Bradford Football's Mt. Rushmore
April 8, 2014
As I approach my 29th year as voice of Tornado football on Eagle Country 106.3, I often find myself waxing nostalgic with memories of those who built the Tornado program brick-by-brick, stone-by-stone. Our rich history was crafted through the dedication and skills of so many great coaches, fans, administrators, and players covering many decades.
So, I began to ask myself: If there were a Mount Rushmore for BHS Football, which four faces would be on display in a chisled granite tribute?
It is a difficult question to ponder. So many deserve consideration that it would be unfair to narrow it to just four.
While I have enjoyed a long relationship with BHS football, I readily admit that my working knowledge is limited in relation to its vast history. There were phenominal coaches and players prior to the 1960's that could stake a claim to being featured on our Mount Rushmore. Guys like Coach J.C. Hobbs and players such as Jack Hazen enjoy legendary status among those who have extended memories.
But, this is my blog afterall...so I will limit my picks to those who were part of the landscape from the mid-50's and beyond.
The first member of the BHS Rushmore quartet? Coach Lennard Register had the Tornado football program hummin' like a well-oiled machine during his tenure (1955-61). 5 consecutive Keystone Conference Crowns and a 32 game winning streak were among the highlights of a great run. It is unfortunate that the State did not have a championship playoff system back then, as Bradford would have likely filled a trophy case with even more treasured hardware under Coach Register.
To the right of Coach Register would be the face of the Coach who replaced him in Starke. David Hurse was the loyal Lieutenant under Coach R, and was ready to grab the wheel when it was his turn to guide the ship. 30 years later, his bag of accomplishments was full-to include two State Championship Crowns and one runner-up designation. Coach Hurse's long tenure and lasting success made him the face of Bradford Football-and this is why it should be prominantly displayed on the Mount-as is his name on the stadium.
My next selection? Assistant Coaches rarely get enough credit for a program's success and sustainability. While David Hurse was the unquestioned top dog while at BHS, there is no doubt that his long-time Assistant was the guy who put the teeth in an always ferocious Tornado Defense. Mike Sexton's Defenses were typically undersized-but still struck fear in the hearts of opposing coaches. Mike's emphasis on fundamentals and toughness earned the respect of all who played for or against him-and this state may have never produced a better High School Defensive Coordinator.
Who gets the final spot?
Larry Brown's impact on Bradford Football reverberated well beyond the field. Larry was among the first to break the color barrier at BHS during a difficult time in our country's history and he wore the Scarlet and Gray uniform in a proud and dignified way. He later matriculated to the University of Kansas under Pepper Rogers where he was teammates with pro football greats such as John Riggins and Bobby Douglass. A 5th round draft pick of the Pittsburg Steelers, Larry finished his NFL career with 4 Super Bowl rings and All-Pro status. He excelled at both Tight End and Offensive Tackle for the Steelers. No Tornado before or since has garnered the overall NFL pedigree attached to Larry's name.
4 faces that certainly deserve to be featured on Bradford Football's Mount Rushmore. Four-of-a-kind in that their vast contributions to the program then and now remain rock solid.