On Tuesday, a media release from the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame announced that it will soon be inducting the entire Aurora High School football program as part of its 2019 class.
The luncheon — sponsored by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper Bottling Company — will take place 11 a.m. on October 16 at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield.
Aurora will be joined by fellow ’19 inductees, former Kansas City Chiefs running back Ted McKnight, Adrian High coach George Bruto, referee Emry Dilday, Missouri Tigers fan Dr. Jerald Chaffin, and the Greenfield High 1977 state championship team.
The MSHOF will also recognize the Elite 11, former high school and college standouts who have made outstanding contributions to football in the state of Missouri. Elite 11 this year: Dr. Tony Berry from Stockton High and Southwest Baptist; Lanny Curnes from Reeds Spring High and Central Missouri; Dre Dokes from Kickapoo High, Northern Iowa and the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League; Tyler Evans from Strafford High and Oklahoma; Chris Hanna from Springfield Catholic and Pittsburg (Kansas) State; Beau Jackson from Branson High, Missouri State, and Evangel; Phil Johnson from Kickapoo, Mizzou, Missouri State, and the British Columbia Lions of the CFL; Jeff Montgomery from Park Hill High and Mizzou; Caleb Schaffitzel from Fair Grove High and Missouri State; Alan Spencer from Webb City High, Pitt State, and the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions, and Mike Wehner from Lebanon High and the University of Miami.
Individual tickets are $40 or $50 at the door. Meanwhile, a sponsorship table of eight runs for $400 and includes an autographed print and recognition in the event’s printed program. A head table ticket costs $100 and includes the same perks. For more information, please call (417)-889-3100.
Each former and current Aurora player and coach will receive a plaque with their name engraved as a member of the Hall of Fame and will be introduced on stage individually during the ceremony.
Aurora High School Football
— The Houn Dawgs have tallied three state championships (1965, 1969, 1999), 13 playoff berths (highlighted by a state semifinal appearance in 2015), nine district championships (1980-81, 1988, 1990-92, 1999, 2002-03), and 10 conference championships (1960, 1962-63, 1965, 1980-81, 1988, 1992, 1999-2000) during their storied history, and these accomplishments illustrate why they are being enshrined. The 1965 state championship winner finished the season ranked No. 1 in the state and featured All-State selections Bruce Huey, Bob Journagen, and Stan Rinker. The 1969 team, coached by “Hoss” McCallister, finished 11-1 and won the Class 2 state title with a 13-6 victory over Malden. Three decades later, Aurora closed out the 20th Century in style with a 14-0 overall record and a 7-0 victory over California in the Class 3 title tilt bringing the program its third state championship, this team coached by Pat Woods. Over the last 65 years, roughly 50 Aurora players have earned All-State.
(Rest of the bios courtesy Missouri Sports Hall of Fame)
Ted McKnight, Kansas City Chiefs RB
— McKnight not only had a nose for the football but eyes for the end zone in a fabulous Kansas City Chiefs career … and proved that small-college football stars can play in the National Football League. He was a second-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but the Raiders released him before the 1977 season. Turned out, the Chiefs quickly signed McKnight, who then enjoyed a six-year career in the NFL, playing for the Chiefs from 1977 to 1981 and then one season with the Buffalo Bills. Known as “Touchdown Teddy,” he was the Chiefs’ leading rusher from 1978-1980, averaging 6.0 yards per carry in 1978. In fact, he finished his career with 528 carries for 2,344 yards and 22 touchdowns. Additionally, McKnight caught 99 passes for another 717 receiving yards. All this after he starred at Minnesota-Duluth, an NCAA Division II program where he led NCAA-II in rushing (1,482 yards) his senior season and set the school’s single-game mark of 235 yards, as well as records for touchdowns in a single season (22) and single game (six). He is Vice President / Producer of CBIZ & Insurance Benefits in Kansas City.
