Remembering the Champs

The 1957 football team was Highland Park High School’s first outright state champion. (Courtesy: Jack Allday)

A year that brought Highland Park High School football its fifth — and first repeat — state championship also marked the 60th anniversary of the Scot’s first undisputed title in the sport.

While the 1944 squad shared a title with Waco, the 1957 Scots were the first ones to win it outright.

To mark that anniversary, Jack Allday, a junior end on the team, worked with teammate Bill Kramer to chronicle the post-high school lives of all living members of the team as well as its three surviving managers. The 1957 team had only 44 players.

With encouragement from David Franklin, a senior tackle on the ’57 team, Allday began his research.

The team produced 15 military men, including three West Point graduates and five decorated Vietnam War vets. There were also nine lawyers, seven doctors, and a dentist.

[pullquote-left]“Sports are so important to what we learn in high school, sometimes more than classes.” –David Franklin[/pullquote-left]

“I don’t know if that team was unique with the success that the guys had [after graduation], or was it kind of a metaphor for all Highland Park athletes, and probably, all Highland Park graduates [and the successes they go on to achieve],” said Allday, now athletic director for the fledgling University of North Texas at Dallas program.

Tackle Laddie McGinnis became a rocket scientist and helped with the space shuttle program. Reed Johnson went on to work as an NFL scout and coach, while Mike Sorrels coached Highland Park’s swim team for 33 years.

There were many other success stories, including several who made their mark in the business world. Among them was Franklin, who founded restaurants including On the Border and Texas Land and Cattle.

“Sports are so important to what we learn in high school, sometimes more than classes,” he said. “I can’t take the square root of a number, but I remember everything about playing Abilene.”

That semifinal playoff game may be the Scots’ biggest win. Highland Park stood toe-to-toe with an Abilene squad that had won three state titles and 49 consecutive games. Other games players remembered fondly were the state championship game against Port Arthur, a hard-fought quarter-final versus Wichita Falls, and the playoff victory against Crozier Tech to avenge their only loss of the season.

Allday’s research was compiled in book created so teammates could learn what had been going on with each other. It’s not for sale, but copies were given to the middle school and high school libraries, as well as the Highland Park Public Library.

“Sports is where you learn teamwork and discipline, and you have to work for what you get,” Franklin said. “All of these guys on our team have done so well, and the lessons they learned have been really important later in life.”

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