Former Weslaco High and Texas quarterback Bobby Lackey, who the Weslaco High gym and football stadium was named after in his honor and who became the first Longhorns player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1959, died Thursday at age 83.
That same night, the Weslaco High Panthers took the field for a non-district matchup against Mission High at Hidalgo’s Bill Pate Stadium for their season opener.
After building an early lead, the Panthers found themselves trailing by three as time ticked away late during the fourth quarter, but they were about to make some magic happen.
Quarterback Justin Rodriguez broke loose for runs of 40 and 13 yards to move Weslaco High into the red zone with less than a minute to play. With the defense keyed in on the dual-threat quarterback, he handed the ball to senior running back Marcus Saenz who took the carry off tackle to the right and into the end zone, giving the Panthers a dramatic 23-20 season-opening victory.
“It was magical last night. After the game, I told the kids he (Lackey) was looking down on us and saying, ‘Not tonight. Not tonight. The purple and white is going to come out victorious,’ and that’s what we did,” Weslaco High head coach Roy Stroman said.
Weslaco High was already motivated to bring home a win after its Week 1 game against crosstown rival Weslaco East was canceled due to COVID-19 safety precautions. Despite the cancellation of last Friday’s game, the Panthers held practice Saturday to stay locked in and focused on the task at hand — the next scheduled game against Mission.
Playing in memory of Lackey helped push the Panthers to victory in Week 2.
“The game was dedicated to Bobby Lackey. We talked about him that morning when we heard of the news,” Stroman said. “I shared it with the kids because a bunch of these kids know who he is. He’s come to some of our practices in past years and given our kids a speech. They have P.E. class in Lackey Gym, they play at Bobby Lackey Stadium. Grandma and grandpa have told them all the stories about him. The guy is a legend and he was a multi-sport athlete.”
The Panthers are headed for another non-district contest as they’re set to host Laredo Nixon at 7 p.m. Friday at Bobby Lackey Stadium.