Pat Johnson, 78, a former head football coach of the
Nederland Bulldogs, passed away Tuesday morning at Methodist Hospital in
Houston. Johnson died of complications following his second surgery in the
past couple months at Methodist.
Johnson became the Bulldogs' top man in 1967
at the age of 32. He fielded a consistent winner in the old District 11-AAAA
era. The league then included Port Neches-Groves, and four schools with larger
enrollments, Port Arthur TJ, Beaumont, South Park and Orange.
But, after six seasons, Johnson decided to re-evaluate his career path.
"He had the intellect and character to succeed at anything," said lifelong friend
Johnson chose a business venture, building a thriving insurance
agency, and later enjoying family beach gatherings and extensive travel with his
beloved wife, Gertie.
Pat remained a faithful fan of the Bulldogs,
and was especially proud of the recent back-to-back playoff runs by Coach Larry
Morgan and Johnson started first grade
together at Langham Elementary. They were teammates along with future NISD
Supt. Charles Thomas on a 1950 Bulldog team that saw Johnson post passing
records that would stand for 15 years.
"Pat was way ahead of his time as a passer,"
said Morgan. "We had a very high scoring team for those days, and it all
started with Pat at quarterback."
Morgan's assessment is backed up by the record
book. The Bulldogs averaged 44 points per game while co-captain Johnson was
passing for close to 1,200 yards. Twenty throws went for touchdowns and none
were intercepted. The season finale found Nederland with a 12-0 lead over
French. But when Johnson and receiver L.J. Knoblock were both sidelined by
injuries, French scored 26 straight points to claim the District 26-A title.
Morgan said he remembers being alongside
Johnson and Thomas when Bum Phillips walked into the Bulldog field house for the first time. "There was
an aura about Coach Phillips even then," said Morgan. An assistant in 1950,
Bum stepped into the head job the next year.
Ironically, Nederland chose Morgan when it
parted ways with Johnson in 1972. The pair had gone on to Wharton Junior College together. Johnson
played both at quarterback and safety in helping lead Wharton to the state JC
Johnson, also a standout basketball player for
the Bulldogs, married his high school sweetheart, Gertie Caruthers, in 1954.
They were side-by-side until Gertie's unexpected passing two years ago.
Pat enrolled at Lamar the same year he got married and
earned his degree after five years of day classes and nighttime work. He joined
the C.O. Wilson staff in 1959, and was picked to
lead the Bulldogs when Gene Henderson left to become an assistant at Texas Tech.
One of his highlights as a rookie head coach
at Nederland was a 39-35 win over Thomas Jefferson at Yellow Jacket Stadium, with the Bulldogs overcoming a fifth-down touchdown by the home team.
Among Johnson's players that night were future NHS principal Steve Fleming,
future Bulldog coach Steve DeRouen, and Delbert Spell, Neumann's only defensive
coordinator in his sterling 20-year tenure at Nederland.
The Johnson household was located on the
northern Hwy. 366 edge of Port Neches, but in the Nederland school district.
That meant more than a few mile long walks to high school for Pat. It also
meant Nederland was to receive the gift of a true gentleman.
Funeral arrangements are being made at
Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
Mid County knocked out of tournament
The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.
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Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County
The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.
MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0
First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.
Up the odds for solid bank fishing
There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.
Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl
Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.
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Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional
The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.
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