Centennial Show: Memories of Leo Aguilar, 1971 Mace Playoff

Centennial Show: Memories of Leo Aguilar, 1971 Mace Playoff
Posted on 01/22/2016
This is the image for the news article titled Centennial Show: Memories of Leo Aguilar, 1971 Mace PlayoffThe Los Fresnos CISD Centennial Stage Show, performed Thursday and Friday at Los Fresnos High School, brought back memorable moments in Falcon football history.

Among the seven historical videos shown at the Stage Show were two related to Falcon football that will never be forgotten – especially by those directly involved.

Leo Aguilar: 1970 and 1988

Leo Aguilar wore number 44 as a running back of the Falcons. At practice September 29, 1970, Aguilar collapsed after a running play and did not get up. Teammates Manuel Abrego and Jesus Amaya remember the day well.

“There wasn’t anything different about that day,” Amaya said. “Nothing made that day spectacular or different until that injury took place.”

“It was a simple play that we had run hundreds of times,” Abrego said. “It just was just a freak accident.”

Aguilar died at Mercy Hospital in Brownsville 12 days later.

“I remember a lot of students in the junior high being pulled out of the program,” Amaya said. The teams of the 1970s and 80s struggled because of the lack of numbers. It affected a lot of people who probably would have played but never played.”

The Leo Aguilar Foundation was founded after his death, and has provided scholarships to several hundred students for more than 40 years.

In 1988, the Los Fresnos CISD Board of Trustees approved renaming of Falcon Field to Leo Aguilar Memorial Stadium.

Time Magazine 1971 storyMace Playoff Game: November 19, 1971

The 1971 Falcons were 10-0 in the regular season and were the third-ranked Class 2A team in Texas under Coach Jerry Tomsu.

Los Fresnos went to Premont for its bi-district playoff game, and held a 14-12 lead with two minutes to play. Premont’s offense was on the field when a fight broke out. Premont police went on the field to try to break up the fight and sprayed mace on the eyes of seven Falcon defensive players. The seven Falcon starters could not continue playing because they could not see. Premont drove downfield and kicked a field goal to win the game, 15-14.

The story was carried in newspapers around the country and in Time magazine.

The story of the incident was told on video by former players Vicente Arizmendi, Ubaldo Garcia and Jimmy Sanchez.

Also telling her side of the story was Mercedes Cantu, a 1949 graduate and former mayor of Los Fresnos. Cantu, who has attended almost every Falcon games over the last 67 years, and was in the bleachers watching the macing incident and noticed that the game officials were not in control of the activity on the field.

“The boys were kneeling down and falling down and we knew something had happened,“ Cantu said. “Everyone was yelling. The better part got to me – or the worst part got to me. I jumped the fence to get on the field and grabbed the referee and told him ‘Do something about this … they’re hurting them, they’re hurting them.’ Then, of course, I was escorted off the field.”
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