The High School Football Team That Wouldn’t Die

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This is a story about renewal–how football made a comeback at a Houston-area high school.


Houston’s Lee High School in Houston TX was founded in 1962. Named after General Robert E. Lee, the school opened to relieve high attendance at Lamar and Bellaire schools.

Lee alum Peter Gardere leads UT to a 1990 win against Penn St. (photo, HookemPlus.com)

Throughout the 60s, and all the way into the 80s, the Lee Generals were a dominant football team, always making the state playoffs. Many notable football players and coaches went through Lee. Joe Clemens, who made his name as QB for the Texas Longhorns, was one of the first coaches at Lee. Peter Gardere, who quarterbacked Lee in the 80s and passed for 5,754 yards over three seasons was selected MVP of the Houston region. He was later inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. Like Clemens, Gardere was a Longhorn QB.

But Lee’s football program began declining in the 90’s. Westside High School, which opened in 2000, took 1000 students from Lee, which (at the time) was overcrowded. Most of the football players at Lee moved to Westside, and many of the remaining students weren’t interested in playing football.

In 2004 Lee dropped football. Soccer, especially popular among Latino students, became a substitute sport, including for homecoming festivities.

That evolution shocked some former football players and other alumni. Not only did they find that football had been dropped, there wasn’t any record of the football program in the school’s trophy case.

Things changed in 2010 when the school’s administration sought to re-establish the football program. The R.E. Lee Alumni Association got involved, too, working in partnership with the Houston Texans to make this happen.

The good news is that the program returned in 2012. Still the Lee Generals, the school has been renamed as Margaret Long Wisdom High School, to honor Margaret Long, a longtime and well-regarded Houston-area educator, who taught and coached at Lee.

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About Matthew Paris

I grew up an avid Houston sports fan. After graduating from Texas Tech University in Theater and English Literature I worked as a marketing rep and coach for I9 Sports, coaching baseball, flag football, soccer, and basketball. I’m currently with Austin Sports Academy as a marketing coordinator, baseball and football coach, and coordinator of middle school and high school open play nights. I’ve written three short films for Looknow Productions and have also written articles on film marketing, producing, and directing. I really enjoy writing about sports and being an active contributor to The Sports Column.



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