WYLIE (KRLD-AM) -- Everywhere you go at Wylie High School, you see and hear the same word over and over again -- AHMO.
Principal Virdie Montgomery says it started in 1977 as the football team was getting ready to play an opponent many believed to be impossible to beat.
"We were fixin' to play in the regional quarterfinals a team called Breckenridge, who was at that time ranked number-one in the state, and they were averaging 50 points a game," says Montgomery. "We weren't supposed to beat them in any form, shape or fashion."
The Wylie Pirates were coached at that time by Jerry Shaffer.
"On the early part of the week, I think it probably was Monday, I happened to be home, and one of the TV shows that night was 'The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast,'" says Shaffer. "And they were roasting Grizzly Adams (actor Dan Haggerty, 1942-2016). One of the celebrities who was roasting Grizzly was a fellow named Tom Dreesen."
At the podium, Dreesen talked about the unique language he learned on the streets of Chicago's South Side.
"Hoochie taught me a word black people use that white people don't use -- A-H-M-O, AHMO. 'AHMO kick your butt,'" Dreesen said to laughter in the episode that originally aired on NBC on February 11, 1977.
"That struck me that night as being something that might be helpful to us, if we could distract ourself from the fear of facing a tough team as Breckenridge. And so instead of breaking the huddle of 'ready, break' when we call the play or defense, we would say 'ready, AHMO.'"
And wouldn't you know -- it worked!
To everyone's surprise, Wylie beat Breckenridge, 12-10, on a 30-yard touchdown pass with no time left on the clock, and they would then go on to win the state championship.
And AHMO has been a part of the football team ever since.
"Any time we wear black, it represents AHMO," says the varsity football team's current head coach, Bill Howard. "But AHMO is just more than just a saying. It's who we are. It's a battlecry. And we draw a line in the sand -- you cross it, anfd we're going to kick your butt."
And the current crop of players have embraced AHMO as well.
"AHMO is not only a tradition, it's like a mindset to me in the school (and) on the field," says junior linebacker Jordan Hunt, 16. "Altogether, it keeps me going."
"AHMO to me is family," says senior defensive lineman Taylor Green, 17. "We all come together under one name, and it's a family. We're all together."
"We're all united under AHMO," says senior running back Dylan Williams, 17, "and we all live by that battlecry."
"It gets us all hyped," says Hunt. "We're ready to play when we hear 'AHMO.'"
And AHMO extends far beyond the football field -- the entire school community has made it its own.
"We use it for excellence," says Montgomery. "If it's AHMO-some, it's good. Everything we do with it, we use the wod AHMO."
As for Shaffer, he coached the Pirates until 1987. Today's he's the Collin County Precinct Two Justice of the Peace. He says he's proud to have had a hand in a beloved Wylie High School tradition.
"It's a fun thing, and the kids seem to enjoy it a great deal and the community does (as well)," says Shaffer. "But clearly if our team had not won, then it would never have caught hold."
A couple of years ago, Tom Dreesen went on the Late Show with David Letterman, and he talked about how he came up with AHMO and the effect it has on Wylie High School.
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