Adrian Peterson, the 10th all-time leading rusher in NFL history, and Ken Casner, a former star at Waco High and Baylor University, are among the headliners in the Class of 2019 of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
The rest of the class includes Lufkin Dunbar’s Ken Houston, Coahoma’s Putt Choate, Daingerfield’s Willie Everett, Stephenville’s Jason Bragg, coaches T.J. Mills of Sealy and Scott Phillips of Groveton, Waxahachie and Plano East, and longtime television anchor and executive Jon Heidtke, the winner of the Dave Campbell Special Contributor to the Game honor.
Peterson played his high school ball in Palestine, where he bowled over defenders for a total of 5,011 yards his final two seasons. He went on to an All-American career for the Oklahoma Sooners before moving on to the NFL, where he has rushed for 12,714 yards in 12 years, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings.
Casner was an all-state defensive force for the Waco High Tigers in 1948 before shifting across town to Baylor, where he won All-America honors in 1951 for a Bear team that reached the Orange Bowl. Casner briefly played pro football, sandwiched around a stint in the Air Force, and also served as a coach in Waco ISD and at Baylor.
A hard-hitting defensive back at Lufkin Dunbar, Houston never lost that ferocity. He went on to greatness at Prairie View A&M and with the Houston Oilers, where he made 12 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.
Coahoma’s Choate was a two-way star who rushed for 3,310 career yards and proved just as feisty in stopping opposing ball carriers. SMU signed him as a linebacker, and that proved to be a wise choice, as he made 649 career tackles for the Mustangs. Choate was a three-time all-star in the USFL and one of only three players to start all 56 regular-season games in that league before it folded in 1986.
Everett twice garnered all-state honors as a defender for a Daingerfield dynasty that dominated in the 1980s. He helped Daingerfield make three state championship games from 1983-85, winning two titles. The 1983 team allowed only eight points in 16 games.
Bragg made the all-state team twice as a defensive back for Stephenville, but he also dazzled as a receiver for Yellow Jacket teams that won consecutive state titles in 1993 and ’94. As a junior, he had a 50-yard touchdown reception and a two-point conversion catch in the final minute of the game in a state semifinal win over Waxahachie. Bragg lettered two years at Texas A&M.
Mills directed Sealy to an unprecedented four consecutive state championships from 1994 to ’97. He later had stints at Odessa Permian and LaPorte, and had a career coaching record of 195-78.
Phillips won state championships at 3A Groveton (1989) and 5A Waxahachie (1992) with unbeaten teams en route to a career coaching record of 234-73-3. He also directed the Plano East squad that lost perhaps the most talked-about playoff game in history, 48-44, to John Tyler in the 1994 6A semifinals, the “Good gosh a mighty, Joe Friday game.”
Heidtke helped create the UIL’s corporate partner program and in 1992 formed a partnership with the UIL to ensure regular media coverage of Texas high school sporting events. He’s had TV stints at KBTX-TV in Bryan, ESPN and Fox Sports Southwest, and in 2016 he accepted a vice president position with Learfield, working in partnership with Texas A&M.
The Hall of Fame’s new class will be inducted May 4, 2019, with a banquet at the Ferrell Center. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Tiffany Wilkins at email@example.com or by calling 210-290-8570 by April 30.