Gainesville has a long history of tradition in football.

This 2012 bunch is only adding to it.

The Leopards tapped into a bit of that history with a 49-14 win over long-standing foe Bridgeport last Friday, making them the sixth team in school history to go 10-0.

Gainesville’s tradition has been something that the Leopards have always been able to hang its hat on – especially in recent down years. So to see a Leopard team return to prominence has become something to rally behind.

The trio of Denzel Johnson, Adam Berryman and David Moore bring back memories of the 2003 Leopards that featured Chris Brown, Terrius Purvey and Darcel McBath. Three playmakers that can take over a game and score from anywhere on the field.

The mention of a district championship brings back echoes of the teams from the 1990’s that featured players such as Chad Pegues, Kevin Mathis, Zach Haverkamp, Julius Jackson and Brandon Harrison.

This year’s team is reminiscent of the 1988 team that reached the area playoffs, starting a string of seven of eight seasons in which the Leopards reached at least the second round of the playoffs – reaching the state semifinals in 1992 (63-7 loss to Southlake Carroll), state quarters in 1993 (34-25 Tatum) and the regional final in 1994 (41-6 Atlanta).

The 1988 team was similar to this year’s Leopards in that the team reached the playoffs after a handful of down years – by Gainesville standards anyways.

While there’s no state championship trophy from that time period, the tradition carried on by the late-80’s, early 90’s squads helped set up a 1994 win over Southlake that ended a 49-unbeaten streak by the Dragons, sent numerous players to Division I schools and essentially laid the ground work for the state final appearances in 2003 and 2005.

Gainesville’s tradition goes back even further than that, though.

The Leopards had undefeated seasons in 1976 and 1980 – years when teams essentially needed a clean slate to reach the playoffs as the UIL only sent one team from each district into the postseason.

Gainesville saw state final appearances in 1974, 1976 and 1978 with losses to Cuero, Beaumont Herbert and Brownwood respectively.

So while Gainesville’s successful season might have come as a bit of a surprise to many – don’t feel bad, not even the best prognosticators could have predicted this season coming – it shouldn’t.

The Leopards have been doing this for years.

Keith MacPherson is Sports Editor at the Gainesville Daily Register. You can e-mail him at sportsgdr@ntin.net

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