After wrapping another historic season, the South Oak Cliff Golden Bears celebrated their second consecutive UIL Class 5A Division II Football State Championship.
The festivities kicked off with a community parade that began at For Oak Cliff, proceeded through the South Oak Cliff neighborhood and concluded on campus. The celebration continued with performances from the SOC Marching Band, special remarks from Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde and Trustee Maxie Johnson, and an unforgettable speech from Head Coach Jason Todd about the team, the community, and the Class of 2023.
“When I’m riding down Marsalis Avenue in a parade, there is no amount of money that could make me feel the same way that makes me feel,” said Todd. “It means so much more to me when I know the people and they really know me.”
After their historic season last year, there was hope that the team could do it again because the roster boasted nearly 30 juniors returning to compete in their senior season. That hope turned into reality when the Golden Bears clawed their way to victory after defeating the Port Neches-Groves Indians for the state title with a score of 34-24.
What the Golden Bear Football Class of 2023 has been able to do despite the adversity they’ve faced is nothing short of extraordinary.
“Our brotherhood is legendary and there will never be another one like this,” said senior offensive lineman Nehemiah Dewberry.
Following a fight for equity and inclusion by SOC students who came before them, the class of 2023 was able to enjoy the fruit of that labor with upgraded facilities, updated class schedules and the resources they needed to succeed at their fingertips.
Before they could realize their potential, they had to start their high school career with a great deal of travel for practice because they were temporarily housed at the Village Fair campus.
“Since we were freshmen, the coaches said we were special. Our talent, from the beginning, was different from anyone else and they knew then we were it,’” said senior wide receiver Jordan Mayes.
In January 2020, the doors to their newly refurbished school were opened, but they were soon sent home due to the 2020 Pandemic. After much anticipation, they received the green light to return only to be halted by game cancellations because of the Covid-19 virus. But things were soon on track and the team started showing everyone why South Oak Cliff is “The Mecca”.
“My class has battled a lot of adversity, and once we really got into the new building and facilities, we balled out,” said senior offensive lineman Brione “Big Bubba” Ramsey-Brooks.
All the members of this class will forever be etched in the history of South Oak Cliff, Dallas, and Texas. They have created a culture and set the standard for those to come.
“The power of what we did and the legacy we have created hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m excited to come back in the future to see,” said senior cornerback Jayvon “JT” Thomas. “This team will never be replaced. They have watched me transition into the player I am today. This is a different kind of brotherhood, where I can be open and vulnerable with them, and there is no other team or group of boys that I would have wanted to create this with.”
Coach Todd and his team of coaches knew these players were special from the moment they began practicing.
“When we started referring to the ‘Return of the Mecca,’ it was because of this 2023 class,” Todd said.
This class alone on Early Signing Day generated over $1.7 million in scholarship offers, nine Division one signees, multiple ranked athletes, and most importantly a higher team grade point average.
Congratulations again to the Golden Bears. We are so proud of all your accomplishments. With equity and inclusion at the forefront, anything can happen, and we are so excited to see what legacy the next class will leave.