Thompson and Crouch honored by SETCA
Last updated 1/30/2023 at 12:09pm
Two longtime high school football coaches in Orange County were honored by the Southeast Texas Coaches Association (SETCA) on Saturday, January 28. Cornel Thompson and Randy Crouch were inducted into the SETCA Hall of Honor during a ceremony at the MCM Elegante' Hotel in Beaumont.
Cornel Thompson is a native of Louisiana and was raised in West Orange. After beginning his coaching career in 1971 at Kirbyville, Thompson became the head baseball coach at Stark High School in Orange in 1972.
The desire to coach kept Thompson motivated to work with kids for more than fifty years. Thompson replied, "I've had calls all week from kids I coached that said thank you for the lessons you taught me. That is the payoff when you touch that many lives."
Thompson was a member of the original coaching staff at West Orange Stark when the school was created in 1977. He became the old horse in the corral having worked with the Mustangs' first head coach Steve McCarty and then later served as the Defensive Coordinator under their second head coach Dan Hooks for decades. "I'd been there since the beginning and they practically built the school building around me since I also worked for the company that built the building," Thompson reminded.
The West Orange Cove School District named Thompson the head football coach in April 2010 to replace Hooks when he retired. In his eleven years as the Mustangs head coach Thompson led them to four state championship games winning two of those contests.
During Thompson's tenure as the head coach West Orange Stark established itself as the winningest high school football program in the state of Texas winning over 85 percent of its 500 plus games since the school was created. "That's special to me, and in the process of writing my book about Mustang football I didn't realize how good we were. It's like when you're in the middle of it your can't see the forest for the trees, but we were pretty good because we had great coaches, great fathers, great family men, and we had great kids in our program," Thompson explained.
An important part of Mustang football under Thompson's leadership was a set of rules that emphasized discipline and integrity. "We've helped develop some young men that I believe are excellent fathers, solid citizens, good boy friends, and good husbands," Thompson concluded.
Randy Crouch was born and raised in Sulphur, Louisiana. Crouch was an outstanding football star in college at Louisiana Tech University. He began his coaching career in Louisiana for both college and high schools.
Even as a young player Crouch had a connection to southeast Texas football when he got to see Steve Worster of Bridge City during a scrimmage at Sulphur. "My head football coach was good friends with Chief Wilson from southeast Texas at Bridge City so we either played or scrimmaged Bridge City every year. So, the impact of southeast Texas football was something really special to me and I remember that," Crouch recalled.
In 1994 Crouch came to Orange, Texas to be the offensive coordinator for David Williams at Little Cypress Mauriceville. The coach expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to come to work in southeast Texas under Williams. Crouch served there for four years before moving to West Orange Stark in 1998 to work with Coach Dan Hooks who was the athletic director at West Orange Stark.
That was not the first meeting between Crouch and Hooks. Crouch shared, "While at Louisiana Tech we had a game at Lamar in 1972 and we walked the field early before the game. I saw a guy in a red Cardinal shirt and we started talking. The more we talked I said, do you work at Lamar, he said yeah I coach at Lamar. I said my name is Randy Crouch, well he said my name's Dan Ray Hooks, and that was my first meeting with Dan Hooks."
Under Hooks in 1999 Crouch was promoted to offensive coordinator at West Orange Stark. "It was twelve years with Dan and Cornel and it was some of the best years of my life, not only the winning part but the people, the relationships that I made," Crouch remembered.
Crouch became the head football coach and athletic director at Little Cypress Mauriceville in 2009. Crouch stated, "I'm so indebted to Dr. Pauline Hargrove the superintendent who hired me. She was so kind to me and my family. We had such great relationships with the coaches I worked with like Corey Parsons, Levi Moore, Frank Snoddy, Allen DeShazo, and Eric Peevey. I'm so thankful for them and the impact they made on me." He served in that position until his retirement from coaching in 2020.
Two other coaches were inducted into the Hall of Honor posthumously. Pat Day was a native of Vidor before becoming a successful football coach at Silsbee High School. Terry Culley coached for 36 years and his basketball teams won 828 games before he retired in 1986.
Coaches of the year were announced by the SETCA during Saturday's banquet. Winners from Orange County high schools included Orangefield's Connor Wilbur in boys cross country and Dena Adkins from Little Cypress-Mauriceville in girls cross country. Jamie DeShazo of Bridge City was honored as coach of the year for girls track.
Tim Erickson of Orangefield was named the baseball coach of the year. Boys golf coach of the year was Orangefield's Todd Trawhon.
Little Cypress Mauriceville was recognized with coaches Johnnie Kay Harrell in girls golf, Brett Nicholson in boys tennis, and Frank Snoddy in girls powerlifting being named coaches of the year. LCM athletic director and head football coach Eric Peevey served as the master of ceremonies during the awarding of coaches of the year.
Retired long-time West Orange-Stark softball and football coach Randy Ragsdale was honored as the Official of the Year for his serving as a softball umpire. The former Bridge City trainer Gene McKinley was honored as Athletic Trainer of the Year. McKinley helps various schools throughout Southeast Texas to aid other trainers and shares his knowledge.