nine state championships,” AISD Superintendent Dr. Susan K. Bohn said. “Behind these championships are the expectations of excellence that we have in our community, the incredible work ethic that our coaches, our staff and you all as parents instill in your children, and a growth mindset that anything is possible. We believe in Aledo ISD that these are all critical values that we need to instill in our children as they go off into the world and really they’re important values for our entire community.”
Aledo became the first UIL 11-man football team to win nine state championships after defeating the Missouri City Fort Bend Marshall Buffaloes 45-42 on Dec. 21 at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
“It’s an honor to be part of this, to live in Aledo, it’s just been an unbelievable place. People ask me why and how, and it’s hard to put words to it, but it starts at the top with our leadership, goes to our community all the way down to these unbelievable players that are willing to do whatever you ask of them — we have support like no other and then our great coaches,” AISD Athletic Director Steve Wood — who coached for three of the nine state titles — said. “We’re talking about nine state championships, that’s fun to say. It’s exciting and something you’ll be proud of your whole life, nobody can ever take it away from you. I couldn’t be any more proud to be a Bearcat than I am now. I know we told the guys we don’t want this to be the best thing you do in your life, but it’s a pretty good start and we’re very proud of you.”
Aledo Bearcat Head Coach Tim Buchanan — who returned to the helm of Bearcat football after being the school’s athletic director for five years — said even when he was hired in 1993 the athletes and administration were determined.
“We had a bunch of hard-working kids when we got here, we had an administration and school board that wanted to see us be successful and then we had an entire community that wanted to see us be successful and what the people do in this community is they entrust us with their kids and let us work them extremely hard, teach them how to work hard every day and be better tomorrow than what they were today,” Buchanan said. “They want us to take average athletes and make them good, good athletes and make them excellent, and excellent athletes and make them the best in the state, and that’s what we do. I cannot thank this community enough for what they’ve done.”
State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, attended the celebration and presented the Bearcats with a resolution that he said will be adopted by the Texas Legislature during the next session.
“Things like this, they don’t happen, you could have had the same team in another district and this wouldn’t have happened because winning like this isn’t just about the players and it’s not just the staff and not just the school district, but it’s this amazing community that we have — a community of family,” King, who is also an Aledo ISD grandparent, said. “What you see here, it really is unique, especially in the world, especially in the United States, but it’s even unique in Texas. Aledo is special and because it’s special wonderful things like this happen. Last year, when the Legislature was in session, we had the team come down, they came on the house floor and got to be recognized, and I’m hoping we can do that again next time the Legislature convenes.”
State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, also sent in a resolution for the Bearcats, which was read by Aledo Education Foundation Executive Director Shawn Callaway during the ceremony. Congresswoman Kay Granger sent in a letter, which was also read by Callaway, congratulating the team.
Parker County Judge Pat Deen said being present for the celebration was humbling.
“It’s a humbling experience for me to be around excellence like this. You expect to win and you set the standard that there is no other option, that you’re going to win and you prove that year after year and that has set a winning standard of excellence for all of Parker County,” Deen said. “But this also goes past the football field and into your life. You’re winners, you’re going to win no matter what you do, no matter what field you’re on and that goes for all the students. It’s a special feeling to be around a culture that has instilled winning — it’s good to win, that’s what life is, it’s competition.”
The Aledo Bearcats saw success in clinching state championships in 1998, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019.
“I would like to just take a moment and thank all my teammates for all the hours of hard work that went into this year and made us the nine-times state champions,” AHS Bearcat Quarterback Jake Bishop said. “It’s been an amazing ride and I appreciate all that you’ve sacrificed.”
AHS Bearcat offensive lineman and team captain Logan Michael thanked the student organizations and community for the support.
“I would like to thank the band, cheer, dance teams and trainers, I would like to thank all the students that came out and got loud when we needed it to happen and just the community,” Michael said. “Without the community, we couldn’t accomplish or achieve any of the things that we already have.”
Max Lucas, AHS Bearcat linebacker, thanked the AISD teachers for pushing them through the years.
“I would like to thank all that were involved in making this year and this legacy a reality. I would like to thank and praise the teachers that pushed us through the years at Aledo High School, middle school, McAnally as well as any elementary schools,” Lucas said. “We would not have been able to make this happen without you.”
Bearcat offensive lineman Aidan Hayes said the support of family has been invaluable.
“I just want to give a thank you to all the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents that have supported us through the years — we wouldn’t have been able to do it without you taking us to those 5 a.m. practices, sitting through those cold, rainy games, and I’m just thankful for every one of you,” Hayes said.
Bohn said it’s been a privilege to serve AISD students every day.
“On behalf of the staff at Aledo ISD, I’d like to share with you that it is an absolute honor and privilege to get to serve your children every day,” Bohn said. “Together we have a community growing greatness every day. We would not be here if it weren’t for the best coaching staff in the state of Texas and the countless hours they spend showing our students how to be champions and their families at home who allow them to do that.”