HOUSTON — When it comes to Lufkin football, John Outlaw is often the first name that comes to people’s minds. On Saturday night, the rest of the state was able to take notice of his efforts as he was inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Association Ring of Honor at the Marriott Marquis Ballroom.
In front of what was the most attended Ring of Honor ceremony in the organization’s history, his son, Stephen Outlaw, accepted the award on his father’s behalf.
“The kids were all he cared about,” Stephen said. “They were the number one thing. Everyone in Lufkin is family to him, and they’re all here tonight.”
Outlaw was honored by Texas coaches for his career that featured 302 coaching wins, including 146 at Lufkin. He also brought the school its only state title in 2001 along with four appearances in the state semifinals.
Before arriving in Lufkin, he won two state championships at Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He is the all-time leader in wins at each of the three schools he coached.
In a video tribute to Outlaw, he was remembered by his family, friends and co-workers.
“He wouldn’t like this at all,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said in the video. “He was fine being in the small community of Lufkin. But he’s where he should be with the rest of them that are on the wall here.”
In the video, current Lufkin girls athletic director Jerri Kay Boyd spoke on the impact he had on the program.
“He was such a gentle servant but he was a feisty bulldog on the field,” Boyd said. “He wasn’t much for the spotlight. It means much more for the rest of the community than it does to him. It means the world to have his legacy remembered here.”
While his son accepted the honor on his behalf, his brother, Steven, also spoke on his brother’s legacy before the event.
He spoke on his brother being inducted into Halls of Honor/Fame at the University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame before Saturday’s event.
“Can you imagine that?” Steven said. “He was a very unique individual, and they loved him wherever he went. For him to be honored here in Texas is just unbelievable.”
Even before stepping into the room, several who were on hand for the special night shared their memories of the coach who was the all-time wins leader at each of his three stops in his coaching profession.
Alton Dixon, who was eventually a standout at Texas A&M, first starred for the Panthers under Outlaw. Dixon was an assistant coach at Lufkin under Todd Quick before moving on to Wylie East, where he is currently the team’s defensive coordinator.
“I wasn’t a very structured kid, and Coach Outlaw knew how to motivate me,” Dixon said. “He would tell me I could be the next Terrance Kiel. He was tough on us but he loved us. I owe a lot of where I am now to him.”
Other coaches inducted at the ceremony were Tommy Cox, Bubba Fife, Gary Joseph and Jim Rackley.
Outlaw also became the third coach in Lufkin High School history to accept the honor, joining Guyle Akridge and Jim Slaughter.
“This is long past due,” former Lufkin superintendent Roy Knight said. “Folks from Arkadelphia, Sherman and Lufkin all can share in this with him. There were plenty of reasons he was so special.”