Roughly 73,000 public school high school football games have been played in Texas in the past 15 years, making a local man's single-game record all that more impressive.
Somerville's Darryl Ellis ran for 587 yards in one game back in 1998, and coming up on 15 football season's later still has it.
“I've done 100-and-something games I've announced for Somerville,” said Yegua public address announcer Glenn Tydlacka. “You try to remember all of them but that's the one thing that every time I think back to a game I can remember Darryl going this way and Thrall going that way and Darryl going this way. I described it as a track meet, but it was more like a tennis match. Back and forth.”
587 yards is not a bad season for some high school running backs, but for Somerville's Darryl Ellis, it all came in one game against Thrall in October 1998.
Ellis ran for nearly 600 yards as the Yeguas won 70-68.
During the game all he says he could think about was catching his breath.
"I'm tired. I was more focused on being tired than in the zone," said Ellis.
One of his blockers on the offensive line, guard Khairi Elfarrah doesn't remember Ellis getting that tired. "We're blocking for him and we'd get a couple steps in and the next thing you know he's blasted by us and we're just watching him have a field day just like practice running suicides up and down the field."
Darryl's brother David remembers the Yegua offensive attack being pretty simple that night. "It was two plays: 28 sweep, 29 sweep to the right and left. They were just working. They were the only plays we ran. It got to the point that we didn't even huddle we just knew if we did 28 sweep, go back to the line, do 29 sweep."
As the night went on the numbers kept accumulating, Tydlacka and Somerville stat keeper Gerald Bozeman couldn't believe what they were seeing.
Tydlacka said, “At 300 you know it's a special night. At 400 you say hey, this is something pretty rare. At 500 then you start thinking it's got to be getting close to a record if it's not. Usually I don't announce individual stats because it's a team game and about the school, but that kind of night how can you not let the crowd know this guy, these are the numbers this guy is putting up? If you're not watching the game you better be watching the game.”
When the dust settled, tapes were rewound and fast forwarded over and over and the Somerville staff and Thrall staff's had a discrepancy with the final total.
The Tigers claimed 552 yards.
The Yeguas said 602.
"It was a big debate because it was starting to be a record,” Ellis said. “Now you have the UIL getting involved and they requested both schools send the tapes off and they came up with the final total: 587."
587 has now stood as the state record for coming up on 15 years. Three players have come within 53 yards of Ellis' mark in the past two seasons, Tyrone Swoopes of Whitewright had 560 in 2011, Deion Williams of Morton Ranch had 547 in 2012, and Justin Twine of Hemphill had 534 in 2011, but nobody has been able to top it.
"It's hard to believe it still stands. I'm really impressed,” said Tydlacka.
Elfarrah added, "I would have thought by now there would have been a younger kid who worked harder or had a better diet, better work ethic, and he would have beat the record by now, but maybe it's too high of a record to get beat."
Almost 15 years later Ellis is an assistant coach at his alma mater, and, especially, in a football crazed state like Texas, it's hard for a record holder to stay anonymous.
"I don't go a week without somebody mentioning it to me. There was one time I was fixin' to get a hotel room and the dude was behind me and I put my license down and was giving the lady my stuff and he's like, 'You're the guy that has that the rushing record!' I looked at him like, how do you know that stuff? It comes from nowhere."
Ellis set the record at Yegua Stadium, also known as "The Rock." The Yeguas have just eight playoff appearances in program history, so, as far as football goes, 587 is still a big point of pride in Somerville.
"Of course we've had playoff runs here and there in the past, hadn't won any championships, but Darryl does have a record. It belongs to Somerville," said former Somerville cornerback Sam Pittman II, who now lives in College Station and teaches at Jane Long Middle School.
Ellis looks back on his big night with pride. "In retrospect it was pretty nice. It was homecoming, packed crowd. They'd score, we'd score. I think the game totaled out to be right a four hours or even over, it was a long game. It was perfect. We won on top of it."
Ellis ran for seven touchdowns that night. He played one season of junior-college football at Cisco.
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