The second class of the Tyler ISD Athletic Hall of Fame includes a standout group of individuals and teams who have represented the Rose City’s school district through the years.
Inductees were selected based on their high school achievements, post high school accomplishments and other contributing factors, TISD athletic director Greg Priest said.
“The Tyler ISD Athletic Department is happy to announce its second Athletic Hall of Fame class,” Priest said in a release on Tuesday. “Each of these eight inductees and three championship teams has made a lasting impact on Tyler ISD athletics and the City of Tyler. We look forward to welcoming them back for a special weekend.”
The three state football championship teams include the 1930 Tyler Lions, the 1994 John Tyler Lions and the 2004 Robert E. Lee Red Raiders.
Todd Bricker (Lee swimmer);
Fred Coleman (Lee football);
Jana Crosby Russell (Lee basketball);
A’Quonesia Franklin (JT basketball);
Richard “Dick” Hightower (Tyler High football);
Ronnie Lee (JT football, basketball, track);
Alan Shumate (Lee, contributor);
Johnny “Red” Stidger (JT coach, football, basketball, golf).
Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized at a ceremony Friday, Sept.12 during halftime of the John Tyler vs. Robert E. Lee football game at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Coaches, players and staff of the 1994 JT and 2004 REL football teams are asked to contact TISD administrative assistant Mary Ellen Reed at 903-262-3080.
2014 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
1992 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School; Sport: Swimming
Bricker was a 10-time high school All-American, winning two state championships in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1991 and 1992. He also won the 1992 high school national championship in the 100-yard breaststroke and qualified for the 1992 Olympic Trials. Bricker attended the University of Tennessee where he was a NCAA All-American, named to the All-SEC academic team, and a member of the 1996 SEC championship team.
1993 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School; Sport: Football
Coleman was a two-time All-East Texas wide receiver. As a senior, he was first-team all-state and the All-East Texas Offensive Player of the Year, leading Texas in receiving with 61 receptions for 1,224 yards and 14 touchdowns. During his career at Lee he had 118 catches for 2,425 yards and 25 TDs. He was one of the most highly recruited players in Texas and chose to attend the University of Washington where he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. In 1998, he was a sixth round pick of the Buffalo Bills. He also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons. In Super Bowl XXXVI, he helped the New England Patriots upset the defending champion St. Louis Rams.
Jana Crosby Russell
1986 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School; Sport: Basketball
Russell played three years as point guard leading the Lady Raiders to the 1986 Class 4A state basketball tournament where they finished as runner-up to Victoria. She led the Lady Raiders with 18 points and hit two last-second free throws that carried her team to a 45-43 win over Irving MacArthur in the state semifinals. Russell was named All-East Texas two times and was an All-American at Tyler Junior College. She is now a member of the TJC Circle of Honor. After TJC, Russell played at the University of Houston where she was a two-time All-Southwest Conference player, was named to the Southwest Conference All-Decade Team and holds several of UH’s three-point and free throw records. Russell is third on the all-time NCAA Division I record list for career three-point percentage. Russell has coached basketball and mentored athletes through the years.
2004 graduate of John Tyler High School; Sport: Basketball
Franklin was a four-year letterman for the Lady Lions basketball team and was the district’s Most Valuable Player both her junior and senior seasons. As a senior she earned first-team all-state and All-East Texas honors, helping her team achieve a No. 1 ranking in the Texas and led the Lady Lions to the regional semifinals. The team finished 34-1. Franklin was the All-East Texas Most Valuable Player her senior year and selected for the Texas Girls Coaches Association Texas-Oklahoma All-Star game. During the summer after her senior year, she won an AAU championship with the Houston Elite team. After graduation, she attended Texas A&M University where she lettered four years, playing point guard for the Aggies. She was team captain three years, leading the Aggies to their first Big 12 title as a junior. Her senior season she led Texas A&M to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. She finished her A&M career with 627 assists, ranking third all-time in A&M women’s basketball history. Franklin played two years in the WNBA after being drafted by the Sacramento Monarchs. The next season she played for the Phoenix Mercury. She served as a graduate assistant under coach Gary Blair at A&M before taking an assistant coaching job at the University of Kansas. She is currently an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State University. Franklin gives a scholarship each year to a graduating senior from her church (People Missionary Baptist Church).
