The Gordon Wood Hall of Champions welcomed its Class of 2019 Friday afternoon at the First United Methodist Church Christian Life Center.
Joining the ranks of the Hall were Graylon Brown, Keith Howey, Jeff Smith, Russell Sheffield and Ken Schulze, who was inducted posthumously. The 1969 Brownwood Lions state championship football team was recognized as well on the 50th anniversary of their achievement.
The Gordon Wood Hall of Champions was founded to recognize outstanding members of Wood’s best high school teams, as well as succeeding Brownwood teams under other coaches, who went on to successful careers in their fields as adults. The first induction was held in 2000, three years before Wood’s death.
Wood came to Brownwood before the 1960 season, and when he retired in 1985, his record of 396 wins made him the winningest football coach at any level. His teams won two state titles while at Stamford, and seven while at Brownwood. He also won state championships coaching track at Seminole, and golf at Stamford, for a total of 11 in his 43-year career.
The Hall of Champions maintains a museum celebrating its inductees and highlighting Wood’s achievements on the second floor of the Harvey House in the Depot Civic and Cultural Center complex.
“It all started when I was 6 years old living in Abilene. I thought I was going to be an Abilene High Eagle and my mother picked us up one day and said we were moving to Brownwood,” Brown said during his induction speech Friday. “That's where the journey began. A lot of things I learned about Brownwood was community, the people that follow you and the pride the people take in the community.”
Brown finished his Brownwood football career with 3,919 yards passing, completing 249 of 372 attempts and averaging 261 yards a game, with just six interceptions over 15 games.
During his senior season in 2010, when the Lions advanced to the state semifinals, Brown threw for 4,036 yards and 47 touchdowns and ran for 11 more scores, while rushing for 678 yards.
He also excelled in baseball, batting .357 in 26 games with six home runs, and had a 6-1 record and 55 strikeouts pitching 37 innings, with a 2.65 ER. He later went on to become the Angelo State University and Lone Star Conference all-time saves leader.
The biggest joy of all, Brown said, was joining his uncle Shawn Hollingsworth in the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions.
“Starting in seventh grade they say those who stay will be champions and it's bigger than that now that I look back,” Brown said. “It takes a lot of time to understand the Brownwood pride, it goes a long way.”
“I'm humble guy, I don't like to be in the spotlight and I felt a little undeserving of this honor with all the people that are up here and the ones who have been inducted in the past,” Howey said during his speech. “In the months since then it's been really cool having the community come up to me and congratulate me. It feels really great.”
Howey was a four-way starter as a defensive back, wide receiver, kicker, and punt/kick return specialist. During his junior season in 2002, the Lions reached the state semifinals. In a memorable game during that 2002 playoff run, the Lions defeated Denton High, 10-9, and Howey counted 9 of the Lions’ 10 points, catching a touchdown pass from Kirby Freeman and kicking the game winning, and only, field goal of the season, in the last seconds of the fourth quarter.
He also was part of the 2003 team that went undefeated during the regular season for the first time in 26 seasons, and only the fourth time in school history. His highlight game came against Fort Worth Brewer, where he had four interceptions, one touchdown reception, three PATs, one field goal, and a forced fumble in the first half.
During his senior season, he led the state across all classifications with nine interceptions, while sitting out two games due to injury.
Howey thanked his family and friends, as well as former Lions head coach Steve Freeman.
“Out of everyone I want to thank, I want to thank Coach Freeman the most,” Howey said. “He had such a huge impact on my life and I love him.”
“It's an honor and pleasure to be here and be inducted into the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions,” Smith said. “I know my mom and dad are proud today. We were fortunate to have a backyard that dad converted into a football field, basketball court, high jump pit, pole vault pit, Wiffle ball, and all that helped. Athletes, as you all know, the more you play, the more you practice, the better you get, so that helped a lot.”
Smith is the only person in Brownwood High School history to anchor the mile relay to a state championship. He was a member of the school’s only state championship in 1962. BHS placed second in 1964 and fourth in 1963. The mile relay teams won two district and regional championships and was third and first at state with a school record that still stands (3:17.7). In the sprint relay, he was on the teams that won three regional championships, two state championships and was third once and a school record that still stands (41.8). In the 440, he won two district and regional championships and was fourth and sixth at state and holds the school record that still stands (48.3).
He was on the 880 relay team that in 1964 set a school record that still stands (1:26.1).