George Bruto, Adrian High coach
— Bruto spent 36 years as a teacher and coach at Adrian High School, including 28 seasons (1986-2013) as the head football coach. In that time, his teams were 238-77 — a win total that was good for top 15 all-time among Missouri high school football coaches. His 2002 team won the Class 1 state championship, and his 1987 team was a state runner-up. Overall, Adrian advanced to 10 state semifinals (1987, 1993-95, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005), won 17 district championships and 13 conference championships. As an assistant, he was also part of two state semifinal teams, two district championships and a conference championship. Additionally, Bruto wore other hats, as he coached the school’s girls and boys basketball and track teams at various times. Over 45 sports seasons, he was a 430-177 as a varsity coach and 147-50 as a junior high school coach, covering 49 seasons.
Emry Dilday, Referee
— Dilday retired in 2006 after 43 seasons of high school football officiating, including 36 years at the collegiate level. He attended Drury University and finished in 1964. His career as an official has encompassed more than 1,500 football games as he worked primarily in five collegiate conferences and refereed for several dozen schools in Southwest Missouri. His resume includes more than 50 games in the MSHSAA football playoffs, including nine state championship games. Additionally, he has been a football rules interpreter for MSHSAA since 1982 and, in 1999-2000, served as president of the Officials Association of the National Federation of High Schools Association. Dilday, who still serves on the NFHSA’s national rules committee, has been executive director and game assignment manager for the Southwest Missouri Football Officials Association for 49 years and has continued to work as the girls track coach for Springfield Catholic High. He has been inducted into the NFHSA Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the Irvin Keller Award from MSHSAA in 2004. Dilday, now in his 38th year as a track & field and cross country official, is an inductee of the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame.
Dr. Jerald “Thumper” Chaffin, Mizzou fan
— Branson native Dr. Jerald Chaffin will be only the third fan ever inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, joining Springfield’s Marty Prather (MSHOF 2003) and Washington’s Squeaky Marquart (2015). Chiffon has attended 335 consecutive Missouri Tigers football home games at Faurot Field since Sept. 21, 1963, when the Tigers suffered a 23-12 loss to Northwestern, then coached by future Notre Dame icon Ara Parseghian. By the late 1960s, Dr. Chaffin had made it a point to be there every Saturday and, in fact, has purchased season tickets every year since 1979, sitting on the east side of the stadium near students and in the sunshine on those late autumn fall Saturdays. Among Chaffin’s most cherished memories is the Oct. 11, 2003 game, a 41-24 Tigers victory against Nebraska — the program’s first win against the Cornhuskers since 1978. The win kick-started 10 bowl seasons for Mizzou in the coach Gary Pinkel Era and was meaningful for Chaffin, who was there for the infamous 1990 Fifth Down Game against Colorado and the 1997 Flea-Kicker loss to Nebraska. Chaffin, a 1963 graduate of Branson High School who later earned his medical degree from the University of Missouri in 1977, also has attended numerous Mizzou road games — including the 1976 upset of Nebraska in Lincoln.
Greenfield High 1977 state championship team
— The Greenfield High School football team of 1977 delivered a Class 1 state championship to Dade County, finishing a perfect 12-0 after a 20-6 victory against King City in the final game. The team was coached by Jim Dykens, who was in his first season as a varsity coach after having spent several seasons coaching junior high athletics. Assistants were Mike Brown, Butch Vaughn, and John Shipley. Two years earlier, Greenfield finished as a state runner-up, and then entered 1977 with only five seniors — David McNeel, Bill Andrews, and Johnny Wooldridge were senior starters — and also had a talented junior class. Greenfield beat Marionville 7-0 in the quarterfinals and then knocked off Cass-Midway 14-12 in the semifinals. Earning All-State honors were McNeel (quarterback and linebacker), Andrews at defensive back, guard Roger Grider, end James Reeves, defensive end Todd Decker, and defensive lineman Steve Wynes.