Richard “Dick” Hightower
1948 graduate of Tyler High School; Sport: Football
Hightower was an all-state football player at Tyler High School, helping the Lions to the 1946 district championship. After graduating high school, he attended Southern Methodist University where he was an All-Southwest Conference linebacker for three years (1949, 1950 and 1951) and an All-American center in 1951. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins in 1952 and voted into the SMU Football Hall of Fame in 1982. Hightower was president of the Hightower Lumber Company and past president of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and the Tyler Area Builders Association. In 1978, he was a recipient of the T.B. Butler Award, which is presented annually by the T.B. Butler Publishing Company, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. The recipient of this award is selected based on outstanding contributions in the fields of leadership, service or improvements in the community of Tyler during the calendar year. He passed away in 2007.
1975 graduate of John Tyler High School; Sport: Football, basketball, track
Lee was a two-time all-state player for the Lions and was a key member of the 1973 Class 4A state football championship team. He played tight end and running back for John Tyler his senior season and was named to the all-state and All-America teams. Lee caught an 80-yard touchdown pass that broke open a tie game with Arlington Sam Houston in the 1973 state semifinals. Lee was also a member of the 1974 and 1975 basketball teams that earned regional berths and was a member of the Lions track team. Lee played in the 1975 Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game and was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in 2004. Following graduation he was an All-Southwest Conference football player for Grant Teaff and the Baylor Bears in 1975 and 1976 and was also the SWC’s Freshman of the Year in 1975. Lee was a third round pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 1979 National Football League draft. In the NFL, he started as a tight end before moving to offensive tackle. He played 14 years in the league for the Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks. Lee played in two Super Bowls with the Dolphins (Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX) and was Miami’s 1990 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
After graduating from Galena Park High School, Shumate received his bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University and was offered a job in Tyler. He thought he would stay a year and return to the Houston area, but he fell in love with the Rose City. Beginning in 1966, Alan Shumate would make his way to the press box or the scoring table before numerous football and basketball games. Shumate, longtime debate coach and speech teacher at Robert E. Lee High School, was the public address announcer for REL in both football and basketball. He has a clear and booming voice that many would recognize — “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Rose Stadium for tonight’s game between the Robert E. Lee Red Raiders and the...” He also taught many future NFL and college players including Randy Grimes, William Washington, Fred Coleman and Tim Jones, among others. Shumate made the call for 43 years, missing just two games.
Johnny “Red” Stidger
Coach: John Tyler High School; Sports: Football, Baseball, Golf
Stidger was head coach of the Lions from 1958 to 1968 compiling a record of 68-36-7, leading JT to three district championships. Before coming to Tyler, Stidger was the starting quarterback at Amarillo High School, leading the Sandies to an unbeaten record and the 1934 state championship. In the 1934 state semifinals, Stidger kicked a field goal as Amarillo defeated Masonic Home of Fort Worth, 3-0. He played for famous high school coach Blair Cherry, who would later become head football coach at The University of Texas at Austin. In the 1934 state championship game, Stidger had 133 yards rushing as Amarillo defeated Corpus Christi, 48-0, in Dallas. He was later the starting quarterback for three years at Southern Methodist University. He led the Mustangs to the 1936 Rose Bowl. After graduating in 1939, he served in World War II before beginning coaching. He moved to Tyler in 1952 where he became the head football coach at Roberts Junior High School. He retired from the Tyler ISD in 1982.
1930 Tyler High School State Football Champions
Under Coach George Foltz, the Tyler High School Lions brought the Rose City its first state football championship in 1930. It was quite an accomplishment as Tyler became the first state champion from upper East Texas. The Lions wore the dark horse role all season but made it to the championship game and defeated the Amarillo Sandies, 25-13, at TCU Stadium in Fort Worth. Tyler finished the season with a mark of 12-0-1. While the squad had some offensive firepower, it was the defense that marked the team. Only twice did an opponent get in double digits against the fierce defense. The “Big Blue” had six shutouts. In 1930, the Interscholastic League, a forerunner of today’s University Interscholastic League, declared only one state champion. Thus, the Lions reigned supreme. The team captain was Clifford Gregory. The starting lineup included left end Reagan Gregory, left tackle Davis Wilcox, left guard John Wilcox and center Arthur Johnson. Others in the starting lineup were right guard Leland Wilcox, right tackle Thomas Glass, right end Neal Harville, quarterback Harry Johnson, left halfback Clifford Gregory, right halfback John S. Morris and fullback Albert Hill.
