LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A legend in the coaching world was lost Friday in Lufkin. A man lovingly referred to as "Our head coach", John Outlaw died early Friday morning leaving a legacy of not just winning, but love for the players he called his children. Those children admit it will be tough without him.
"It's going to be weird playing without him next year," said wide receiver Jabryce Taylor. "He will still be in my heart while I'm out there playing and every snap I take he is going to be in my mind."
This season was highlighted by Outlaw's 300th win and yet another student, defensive end Tomme Mark, moving on the a college scholarship. However, his legacy goes beyond the 176 students he has seen sign college scholarships. All of them say Outlaw made a bigger impression on them as a man.
"He was a big impact on me because he showed me how to be a man in tough situations," said Taylor. "He just took me under his own wing and showed me the right path."
Former Aggie and Panther Jorvorskie Lane says every time he came back to Lufkin there was always a stop at coach Outlaw's house or office. Lane says that those who will not get to see him in action coaching are truly missing out.
"Growing up everybody wanted to play for Outlaw and the panthers," said Lane. "The kids that don't get a chance to get play for him, they are going to miss a heck of a dude."
His 300 wins put him among the top 1 percent of all coaches in high school football history. What is even more astounding is that it is clear he touched thousands of more lives off of the field. Long time coordinator and friend Todd Quick has been by Outlaw's side for 26 years and has noticed the impact on all of the athletes Outlaw coached.
"The legacy he left will be carried on forever and ever," said Quick. "When those kids get up in the morning and make decisions, part of those decisions that they make are based on what he has taught them, so his legacy will go on for generations."
Beginning in Arkansas where Outlaw won two state titles, he later moved to Sherman, Texas before coming to Lufkin in 1995. Over his coaching career he's led countless students athletes and some even had the privilege to grow up and coach against him, like Tyler Lee head coach Randy Huffstickler.
"His influence on East Texas football, on Texas football is a long reach," said Huffstickler. "He challenges you, I mean he just really reaches down and touches your soul. He could bring a lot of out of anyone, it didn't have to be a football player or baseball player. It could be a guy that works in a restaurant or anybody, he is going to bring the best out of that person."
As the community mourned current and former panthers gathered at the high school football stadium for what they called "football for outlaw." Even Oklahoma's Jamarkus Mcfarland, a man who will be on a plane to Arizona in just a few days, took time to remember coach.