In football, he was first team All-District and All-Area as defensive back on a 1962 team that was district and bi-district champions and was co-captain in 1963.
In basketball, he was first team All-District for two years, first team All-Area for two years, and Zone champions for two years and co-captain.
Smith thanked former teammate Jerry McCullough and his brother Scott Smith for their support during his teenage years.
“As an old-timer I was fortunate enough to get to play for Coach Wood, Coach Southall, Coach Murray, Coach West, Coach Wells and of course Coach Snodgrass, who is the greatest track coach in history I think,” Smith said. “It was a pleasure and without them I wouldn't be standing here today.”
“It's a great day to be a Brownwood Lion,” Sheffield said during his induction. “I feel incredibly honored today. I want to thank all the board of the directors for the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions, I appreciate you giving me the nod.”
Sheffield was an All-State and All-District athlete in football and track at Brownwood High School and a member of the 1981 Lions State Champion football team.
He was named All-District in football in 1982 and All-State in track also in 1982 after placing third in discus at the state tournament. He broke discus records competing in the Bluebonnet Relays and San Angelo Relays.
He went on to play football at Baylor where he was named All-Southwest Conference in g for the Liberty Bowl champion Bears in 1985, and was named Defensive Newcomer of the Year in the Southwest Conference.
Sheffield reflected on Wood's role in his decision to attend Baylor.
“Coach Wood came to my classroom and told the history teacher, 'I need to see this young man,' and I swear I thought I was in big trouble,” Sheffield said. “I was walking a half-step ahead of Coach Wood and he reached up and grabbed me by the ear and didn't let go of that ear. He drug me all the way through the hallway and cafeteria, everybody was probably laughing at me, to his office. We walked in there and I was focused on him, and he sat down and had me scared to death. I sat down eventually and Coach Wood said, 'Son, I want you to tell that man right there where you're going to college, right now.' And I turned around it was Grant Teaff. That was the best decision I ever made.”
Schulze was the original “Voice of the Brownwood Lions,” named lead announcer on KBWD radio broadcasts in 1963 in a position he held for 12 years.
Allowed to name is own broadcast sidekick, he chose an unknown, inexperienced young man named Dallas Huston, a 2012 Hall of Champions inductee. Their first game together was the Brownwood-Abilene Cooper game from Shotwell Stadium in 1963, and they went on to call “a few hundred games” while traveling thousands of miles together.
Schulze was known for his professional broadcast neutrality, because listeners might have otherwise never known he was “a true Brownwood Lion,” Huston said.
Schulze died in 2012 at age 75.
Ann Schulze, Ken's widow, accepted the honor of his behalf Friday.
“I want to thank everybody here that helped Ken receive this honor,” Ann Schulze said. “He had two major loves, his family and the Brownwood Lions. I thank you very much.”
The 1969 season began with an unimpressive number of losses in pre-district as Brownwood Lions hadn’t lost on their home field since 1963 and hadn’t lost a home opener since 1957. It took a come-from-behind 13-8 win against Stephenville to turn the season around.
The improving Lions went on to shred district opponents after a 28-13 victory over what was essentially the same eventual state champion Lubbock Estacado team that knocked Brownwood out of the playoffs, 49-8, the prior season.
Brownwood won the state championship 34-16 against an undefeated West Columbia team that featured future NFL player Charlie Johnson, who played pro ball for 13 years. It was the Lions’ fourth state football title since 1960, all under Coach Wood.
All-State players from the 1969 team were quarterback Jimmy Carmichael, defensive back Jan Brown, tackler Tommy Roderick, linebacker Ricky Stokes, and end Perry Young. Carmichael won All-American honors and was voted the best quarterback in the state by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. Dave Campbell’s “Texas Football” selected him as the most outstanding quarterback of the 1960s.
Other lettermen included James (Squirt) Thompson and Jan Brown, Tommy George, Odel Crawford, Ricky Stokes, Ricky Campbell, Ricky Evans, Bob Wolford, and Perry Young, John Isom, Lawrence Thomas, Garry Moore, Bill Weller, Bert Molina, Donald Nichols, Gene Day, and Tommy Roderick.
Evans, speaking on behalf of the 1969 Lions, said, “It's a humbling experience representing the 1969 team. What a great year and a great set of teammates we had that year, and we had great community support. I really thank God for the opportunity to be in Brownwood, to come along at that time and to able to play with talented athletes that became friends. We got to share great experiences throughout the rest of the lives.”