Worster becomes Texas sports legend
Steve Worster became a grandfather again Friday. In Worster’s arms, baby girl Morgan is not much bigger than a football. His grandson Evan is 2. At 59, their grandfather, legendary running back for the Bridge City Cardinals, remains the town’s most famous citizen.
Monday, Worster was shopping for building materials for “final stages” of Hurricane Ike repairs to his Bridge City home. While browsing the aisles, he was fielding a phone interview with ESPN-Sports. Steve Worster has an appointment with history.
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ESPN wanted to talk to him about it.
Worster will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday in Waco.
More than 40 years after Coach H.W. “Chief” Wilson led Bridge City to a Class 3A state championship, Worster is still a legend around town. He went on to become a two-time All-American full-back in Darrell Royal’s famed wishbone offense, and played a key role in the Texas Longhorns’ back-to-back national championships in 1969-70.
“I’m very honored by the induction,” Worster said, “This is about as good as it gets.” The Bridge City native has already been inducted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Fame and Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, and the Museum of the Gulf Coast.
“We’re packing up and going as a family,” he said. The caravan departed Tuesday. Among those traveling to induction ceremonies at Baylor University was his son Scott and daughter Erin with like-family Knox McCorquodale.
For the past few months Worster has been living in a travel trailer parked at the home of Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte and his wife Shirley. The Roccafortes offered the accommodations when Worster did not get a FEMA trailer.
The bottom floor of his near Cow Bayou home was submerged by five feet of water. Six months since Hurricane Ike, Sept. 13, Worster says he’ll begin moving back in his home when he returns from Waco.
Unknown to Worster, also planning to attend the induction ceremonies is his former Bridge City Coach “Chief” Wilson.
Wilson, 82, lives in College Station and Tuesday was considering making the trip to Waco.
“It will always be my privilege to have coached Steve,” Wilson said. Wilson retired from coaching after the 1973 season.
Worster said he was looking forward to seeing former University of Texas teammate, Bill Bradley, who also will be inducted Wednesday. Bradley became an All-Pro safety for the Eagles in the early 1970s.
“Bill and I are good friends. His induction makes mine even more special to me,” he said.
“It’s going to be like a team re-union,” Worster said. He expects some of his former teammates from UT to attend. “We’ve always stayed in touch through the years. You can’t share the experiences we did and not always remain part of it together.”
Before Worster starred for the Longhorns, he cut his teeth in Bridge City. Born in Wyoming, he moved to Lowe Edition in Orange, when he was 3 weeks old after his father R.B. Worster relocated here with the Sun Oil Co. The neighborhood may have been in Orange but it was located in the Bridge City school district. Worster became a Cardinal.
In 1958 the Worsters, R.B., mother Louise and young Steve welcomed another son, Gary Worster, to the household. Gary, a 1976 graduate of Bridge City High School, was killed tragically in a car accident in the early 1980s. Steve Worster lost his mother in 2000 and his dad in 2001.
He began playing football in the peewee leagues. By his sophomore year, he was a fixture on the Bridge City varsity. During three seasons, he rushed for 5,422 yards and was named a high school All-American. He helped Bridge City reach the Class 3A state championship game in 1965 before losing to Brownwood, 14-0.
“We played at Texas A&M and it was miserable and sleeting,” Worster said. “But that loss gave us unbelievable motivation going into my senior year. We loved our coaches, and we were disappointed that we let them down. We swore we would get back to the state championship game.”
Bridge City would beat undefeated McKinney in the 1966 Class 3A state championship game at Baylor Stadium. Bridge City romped to a symbolic 30-6 win. After rushing for 2,210 yards as a senior, Worster’s jersey, No. 30, was retired by Bridge City.
With the state championship “Big Red” was born.
Both state championship seasons, and particularly the state championship itself brought the community of Bridge City together as one. It is credited with the passage of incorporation of the city in 1970. Worster and his Cardinal teammates would become hometown heros. It inspire a generation of future Bridge City football players.
Worster, however, is disturbed by an obvious flaw in Cardinal tradition in recent years.
“Why is it that there is nothing anywhere that commemorates the championship team and its coaches?” he asks.
According to Worster, a group of his class mates went to see the championship trophy at the new high school and it was eventually found in the closet of an office. “That’s something that really bothers me,” he said.
At Bridge City, Worster played catcher on the baseball team and fullback on the football team. He was All-District for four years and All-State for three years. He rambled for a career 38 100-yard games, which remains second in Texas prep history. He was later inducted into the Texas High School Hall of Fame.
At UT, Worster would continue to bring notoriety to Bridge City. He was a three-time All-Southwest Conference selection, and was voted 1970 Texas Amateur Athlete of the Year by Texas Sports Writers Association. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist that same year.
Longhorn head coach Darrell Royal switched from the I-formation to the wishbone before Worster’s sophomore year in 1968. After the Longhorns tied Houston and lost to Texas Tech, they reeled off a school-record 30 straight wins with Worster playing fullback.
Nobody knew how to stop this new triple-option offense, and Worster was one of the biggest reasons it worked so well.
Nicknamed Big Woo, Worster rushed for 2,353 yards and 36 touchdowns in three seasons.
His team earned three Southwest Conference titles, and back-to-back NCAA National Championships in 1969 and 1970.
Although Steve Worster was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams as the 12th pick in the fourth round of the 1971 NFL draft (the Rams’ fourth pick overall), he did not play in the NFL. Worster did spend one year (1971) in the Canadian Football League, playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, before pursuing a career in sales. He eventually returned back home.
Despite Hurricane Ike, Worster says he has never regretted moving back to Bridge City. “It was the best thing I ever did. I got to be around to raise my children.”
“I think things are taking a turn for the positive,” he says of his hometown.