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DALLAS In 1988, Gary Edwards and Patrick Williams were practicing on the field behind Carter High School during a playoff run that would culminate in the Class 5A state championship.

'Twenty-five years later, people are still talking about it,' said Edwards. 'Not just now and then, but just about every day.'

Edwards was a defensive back and Williams a running back on that team. Williams is now the head coach at his alma mater. The two reminisced about that team and talked about the current one, as they walked around the practice field.

'What I try to install in our kids is: no excuses,' Williams told his old teammate. 'You guys didn't have any excuses back then, [these guys] don't have no excuses.'

Carter has won a lot of trophies over the years, but they had to return the one they got in 1988.

'I think it's in San Antonio in a trophy case,' said Williams. 'It doesn't matter. We played the game on the field, we won the game on the field, and we have no regrets.'

They were the first Dallas ISD team to win a state title since 1950. But two years after the Cowboys won State, the University Interscholastic League stripped them of that title for using an ineligible player.

In between, the '88 team added to its infamy when Derric Evans signed his letter of intent to play at the University of Tennessee in a hot tub; then, a few months later, he and five other teammates were sent to jail for their role in a series of armed robberies.

Evans never played in the NFL, but five players from the '88 team did, including most famously Jessie Armstead, who played more than a decade in the league.

Quarterback Robert Hall won the MVP award in the State title game. He is now an assistant coach at Mesquite Horn, and his experience with the '88 team puts him in a unique position to teach his players both about winning... and about consequences.

'We try to tell our young kids now, the decisions you make are going to affect you a long time,' Hall said.

Roderick DeWitt was a defensive back on on the '88 team. Now an accountant in Fort Worth, he says his teammates have a standing date to meet for breakfast every month. 'We always get together, chit-chat, talk about all our good times,' DeWitt said. 'We share our memories and stories all the time.'

And that's what it is for these guys -- good memories, not bad. They consider themselves the most famous team in Texas high school football history, not the most infamous. They also consider themselves State champions.

'Still deep down inside, all the players on that team, we still think we the State champions,' said Williams.

'In my eyes, I'd say we were the best ever,' Edwards added. 'Not just the best in Dallas or Texas, I would like to say we're the best team ever assembled.'

'We had the speed, we had the talent, we had the size,' DeWitt pointed out.

They don't have a UIL state championship, and DISD still hasn't won one in 63 years. But state champions can be forgotten; this team never will be.

'Right now to this day, 2013, we're still talking about that class,' said Hall.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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