Monument to 1966 state championship team to be unveiled Friday
10 – Joe Langston, 11 – Mike Hyland, 12 – Sonny Bourque, 14 – Johnny Miller, 20 – Mike McElhaney, 21 – Charles Johansson, 22- Darrell Segura, 23 – Donald Hebert, 24 – Jerry Jaynes, 26 – Gayland Sims, 28 – Johnny Lane, 30 – Steve Worster, 34 – Mike Hebert, 36 – Jimmie Flowers, 15 – Geo. Clark, 32 – G.T. Owens, 50 – Gary Collins, 52 – Tom Perry, 54 – Kent Buford, 60 – Wilbur Nichols, 61 – Jim Scarborough, 63 – Gordon Pike, 66 – Billy Bishop, 67 – Bill Snider, 68 – Larry Huckaby, 70 – Doug Schelll, 71 – Jerry Burd, 72 – Dan Dearing, 74 – Mike Wallace, 75 – Tommy Fischer, 76 – Rocky Melder, 77 – Matt McKnight, 80 – Robert Plagens, 81 – Charles Miller, 82 – Jimmie Womack, 84 – Steven James, 85 – Mike Barber and 86 – Mike Bishop.
Coaches – H. W. “Chief” Wilson, Larry Ward, Bill Patrick, Troy Woodall, Bruce Bradshaw, Gene Hill and Rusty Wilson.
Mark Dunn – For The Record
There has never been anything like them before or since. Forty-nine years ago the Bridge City Cardinals won the 1966 Class 3A State Football Championship. The pride and excitement of that incredible season endures. For Bridge City, Texas in 1966 it was nothing less than monumental.
On Friday, the 1966 state championship football team will gather once again at Larry Ward Stadium for the unveiling of a monument in their honor. Longtime resident and former BCISD school board member, Tom Orozco, has donated the 2,000 pound high gloss black granite monument to the district. A ceremony unveiling the monument will be held at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
According to Orozco, 59, the gift of the monument is his way of showing appreciation to the Bridge City community and a promise kept to legendary Cardinal and UT Longhorn football player Steve Worster.
Orozco, who had helped raise funds for numerous civic, charitable and athletic organizations in the area, had agreed to help Worster and the 1966 BCHS senior class obtain a monument recognizing the state championship football team. They pointed out that after decades little on campus stood out recognizing the famed achievement. But in 2013, Orozco retired from ExxonMobil and he and his wife Juanita relocated to Round Rock.
That might have been the end of the endeavor except for a chance conversation Orozco had with a stranger in Round Rock. “Not long after we got settled in I was asked where we had moved from,” Orozco says, “I told the gentleman Bridge City, thinking he had probably had never heard of it.” The stranger surprised Orozco by quickly saying, “Bridge City, that is the home of Steve Worster.”
It is a common and often repeated story that earned Bridge City a spot on the map.
Worster, now 66, had gone on to become a two-time All-America fullback in Darrell Royal’s famed wishbone offense, and played a key role in the Texas Longhorns’ back-to-back national championships in 1969-70. He had worn the same number, since long retired, No. 30, as he had as a Cardinal. Bridge City reaped nationwide publicity as UT fans chanted “Woo-Woo” in stadiums and on TVs all over America.
Back in his hometown a new sense of community had emerged since the 1966 state football championship. It impacted a successful citizen’s campaign to incorporate the town in 1970. It was the same year Worster was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, a three-time All-Southwest Conference selection who finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting for the 1970 season. In the four years following the state championship his hometown had become a thriving city.
Orozco didn’t hesitate. He began envisioning the monument and seeking bids. “I knew it would be difficult trying to raise the money from Round Rock,” he said, “I explored other options but decided to purchase it myself. It is in appreciation for the 38 years we lived in Bridge City.”
“This is an opportunity for me to show gratitude to the community that has been so good to my family,” he said. “I am fortunate to have raised my kids in such a place.”
Next football season will mark the 50th anniversary of the state championship. Orozco said that the monument was way overdue for the team and the community. “I hope that it will inspire future Bridge City students and athletes to see that anything is possible with hard work, determination and commitment.”
Darrell Segura, one of the players on the state championship team said, “I am excited about the monument donation to our team. When I say ‘team’ I have always felt that what we did in 1966 was more than an effort by a bunch of kids who loved to play football. Our team was made up of players, cheerleaders, band members, students, and the entire community.”
“I always felt fortunate that I played football at the right time in history and was swept along with the wave of great players we had,” Segura said, ” This team’s legacy has followed me most of my life.”
The monument is Texas-shaped and made of high gloss black marble weighing 2,000 pounds with the base. The names and numbers of the players, coaches and staff are prominently etched into the surface. Standing out boldly against the shiny black background is the brightly colored Cardinal mascot “Big Red.” Engraved on the back of the monument is appreciation to BCISD Superintendent Mike King, Athletic Director Richard Briggs and former superintendent Dr. Jamie Harrison.
“I think I can speak for the entire team when I say “thank you” for this wonderful symbol of a remarkable time in the life of this community,” said Segura. “Unfortunately, four out of the five great coaches who took us to state are deceased and will not be here to share in this honor. We’ve also lost seven players and one trainer. That trainer, Leonard Riley, would go on to become a Navy SEAL.”
Orozco served six years as a BCISD trustee. He is a 1974 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School who served three years with the United States Marine Corps and 12 years with the Army and Texas National Guard before coming to Bridge City. Orozco coached minor league and little league baseball and Bridge City Youth Basketball. He served as Cardinal Athletic Booster Club president four years. He is known for coining the phrase, “It’s a great day to be a Cardinal!” He seldom missed a game.
For 12 years Orozco took part in the ExxonMobil Volunteering Program and donated hundreds of hours of service in Bridge City classrooms. Through the years he has been an active volunteer for United Way, Easter Seals, Boys Haven and Disabled American Veterans.
“I encourage everyone to volunteer in the community,” he says. “You can make a difference and your help will always be appreciated.”
Orozco moved to Round Rock so he and Juanita would be closer to their daughter Nina Orozco Loehr and grandchildren. Nina was graduated from BCHS in 2000. She has a bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University. Orozco’s son Bobby, a former Cardinal football player, was graduated in 2003 and has a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University.
Appropriately, a small inscription can be found at the bottom of the monument, “DEDICATED TO THE SPIRIT OF THE TEAM, STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY OF BRIDGE CITY, TEXAS – THE OROZCO FAMILY.”