It was just one play in one game held almost five years ago, but Dublin Head Football Coach Dwayne Ross remembers it like it was yesterday.

It was the fall of 2002, and Dublin was challenging Crawford, a perennial powerhouse on the class 2A gridiron. Junior defensive end Ted DeVries crashed through Crawfordís offensive line, and not knowing who was carrying the ball, wrapped up not only the Pirate QB, but both RBs as well. He took all three to the ground on a play that would go in the stats as just another of DeVriesí many tackles for loss. Those who saw it, however, knew it was a play that meant so much more.

Tackling the entire Crawford backfield isnít the only vivid memory Ross shares when the topic turns to DeVriesí playing days in Dublin. He remembers Ted being a sophomore and breaking his foot during action against Breckenridge. For many high school players, such an injury would mean leaving the game and missing several weeks. DeVries, who also played fullback for the Lions, finished the game and played the next week as well.

"He came back the next week and played really well," Ross recalls. "It really showed the level of toughness Ted has."

Lion fans may join Ross in remembering another special play DeVries made against Glen Rose. He was the backside end and the Tigers ran an option to the opposite side of the field. In this case, most players in his position take a pursuit angle, not catching up to the play until there is already a big gain. DeVries caught up much quicker, stopping the pitch man in the backfield for a three yard loss.

DeVries was named district defensive MVP and second-team all-state as a senior, when he helped lead Dublin to its first playoff trip in 10 years. His stats told the story, as he made 92 tackles and dropped opposing QBs for 13 sacks. On the offensive side of the ball, he picked up 750 yards rushing, while toting the ball across the goal line 13 times.

The impression Ted left on opponents was enough that coaches in Hico, Crawford and Glen Rose all offered to recommend him to recruiters from NCAA Division 1A universities.

"Size-wise, we talked to several big schools who had a scholarship for Ted if he was taller," Ross said. "If he was 6-3 or 6-4 they would have offered (a scholarship), but heís just 6-1."

"Just 6-1" didnít stop NCAA Division II Abilene Christian University from providing Tedís playing prowess with a new home. The 6-1, 255-pound DeVries signed a letter of intent to play for the Wildcats in 2004, but after a redshirt season, he did not play in 2005.

"I came here and got redshirted, and I knew that was going to happen. But not playing got to me," DeVries said of his decision not to play in 2005. "I thought of the (family-owned) dairy back home and thought I would get started with the rest of my life. But then the whole year, I missed playing so much."

Wishing he had stuck with football, DeVries, with encouragement from his parents, George and Terese DeVries, as well as his high school coaches, Ross and Dublin Defensive Coordinator Keith Owens, decided to make a comeback.

"I was scared to come back and didnít know if the coaches would even want me back," he said. "But they said they would be glad to have me. Coming back is one of the best decisions Iíve ever made."

Making his return to the gridiron last year, DeVries provided ACU with depth at the nose guard position on the defensive line. After missing the first three games with back problems, he recorded four solo and eight total tackles in 2006, including two tackles for loss and one sack. His biggest thrill came when the Wildcats were selected to be one of three Lone Star Conference representatives in the national playoffs.

ACU was eliminated from post season play in the first round by fellow LSC member West Texas A&M, but statistically it was the Dublin nativeís best game to date at the collegiate level. He made three stops, had one-half sack and one-half tackle for loss in the 30-27 overtime defeat.

"It was awesome to get to contribute at that level," DeVries said of the playoff game. "But I want to win. If I would have played poorly and we won, I would have been happier."

An off-season position change and strong performance in spring ball has DeVries at the top of the depth chart with fall workouts just one week away at ACU. The coaching staff has moved him from nose guard back to defensive end, where he caused so much havoc for opponents during his high school days.

"It feels great (being back at DE)," he said. "Itís where I played my whole high school career, and it feels natural. But I will gladly change positions again if thatís what will help the team."

The Wildcats are coming off their first eight-win season in 25 years. With a strong nucleus returning and several transfers to bolster the 2007 roster, they are the pre-season favorites to win the South Division of the LSC. Many prognosticators have them earmarked as not only a playoff team, but a national championship contender.

"Weíre excited around here," DeVries said regarding the upcoming season. "Last year we were underdogs and nobody knew who we were, but now they know. Weíre not getting ahead of ourselves, though. We know we have to keep working hard."

Working hard not to fail is something Ross believes is DeVriesí greatest strength on and off the playing field.

"Ted just has that burning desire inside of him," Ross said. "He does not want to fail. Fear of failure is his greatest motivation."

With DeVriesí strong work ethic and burning desire to win, it could be his opponents that have something to fear on this gridiron this fall.