THE NIGHT BEFORE THE FOURTH GAME OF THE SEASON AGAINST Odessa High, Gaines locked the doors of the field house for a team meeting. Private gatherings such as this were not held very often -- only when the idea of defeat became not only unthinkable but intolerable. Losing to the cross-town rival from the west was one of those situations, a possibility even more horrid to Permian fans than that of Michael Dukakis becoming president.
To put the game into perspective and draw the proper parallels, Gaines told the players the story of Sam Davis.
Davis had been a Confederate scout during the Civil War when he came face to face during battle with a scout from the Union army. With the battle over for the day they sat in the moonlight and talked, and before they parted the Union scout revealed secrets about his own army's position. When Davis was subsequently captured by Union forces, he was told he could go free if he revealed the name of the person who had given him the information. But Davis had no interest in such a lowhanded compromise. "I would die a thousand deaths before I would betray a friend" were his final words.
It was a vignette that was deemed appropriate on the occasion of the Odessa High game, much like the quotation from H. L. Mencken that had been posted on the field house bulletin board: