HOUSTON, Texas (KTRE) - His record alone (308-89-3) is good enough to earn former Lufkin Coach John Outlaw a spot in the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor. There is so much more though to the man that put Lufkin football on the map and was respected by almost everyone he came across.
“There is a reason he was so successful in Lufkin, TX, Sherman, TX and Arkadelphia, AR and that is because he learned early on how to treat kids,” retired Lufkin Superintendent Roy Knight said. “Treat them like they are your own. Hug their necks when they need them hugged and get on them when they need it to but do it with compassion.”
Outlaw died Dec.23, 2011 at the age of 58 from a heart attack. He may no longer be coaching but his style is. After his death, long time assistant Todd Quick took over the program. Many of his players have gone on to coach and attribute what they learned from Outlaw as the reason they got into coaching.
“The way he was, I try to emulate that stuff,” current Wylie East Defensive Coordinator and former Lufkin Panther Alton Dixon said. “The smoothness of how he dealt with and talked to kids as individuals and as a group. He did it to improve young men and I try to do that now.”
Plenty of players can tell you stories of how Outlaw took care of them but the reach went beyond the football field. If you were a student in Lufkin ISD he considered you a child of his and he made sure to make you feel special.
Joshua Moreland is a huge Lufkin Panther fan. Moreland suffers from Down Syndrome. He never let that stop him from cheering on the Panthers. Outlaw reached out to his family and got Joshua sideline passes for all the Lufkin home games. Years later, coach Todd Quick makes sure the kind act continues and Moreland is a regular on the sideline.
“Every kid in the hallway, he took care of them,” Quick said. “They didn’t have to wear a helmet. They were our kids. If they were in the building, the the town or our system they were our kids.”
From an early age in Ozark, AR, Outlaw fell in love with the game. It became his life and as he grew older he would team people life skills through the game.
“No matter where he went or what he did people fell in love with him,”brother Steven Outlaw said. “He had an aura about him that attracted people because he would tell it like it is.”
Outlaw is credited with revolutionizing Friday night football in Texas. After becoming the youngest coach to ever win a state title in Arkansas he knew he needed to be tested by the best so he traveled south to Texas. In his coaching career that covered over three decades, Outlaw became the winningest coach at three different schools. One hundred and seventy-six student-athletes received college scholarships. Numerous players went onto professional careers and countless more became better men, husbands, fathers, business owners and citizens because of coach. All careers end but the tragic loss of Outlaw before his 60th birthday makes people wonder how much larger could his influence have been.
“Coach Outlaw in terms of wins could have been the greatest of all-time,” said Craig Way, longtime host of Fox Sports’ High School Scoreboard Live. “He really is anyways because of his impact on the game. No matter where he went he knew people and he cared about people.”