‘61 squad joins Martinez in HOF – San Benito News

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Over the last few years, San Benito’s athletic achievements have become almost as well known around the Valley as the Freddy Fender water tower. From undefeated football seasons to deep playoff runs by the softball team, the Greyhounds are one of the most respected programs in South Texas. This weekend, that history is getting recognized in a major way by the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

It was announced earlier in the year that legendary softball coach Elias Martinez would be one of the ten inductees at the yearly ceremony, but organizational leaders added another inductee to the list just days before the ceremony – the entire 1961 Greyhound football team.

That 1961 team still remains one of the best in Valley history. The Greyhounds ran through the regular season with an undefeated record and earned the top ranking in all of 3A football before the playoffs started. Led by head coach J.W. Helms and All-American running back Jim Helms, San Benito advanced all the way to the State Sem-Final game before fumbling away the final possession in a 22-15 loss that snapped an 18-game winning streak.

“That season was a point of pride for my family for a long time,” said Rey Saldana Jr, whose father played a big role in the 1961 Greyhounds. “That team made history in the Valley and the fact my dad was a part of it made it so much more special. I grew up with Greyhound pride in my blood.”

The historic team will be joined by Martinez, who just capped off his third state semi-final game with a historic season of his own. The San Benito native has amassed nearly 650 career wins and has more victories under his belt than any Hispanic softball coach in the nation. With 18 district titles and over 22 playoff appearances, Martinez has reached heights no other Valley coach has before.

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