Four men joined Brownwood High School’s most celebrated athletes during Friday’s induction ceremony into the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions.
Jaxon Shipley, Max Emfinger, Chris Jones and Steve Goodwin became the 2018 class of inductees into the hall of champions with the voice of Brownwood football Dallas Huston welcoming them as master of ceremonies.
Class of 2011
Shipley was the first recognized at Friday’s ceremony, following a football career he began as a Brownwood Lion and ended as an Arizona Cardinal after a successful career with the University of Texas Longhorns. During his tenure in Brownwood Shipley, tallied 203 receptions for 3,444 yards and 43 touchdowns.
“He was an intimidating presence, even when he didn’t play, and boy could he play,” Huston said. “I thought of things to say about him, but let me just say this, in person he is the best I’ve ever seen.”
In his final season with the Lions, he helped them to an appearance in the 2010 state semifinals and was named the Associated Press Class 3A Offensive Player of the Year with 87 catches for 1,673 yards and 27 touchdowns — all school records — plus five punt returns for TDs.
He continued his success as a Longhorn, becoming only one of three players to have a 50-reception season and caught a pass in 33 consecutive games, the third longest streak in Longhorn history. Shipley signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent, earned a spot on the practice squad and remained with the Cardinals until retiring in 2016.
“It really was a life-changing opportunity for us to be here in Brownwood and I truly believe it altered the trajectory of my life in a big way,” Shipley said. “… When I experienced what it meant to truly work hard for what you want in life, that started here in Brownwood.”
Class of 1962
Emfinger was referred to as a core member of the 1960 state championship team, Brownwood’s first of seven. As a three-year letterman, Emfinger averaged 11.1 yards per carry totaling 2,214 yards, scoring 178 points including six kick returns for touchdowns, two passing touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Emfinger then committed to Baylor University, but experienced health issues his sophomore year that forced him to give up collegiate football.
“Everything happens for a reason … Most of my teammates were hoping I would go to the NFL, but that wasn’t in the plan, but I did go to the NFL as a scout for the Cowboys,” Emfinger said. “Things happen for a reason. I would have loved to have this honor a long time ago, or a few years ago, but then I would not have been able to bring my Mr. Max (Emfinger’s grandson) with me. Things happen for a reason and I appreciated everyone’s support.”
Class of 2003
Jones made the most of his time as a two-year lettermen with the Lions. While with Brownwood, Jones was honored as an All-District, All-Big Country, All-West Texas and All-State selection and never missed a game. His durability extended to his time at Hardin-Simmons University, where he started 22 games tallying 129 tackles and 22.5 sacks. He currently serves as defensive line and developmental coach for HSU, entering his eighth year with the program. Jones’ uncle, Tony Jones, was a 2014 inductee.
“We truly had a great team and great coaches. It was a blessing just to graduate in 2003. As far as our whole class, we had a banner year in all sports,” Jones said. “In football we made a run to the semifinals, but in Brownwood if you don’t win a state championship they kind of forget about you. We played great football that year … We were always prepared and we knew what the offense was going to do before it happened.”
Class of 1972
As the only offensive lineman inducted into the hall of champions, Goodwin’s lack of stats did not take away from his accomplishments and his impact on the team. As a center for the 1970 state champions, Goodwin was an All-District, All-Big Country selection and noted for stunning pundits for winning a state championship in a supposed rebuilding year following a 1969 state championship. While attending Howard Payne University, Goodwin married Brenda Holland and settled in the area and worked with various civic organizations.
“I just wanted to say how honored I am to be inducted into this group. There are a lot of great gentlemen up here,” Goodwin said. “It’s an honor to be inducted into the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions and join many of my friends that are here already. I’m blessed to have been a part of some good teams and contribute to Coach Gordon Wood’s legacy. I’m here today to honor him, the program and what it did for me. His influence has carried far beyond any personal accomplishments that any of us had on the field that played for him.
“His goal for his players was to be physically and mentally prepared on the field, but his ultimate goal was for us to be good citizens, contribute to society and carry forward the discipline and perseverance we were able to learn under his tutelage.”