1994 John Tyler State Football Champions
The 1994 football season for John Tyler High School was truly magical and the legend of Cujo was born that season. Head coach Allen Wilson led John Tyler to a 16-0 state championship, the third for the Lions and first in 21 years. John Tyler, already a traditional power in Texas, was soon to be known nationwide because of one of the craziest and wackiest games in high school history. Although there were many highlights during the season, the game that stands out is the wild 48-44 regional playoff win over Plano East on Thanksgiving weekend at Texas Stadium in Irving. John Tyler led 41-17 with 3:30 remaining before Plano East recovered three-straight onside kicks en route to going ahead 44-41 with just 24 seconds left. Roderick Dunn then returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown with just 11 seconds on the clock. The game won an ESPY for the Showstopper of the Year. After the win, the Lions rolled on toward the final. On Dec. 17, 1994 John Tyler scored a 35-24 victory over Austin Westlake at the Astrodome in Houston to capture the Class 5A Division II state title.
2004 Robert E. Lee State Football Champions
The 2004 Robert E. Lee Red Raiders, under Coach Mike Owens, captured the Class 5A Division I state football championship. Lee (12-3) defeated Spring Westfield, 28-21, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. After starting the season 3-3, the Red Raiders ran off nine straight victories to clinch the school’s first football championship. Tyrone Ross rushed for 468 yards and seven TDs in Lee’s five playoff games. Warren DeHaven sealed the championship game with an interception.
To nominate someone for the 2015 Class go to TISD.org and click on athletics for a nomination form. Athletes, coaches and contributors must have graduated or no longer be a part of the school district for at least five years before being considered.
Last year’s inaugural class included:
Earl Campbell — JT Class of 1974; Heisman Trophy winner and All-America at The University of Texas at Austin in 1977; three-time National Football League Most Valuable Player; member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Mike Carter — JT Class of 1968; help lead the Lions to back to back state baseball tournaments in 1967-68. He died of a sudden illness after graduation. The baseball stadium where JT, Lee and Tyler Junior College play is named after him.
Clifford Gregory —Tyler High School Class of 1931. He was team captain of the 1930 state football champion Lions who defeated Amarillo 25-13 in the final in Fort Worth. He was also all-state.
Billy Hall —Tyler High School Class of 1956. After graduating from Baylor, coached at Robert E. Lee High School and was later TISD athletic director.
Daniel Hernandez —JT Class of 1994. All-state soccer player for the Lions and has played professionally in Major League Soccer and Mexican League.
Charles Milstead — Tyler High School Class of 1956. Led the Lions to the 1955 state title game and was all-state both his junior and senior season. He later starred at Texas A&M and with the Houston Oilers.
Kristee Porter — JT Class of 1998. All-state volleyball standout, All-America at UCLA and played professionally.
Aaron Ross —JT Class of 2001. The all-state defensive back led the Lions to the 2000 state finals. Helped The University of Texas at Austin to the 2005 national championship and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s outstanding defensive back. Won two Super Bowl championships with the New York Giants.
Robert Taylor —Emmett Scott High School Class of 1968. An American track and field sprinter, winner of the gold medal in 4c100-meter relay at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He also won silver in the 100-meter dash. Taylor won the AAU 100-meter championship in 1972. Was an All-American at Texas Southern University and later taught in the TISD.
Dayna Reed Westbrook —Robert E. Lee Class of 1987. All-state basketball player who led the Lady Raiders to a 30-2 mark and the state basketball finals of Class 5A in 1986. Played four years at Stephen F. Austin State University and is currently head coach of both the boys and girls basketball teams at Douglass High School.
Allen Wilson —Head coach of John Tyler from 1991 to 2001. He led the Lions to the 1994 state championship and returned the Lions to the finals in 2000. He compiled a record of 102-34-2 during his 11 years at JT (1991-2001). Wilson led the Lions to the playoffs nine times.
1973 John Tyler High School football team — Coach Clark “Corky” Nelson led the Lions to the Class 4A championship and a 15-0 record. With such stars as Campbell, Ronnie Lee, Gary Don Johnson, the Campbell twins — Steve and Tim, the Lions were voted the top football team from 1960 to 1985 by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. Nelson went on to become defensive coordinator at Baylor University and late head coach at the University of North Texas.