By Don McAlavy: Local Columnist
I watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the New York Jets 16-3 in an NFL preseason game last month. It reminded me of another great football game: the Clovis Wildcats vs. Roswell Coyotes and one of the century’s greatest Wildcat fullbacks. The Wildcats beat the Coyotes 13-0 at Roswell in 1933.
Big Joe Maddox was iron horse of the Wildcats backfield for two seasons and All-Eastern New Mexico fullback of 1933. This 180-pound backfield ace was elected captain of the 1934 Wildcats edition at a banquet given in honor of the 1933 state champions.
Lettermen of the state-champion squad gave Maddox the captainship in a three-way ballot in which E. G. Abernathy, left end, and Oscar Perry, sensational young halfback, were mentioned.
Maddox had been a star since his first appearance in Wildcats moleskins. He was spectacular in line plunges the last season, but his true strength never was fully known until this season.
It was sometime after this season opened that the big fullback confessed to coach R.K. Staubus that something was holding him back.
“You know,” he told the coach one afternoon after practice, “I believe if it wasn’t for my feet hurting all the time, I could get somewhere in this game of football.”
An examination revealed two badly in-grown toenails. An operation followed, and Maddox was unable to get into harness for several weeks.
But once he was able to play, he developed into one of the most spectacular backfield men on the east slope. Every coach participating in the Clovis Evening News-Journal’s poll voted to place him at the fullback position on the All-Eastern New Mexico first team.
Maddox was the “most nicknamed” member of the Wildcats squad. His teammates had added during the season to his first extra-moniker,
“Ironhorse,” and a host of other names — one was “McGilcutty,” but “Ironhorse” stuck.
The Wildcats also beat Deming 25-0, and Hereford, Texas, 39-0, in 1933, just to give a sample of their strength.
Coach Staubus’ team in 1933 consisted of two picks for nearly each position. The quarterbacks: Newton Lancaster and Eddie Miller. For halfbacks: the two Perry brothers, Elbert and Oscar. The two fullbacks: Ironhorse Joe Maddox and Victor Roundtree. Center position was a toss-up: Creighten Delaney, Tommy Jones or Wayne Riddle. The tackle position: Cash Ramey Jr. and Eugene Snyder. The ends would be E. G. Abernathy and Arthur Gast with Abernathy the left end. (E. G. Abernathy was also a champion basketball player. The highest award given to a Clovis athlete is named in his honor: the E. G. Abernathy Award.)
Ironhorse Joe Maddox later became one of our best fire chiefs in Clovis, starting out as an assistant fire chief in about 1948, becoming the fire chief in 1963 and retiring in 1978. Ironhorse Maddox died in November 1998.